You may recognize today’s suit dress from “Day 3: Interview Attire” of my ongoing 30 Dresses in 30 Days series on instagram. The pale grey hue and pleated style make it a refreshing spring/summer alternative to the standard dark suit and the perfect interview look for warm-weather months. This dress and suit jacket (which come in petite and tall options!!) also come in black if you need a darker alternative, and the suiting collection has a bunch of pants, skirts and dresses that can be worn interchangeably with the suit jacket—the kind of versatility that’s a total must when you’re just starting to build out your work wardrobe. For more on my work wardrobe essentials, check out this post!
Today, I thought I’d do a reprise of my top tips on what to wear to an interview, for those of you who will be job hunting soon. Whether you’re graduating from college this spring or an industry veteran looking to make a career move, it’s high time to get serious about your arsenal of interview attire for this spring and summer.
Today’s look is geared towards business formal interviews (read: Wear A Suit or Get the $%&# Out), but interview attire can vary widely across industries. While it’s important to do your homework on company culture in determining appropriate attire for the new position, there are a few general guidelines that universally apply.
As a general rule, no matter what industry or position, keep your interview look sleek and simple… unless of course you’re interviewing for the Broadway cast of Chicago, in which case you should probably jazz things up a bit (see what I did there? #broadwayjokes). But seriously, if you’re not auditioning for Cirque du Soleil, you want to keep things clean and effortless. Once you land the position, you’ll have the chance to evaluate your new work environment and adapt accordingly. Interview day, however, is not the day to “get creative” and show your prospective employer your “quirky” personality by wearing that sequined bomber jacket that you DIY’ed or the spikey leather choker that looks like something out of a medieval torture chamber. Nothing ends an interview faster than looking like you belong at an S&M convention.
If you’re not sure what you should wear to the interview, ask contacts at the company for suggested attire. If you’re still not sure, err on the more formal side, perhaps even wearing a suit like the one featured today. It’s always better to be overdressed, showing a high level of respect for the company and a seriousness about landing the job, than being underdressed and inappropriate.
Without further ado, here are my industry-agnostic guidelines for your head-to-toe interview look!
1. INVEST IN A WELL-FITTING, TAILORED ENSEMBLE
Whether you’re wearing a suit or not, pay close attention to fit. In particular, make sure nothing is too low-cut, too tight or too short. Fit-wise, it’s always better to err on the side of looser, rather than tighter, but don’t overcorrect. Clothing that’s too baggy can make you look sloppy. While you don’t want to be sporting a bun-hugging mini skirt to the interview, you also don’t want to look like you had to borrow your mom’s suit from the ’80s either. The goal is to find that happy medium and invest in a suit (or business casual outfit) that fits you well—a quest that may require buying pieces one size up and taking them to a tailor. Wearing ill-fitting clothing not only takes a toll on your confidence but also distracts the interviewer from focusing on all of the mind-blowingly brilliant things you have to say.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR SHOES ARE POLISHED AND PRACTICAL
Whether you go with flats or heels, make sure they’re polished and simple. You don’t want to sport anything that’s super dull, worn, or scratched up. This is also not the time to go hog-wild with trendy ankle boots or the strappy designer stilettos that you haven’t quite learned to walk in yet. A major goal of yours upon walking into the interview is to give your prospective employer the impression that you do not have a drinking problem. So, make sure your footwear is both appropriate and comfortable, allowing you to walk like a normal, sober human. If you’re wearing heels, shoot for three-inch heels like these ones, and don’t go higher than four inches. If your interviewer is forced to evaluate whether you’re either drunk or just wearing outrageously impractical footwear, they’re probs going to move on to the next applicant.
3. GO FOR MINIMAL, FUSS-FREE HAIR, NAILS AND MAKEUP
Step awayyy from the jewel-encrusted falsies, my friends. When it comes to interviews, less is more. If you have long hair, it’s generally a good idea to wear it back. Regardless of length, you want to appear well-groomed and put-together, without anything falling constantly in your face. For your nails, either go with clean nails or a neutral nail polish–no accent nails, glitter or metallics. As for makeup, shoot for a polished, minimal look. No thick eye liner, dramatic eye shadow or bright red lipstick. This is just not the venue. Lastly, be sure to avoid strong perfume. Personally, I’d advise going without any perfume (but obviously still wearing deodorant, duh).
4. KEEP ACCESSORIES SIMPLE
Again, nothing too trendy or distracting. Keep it conservative, delicate and relatively classic. Today, I’m wearing simple gold knot earrings and a delicate gold necklace. It’s probably a good idea to leave your “Bite Me” necklace at home, and you’ll also want to steer clear of huge bangles or dramatic dangle earrings. You want to exude confidence, but also convey the message that you spent more time researching the position and preparing for the interview than you did on your makeup and accessories.
Alright now go get ’em, tigers. Happy Monday everyone!
DRESS: J. Crew (check out the pants and pencil skirt in this collection too) | SUIT JACKET: J. Crew (also love this suit jacket in the same collection) | BAG: c/o Henri Bendel (love this similar one for work or interviews) | SHOES: SJP Collection (similar HERE) | NECKLACE: c/o Gorjana | EARRINGS: Juliet & Company | BARRETTE: Baublebar (very similar HERE) | BRACELET: c/o Brandy Pham | LIP: Make Up For Ever | NAILS: OPI Gel “Bubble Bath” (similar here)
More suit sets: