Dress For Success: What to Wear for an Interview

EntryLevelLifeButton_D When searching for a job, it’s important to look the part. You want to dress like you’re professional, prepared, and capable – not like you just rolled out of bed. But, there are many different dress code policies in the business world, so how do you know whether or not to show up in the latest trends or go for the classic look? Follow these tips to pick out the best interview look that will get you noticed in a positive way.

Call the company first. To find out what the company’s dress code is, contact the company before your interview to find out how you should dress for the occasion. Speak with the receptionist or your company contact who helped set up your interview to get insight into what the company’s culture is like and ask what employees typically wear to work. They might be able to share some insight to help you get started.

Flex your style level. When you find out what the company’s dress code is, kick your wardrobe up a notch. For instance, if the company dress code is business casual, make it a point to dress professional. Not sure what the difference is between these two? Find out here. For example in a professional environment, men and women interviewing for the job could wear a nice pant suit. Just be observant of the company’s everyday dress code. If employees typically wear jeans and a polo, the executive look for your interview would be too much. Instead, go for slacks and nice shirt. 

Choose classics over trends. It’s a great thing to express your personality through your clothing choices, but for a job interview it’s better to err on the side of caution. Stick to basic colors like white, blue, navy, grey, or black instead of bright neon colors. And it’s still OK to reflect your personal style, but do it in a subtle, tasteful way. Choose one element of your wardrobe to play up. Some examples are a bright tie, a hip handbag, or shoes with a modern cut. If your interview outfit is classic with a little punch of color, you still look very polished and professional. In addition, women should choose simple jewelry like diamond stud earrings and a nice necklace instead of wearing large hoop earrings or several attention-grabbing necklaces.

An interview is a time for an employer to get to know about you, your skills, and your personality. You want to stand out from the competition, but not in a negative way. Have you ever had an interview gone bad because of something you wore? Share your thoughts on what not to wear here.


  1. Wise Step

    I had poor dressing sense during my early career start up days. I went to the interviews with some quite odd colors. Right now once i gained some exp working in the company i got to know How to Dress!
    Nice Post 🙂

  2. Madelaine

    Planning ahead is essential. Once I could only find one black shoe and one white shoe. My job interview was minutes away.

  3. Lela

    I found out after I was hired that one person did not want to hire me because I had some large earrings on. They were dressy and I had worn them with my suit before, but they were more for church instead of a job interview.

  4. crystal

    I always buy the whole suit, which was paired up by the sales girl cause I am poor in choosing a fit clothes. The ideas you share are helpful, thank you.

  5. Andrea Woolf

    This is a great post for those who want to dress for success. I especially like what you said about dressing up a notch.
    You obviously have given this subject a lot of thought and it’s great that you’re sharing your knowledge with others. You’re truly making a difference in the world. Keep doing what you’re doing!
    To your magnificence!

  6. Movin' On Up

    Hi Kim,
    Staying motivated is certainly easier said than done but, it is essential to keep your chin up during your job hunt. We wrote a blog on this topic for readers like you a few months ago, feel free to check it out here: http://blog.expresspros.com/movinonup/2011/02/4-ways-to-fight-the-blues-during-your-job-hunt.html#tp
    And yes, we do suggest tailoring your resume to fit the job you are applying for. Employers are looking for someone who is relevant to their industry and position. Check out a series we did called “Resume Boot Camp,” for more tips on writing the perfect resume: http://blog.expresspersonnel.com/movinonup/resume-boot-camp/#tp
    We wish you the best of luck in your job hunt and are honored you are turning to us for advice. Good luck, Kim!

  7. Hannah

    It’s important to dress for the type of job you are hoping to get, for example a fashion retail job will have a completely different dress code to a office business job. Stay true to your style but always dress smart and sophisticated. Team your outfit with classic accessories such as a timeless leather handbag and a pair of cream/black courts and you’re on to a winner!
    Thanks for the post.

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