What To Wear To An Interview

by Freya Wilcox
Three women dressed for an interview: formal, professional, business casual

We’ve all been through the stress of an interview, where first impressions count for everything. But what if you could make it all a little easier just by picking an outfit that says something about you, makes you walk taller, and gives you the confidence to go in and make that lasting impression? There are of course no guarantees that your choice of shoe or shirt will get you the job, but a potential new employer will form an opinion of you based on your initial appearance.

We have put together some of the best looks that will suit all kinds of industries and seasons in order to help you to stand out from the competition. From summer interview outfits to fashionable interview outfits, your rise to the top starts here.

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Different Jobs Mean Different Interview Looks

One size definitely doesn’t fit all when it comes to how to dress for an interview. Whilst the appropriate attire for a job interview will necessarily be a bit more formal, what do you do if the industry you’re interested in is generally known for being informal or non-professional? The below interview looks are sure to help in determining what will work best for your situation.

The More Formal Look

Although we feel that you should always dress smartly for an interview, if ‘business dress’ is the tone of the company you are applying to, you’ll probably want to go for something more classic. Professional interview clothes can definitely help when it comes to performing at your best. Of course you want to be comfortable, but you also want to feel ready to sell yourself.

Our pick of the best professional interview clothes include a suit with a fashionable edge, a good quality figure-hugging dress (never question ‘can you wear a dress to an interview?’ because you most certainly can), a crisp white shirt, as well as a leather look pencil skirt and suitable shoes. These tried and tested interview clothes are sure to make you feel ready to take on the world.

Formal Interview Look

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The More Informal Look

Rather than sticking to what you know with a dark coloured suit or pencil skirt, you may want to opt for more ‘trendy interview outfits’ such as a pair of skinny jeans teamed with a shirt and blazer. Or how about a pair of bright cropped trousers to show off some statement heels or flats? Alternatively, go for a dress with a hint of the season’s style or a flattering jumpsuit. These business casual looks balance smart with stylish and, being a bit more unique, will ensure that any interviewer will remember you.

Less Formal Interview Look outfit inspiration

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The Creative Look

When working within a creative industry, where the norm is to rock up in ripped jeans and an oversized shirt on a Monday morning, it’s easy to think that this is what’s expected of you when interviewing for a creative position. But this is a classic example of how not to dress for an interview and you should still endeavour to dress to impress, even if all the signs are saying otherwise.

This doesn’t mean that you need an all black interview outfit, or that you need to opt for professional interview clothes. What it does mean is that you can experiment with colour more, or go for printed cigarette trousers or culottes. And why not add some metallic court shoes or pair a patterned dress with statement jewellery? Normally, creative jobs want to see your personality, so if you can make it shine the moment you step through the door you’re bound to be on to a good thing. The best interview outfits say something about you, so don’t be shy.

Casual Interview Look

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Interview Hairstyles

It’s certainly best to go for something classic when it comes to interview hairstyles.

If your locks are mid-length to long, soft curls work well with a crisp white shirt and high-waisted trousers. It looks almost effortless and shows you care about your appearance without overdoing it.

A trusty ponytail will keep you from potentially fiddling with your hair, which could be a distraction to both you and the interviewer. Perhaps go for a gentle wave or wrap hair around the hair tie – this shows that you care and haven’t just shoved it up the way you might for a night in at home.

If your hair is shorter and straight, go for a soft blow dry and use the straighteners just to sort out any stray bits that never do as they’re told.

And if you’re curly, embrace it, but do use tongs if necessary to calm down the top layer and make the overall look feel a bit more manicured.

Hairstyles for an interview

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Interview Makeup

Wondering ‘what makeup should I wear?’ is a very common interview concern, and it’s important to remember that it should never be a distraction and just add to your polished, professional look. Subtle makeup will still make you feel good, but not take away from what you’re saying during an interview. There are so many neutral eyeshadow palettes available on the market if you don’t have one already. Also, go for a lighter coverage foundation, a soft blush and highlighter, a brown eyeliner to make your eyes stand out, black mascara and a nude lip. Skip the shimmer and that smokey eye you’ve come to love – it’s always worked better for a night out.

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How Not to Dress for an Interview

You want to make an amazing first impression, so avoid shorts, mini-skirts, ripped jeans, trainers, flip flops, cropped tops that show your midriff, or tops that are too low cut.

If you’re worried about what to wear to an interview in the summer, don’t be afraid to reach for more professional summer dresses: in other words, not something you’d wear to a beach or barbecue. Try to ensure your interview dresses and skirts fall around knee length, and team with dolly shoes rather than strappy sandals. It’s important to keep cool, even if you might not be feeling it!

Interview setting scene from the film the Devil wears prada

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How to Dress for an Interview: Final Tips

  • Be comfortable but well presented in appropriate attire for a job interview.
  • Choose a style that will make a good, lasting impression.
  • Go for neutral, long lasting makeup that isn’t distracting but still makes you feel good.
  • If you’re asking yourself ‘what colour lipstick should I wear?’, definitely avoid anything bright. It will be distracting for the interviewer and more noticeable if it were to smudge.
  • Don’t wear a pair of heels that you can’t walk confidently in.
  • Ensure that your hair is styled more naturally to compliment your subtle makeup.
  • If you feel that the outfit lends itself to accessories, go for it! But avoid anything that you could fiddle with.
  • Don’t be afraid to wear a dress, particularly when choosing an interview outfit for summer.
  • Be unique in some way – it’s important to stand out from the crowd.
  • If black is a comfort blanket, add a splash of colour somewhere to brighten the look.
  • Ensure those shoes are polished – they matter!

Your choice of outfit gives a sense of purpose to anything you do, and when it comes to a somewhat scary interview, we can think of nothing better than reaching for something that showcases you. After all, first impressions count and could help you in your quest for that perfect job. Good luck!

Read more great articles on women’s fashion here at alexie.

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