What to wear to an interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 10 June 2022 | Published 13 December 2020

Updated 10 June 2022

Published 13 December 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Knowing what to wear to an interview gives you the opportunity to present your best self to a prospective employer. Part of that presentation is dressing appropriately for the position you're applying for. Getting this right increases your chances of getting hired, as the person interviewing you is going to evaluate your appearance and include their assessment of your clothing in their recommendation. In this article, we take a look at what to wear to an interview and how to dress appropriately.

 Checking the business dress code for what to wear

If you're not sure what to wear to an interview, the website and social media pages of the company you're interviewing for can be informative, but not always. If you can't determine the organisation's dress code, consider calling their human resources department. Explain to the HR representative that you have an upcoming interview with the company and want to know how you should dress.

You might think that this could go against you during the interview, but it’s most likely going to have a positive effect. An employer may even appreciate the fact you took the effort to find out how to dress suitably for the interview.

Another aspect of learning about the dress code is to consider the industry and the role you're applying for. An office job generally requires you to wear a suit with a skirt or trousers, or a tie and suit. Casual employment tends to be more relaxed with regard to dress codes, and managers may prefer interviewees to show up wearing business casual that's neat and clean.

Try not to assume that a business doesn't care about how you dress for an interview. Looking your best shows respect for the employer and that you care enough to give a good impression to those responsible for hiring.

Related: How to prepare for an interview

 Understanding business casual wear

Business casual is the wearing of professional clothes that aren't tailored or formal. The garments that define business casual are those that can be worn under a suit jacket with tailored trousers or skirts but can also be worn without. Many professional industries have moved to business casual and don't judge an interviewee if they dress in the same fashion. What business casual is not is a t-shirt, jeans, shorts or loud prints. Business casual is a conservative, yet a relaxed type of dress that's appropriate in many industries.

 Business casual clothing items

Here you can see a list of items that are typically acceptable as part of business casual clothing:

 Neat, professional tops 

Consider selecting a button-down top with minimal tailoring and which has a professional appearance. The top can have a solid or neutral colour, or have a simple pattern. If the top has a straight hem, it can be best to wear it untucked and make sure it falls neatly. If the top has a curved or shaped hem, try tucking it into the waistband of the trousers or skirt. You can pull it up a little for ease of movement and to make sure no skin is exposed when leaning over.

Related: What is business casual in the UK?

 Dress trousers or skirt

Navy or black trousers and skirts work well for business casual. If wearing a skirt, make sure the hem is at least knee-length or longer. A pencil or A-line silhouette is most appropriate for business casual. You can wear trousers and skirts made from cotton twill as long as they’re tailored for business wear. Trousers can be pleated or plain in front with hems that are long enough to cover the top of the shoe.

 Tights or socks

Consider wearing tights if you're wearing a skirt or dress, and wear socks long enough to reach past the hem of your trousers if wearing trousers. Your tights can be sheer and be a colour that's appropriate to your outfit. Make sure your socks have a neutral colour or a simple pattern that doesn't overwhelm your outfit.

 Closed-toe shoes

Pumps, flats and low heels all work for business casual. Avoid high heels unless they're something you're comfortable wearing. It's usually best to wear neutral colours such as cream, brown, navy or black to create a cohesive appearance with the rest of your outfit. Only wear bright colours if you’re wearing trousers that are long enough to cover most of the shoe. You want your shoes to be complementary, but not distracting. Wear shoes that are clean and don't have any marks or scuffs.

Jewellery and accessories

Select jewellery and accessories that don't overpower you or your outfit. Wear tasteful jewellery or opt for simple items such as fine gold chains and slender bracelets. Wear up to three rings at a time, but not too much more as too many rings can be distracting. The same principle applies to your earrings. Hoops or studs with minimal stones are preferable as they aren’t going to overpower your face. It’s a good idea to think about complementing your clothing instead of letting your accessories speak for you.

Shirts with collars and long sleeves

Start with a button-down shirt with a collar for ties in white or light colours. It’s usually best to avoid wearing intense or unusual colours. Keep the shirt tucked into your trousers. If you prefer to wear a tie, pick one that has a solid colour which complements the colour of your shirt or has a simple pattern that's not distracting. If the weather is cool, you can wear a jumper over the shirt. The same rules for shirt colour also apply to the jumper. 

Chinos or dress trousers

Trousers made of cotton twill with a crisp press are acceptable for casual business attire. Select trousers that are black or navy, as beige is typically too casual for an interview. It's up to you if you prefer to wear trousers with pleated or straight fronts. If you wear trousers with belt loops, consider wearing a belt for a complete appearance. Make sure the rise of your trousers is high enough to keep your shirt tucked in at all times. 

Always wear trousers with hems that come past the tops of your shoes. If you cross your legs, you want as little of your sock showing as possible, and avoid showing skin. Some companies may consider dark-coloured jeans to be appropriate attire, but it’s usually best not to wear them to an interview no matter how casual the workplace is. 

Dark shoes with matching socks

Wear leather shoes such as brogues, casual loafers with a neat appearance or a professional-looking shoe that has a polished leather look. Match your socks to your shoes – you can have simple patterns on your socks as long as the colour complements the shoes. Make sure your shoes are clean and free from marks or scuffs. 

Accessories

If you wear a wristwatch, make sure it has a leather or metal bracelet and that the watch itself isn’t going to be distracting. Wear a leather belt that matches your shoe colour. If you wear a blazer, you can place a subtly-coloured pocket square in the upper pocket. 

Related: Different types of business attire: a guide with examples

Have a dress rehearsal

This is your final step prior to going to the interview. Pull a selection of garments from the wardrobe and lay them out with one another. Mix and match the pieces to determine which look best with each other. You're going to be able to see when colours clash and when something stands out too much before you put them on. Make final selections for your outfit and try them on.

Put on each outfit as you originally laid it out. Avoid mixing and matching from other outfits just yet. Instead, take a look at how the clothes look on you, how they complement each other and how well they fall on your body. Once you're satisfied with how a particular group of clothes looks, you can try switching out pieces to see if they look better or don't improve upon your first selection. 

Related: What not to wear to an interview (and what to wear instead)

Clothes that are not considered business casual

There are some clothes that are typically best to avoid in an interview no matter the formality or informality of the business. Dressing neatly and conservatively for a job interview is almost always going to be appreciated by the interviewer, and showing you know what to wear can improve your chances of getting hired. To make sure you’re dressed appropriately, avoid the following items:

  • skirts or dresses shorter than your fingertips

  • flip-flops, sandals of any kind or trainers

  • shorts of any kind

  • clothes that allow your undergarments to show 

  • shirts with too-high hems or too-low necklines that show more skin than necessary

  • heavy perfume or cologne

  • polo shirts

  • denim jeans


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