BlogJob InterviewsWhat to Wear to an Interview: How to Dress to Impress in 2024

What to Wear to an Interview: How to Dress to Impress in 2024

what to wear to an interview

Knowing what to wear to an interview is essential to making a good first impression. Appropriate attire will make you look sharp and professional, signaling that you’re taking the situation seriously. Additionally, it shows your understanding of current trends, industry norms, and even the company’s culture.

All of this can set you apart from the other candidates, which is why we’re going to teach you what to consider before dressing for an interview, which outfits to choose based on the type of interview, and what not to wear. 

Let’s start!

Key Takeaways

  • Three main factors to consider when deciding what to wear to an interview are comfort, the company’s dress code, and industry norms.

  • For a casual interview, you can’t go wrong with a polo shirt or an elegant blouse, clean jeans or chinos, sneakers, and modest accessories.

  • A business casual interview is a step up from a casual one, which means you should incorporate sports coats, collared shirts, smart knitwear, dress pants, pencil skirts, and similar items.

  • Formal business interviews require the highest level of professionalism, so you should wear a suit and tie or a blazer with a button-down shirt and suit pants.

  • Revealing, ill-fitting, and overly casual clothes and too many accessories should be avoided.

What to Wear to an Interview: 3 Factors to Consider

hr resume

There are three key factors to consider when choosing what to wear to an interview, so let’s explore what they are.

#1. Comfort

Comfort is vital when choosing an outfit for a job interview, as it directly affects your performance. For instance, ill-fitting clothes or shoes can make you feel uneasy, which might negatively reflect on your body language. Instead of being calm and collected, it might make you act restless and fidgety.

Furthermore, a comfortable outfit can reduce interview anxiety by helping you feel relaxed and making it easier for you to focus on the conversation. For example, breathable fabrics are particularly recommended for individuals who are prone to sweating under stress.

#2. Company’s Dress Code

If you want to make a positive first impression, it’s important to adhere to the dress code of the company you’re applying to. This doesn’t just make you appear professional in front of recruiters or hiring managers; it shows that you did your homework and you’re familiar with the organization’s culture, too.

You can research the company for an interview by looking at its website, examining its social media pages, checking out the LinkedIn profiles of its employees, and more. The information you gather will help you determine whether you’ll need a casual or a formal outfit or something in between.

#3. Industry Norms

It’s essential to consider industry norms in addition to a company’s culture when determining what to wear and what to bring to an interview. Dressing expectations can vary significantly between industries and affect everything—from working and networking to interviewing.

For instance, if you’re in the law or finance fields, you’ll likely have to dress formally for an interview, as clothing items like suits, ties, and skirt suits are a staple in the industry. On the other hand, if your career is in graphic design, advertising, or social media, you might blend in better if you’re wearing something more casual to your job interview.

What to Wear to a Casual Interview

why is networking important

Choosing what to wear to a casual interview requires careful consideration of clothing articles, as you want to look professional but not overdressed. While you’re going for a more relaxing look, you still want to display seriousness and respect for the recruiter and the opportunity you’ve been given.

If you’re wondering what to wear to an interview as a teenager or you’re unsure about what to wear to an interview at a grocery store, this is a good place to start.

You can begin by choosing a neat button-down shirt, polo shirt, sweater, or blouse. What you should avoid are overly graphic or flashy T g-shirts, tank tops, and similar articles that are too laid-back.

When it comes to pants and skirts, opt for chinos, clean jeans, casual trousers, modest skirts, or dresses. Avoid ripped jeans, shorts, leggings, and so on. Footwear can vary from elegant sneakers to loafers, but you should refrain from wearing sandals, flip-flops, and other inappropriate footgear.

As far as accessories go, you’ll always do well with an elegant watch, belt, and modest jewelry. What you don’t want are over-the-top accessories that are flashy and draw too much attention.

Another thing to consider when choosing what to wear to a casual interview is color and pattern. It’s always better to go for muted colors and little to no patterns over a bright outfit with busy artwork.

Lastly, ensure that you’ve properly styled your hair and nails, as they are just as important for your overall appearance.

What to Wear to a Business Casual Interview

why networking is important

Contemplating what to wear to a business casual interview is a step up from a completely casual one. It includes incorporating elements that are more formal and professional, conveying a more serious tone while still letting your personal style shine through.

Starting with tops, you can once again opt for polo shirts in addition to smart knitwear and collared long-sleeve shirts with blazers or sports coats. When choosing what to wear to an interview for women, you can always go for blouses or smart tops paired with blazers and cardigans. A professional dress is also a smart choice.

For the bottoms, you can’t go wrong with well-tailored trousers, chinos, dress pants, or pencil skirts. The footwear comprises dress shoes, loafers, closed-toe flats, modest heels, and similar.

Accessories should once more be subtle and tasteful. Simple belts, watches, and minimal jewelry are a go-to when choosing what to wear to an interview as a male, while women can bring tasteful bags and scarves to complete their business casual look.

Ultimately, compared to a casual outfit, business casual interview attire incorporates additional formal elements like blazers and dress shoes. That results in an overall more polished and elegant look where attention is focused on professional details and a higher level of sophistication.

For instance, if you’re trying to determine what to wear to an interview at a school, a business casual look would always be a smart choice.

What to Wear to a Business Formal Interview

cultural fit interview questions

A formal business interview requires the highest levels of professionalism and attention to detail when it comes to dressing up. These types of interviews have the most strict dress code, and failure to adhere to it can severely diminish your chances of progressing to further stages of the process.

For men, formal attire is one of the simplest ones to pull off. All you will need is a suit and tie with appropriate shoes, and you’re set. Of course, you want a well-fitted, matching suit with notable colors, such as navy or charcoal. Couple that with dress leather shoes in a suitable color, and that’s it.

Underneath the suit, you should wear an elegant and well-pressed white or light blue shirt with a tie that complements the entire outfit. Once again, you want to avoid flashy colors or overly busy patterns with ties and instead opt for a more tame option.

If you’re wondering how to accessorize for an interview, you can never go wrong with a subtle belt that matches your shoes, a classic watch, and even cufflinks. Additionally, you can add another touch of elegance by including a pocket square.

Women can maintain a formal look with a blazer and a white button-down shirt, suit pants that match the blazer, and flats, loafers, or pumps. For accessories, just earrings and a watch are enough, though you can add some simple gold or silver pieces as well.

You can achieve a more feminine (but still adequately formal) appearance by going with a skirt suit or an office dress paired with heels. Accessorize that with elegant jewelry and/or a scarf, and you'll strike the perfect balance between a fashionable and professional look.

5 Expert Tips on What to Wear to an Interview

Let’s go through some expert tips that will help you decide what to wear to an interview.

#1. Opt for Conservative/Professional Attire

When dressing up for an interview, it’s typically smart to be on the safe side and go with conservative and professional attire. This means you should choose traditional options that were tested over time and have been proven to work well in corporate environments.

Avoid trendy clothes and flashy pieces, as they can draw too much attention and even signal that you don’t take the meeting seriously. By wearing a classic, serious, and professional outfit, you’ll project an image of competence and reliability.

That way, you don’t run the risk of distracting the interviewer, and you’ll allow your skills and experiences to be the focal point of the conversation.

#2. Dress for the Position You Want

One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re dressed appropriately for an interview is to wear clothes that are suited to the position you’re applying for. You can check what the professionals in your field are wearing to work and choose the same attire for your job interview.

As a general rule, if you’re going after a high-level position, your safest bet would be to pick formal business attire. Conversely, if you’re wondering what to wear to an interview at a restaurant, following the business casual dress code will help you look professional while talking about your restaurant skills.

A position-appropriate outfit will showcase a deep understanding of the role that extends beyond familiarity with the tasks and responsibilities.

#3. Prioritize Confidence

Confidence is vital during a job interview, as it can help you come off as a skilled and experienced professional who is well-suited for the role. A proper outfit can help you both feel and appear more confident.

While adhering to the dress code is crucial, you should still pick an outfit that fits you well, makes you feel comfortable, reflects your personal style, and looks good overall. A sense of self-assuredness will help your body language, have a positive impact on your communication skills, and can directly impact your success during the interview.

#4. Keep Fragrance and Makeup Subtle

As a general rule, fragrance should be discovered, not announced. If you’re not sure how to apply cologne, it’s always better to follow the “less is more” rule.

Similar rules apply to makeup. If you choose to wear it, you should go with a natural look and use makeup only to subtly enhance your features. Avoid going for full glam makeup or overly bold colors that can be distracting and even off-putting in a business environment.

#5. Be Mindful of the Details

Minor details can make or break your outfit. For example, you should ensure that your shoes match your belt, that you’ve put on appropriate socks, and that your hair and nails are done. If you’re a fan of pocket squares, make sure that you know the proper etiquette when it comes to wearing them.

Attention to detail is a valuable skill in today’s professional landscape, and by nailing these small touches, you’ll not only enhance your overall appearance but showcase important soft skills.

What Not to Wear to an Interview: 3 Important Guidelines

Before we wrap up this comprehensive guide, let’s go through a couple of tips on what not to wear to an interview.

#1. Revealing/Ill-Fitting Clothing

Revealing or ill-fitting clothing can distract the interviewer and draw their attention away from your skills and qualifications. Moreover, it can send the wrong message, making you appear careless and unprofessional.

Clothes that are too loose, too tight, or expose too much skin are not appropriate for a business setting and can immediately make the recruiter question your suitability. Instead, you want to follow the dress code and ensure that all pieces of clothing fit you perfectly. That way, you’ll exude professionalism and leave a positive impression.

#2. Overly Casual Attire

Even an outfit that isn’t revealing or ill-fitting can still be overly casual for an interview. This is particularly important for interviews with a formal business dress code, though the core principle applies to all interviews.

Even if you’re preparing for a casual interview, you should still avoid items like torn jeans, colorfully printed t-shirts, oversized hoodies, and so on. These items will signal to recruiters that you aren’t taking the process seriously and that you likely aren’t familiar with their company’s culture.

#3. Too Many Accessories

Wearing too many accessories can be distracting and make you appear less professional during a job interview. This includes everything from large and flashy jewelry to oversized handbags and even excessive makeup. All of that shifts attention from your competence to your appearance and will likely have a negative impact on the conversation.

Your accessories should be elegant and subtle, complementing the rest of your outfit. They shouldn’t be the main focus of your outfit but rather used to polish your appearance.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for a job interview is a challenging endeavor. Not only do you need to come up with the answers to the most common interview questions and familiarize yourself with the STAR method, but you also need to know how to dress up and behave during the conversation.

The key is to remain professional, regardless of the role that you’re applying for. The core principles remain the same, whether you’re figuring out what to wear to an interview at a hospital or a marketing agency. You should prioritize comfort, adhere to the company’s dress code, and follow industry norms. Best of luck!

Henry Garrison
Henry Garrison
Senior Content Writer
Henry Garrison is a senior content writer, but he is also a guitarist, a baseball fan, and a family man. He has years of experience in the industry, and he loves challenging himself and thinking outside the box. His passion is writing high-quality content that helps thousands of people land their dream job! He has had his fair share of editing content too, and loves to help out everyone in the team.

Create your resume once, use it everywhere

Our easy-to-use technology helps you create a standout resume quickly. Easily create a mobile-optimized resume website in just minutes or download and share it as a PDF.
Build my resume