As you may know, if you follow me on social media or know me in real life, I am currently unemployed and actively seeking a new job. I can’t lie to you and say that it has been easy to be unemployed, but one thing that always brings me joy is getting dressed. And, luckily, I’ve had to get dressed for several interviews recently.
My bestie, Claire, thought it would be a good idea for me to share some tips on what to wear for an interview and I agree, so I’m doing it!
Interview attire feels very specific and boring at times. Women, traditionally and stereotypically, wear blouses or button-up shirts, slacks or pencil skirts, heels or flats and a blazer or cardigan. A fitted knee length dress is also an option for women to wear to an interview. Those are all great options and I’m not knocking them!
What I am saying is that there are other options that may be acceptable that will make you feel more confident in your personal style and could make you stand out to a potential employer.
Another factor to consider is the medium in which your interview is being held. So many interviews are held via Zoom or over the phone and that can impact what you wear. You may have to wear a mask during your interview, which adds another element of discomfort. I bought a neutral-colored mask that would go with any outfit that I chose to wear, but I still can’t get around my glasses fogging up when I wear a mask.
But, as I always say, wear whatever makes you comfortable and confident. Be yourself during your interviews and do your best, that’s all you can ask of yourself and that’s all anyone can ask of you. And, as we all know, if we feel our best during an interview, we will speak and present ourselves like the badasses we are.
For all of these looks, I am wearing minimal jewelry and my hair tied up in a bun. When I wear a lot of jewelry or have my hair down, I tend to fiddle with them, so I like to remove that temptation from the get go. In all of these looks, I am also wearing my only pair of black flats. I am not a flats wearer usually, but I have these pointed toe black flats for interviews and other formal occassions. Lastly, I thought I should mention makeup. I don’t wear makeup regularly, but I feel like it is good practice to wear makeup that is natural and not distracting for an interview.
All of these looks are appropriate for interviews in-person and online!
Outfit Formula #1: Blouse/Shirt + Slacks
Let’s start with something basic and elevate it!
Instead of going with a standard black or gray pair of slacks, choose some slacks that are in a chic print or in a color. The same goes with a pencil skirt, if that is more your vibe. I went with gray plaid pants that have pockets, hit right at the ankle and are mad comfy.
Next, pair your bottoms with a blouse in your best color or one that goes well with the bottoms you chose. I chose a green wrap blouse, but even going with one print or pattern and a neutral color like black livens things up a bit.
Make sure your blouse is not revealing and that your skirt is not too short or tight and, for my bustier friends, go for a top that does not have buttons so that you won’t have any mishaps with gapping. You don’t want your body to be the primary focus and you don’t want to make a bad first impression. Save the body-ody-ody for outside of the office, honey.
If you are daring enough to mix prints and/or patterns in a office setting, go subtle. Your abilities and personality should be the focal point.
Outfit Details: Blouse – Target | Pants – Wal-Mart | Flats – TJ Maxx
Outfit Formula #2: Blazer + Thin Sweater
I live in New England now, so the idea of having an interview in the winter is not crazy. Bring out those sweaters, baby!
For this look, I went with a staple pair of black pull-on pants and added a pattern and some color on top. I chose my most fitted sweater because it is polished and tailored, versus a more oversized and cozy option, then, as a final layer, I added a fitted navy blazer that goes with the colors in the sweater and adds another element of style, warmth and professionalism.
Layers in the office are always a good idea because, let’s face it, that office could be frigid or sweltering. There is no in-between. The ability to remove and add layers is key to your comfort and success.
Remember with any outfit, you are supposed to be the focal point. If you decide to wear prints and/or patterns, still make sure that your outfit is not distracting. Your abilities and personality are the whole reason why you are there to begin with. Don’t let your outfit outshine you.
Outfit Details: Sweater & Pants – Wal-Mart | Blazer – Thrifted | Flats – TJ Maxx
Outfit Formula #3: Top + Sweater
In the interest of being professional, trendy, comfy and cute all at the same time, layer a sweater over a top.
I recently have been kind of obsessed with sweater vests over button-up shirts and it just so happens that it is a look that I would rock to an interview. Just call me Arthur the Aardvark.
I chose a sweater vest in this amazing shade of blue and a simple white button-up. I wore this ode to traditional men’s professional attire with my navy cropped pants for a monochrome look that has touches of the dark academia trend seeping through.
I love the look of anything layered over a shirt, where the collar and hems stick out at the bottom and the top, so a sweater with sleeves would be great a choice too.
The outfit possibilites are endless! You can mix and match these formulas and tips to your heart’s and your style’s content.
I’m keen on bringing more fashion and style into the everyday office and making folks comfortable with doing so. Say “goodbye” to boring professional attire and shout “hello” to color, print and layers!
If you are interested in professional and comfortable workwear, check-out this post I wrote last year. And for more information and examples on what to wear to an interview, check-out this video by Indeed.
Here’s hoping we all land the jobs of our dreams!