What You Should Wear to an Interview

Wondering what you should wear to an interview? It all depends on the job you’re going for to be honest. I know that doesn’t sound like a good answer, but it’s the best advice I can give you. Although that advice is pretty vague, I can tell you, from experience, that it’s always better to be overdressed than under-dressed.

What’s Considered Interview Attire?

No matter how casual your potential or current office may be, it’s always good to show up dressed to impressed, which is why women can never go wrong interviewing in a nice blouse, blazer, dress pants, or a knee-length skirt and a comfortable pair of heels or flats. Although it’s important to look and feel your best during an interview, ladies, keep your make up light and natural. Makeup can be distracting for the person interviewing you, depending on what you decide to wear and how much you have on. Make sure your makeup is blended well (aka your neck and face are the same color), you stay away from harsh lip colors, and you check your teeth (for lipstick stains) before you go into an interview.

Men should wear dress pants, a jacket and button down, and dress shoes. Tie optional… I feel like ties are a thing of the past – most offices today aren’t that formal anymore. However, I do think a jacket is important. It can always be taken off, depending on the temperature of the room or what type of interview you’re going for. 

Regardless of your gender, I shouldn’t have to tell you this twice, but make sure your clothes fit and you’re properly groomed. You can never go wrong with solid, neutral colors, or a nice pinstripe, so I would steer away from busy patterns (but this is really a personal preference/judgement call).

On the day of your interview, skip the perfume or cologne. No smell is the best smell, and you don’t want to risk over-spraying. Although it’s best to skip perfume or cologne, don’t skip the deodorant. I feel silly saying it, but you never know the type of environment you’ll be interviewing in (especially if you’re at a career fair) or how nervous you’ll be.

Remember, you only get one first impression, so make it count.

Where to Shop for Interview Clothes

How do you make a good first impression when it comes to appearance alone? No worries.

You can ball on a budget and still look professional.

With that being said, here are a few of my favorite stores to shop for business clothes (these stores apply for men as well):

  • Express – I feel like they’re always having some sort of sale, and if they’re not, I wait for their close to go on sale. They also have a rewards system that gives you cash back when you spend a certain amount of money.
  • Ann Taylor/Loft – Literally, I always feel like they’re having a 40%+ sale and sending me coupons via email. I kid you not. I’ve gotten a lot of my blouses and dress pants from there, and I find that their clothes are high-quality. This is normally my go-to spot for interview and business casual clothing.
  • TJ Maxx and Kohls – Let’s be real, TJ Maxx and Kohls have everything! At both stores, they pretty much pay you to shop there (Kohls has 30% off sales A LOT and TJ Maxx always sends me $10 or $20 off coupons once I spend a certain amount (which isn’t hard to do there)).
  • Banana Republic – Personally, I think Banana’s clothes are a little pricey, and I don’t think their sales are that great. However, I think their clothes are really cute, and if you find something you can’t live without, then go for it. My cousin (who is a guy), shops there often and says they are one of the only stores that has dress shirts that fit his neck size (I never knew this was a thing for men), and says they have a wide variety of sizes (for those who have the same problem or are in need of some new shirts).
  • Macys / Bloomingdales / Nordstrom – Department stores are great because you can buy everything in one place. Macys’ “one day only” sales are more like every week, so don’t let those commercials fool you. They’re always having a sale on something. While I like Macys, I prefer other department stores to it, such as Bloomingdales or Nordstrom. Although these stores are more expensive, I find the quality of their clothes are better and usually find a good deal in the sale racks (which they always have).
  • Rue la la / Hautelook and Nordstrom Rack – All three of these stores are “discount” department stores whose big sisters are Bloomingdales (Rue la la) and Nordstrom (Hautelook and Nordstrom Rack). While Rue la la and Hautelook are online stores only, you can visit Nordstrom Rack stores in person. Designer clothes for less? Yes please.

Invest In Yourself – And Your Future

Although it’s great to be a bargain hunter, I think it’s important to have a few “investment” pieces in your closet. I didn’t hear the term “investment piece” until my brief stint in fashion. Investment pieces are expensive items in your closet that can be worn for years. My investment pieces include a black blazer from Ann Taylor, Rothys black flats (they’re expensive, but they’re the most comfortable shoes I own), and a nice purse/tote, big enough to carry a folder/portfolio (I have a few bags (they’re my weakness!)).

Depending on how informal your job is, your investment pieces can be worn for more than the purpose of interviewing. This is how I justify expensive purchases. I wear my investment pieces all the time and try my best to incorporate them into my every day style.

Another great investment piece to add to your closet (or jewelry box) is a nice watch. I’m not sure why, but I always feel like it completes a look. Kate Spade, Fossil and Michael Kors all have great watches and most can be purchased for less $250. You can buy these watches directly from their sites, or from department stores (with in-store coupons). I love watches, so I’ve invested in expensive watches such as Michele and Movado because I think they’re classy and timeless pieces (pun intended) that I will wear forever.

Drop a Comment!

What’s your go-to store for interview or business casual clothing? What are the investment pieces in your closet that you can’t live without?

Drop a comment and let Talkin’withTosti know!

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