How To Dress For An Interview – Dos And Don’ts

Ace your interview outfit without trouble and make the best first impression.

Reviewed by Paola Farina, Personal Stylist Paola Farina Paola FarinaPersonal Stylist linkedin_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MSc Pratima Ati MSc linkedin_icon
Edited by , BSc Shatabdi Bhattacharya BSc linkedin_icon Experience: 2.5 years
Fact-checked by , BA (English Hons) Pahul Nanra BA (English Hons) linkedin_icon Experience: 2 years
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Well, it is true; no matter your accomplishments, your dressing style will make an impact at your interview. Therefore, understanding the gravity of the situation, today, we are going to teach you how to dress for an interview. Always remember that clumsy dressing should be totally out of the question. If it is your dream job for which you are getting interviewed, you will need to look groomed and polished. Your interviewer should be able to see that you really are passionate about the job. There will be many dos and don’ts in terms of dressing up for an interview. But you need not worry about it, for we have covered it all here below. So, go on and read the article.

protip_icon Ace The Look
  • Hairstyle: Opt for straight or frizz-free curly hair, either open or tied in a bun, braids, or ponytail.
  • Makeup: Go for natural makeup that matches your skin tone. Keep your eyeliner soft and eyeshadow and lip gloss neutral.
  • Handbags: Neutral or pastel-hued satchels or totes that can carry all your essentials.
  • Shoes: Kitten heels, slip-in pumps, flats, or wedges in neutral colors.
  • Accessories: Simple hoop or stud earrings, delicate necklace, neutral color watch, or noise-free bracelets can instantly help you look like a pro.

What To Wear To An Interview

  1. Moving Up The Corporate Ladder
  2. Your Big Move In The Fashion Industry
  3. Fancy Finance Job Or Investment Banker
  4. Cracking The Creative Role
  5. The Next Big Thing – Startups

Every industry has a culture, and so does an organization. More often than not, if you can tap into the pulse of the industry you are getting into, you’re sorted. Times have changed, and so has the dressing etiquette. Even the biggest of the tech giants are inching towards not-so-conservative clothing. Having said that, dressing for the interview is still a tricky process, and you are expected to be as professional as you can by still sticking to the industry pattern.

1. Moving Up The Corporate Ladder

How to dress for a corporate job interview
Image: Shutterstock

Are you a debutant in the big corporate world? Or, are you moving up the ladder? Either way, you should already know that corporate and client-facing roles are all about communication, affability, and your knowledge of the subject matter. It is also about the way you present yourself. Paola Farina, Personal Stylist, suggests, “The first impression is the most important and it comes from clothes and non-verbal communication. A proper ‘clothed appearance’ (right clothing for the job but also right for us) will boost our self-esteem and make us feel more confident and right for the position.” And, that is why your attire will end up saying a lot about you even before you actually say anything. Lead with an overall neat and tidy appearance – This alone communicates an awareness of yourself and your environment. Follow that up with the little details that we have pointed out below.

Profile Examples – Media, advertising, sales, business development, aviation industry, consulting, etc.

What You Should Know
  • Suit up, because that’s as formal as you can get.
  • You can follow the latest trends and experiment with the shirt (top) you wear inside, but keep it to that.
  • Opt for darker colors for suits, jackets, blazers, pants, and skirts and lighter colors for shirts, tops, and blouses. Make sure they are pressed and well-fitted.
  • Makeup and accessories should be minimal; sandals should be closed – preferably anything below 3-4”.
  • Pencil skirts or one-piece dresses are other exciting options. However, be watchful of the length. The right length is knee length or just under the knee.
  • Cigarette and ankle-length pants are other options that make you look stylish and on point.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Avoid big and flashy patterns or floral-heavy designs. Opt for vertical pinstripes, solid colors, or a monochrome look. Avoid pencil skirts with high slits as well.

2. Your Big Move In The Fashion Industry

How to dress for a fashion industry interview
Image: Shutterstock

The biggest myth around fashion jobs is that you’re expected to show up in edgy, over-the-top, and offbeat clothing just because you are in the industry. It does not work like that, and that is not what is expected from you when you attend the interview. Everyone has their own style, so just stay true to it and let it translate into who you are. Show them what you can bring to the table without actually saying anything. Yes, by all means, stay stylish and fashionable, but do not fake something, trying to fit in somewhere you do not belong. Avoid wearing a tie if you do not know how to tie one just because you think that makes one look smart in an interview.

Farina adds, “Clothes that do not belong to us make us look like fools. Our posture and the way we walk look odd, and we do not feel confident. My advice is – find your style, like a signature and not try to be someone else just to impress”. Your dress has nothing to do with your creativity or talent in the chosen domain.

Profile Examples – Design assistant, designer, stylist, personal shopper, fashion writer or editor, etc.

What You Should Know
  • Your dress should be specific to the industry you are aiming for. Keep the aesthetics of the brand in mind, but do not overdo it.
  • Keep your overall clothing subtle, stylish, and elegant.
  • Leave them with a sense of intrigue. Decking up in branded labels might not always be as cool as you think. Farina advises, “Especially if the interview is for a job position for a specific brand, I highly recommend not to wear something that belongs to a competitor.”
  • Let details like your accessories, scarves, bag, shoes, and fine jewelry grab attention.
  • And, since it is an interview – let it all be straightforward and formal anyway.
protip_icon Quick Tip
The key to acing a fashion job is color minimalism. Keep your entire outfit simple and sharp but have one color that pops out and ties the whole attire together, like a sage green jacket or tan boots. You can also try minimally patterned jackets.

3. Fancy Finance Job Or Investment Banker

How to dress for a finance job interview
Image: Shutterstock

An industry that is not readily permeable. You need to be badass, tough, and smart but polite and on point. So, it’s a double-sided knife, and thus, your personality becomes imperative. That is something you should work on. So, at an interview, leaving an impression, and a good one at that, is crucial. You know what they say – fashion changes, but style remains. This industry is a clear indication of that. So, don’t experiment too much and hover in the safe zone.

Profile Examples – Investment banker, banker, portfolio manager, customer queries, financial advisor, consultant, etc.

What You Should Know
  • Stick to your regular black, gray or blue suits. Choose whatever you like, but pick a suit anyway.
  • It should not be all that difficult because you look at any job profile – everyone is at their formal best in this industry.
  • Some companies are fine with small printed dresses and suits, but those can wait till after you get the job.
  • It does not mean you have to wear the same old school interview pants. Wear whatever is the latest in the office wear segment, but again, it has to be professional. Can’t stress this enough.

4. Cracking The Creative Role

How to dress for a creative role interview
Image: Shutterstock

It is one of the most progressive industries, and you are judged differently here in comparison to the mainstream ones. Creativity holds the fort here, however, at an interview level, it is expected that you show up in tidy and presentable attire. It should be neither edgy nor sloppy. Keep these things in mind!

Profile Examples – Writer, director, photographer, art or creative director, editor, etc.

What You Should Know
  • Denim, corduroy, and other semi-formal pants are acceptable, but let them be dark and untorn.
  • Wear a shirt or a silk/chiffon/georgette top. Tuck it in if you can.
  • Pair them up with accessories, but keep them minimal.
  • One piece dresses are good, but don’t go too short. That’s never acceptable for an interview.
  • The company, brand or production house you are interviewing for might be pretty chilled out, but at the interview, being presentable and formal is important.

5. The Next Big Thing – Startups

How to dress for a startup interview
Image: Shutterstock

One of the perks of working in a startup is not bothering too much about the dress code. And most of them are pretty chilled out with whatever you are wearing. One less (big) thing to worry about. All of them, including the founder, are more often than not right out of college, or at least it feels like that. So, you can’t be supremely formal or informal. Strike the right balance between smart, casual, and formal.

Profile Examples – Programmer, developer, coding, application development, web designer, analyst, etc.

What You Should Know
  • Go to their website – it will give you a hang of things.
  • Semi-formal or smart casuals usually work.
  • As long as the dress is not too short or revealing, you’re good to go.

Most Importantly – What Not To Wear To An Interview

  1. Loud Colors
  2. Revealing Clothes
  3. Inappropriate Footwear
  4. Overly Casual
  5. Distressed Denims
  6. Animal Prints
  • Loud Colors

Say no to loud colors while attending an interview
Image: Shutterstock

Your choice of colors, be it formal, smart-casual or semi-formal, has to be subdued and subtle. Anything loud, gaudy or flashy is a big no-no.

  • Revealing Clothes

Say no to revealing clothes while attending an interview
Image: Shutterstock

Listen up ladies! Plunging necklines, backless tops, skin hugging dresses, skirt above the knees, strapless clothes, see-throughs, etc., are things that are absolutely not ok for an interview. Again, that’s one thing common to any industry.

  • Inappropriate Footwear

Say no to inappropriate footwear while attending an interview
Image: Shutterstock

Inappropriate footwear does not just mean flip-flops or crocs. Flashy and swanky stilettos or six-inch heels are considered just as bad. Running shoes or trainers also do not work, unless it is specific to the industry niche. If you are unsure, go for dress shoes as they are the safest option and are comfortable as well.

  • Overly Casual

Say no to overly casual attire while attending an interview
Image: Shutterstock

Startups and other creative companies go the extra mile and brag about their casual work environment. Also, about how they are not particular about anything you wear to an interview. Even in that case, short shorts or hot pants are not an option. Keep it casual, but not overly casual.

  • Distressed Denims

Say no to distressed denims while attending an interview
Image: Shutterstock

Distressed/torn jeans, ripped pant edges or anything like these should be avoided.

  • Animal Prints

Say no to animal prints while attending an interview
Image: Shutterstock

It goes without saying, but animal prints of any kind, for that matter any large prints like florals, etc. are not considered formal. Even if you’re wearing a semi-formal suit, keep the shirt or top subtle and don’t venture into any prints, especially animal prints.

Farina shares, “Always prefer solid colors for formal and semi-formal environments, color can be added in creative and fashion, where prints are usually considered acceptable. Avoid animal and camouflage (military) prints.  You can play with checks, dots, and geometrics.”

Attending An Interview This Summer?

How to dress for an interview in summer season
Image: Shutterstock

Being weather-appropriate while dressing up professionally for an interview can sometimes be tricky. Usually, cotton, georgette, chiffon or silk fabrics that are smooth on the skin and are acceptable interview clothes. An airy sleeveless top with a skirt or trousers, or a pleated or linen dress are ideal for you. Farina says, “Be careful with linen, it doesn’t work because it looks too casual (due to the folds and wrinkles). My advice is to choose linen blended with other fabrics such as cotton or silk, to avoid the problem or go for medium weight cotton in dark shades.” For obvious reasons, avoid dark colors and go with whites, ivories or pastels.

Outfit Ideas For A Winter Interview

How to dress for an interview in winter season
Image: Shutterstock

Winter interviews are the easiest because it’s all about layering. You just need to pay attention to how you are adding layers. Go for a turtle-neck T-shirt with a sleeveless cashmere sweater and a pair of fitted trousers or a pencil skirt with fleeced stockings. Finish it with leather boots that will keep you warm, stylish, and professional. Pop your look with accessories like a scarf, neck piece, waist belt or a watch. If you’re wearing a jacket, go with a long woolen coat. Your makeup should be minimal, boots clean, and hair neatly done.

What To Save For A Rainy Day (Literally) Interview?

How to dress for an interview on a rainy day
Image: Shutterstock

Interview attire on a rainy day is not that different from what you would wear on a moderately cold day. An umbrella or a raincoat is something you definitely need, so don’t shy away from walking into the office in a raincoat. Skirts or dresses might be a better option if you want to avoid your trousers getting wet.

Casual Interview Attire

A woman wearing a fitted top with slacks and low heels
Image: Shutterstock

Pair a well-fitted blouse, cardigan, or tailored top with dark slacks, jeans, a midi, or a knee-length pencil skirt. Choose neutral tones like black, navy, or gray for a polished appearance. Ensure your attire is clean, pressed, and free of wrinkles.

Select closed-toe flats or low heels for comfort and use accessories such as a watch or modest earrings. Your confidence, coupled with this chic and understated ensemble, exudes a perfect blend of professionalism and approachability, leaving a lasting impression in a casual interview scenario.

While it is easy to put together an outfit for your interview, another thing to consider is your body type. To look your best, invest in pieces that flatter your body type and shape. The tips below will help you dress right to ace that interview!

Dress According To Your Body Type – Hacks That Help

Getting an interview call is the first big step, next is the preparation, and the last, but also the most important one, is to be presentable and put your best foot forward. It is a full circle, so you cannot afford to take any of these lightly. So, here’s a guide on how to dress for an interview according to your body type.

Dressing For An Interview – According To Your Body Type

  • Hourglass Figure

If you have an hourglass figure, well, lucky you! But, this is not the time for you to show off your curves. Instead, wear something that is sleek and cinches at the waist, like a belt that elevates your figure but is equally elegant.

  • Triangle Or Inverted Figure

Suiting up will help you strike a balance between the upper and lower body. Dark colors like black and navy blue will work to your advantage. Paola Farina adds, “Opt for dark colors for the upper part of the body. Keep the fabrics as simple as possible and the cut too. Choose lighter colors and softer fabrics for the bottom.”

  • Round Body Type

This means that you’re proportionately round – from the shoulder to the hips and thighs. So, wear formal dresses or shirts with full sleeves so that it takes the attention away. If you’re wearing a skirt, avoid the pencil cut, and stick to the regular cuts. Same is the case with trousers too; the usual straight cuts will work better than cigarette pants.

Farina shares, “I recommend using waistband trousers or skirts that work very well on this body shape. Cardigan style or soft collar jackets (avoid angles and go for roundness) in soft fabrics. It is very important to move the attention from the waist point (which is the weakest point of this figure) to the face and the shoulder, using make-up, accessories such as earrings, necklaces and also brooches.”

Infographic: Interview Outfit Tips For A Great First Impression

Interviews can be nerve-wracking. Apart from your skills, your overall attire matters when it comes to making a great first impression. You must dress appropriately and smartly. Don’t worry. We have the right tips to help you choose the right attire for your upcoming interview. Scroll down and check out the infographic.

interview outfit tips for a great first impression (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Always remember that your interview attire can make a difference. So, follow our guide on how to dress for an interview. It is also ideal to do some trials before the actual day, so you are doubly sure that your corporate look is on-point. Ditch your ripped jeans for this day and make sure your clothes are well ironed. Another important thing would be your comfort. Do not wear something that is body-hugging or makes it difficult for you to breathe properly. Quality soft fabrics are the right choice, avoid stiff fabrics and structured clothes. You need to wear your confidence, so grab only comfortable yet formal clothes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you wear to an interview at a restaurant?

Nothing really changes here, it is still an interview but set up in a restaurant. You still have to dress professionally, show up on time, bring your resume, and do well. You can always check with the interviewer (if you know them) or the Human Resources team just to be sure. Even if they are not very particular, it’s best to stick to being professional.

How to dress up for an informal meeting for a prospective job?

If you’re invited to an informal meeting for coffee, lunch or dinner, you don’t have to worry too much about suiting up. I mean, you still have to be professional, but don’t make it awkward and obvious. Keep it casual, yet balanced. A pair of khaki pants, corduroys, chinos or dark denims with a shirt should be good. One piece dresses are also an option, depending on where the meeting is scheduled.

Wear something that is soothing and soft; loud colors might not be ideal for either lunch or dinner. The purpose of this is still formal, so keep it that way. A summer cotton dress, a shirt, or cotton pants with a silk shirt are other interesting outfit ideas.

Can you wear jeans to a job interview?

Unless it’s an informal meeting or for an industry/organization that is casual about its business attire, avoid casual clothes. If you’re sure that you can, let it be dark and non-distressed, and pair it with a decent top.

What do you wear to a retail job interview?

Retail jobs are usually customer facing, so it needs to be typical interview clothing.

Can you wear sandals to a job interview?

Yes – as long as they are closed. But, flip-flops are a big no-no.

What do you wear to a nursing job interview?

Go for light or medium gray, medium blue, and beige colors. These colors work well in interviews that involve contact with people and communication.

Is a gray suit appropriate for an interview?

Yes, gray is a classy interview dress color. Gray, black, and blue will never fail you.

I’m a teenager and have an interview to attend, what should I wear?

Be it a campus job interview, internship or summer job – it is best to go in proper interview attire and be as professional as you can. It just shows that you are interested in taking up the role and you’re serious about working. Not just that, it’s also good practice. Remember, any of this does not mean you have to buy a new suit just for this unless you don’t have anything appropriate. Just use what you already have.

Key Takeaways

  • First impressions are lasting ones, and the appropriate attire might help you set the tone for your interview.
  • Keep your body type in mind while choosing your outfit.
  • Opt for a conservative and traditional look paired with neutral colors like navy or black.
  • Avoid wearing flashy clothes and over-accessorizing with bold statement jewelry.
how to dress for an interview

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Are you stressing over what to wear for your upcoming job interview? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Check out this video for the best outfit ideas for both men and women.

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Paola Farina
Paola FarinaPersonal Stylist
Paola Farina is a personal and event stylist and a certified image consultant with 4 years of experience. She collaborates with individuals and companies. After graduating from classical studies, she won a scholarship from Image Fashion & Communication, the first Italian institute for training professional editors and stylists.

Read full bio of Paola Farina