Stylish Interview Outfits: Impress Them With Your Business Sense

By Chris Kolmar - Oct. 30, 2020

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Little is more enticing to a hiring manager than a candidate who has skills, experience, and a professional fashion sense to top it all off. While an interview outfit may not be the first thing on your mind when you get called in for a face-to-face interview, it should be on your list of considerations.

Implementing some useful tips into your work wardrobe can help you professionally express your unique style.

Lessons that Can be Learned from Job Interview Outfits

Everyone who’s been a member of the workforce for a while knows that there’s a lot of lessons to be learned from past interviews. Sometimes more so from the positions we didn’t get hired for than the ones we did.

Consider the following tips to improve your interview attire.

  1. Casual Still Means Professional. Even the most laidback of employers will still respond more positively to a professionally dressed applicant. Professional attire doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to adhere to a strict dress code. However, at the very least be sure your outfit needs to be cleaned, ironed, and present you in an organized manner.

    Part of practicing strong workplace etiquette is dressing for your professional role, even when you’re still in the interview stage.

  2. Layer Clothing Items. Some of your clothing pieces may not initially seem appropriate for a job interview, but with a little strategic layering, it can make for a professional and well-coordinated outfit.

    Examples of Business-Casual Layering Items Include:

    • Blazers

    • Cropped Suit Jacket

    • Cardigan

    • Sweater

  3. Incorporate Colors. Neutral blacks, greys, and whites can be good for keeping your interview outfit grounded. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate colors successfully. Add a bold wine or muted blue to the centerpiece outfit as a blouse or jacket. Colors can draw the eye and make your interview outfit more stylish.

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What to Improve in Your Outfit for Job Interviews

  1. Do Research. You’ve probably conducted some research into common interview questions you may be asked or the company you’re hoping to be hired for. Extend this inquisition to what you’re expected to wear.

    This can be done both through researching what the typical dress code expectation is for your position and looking into the policies of the organization you’re interviewing with.

    You can’t put forth your best possible performance without all the facts. Researching company and field standards can help you prepare your outfit better for an interview.

  2. Don’t Wear An Outfit or Item That’s Too Distracting. An interviewer who’s distracted by your outfit for whatever reason doesn’t bode well for the success of your interview. Whether it’s because your outfit is the best look they’ve ever seen or the most horrendous thing to hit the planet. A distracted interviewer is one whose not paying attention to your qualifications and why you’re the best candidate for the position.

    While your interview outfit should be stylish, it should also be simple.

    Distracting Items May Include:

    • Neon Colored Shirts

    • Dangling Earrings

    • Necklaces with Large Pendants

    • Brightly colored socks

    • Sparkly Make-up

  3. Add a Tasteful Accessory to Your Look. If you feel like your interview outfit is just missing something, you could be needing to add an accessory. Be careful when it comes to accessories. They’re meant to accent your outfit, not overpower it.

    Consider a functional accessory, like a professional handbag, which can be useful for your interview in more ways than one. It can complement your outfit and organize things you need to bring, such as your resume or former work samples

How to Make an Interview Outfit Combination That Will Give You Confidence

The key to going to an interview in an outfit that gives you confidence is feeling comfortable in the clothing you choose. Even though you may not be able to wear all your style preferences during a professional interview, you can implement pieces that showcase your personality.

If you love jewelry, design your outfit with one of your favorite bracelets or necklaces in mind.

If your favorite part of styling an outfit is picking out shoes, implement a great pair.

You can make a business-casual outfit yours by adding accessories, colors, or designs that represent your style. It’s easy to feel confident in an interview outfit when your clothes are a reflection of your personality and fashion preferences.

Professional looks for men and women tend to flow in and out of style. As of 2020, a few trends in popular business-casual styles have emerged.

Consider the list below of trending interview clothing items and styles.

For Women:

  1. Funky & Flowy Dresses. Unique, patterned dresses are up and coming in the business-casual scene. Wearing a funky dress to an interview outlines your personality and can make you stand out in the sea of common interview outfits.

    Examples of funky, yet professional dresses Include:

  2. Long Trench Coats. Long suede trench coats have become all the rage for the 2020 fall professional woman. They’re comfortable, easy, and give an essence of professionalism all at the same time.

    Examples of professional trench coats include:

  3. Neutral Pencil Skirts with a Satin Blouse. Dark pencil skirts with a classy, colorful blouse is a classic look that doesn’t look like it’s going out of style anytime soon. For a more feminine touch, pair this look with a low-heel. Sometimes, you don’t want to keep up with all the latest trends. When that happens, think about wearing this classic interview outfit that will always impress an interviewer.

    Examples of Pencil Skirts Include:

    Examples of Satin Blouses Include:

  4. Minimalistic Chic. Maybe it’s because 2020 is the year of absolute chaos, but minimalistic styles are becoming much more popular again.

    Examples of Minimalistic Chic Professional Wear Include:

    • Neutral color choices

    • Black dresses and tights

    • Matching Blazers and Pants

    • Solid color sweaters

    For Reference, Check-Out:

  5. Blazers. Blazers have a way of turning an ordinary-seeming outfit into a professional ensemble. A grey or black-toned blazer can also act as a great layering tool to bring a look together cohesively.

    They’re growing in popularity with professional women in 2020.

    Examples of Blazers Include:

  6. Colored Pants with a Neutral Top. Traditionally, the neutral color of an outfit goes at the bottom and the pop of color comes in through the top. The recent trend in business-casual has been to turn this norm upside-down. Wearing a colorful pair of pants with a more neutral colored top is a great way to switch up your work attire style.

    Examples of Colored Pants Include:

    Examples of Neutral Tops Include:

For Men:

  1. Leather Loafers. A pair of leather loafers are a great way to achieve a more sophisticated look with a casual outfit. They’re becoming more popular for upgrading the average work attire in 2020.

    Examples of Leather Loafers Include:

  2. Pinstripe and Plaid Patterns. While you shouldn’t go overboard with this style trend in a job interview, pinstripe and plaid patterns are indeed on the rise. From formal suits to slacks, pinstripes seem to be becoming more common from many retailers. Consider adding a light pinstripe accent to a pant or jacket in your next interview appearance.

    Examples of Pinstripe Patterned Clothing Items Include:

  3. Chinos. Chinos have become a favorite pair of pants among men working across various industries. They maintain a professional look, while still being comfortable and coming in a large variety of styles.

    Examples of Chinos Include:

  4. Cardigans. A thick cardigan not only keeps you toasty during the cooler months but also has to become a rising fashion trend among business-casual workplaces. Cardigans are great because you can layer other items underneath them. They also come in a wide assortment of styles and colors to accommodate any preference.

    Examples of Cardigans Include:

  5. Watches. Watches are a traditional staple for business-casual men. They’re an accessory that both looks good and is functional. Even with smartphones, that continues to be true in 2020.

    Examples of Popular Watches in 2020 Include:

  6. Ties with Interesting Patterns. If you’re wearing an otherwise neutral and solid outfit, incorporating a pattern into the tie is a great way to add some flare. Ties with vibrant colors or detailed designs will add personality to your interview attire, and that’s a favorable trend recently.

    Examples of Ties with Fun, but Professional Colors and Patterns Include:

Should We Stick with the Classic Look or the Trendy Look?

Deciding to go traditional or trendy is completely up to the candidate, with consideration for the position attire requirements. Some fields and organizations just prefer a more classic look for their employees. As long as your employer has given you their dress code expectations and your style choices are following these rules, you decide on your workwear.

Wearing a traditional or trendy outfit can both have their own pros and cons.

Deciding to go with a classic professional outfit for an interview can resonate with more traditionally-leaning employers, but it can also make you seem conventional or boring.

Wearing a trendy outfit can capture an interviewer’s attention and be viewed as creative. However, if your look is too dramatic or flashy it can have an adverse effect.

Despite which look you decide to base your interview outfit on, it should always be professional and appropriate.

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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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