When you’re in this article… Congratulations, ladies! You’ve done a good job!
You’ve gone through countless job boards to find the most suitable position, researched salary expectations for your field, and compiled a sparkling resume highlighting all of your finest skills. Finally, you’ve landed an interview.
Well, that’s a tremendous amount of effort! But there’s still one step to take right now: Deciding what to wear.
In case you are not aware of how crucial it is, I have some scary news: According to studies from Princeton University, a person only needs 1/10th of a second to form a first impression about you based on what they see.
Crazy, right? Don’t freak out just yet – that split-second impression is all about visuals! People will look at your appearance, which includes your body language and attire. If you want to boost your chances of walking out of the interview with a job offer, the key is to ensure that your outfit is neat, tidy, and on point.
That’s why, in this post, JobandEdu will give you some ideas on the best interview clothes for women. The goal is to help you know exactly what to wear to feel relaxed, calm, and confident on the big day. Let’s get started, shall we?
Table of Contents
Start With Research
As a job seeker, you probably have researched everything about the potential employer, hiring managers, positions, and rates of pay. Here’s a career advice: Determining what to wear on the next interview also requires research.
Each company has a different work environment, hence a different dress code. For example, creative businesses often encourage more variety, while traditional industries and roles require a strictly formal wardrobe.
Whatever it is, you will want to prepare beforehand and dress appropriately. It shows you’ve got a glimpse of the company’s culture, which is always a plus point.
So how do you know what works best at the company you are interviewing for? Don’t forget the internet’s power! Almost all businesses nowadays are highly active on social media, where they update significant events and work culture. Going through their Facebook or Linkedin pages, you might find plenty of photos to use as a reference point. Take a look at this:
As you can see, Teachable – a startup that helps people create and sell online courses – posted a photo of their team-building session on Instagram. It seems like most of the team is in casual/smart casual clothes. Now you get a general idea of what to wear if you are having an interview with them.
In my experience, companies’ dress codes can be broken down into three buckets: Formal, business/smart casual, and informal.
Interview Clothes For Women – Formal
In recent years, formal is becoming less of a standard for interview clothes. Still, many companies follow this dress code, especially when their employees directly interact with clients and serve as the company’s representatives on a day-to-day basis. Think bankers, consultants, lawyers, etc., for example.
If your potential employer embraces the formal style, this often means:
- A pantsuit or skirt suit.
- A blouse and dress pants/suit skirt.
- A statement dress.
Contrary to popular belief, going formal doesn’t have to be boring. Let’s go over some tips to elevate the look and turn you into a confident, powerful lady!
Go Classic With A Black Dress And Tights
When it comes to “formal”, perhaps you will think of a pantsuit or skirt suit in neutral colors. Of course, you can incorporate some modern style trends into your suit, like choosing one in camel or forest green instead of the traditional black or navy. For some women, however, a suit’s clean lines just don’t match their styles and personalities.
In that case, a tasteful “little black dress” would be a superb choice. This is the hallmark of minimal yet well-refined professional attire. Dresses with a structured fit and delicate details exude authority and professionalism yet are still modern.
When choosing your dress, invest in a high-quality one that skims the knee. Knee-length is safe because when you sit down for an interview, the dress will hike up a bit. To breathe some life into your look, match the dress with textured tights. Nonetheless, keep the pattern subtle and elegant. A cable pattern, ribbed look, or a sheer stripe will add to the elegance, but make sure to avoid fishnet tights – they are inappropriate for the office.
Complete the timeless look with a pair of black heels, and you are ready to show the interviewer your best self.
Or Try A Statement Dress
But black isn’t the only option. Although the key to formal style is professional and conservative, you can still play around with colors. A classy dress in intriguing shades, such as dark turquoise, will be an excellent addition to your interview wardrobe.
With a statement dress (like the one you see above), you might skip the accessories altogether – the dress speaks for itself. Nonetheless, stay away from bright colors like orange or pink. According to surveys from CareerBuilder, HR often associates these colors with someone who’s unprofessional. You will want to come off as more professional and reliable during your interview.
Another rule of thumb is to check the neckline and hemline before you purchase a dress for your interview. Avoid dresses that are too short, feature low-cut, or have exposing necklines at all costs.
To round off an outfit like this, all you need is a pair of black heels or black ballet flats.
Look For Button-Down Shirt Or Blouses With Interesting Details
Dresses are not your style, you might say? Well, you will look elegant in a suit! While a white button-down shirt is a universal item and can be paired with almost anything, you can spice things up with light pink or baby blue shirts. If you plan to wear it with a suit, just make sure their colors match each other.
Another formal look that’s on trend is a blouse paired with dress pants or a knee-length pencil skirt. To add a personal touch, choose a blouse with interesting details, like the one below:
Interview Clothes For Women – Business Casual
Hop on a rush-hour subway in NYC or stroll around LA’s Financial District during lunchtime, and you will see how this has become the norm for most companies nowadays. The idea of this style is to look professional and relaxed simultaneously, which modern office workers gladly embrace. Forget about the suit and black shoes for job interview if your potential employer follows the business casual dress code!
So for women, what does business casual typically mean?
- Nothing says “business casual” more than a blazer. Since it resembles a suit jacket but with more casual cuts, a blazer is more relaxed while still maintaining professionalism. For this style, you can pair it with either a blouse or a shirt.
- Tailored dress pants or knee-length skirts.
- Fancy flats or pumps.
- Unlike formal, which requires you to keep accessories to the minimum, business casual allows you to add personal styling with accessories.
Below are some of the looks I’d suggest for this practical, trendy style:
Think Menswear, With A Khaki Blazer
Investing in a menswear-inspired blazer is definitely worthwhile. It can make a perfect pairing with a blouse or button-down shirt. It also looks terrific with a matching skirt or dress pants. When you are out of the workplace and would like to have some fun with your besties, you can style your blazer with crop tops or short summer dresses to get a chic, sophisticated look. Yes, it’s that versatile!
Above is an example of interview clothes for women, with a blazer as the centerpiece. All the pieces come in neutral colors, but the use of accessories makes them look pop. With a blouse or shirt that features interesting collar detail, you can choose to button it all the way up instead of wearing a necklace.
Pair A Sweater With Black Dress Pants
Every lady should have at least one pair of classic black slacks in her closet; that’s something I believe. When you have a pair of high-quality, good-fit black dress pants that last for many years, your money is well-spent.
Once you get yourself a solid pair of black slacks, it’s easy to mix and match. You might wear it with a white shirt for a formal look or a sweater to create a business casual vibe.
Unleash your creativity, and black dress pants won’t look so dull anymore. Add a top with quirky detail, like the stripped, heather-grey sweater you can see above. This lends the look a laid-back vibe and gives it some more character.
Interview Clothes For Women – Informal
Some interviewers start to favor informal interviews, in which they try to get a feel of the candidate before inviting them to the company for a formal one. Usually, these would take place over lunch or coffee. Some startups also encourage employees to dress casually since working here would require long days and overtime. Relaxed outfits are more comfortable and practical, allowing for better productivity.
However, even if casual is your potential employer’s dress code, you wouldn’t want to go too casual. To create a good impression, it’s best to be smart casual – fun and light, yet still professional:
- Smart slacks.
- Can you wear jeans to an interview if the dress code is informal? Yes, but opt for dark-colored jeans and avoid blue jeans.
- Knee-length midi skirts.
- Well-fit blouses or shirts.
- Cropped cardigans can create an “academia” vibe without being too formal.
- Casual heels or ballet flats to save your feet.
Still confused? I have some suggestions!
Pair Up A V-Neck Sweater And Slacks
Elegant yet practical, you can never go wrong with the combination of a blouse/button-down shirt and a V-neck sweater. With black slacks, they can create an extraordinary business casual look. Nonetheless, if you are going to have an informal interview, they will also go well with jeans or even khaki trousers.
The best thing about this set is its versatility. With only a few pieces, you are ready for many looks. By purchasing three basic button-downs or blouses and three matching sweaters, you will have nine different tops to pair with various bottoms to rock interviews and the workplace.
Spice Things Up With A Print Cardigan
When the dress code is casual, don’t shy away from prints. Even though everything too bright or showy should be avoided, a two-tone design can liven up an otherwise dull outfit while still lending you a professional look.
Don’t Underestimate Skype And Video Interviews!
As you already know, the recent pandemic dramatically increased the use of video interviews, making video interview skills more important for job applicants.
Figuring out what to wear for an online interview might be confusing for the ladies out there. According to recruiters, though, you should approach it exactly as you would in an in-person interview, including how you dress. In general, you’d still want to research the company’s dress code and dress accordingly. Avoid baggy clothes, pajamas, athleisure, and anything that’s not appropriate for your potential employer’s culture.
Aside from that, ensure your video is in a suitable and professional setting. HR wouldn’t want to see the messy room behind you!
The Devil May Wear Prada, But It’s All About Details
I can still go on and on about interview clothes for women, but, in the end, it all comes down to one simple rule: Dress appropriately and comfortably.
Not all of us are born with an impeccable sense of fashion right off the bat. Building a refined wardrobe can take time, even requiring a good amount of self-reflection. However, you can always begin by ensuring you are comfortable in your interview clothes.
Whether formal, business casual, or informal is your dress code, stay away from new shoes, clothes that require Spanx, or anything that restricts your movement. If you are not feeling at ease, it will show on your face. That’s never a good thing – not for a first, second, or even last impression!