Sometimes formulaic dressing is your best friend. Long haul flights, busy weekends, we all have our trusted outfits for those high-performance days. Casual interview outfits are similar and the formula is simple: a classic blazer, sleek pair of denim, and a fuss-free tee. Keep your hair, makeup, and jewelry simple, and you’re out the door, résumé in hand. This formula is perfect for most casual workplaces including technology startups, companies in coworking spaces, creative fields, etc.
Before I get into the details of the individual pieces I’m wearing, it’s worth mentioning that my overall look here might be slightly more leveled-up than what you’d typically wear everyday at a startup or other casual workplaces, but because you’re in interview mode, you always want to err on the side of dressy/polished. This is important because it demonstrates respect for the opportunity and seriousness about the role. You want all of your verbal and non-verbal cues (like your appearance) to signal to the interviewer that you care about the position, are grateful for their time, and invested in the outcome of the interview. Of course, you don’t want to go overboard, dress too formally and risk looking out-of-place. But the last thing you want is a look that’s so casual that the hiring team isn’t sure you’re taking the role and the opportunity seriously.
Blazers and Jeans Perfect For Casual Interviews
While this combination can be put together in many different ways, you can see that I’m wearing my favorite black Smythe blazer, which I found at Nordstrom and have been raving about incessantly since pulling it out of the box. The body is made of a traditional blazer fabric, but the sleeves have stretch to them, which is sartorial innovation that’s long overdue. Additionally, I have a classic, crisp white v-neck tee offering a good foundation for the look, tucked into a beautiful pair of jeans that go above and beyond with a belted high waist.
When it comes to footwear and your handbag, you have to use your discretion. Today, I went with a classic brown suede kitten heel and a leopard bag but it’s perfectly okay (and sometimes necessary) to swap this out for a classic tote bag. However, if you’re interviewing for a creative role or creative company, your shoes or bag can be a great place to show some personality and flare. They’ll make a stylish impression when you walk in the door, but won’t be distracting during the actual conversation.
This leads us to another important thing to keep in mind when dressing for interviews: simplicity. You need a look that’s polished but doesn’t have anything too crazy going on that will potentially distract the interviewer during your conversation. You don’t want them to be more focused on your colorful statement top than what you have to say.
Once you have all of the outfit elements in place, don’t overlook the details. Make sure your tee isn’t stained or stretched out. Be sure your blazer fits properly and is pressed. If it’s new, remember to remove the tacking (the small stitched X) from the back vent! Same approach applies to your jeans—make sure they look polished and aren’t too tight. Again, the person interviewing you doesn’t know you yet and hasn’t had the opportunity to discover how talented you are. The non-verbal cues matter and all of these things speak to your judgment, self-awareness and attention to detail.
Overall, the blazer, jeans and tee formula is simple, easy to implement and comfortable to wear. With any career move, the real effort should go into preparing for the conversations ahead, familiarizing yourself with the company, and preparing for your best interview yet.
Thanks to Nordstrom and ShopStyle for partnering on this post!