What to Wear to an Interview

I received a lot of questions from you about what to wear to an interview.  First of all, amazing question.  Second of all, there’s no right answer but hopefully i can help guide you based upon the industry.  My overarching word of advice: you’d rather be overdressed than look super casual and out of place.  I’ve interviewed hundreds of people and I love when someone comes in looking confident and sharply dressed; it always leaves me with a lasting impression.  (And don’t forget to follow up with a thank you note.)

striped skirt / mules / peplum jacket / silk cami / bag / earrings

Creative Juices – If you’re gunning for a creative role, feel free to dress the part; the interviewing panel won’t just look at your portfolio–they’ll also see how you put yourself together.  Be sure to wow them with interesting structured pieces and fashion-forward shoes.  

what to wear to an interview corporate role business casual
Theory pants / J Crew blazer / blousetrench / pumps / tote / necklace

Corporate America – Traditionally, a suit would be what you wear to an interview at a more corporate institution like a bank but if you wear trousers and a blazer, you can afford to wear interesting separates.  Neutrals are always a good idea but a chic bag and trench are pieces that you’ll never tire of.  Jazz it up with a simple necklace, earrings, and a smart watch and brush up on your interview questions.

what to wear to an interview jeans casual company start-up
Madewell jeans / tweed jacket / sleeveless blouse / belt / flats / tote

Jeans Allowed – American culture has gone casual and that even applies to the work place.  It’s not just tech companies that are adopting a denim dress code – media, PR, fashion, internet companies, and start-ups are also embracing jeans on the daily.  Just because anything goes at these companies doesn’t mean you should let yourself appear sloppy.  A third piece, like this tweed jacket, keeps your outfit interesting and adds a dressy element.  The flats are a fun and stylish touch and the belt adds some funk.  

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8 comments

  1. This post is very helpful, and I’m hoping you could assist me with a related similar question. I’m interviewing in a corporate position (legal counsel) with a tech start-up based in San Francisco. Any advice on what to wear there? I’m thinking it’s better to look more corporate than casual, but if you have any tips, I’d great appreciate it!

    • I’d go with a more corporate option to be safe! You can’t go wrong with a wool skinny pant, coordinating blazer, blouse and pumps!

  2. I do not think the “corporate” example is conservative enough. I would try to stick with a suit, separates in the same color family, or dress with blazer. Even if the every day dress code is more casual, you should play it safe in the interview. And with “jeans allowed” outfit- I would argue that even if jeans are allowed on a daily basis, they should be avoided for the interview.

    • Great advice for a place like a law firm or an ultra-conservative financial institution. However, I worked in finance for four years and an outfit like this would be appropriate for an interview (just my experience). Also, I currently work at a former start-up/fashion company and dressed up jeans are totally acceptable for interviews and I feel like they’d also be ok at certain tech companies. You just need to feel it out from your own research–or err on the side of caution and keep it as dressed up as possible. Thanks for the contribution–all fair points!

  3. Your timing couldn’t be better! I’m interviewing for a Sales and Marketing position at a winery on Monday and have been tossing this over and over again in my head. It’ll be a move from the interior design world for me so I don’t want to come off too “out there”. Any advice?

    • Sales and Marketing sounds corporate but I bet the winery aspect makes it a little more casual. I’d vote for a corporate version of the creative look – midi skirt or dress with blazer and a structured tote. If you want to be more conservative, I’d go for smart trousers and a blazer – you can never go wrong with that!

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