How To Choose A Retail Interview Outfit (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Oct. 30, 2020

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When you step into a job interview, the first thing that an interviewer for a retail position will be evaluating is your attire. You want the hiring manager to see an experienced, professionally dressed potential employee when they look at you.

Even with an otherwise stellar performance in the interview and lots of experience, many employers will find it difficult to ignore an unprofessionally dressed applicant.

Succeeding in an interview, and practicing proper workplace etiquette once hired, requires experience with dressing professionally and research into what employers expect of your attire for your role.

How to Dress for a Retail Job Interview

Most retail jobs that you find won’t be expecting more than a business casual look. Even though you probably won’t need to interview for a retail position in a formal suit and tie, there are still some rules you should follow for looking your best and making a positive impression before even saying a word.

What to Wear for a Retail Interview

  1. Plain, Professional Colors and Patten. When you’re going into a job interview for a retail company, even if you have a funky personal style, it’s best to choose an uncomplicated color scheme for an initial meeting. A solid color neutral blouse or layering with a cardigan sweater is good.

    You don’t want to take too much attention away from your credentials and skills with your clothes. Try to keep your outfit neutral and simple.

  2. Clean and Neat Clothes. One thing that can make an interviewer lose interest in hiring you is dressing sloppily. You should prepare the outfit you wear to a retail interview properly. That means washing and ironing your clothes the night before, as well as showering and getting ready accordingly the morning of the interview.

    Being organized and clean with your interview appearance can make an enormous difference in how an interviewer perceives you. You want your potential employer to see you as prepared and well put together. That starts with your outfit.

  3. A Conservative Outfit. A job interview isn’t the best place to make a grand fashion entrance in a low-cut dress or cut-up jeans. Make sure that the outfit you choose is conservatively cut.

    You don’t know the person interviewing you, and an outfit that’s too flashy or revealing can have a negative impact on their opinion. It can come off as unprofessional and most retailers will want their potential hires to consider this before showing up to an interview in something inappropriate.

  4. Appropriate Shoes. No matter how casual the interviewer may have come across when they arranged the meeting, professional shoes are a must. An interviewer will look to see what shoes you decided to wear because it says a lot about your overall look.

    Examples of Appropriate Shoes for A Job Interview Include:

    • Neutral Close-Toed Flats

      Job type you want
      Full Time
      Part Time
      Internship
      Temporary
    • Loafers

    • Lace-up Dress Shoes

    • Low Heels with a Closed-Toe

    Examples of Inappropriate Shoes for a Job Interview Include:

    • Sandals

    • Athletic Sneakers

    • Very High Heels

    • Bright Pink Shoes

  5. Dress More Formally If Interviewing for a Management Role. Supervisory roles require more responsibility and skill than other positions. Candidates for these kinds of jobs are often expected to dress a little more formally than an entry-level associate would in order to reflect this distinction.

    If you’re interviewing for a retail management role, do some research on the company’s dress code policy. You’re not looking to show up to an interview dressed too stiffly.

    Just some extra professional touches to give you the look of someone who can be trusted in a supervisory position.

Where Can You Find the Perfect Outfit for a Retail Job Interview?

Unless you’re a seasoned retail employee, landing an interview can leave you scrambling for a professional interview outfit. Consider the following retail options for your next business-casual interview look.

  1. Nordstrom Rack. Nordstrom Rack is a daughter company of the luxury department store, Nordstrom. It’s known for providing brand names to women, men, and children at an extreme discount. They have a wide collection of business-casual attire and work-appropriate looks on a budget.

    Nordstrom Rack is an excellent option for entry-level candidates who may not have hundreds of dollars to spend on an interview outfit, before even landing the job.

  2. ZARA. ZARA is another well-known retailed catering to both male and female professionals. This organizations’ business casual clothing has more of a fashionable feel. ZARA retailers are available for both in-store and online purchases.

    Since the company is very fashion-motivated, you may have to do a little bit of shopping around before you find the perfect interview piece.

  3. Express. Express is an American company that supplies clothes to both men and women. Much of their clothes fall under the category of “interview appropriate” even if they’re not marketed as workwear. Express regularly has deals and comes out with new clothing lines based on seasonal changes.

    From basic professional tops to appropriate dresses and shoes, Express will have you covered on most of your business-casual needs.

  4. Banana Republic. The Banana Republic, a GAP-owned corporation, has a collection dedicated to business casual looks aimed at men and women. In addition to professional attire, Banana Republic has a large selection of accessories available, including handbags, face masks, and jewelry.

  5. Everlane. Everlane is a minimalistic-style clothing brand, making a lot of their products ideal for a neutral interview outfit. The products featured by Everlane are at a higher price point than some of the other retailers on this list. A full interview outfit may run you over $200.

    However, Everlane features quality products that are made to last for years to come. Investing in a business casual piece or two from this retailer can come to serve you for professional interviews long into the future.

  6. J. Crew. J. Crew is a retailer that sports a variety of conservative-leaning clothing options. The general style of the brand makes it a great option for business-professionals to find interview outfits. If you incorporate a lot of cardigans, button-downs, and blazers into your work attire style, this is the retailer for you.

    While J. Crew can be a little more expensive than some of the other brands with business casual clothing, you’re making an investment attire that will likely last long beyond the interview you buy it for.

  7. H&M. H&M is an internationally-known retailer that specializes in low-cost, but high-quality clothing. While this store isn’t necessarily only for work clothing, many of their pieces are both stylish and can look impressive in an interview. Check out their dresses and sweaters for your next retail interview.

    H&M is a solid alternative for job applicants who are new to the workforce or simply can’t afford to spend a lot of money on a new interview outfit. You can easily craft an interview outfit for less than $100.

Should You Wear Accessories to a Retail Interview?

A tasteful accessory can either compliment an interview outfit or completely overtake it. The key to dressing for an interview is for your outfit to be a neutral background feature. Your outfit doesn’t have to be boring, but it shouldn’t be distracting.

Accessories can be a tool in making your retail interview outfit unique without being unprofessional. You should be looking for pieces that add to your ensemble. Consider how you would react as an interviewer if a candidate was wearing the accessory you choose.

Examples of Accessories You Can Wear to An Interview Include:

  • A Simple Watch

  • A Gold or Silver Necklace

  • Small Earrings

  • Tights

  • A handbag

  • Hair clips

  • An Appropriate Coat or Cardigan

Examples of Accessories You Shouldn’t Wear to An Interview Include:

  • A Backpack

  • A Strong Perfume or Cologne

  • A Baseball Cap

  • Sunglasses

  • Large Jewelry Pieces

  • Brightly Colored Socks

Business-Casual Interview Looks for Women

You want your retail interview outfit to make a great impression. As a woman, this can be done with a little more creativity. A monochrome dress, knee-length skirt, or shirt and pants outfit can all be an excellent interview look for women if they choose the right pieces. Try to produce a cohesive and organized outfit. The first step to being a professional is dressing like one.

You should also utilize appropriate accessories to highlight your style choice. Consider adding one of your smaller pieces of gold jewelry or a simple handbag to give your look an edge-up.

Example of Dress Outfit:

Example of Skirt and Top Outfit:

Example of Pants and Button-Down Outfit:

Business-Casual Interview Looks for Men

It can seem like men have a bit less freedom when it comes to their options for interview outfits. However, men’s business casual style is broad. There are a few different professional looks for men that are likely to catch a hiring manager’s attention from the very beginning of the interview.

If you’re going into a casual retail interview, consider opting for a neat sweater and button-down.

On the other hand, if you’re interviewing for a management position, it might be better to wear a more business formal suit outfit.

Evaluate your circumstance, and do some shopping around to see what styles will be both professional, and express your personality.

Example of Suit Jacket and Pants Outfit:

Example of Sweater and Button Down Outfit:

Example of Business Formal Outfit:

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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