The team at your dream company is impressed with your work history and wants to know if you can come in ASAP for an interview. Um, of course you can! After the elation wears off, you wander over to stare into the void of your closet.
You know you have to nail it for the interview. Yes, you have those “work pants” you bought last season, which are appropriate—but also hideous and ill-fitting. So what the heck are you going to wear? Breathe in, breathe out, and read on.
We break it all the way down, and offer some specific ideas, below. But here are a few general principles to keep in mind: Wear neutral colors like blue, black, grey, or a crisp white since these are the tried-and-true of professional workwear. Wear clothing that skims your body and doesn’t cling. And make sure you can comfortably walk in your shoes.
Now, here’s what you should keep in mind for a killer job interview outfit:
Focus on simple, flattering necklines
It’s true that hiring managers begin assessing you from the minute you walk into the building. And when you sit down for some one-on-one questioning, the focus should be on your winning communication style.
The last thing you need is to make the interviewer’s mind wander away from your answers to, “Why did she wear that?” Think: Simple neutrals. This is not your moment to go tight, sheer, plunging, or busy. Conservative v-necks, boatnecks, and high collars are good go-tos. If you do want to wear a bright top, keep the rest of your look neutral.
Go for pants and skirts you can sit comfortably in
While you can get away with a loose-fitting blouse, you’ll want to stay away from pants that are too relaxed. While comfort is king, today is not the day for an “I woke up like this” vibe. That means the Goldilocks rule is in effect: opt for pants or a skirt that are neither too tight nor too loose. Slim-fit—where your shape is still visible, but you’re not being squeezed—is the move here. Wrinkles are the enemy, so stay away from linen, cotton, and rayon, unless it’s been treated.
Choose dresses that skim your body
Dresses: the category that contains it all, from short, body-con club looks to fluttery milkmaid styles. And while both work for the weekend, you should choose a modest, clean silhouette for an interview. A-line and sheaths are your friends. If you’re going to do a pattern, keep it adult. Your strawberry-print dress is perfect for a picnic, but you’re trying to get these guys to give you the big bucks, so polka dot or stripe it up.
Keep your handbag structured and your shoes sensible
As a general rule, accessories are a place where you can play around. For a job interview, however, it’s a safer bet to leave those statement-making earrings at home and to opt for a bold color instead. Stick to closed-toed shoes (save the sandals for after you’re hired and can properly assess the office culture) and a heel height of less than three inches. It’s up to you whether you aim for a stiletto or stacked heel, but skip the platforms. Fancy flats work too.
Finally, your handbag should always be structured (no weird bumps or things sliding out) and medium-size (you’ll only need the essentials for the interview, so a tote isn’t necessary). Choose a handbag that’s large enough for you to comfortably fit a slim portfolio with copies of your resume and a small notebook so you can jot down notes.