How to Dress for an Interview

Three Methods:Dressing Business Formal for MenDressing Business Formal for WomenGeneral Best Practices for Both Men and Women

Job interviews can be scary at times, but, with a little self-confidence, they become a piece of cake. If you lack confidence going into a job interview because you're unsure of what to wear, don't fret - wikiHow can help. Start with step 1 to put together the perfect outfit for your big interview!

Method 1
Dressing Business Formal for Men

  1. Image titled Dress for an Interview Step 01
    Start with pants. A pair of slacks is great, especially if they match your suit jacket. Chinos are also acceptable, but a two-piece suit is preferable, so try to have your slacks match your jacket.[1] A dark color, like a blue, grey, or black, is probably your best bet as it looks flattering on everyone and makes you seem more professional.
    • No jeans. Jeans, however tailored or designed, are not suitable for a job interview. Do not wear them, because the company that is interested in hiring you will not take you seriously and think that you aren't interested.
    • No loud prints. Stick with simple patterns.
    • Make sure your pants are tailored. You want them to be form-fitting without being revealing. No overly baggy pants allowed.
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    Match your suit jacket to your pants. Because the norm is a matching two-piece, you want to try to complement your pants with your suit jacket. If you can find a matching two-piece, that will leave the best impression.
    • Again, dark colors and simple patterns are the norm here. A tailored suit jacket to go along with your tailored pants is what you're after.
    • A blue blazer is acceptable in most cases if you cannot find a suit jacket to match your pants.
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    Choose a solid white or blue shirt. You don't want to look too flashy with a brightly colored shirt, and striped (and especially patterned) shirts are a little less formal. A starched white or blue shirt is perfectly acceptable, even if it seems a little bit plain.
    • Wear long-sleeve shirts, even in summer. It may be a bit uncomfortable, but long-sleeve is what's expected in a traditional workplace.[2]
    • A straight collar is also more formal than a button down, but button downs will work in a pinch. Choose one with a medium spread. If you have a particularly large neck, a wider collar may look better.
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    Wear a tie in a dark, conservative color. Stick to solids, diagonal stripes, or small patterned ties. A red tie may give a friendly politician look, while a blue tie may give a more serious FBI agent look. Both are acceptable.
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    Make sure that the tie you wear complements the color of your suit. Most ties will look great with a dark-colored suit, so don't worry too much about it.
    • Stay away from neons and pastels.
    • Bow ties are not acceptable for formal interview attire. Always stick with a regular neck tie.
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    Wear either a belt or suspenders, but never both at the same time. It’s redundant. If you're a suspenders kind of guy, get buttons sewed into your trousers and wear suspenders that button on, not the cheap clip-on kind.
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    Pay attention to shoes and socks. Your shoes and socks may not be the focal point of your outfit, but they're important nonetheless. Choose dark, polished shoes, black or brown, stringed or loafers and dark socks or match them to either your shoes, pants, dress shirt or tie. Make sure they are knee length, as you don't want any skin to show when you sit down and your pants ride up. Also pay attention to their texture, they should be dress socks, not sport socks.
    • A pair of black oxfords or cap-toed oxfords is a good choice of footwear. Get ones that don't have super thick soles so they won’t look like boots. Boat shoes are not acceptable for business formal.
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    Don't be zealous with the cologne. In fact, cologne is not necessary if you shower and smell good as it is. Having no smell at all is preferable to having an off-putting smell. If you feel like you absolutely need to spray on the cologne, keep it light and cap it at one or two sprays at most.[2]

Method 2
Dressing Business Formal for Women

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    Stick with either a skirt suit or a pant suit. Women have a few more options for dressing business formal than men do, but they also need to be more careful when they dress.
    • Skirt suits: stay with a dark color, a knee-length skirt, and a tailored jacket.
    • Pant suits: stay with a dark color, as well as tailored pants and a jacket.
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    Dress with a blouse or top that is subtly patterned or solid. Transparent or see-through blouses are big no-nos. Wear a shirt or camisole underneath if needed. Stick with cotton, silk, or microfiber material.[3] Material that can breathe well, like cotton, may feel the most comfortable in a potentially stressful situation.
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    Choose close-toed shoes that are no taller than 1 or 2 inches (2.5 or 5.1 cm). Your job interview is enough of a balancing act as it is, so don't make your shoes into one as well. Shoes that are any taller than that risk looking unprofessional. Dark shoes are best.
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    Wear stockings or pantyhose that's work-appropriate. As long as the stockings/pantyhose is dark, not heavily patterned, and seems like it would be appropriate to wear to work, it's acceptable to pass as business formal. Pantyhose or stockings that might be worn for a night on the town will probably not pass muster, and may be more distracting than is necessary. Do not wear pantyhose or stockings that are damaged in any way, as you will definitely appear as unprofessional. Be sure to check for any damage before you put them on.
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    Go subtle with your makeup. Don't cake on layers and layers of makeup. Dressing business formal is not the same thing as getting dolled up for for Friday night. A little bit of makeup is probably better than none at all, but too much isn't. Conservative is best.
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    Avoid perfumes if possible. As for men, fragrances are best avoided altogether. It can be off-putting for other people who don't share your sense of smell, and it doesn't mingle well with the smell of sweat. If you need to wear perfume, know that a little goes a long way.
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    Be careful with your accessories. Accessories can be the pride and joy of the female wardrobe. Knowing which accessories to wear — and which not to — may mean the difference between a lasting impression and a passing glance.
    • Wear a conservative watch. A watch is a good symbol that you're punctual and like to stay on top of things. Make sure that the metal flatters your clothing, as some colors go better with either gold or silver and may clash with the other.
    • Scarves and jewelry styles can be fickle, so stick with conservative options. If you're interviewing for a position in a creative field, you probably have a little more leeway here than if you were applying for a position, say, as a banker.
    • Do not carry two large bags to your interview. If you need to carry a purse, make it small, so that when you combine it with a business-like tote bag, it doesn't seem like you are schlepping bags upon bags with you to the interview. In your tote bag, keep a Padfolio with extra copies of your resume.

Method 3
General Best Practices for Both Men and Women

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    Dressing up is better than dressing down. Always opt for formal, conservative attire unless your interviewer states otherwise. Dressing nice is a compliment to your interviewer and a sign that you take your profession seriously.[4] It's far preferable, therefore, to be overdressed for your interview than underdressed.
    • It's no secret that if you dress well, you leave a lasting impression. This may be attributed to the halo effect, introduced by psychologist E. L. Thorndike. The halo effect states that if you're found to possess one desirable (or undesirable) trait, people assume that you possess other desirable traits as well.[5]
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    If in doubt, ask about attire. If there's any doubt in your mind about how you should dress for your interview, don't hesitate to ask the person you're interviewing with or the HR representative. It's a common question, so don't be afraid to ask it. You won't be dinged for wanted to be prepared.
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    Groom yourself to the best of your ability. Shower beforehand, and make sure that the following are groomed and look presentable:
    • Fingernails are short or manicured, without dirt or grime under them
    • Hair should be neat and clean, without excessive gel or styling
    • Facial hair, if you have it, should be groomed and in-control
    • Teeth should be cleaned and free of any food; mouth should be fresh smelling
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    Make sure the ins and outs of your suit are cared for. You don't want any loose buttons, loose fabrics, excessive lint or pet hair on your clothes. Give your clothes a good once-over with a lint roller before your put them on; better yet, take your clothes to a dry cleaner before you interview and let them clean up any problem areas.
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    Carry a port- or padfolio with extra copies of your resume. This is a time-honored trick of professionals the world over. Having extra copies of your resume on hand signals to your potential employer that you're prepared, forward-looking, and confident. Don't forget this accessory.
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    Be aware of the list of don'ts. The following things should be avoided during a job interview:
    • Do not chew gum
    • Do not wear sunglasses or keep them dangled on your head
    • Do not leave your shirts untucked
    • If it's ripped, don't wear it

Article Info

Categories: Interview Skills