What NOT To Wear To An Interview (With Examples)

By Caitlin Mazur
Jan. 24, 2023
Articles In Interview Attire Guide

Find a Job You Really Want In

Summary. Avoid wearing overly casual wear, ripped clothing, or anything that doesn’t fit the company culture when dressing for an interview. Examples of what not to wear includes ripped jeans, sweatshirts and flipflops.

When you walk into the interview, your clothes and how you present yourself will be the first impression your interviewer will have of you.

What you wear to a job interview can be the make or break component to whether or not you get a job offer. It’s almost as important as what’s on your resume.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to look good. Just putting in some additional effort and thought into your outfit choice can do the trick.

Key Takeaways:

  • Be sure that you do your research and understand the work environment for which you are applying.

  • For any job interview you attend, you’ll want to ensure you’re dressed properly so that your clothes give a great first impression. Believe it or not, your outfit has a massive impact on communicating who you are to your interviewer.

  • By dressing professionally, you’ll send the message that you are serious about the potential position the minute you walk through the door.

  • It takes seven seconds for an interviewer to make a first impression of you at the start of the interview.

What not to wear to an interview with examples.

Why is it so Important to Look Good at a Job Interview?

When you show up to a job interview, your job is to make the best possible first impression that you can. Be aware of the balance you need to have.

  1. You want to be memorable, but not cause a distraction. Wearing things like risque clothing, body jewelry, clothing that shows too much skin, or overpowering scents will put you at risk for making a poor first impression.

  2. You want to prepare for a professional presence so that your interviewer immediately views you as a potential employee and someone qualified to do the job advertised.

    Looking good isn’t just for the recruiter or hiring manager. Wearing a professional outfit will help you feel more confident and adequately prepared for your interview. Wearing clothes that make you feel good and polished will help your demeanor and belief in yourself.

  3. Confidence will help you answer questions effectively, think of ways to sell yourself on the spot, and help you come off as not just genuine but professionally poised and, hopefully, an ideal candidate for the job.

It’s important not to overlook your attire for a job interview. This is a significant component to ensuring you land the job of your dreams.

What NOT to Wear to a Job Interview With Examples

Depending on the type of job you’re applying for, there may be a variety of options of outfits you can wear.

There are a few common things that you should look to avoid when you’re choosing your interview outfit, no matter what type of job it is.

  1. Overly casual wear. Casual dress may mean something different to different people, but there are very common articles of clothing that are considered too casual and things you should avoid.

    Examples of these include:

    • Leggings or yoga pants

    • Pajama-wear

    • Sweatshirts

    • Shorts

    • Casual t-shirts

    • Overly revealing clothing

  2. Tight or ripped clothing. It’s important to check the fit of your clothing before you go on an interview. Anything too tight should be left at home and replaced with something more appropriate. Ripped clothing might be trendy on a day-to-day basis, but it’s not appropriate attire for a job interview..

    Examples of these include:

    • Exposed undergarments

    • Anything showing your chest

    • Showing too much skin/midriff

    • Ripped jeans

  3. Anything too bright or flashy. You want to make a memorable impression in your interview, but wearing bright and flashy clothes is not the way. You’ll want your skills and qualifications to shine, rather than your wardrobe. Basic colors are the most reliable and safe options you can go with to show your professionalism.

    There are exceptions to this rule, however. For creative positions such as design, art, fashion, or jobs that require clothing statements, this rule will not apply.

  4. Clothing that doesn’t fit the company culture. It’s important to do your research on the company before you even attempt to choose something from your wardrobe. Getting a sense of the company culture is incredibly important to get a good feel for what appropriate attire will be. Coming into a company either overdressed or underdressed can be a deterrent during an interview.

    For example, if you interview at a company where the staff is dressed casually with a no-suit rule, but you enter the room in a suit, it actually may work against you more than you think.

    Feeling inappropriately dressed can decrease your confidence during an interview and might make your recruiter or hiring manager second-guess if you’re the right fit for the company. If you do your research ahead of time, you can avoid this easily.

  5. Too many accessories. While some light accessories such as a watch, bracelet, or necklace, might be a great addition to your outfit, too many might cause an unwanted distraction.

    Examples of these include:

    • Large jewelry

    • Facial piercings

    • Excessive perfume/ colognes

    • Heavy makeup that takes away from your credibility

    When in doubt, keep things simple! A job interview is not the time to try that new hair dyeing technique or makeup look. Be mindful of smartwatch and cell phone alarms or ringers.

  6. Casual footwear. Interviewers aren’t just aware of the clothing you put on, but the shoes you put on your feet. If possible, choose a sensible shoe that compliments your outfit. Keep it simple.

    If you choose to purchase new shoes for your job interview, be sure to wear them in a little first. Not only will this avoid blisters, but it will help you walk more confidently and ensure the bottoms are not slippery.

  7. Examples of these include:

    • Flip flops and casual sandals

    • Old, damaged shoes

    • Heels that are too high

  8. Headwear. This would be anything that covers your head. Additionally, earbuds or headphones should be kept in your purse or pocket, as they are distracting and can come off as rude. The last thing you want to do is give the job interviewer the impression that you aren’t interested in what they have to say.

    Examples of these include:

    • Hats

    • Beanies

    • Hoods

    The only exception to headwear is for individuals who wear headwear for religious or cultural purposes.

Tips for Dressing Appropriately

  • Plan ahead. Think about what you want to wear a few days prior to your interview. You don’t want to be stuck with nothing to wear the night before or even an hour before. Pick out an outfit and try it on to make sure everything fits properly.

  • Get feedback from friends and family. After you plan your outfit, ask your friends or family for their opinion on the outfit. They will give honest feedback on what works and what doesn’t work with your outfit.

  • Research the company dress code. This will be helpful to know what the company culture is. This will also help save any embarrassment of showing up in something too casual if they are more business attire.

  • Dress so you feel comfortable. Don’t buy something that you don’t feel like yourself in. This will only make you nervous and not do your best during the interview.

What Should You Wear to an Interview?

In order to show your hiring manager or recruiter that you’re serious about the potential position, you can choose from a variety of different clothing options. Of course, you’ll want to keep true to your own style and preferences, while adding a little extra polish to your usual clothing wear.

  • Blazers. Blazers are a perfect item of clothing to wear to a job interview. They can polish up a button-down shirt and pair well with the right kind of dress pants. It’s most common to choose a solid color for a blazer to maintain professionalism.

  • Suits. Suits are a common outfit for an interview. Both women and men can wear appropriate suits for interviews. Be sure to do your research before you put on your suit, however, If you’re entering a work environment that is more casual, a suit may not be the right type of attire for your interview.

  • Dresses. For women, a modest dress can be a great choice. Solid colors often work best. Be sure it’s not too low cut or too short to be appropriate for an interview. Paired with classic jewelry can help make this outfit shine.

  • Button-down shirts. Button-down shirts are a great option for business casual environments, or, as mentioned above, a great article of clothing to pair with a blazer and tie for more formal types of work environments.

  • Dress blouses. For women, a dress blouse is also a great option, paired with an appropriate skirt or dress pants. There are a variety of dress blouses out there, but one with a simple pattern or solid color is best to choose for a job interview.

All of these items of clothing make for a clean and polished look that translates well once you get into an interview. Be sure that the clothes you choose are ironed and cleaned properly.

Additionally, make sure your personal hygiene and grooming is clean and professional prior to the day of your interview.

But what are some items to ensure you avoid when choosing an outfit for a job interview? Below we discuss certain items of clothing you should look to avoid to be prepared for your interview.

What NOT to Wear for an Interview FAQ

  1. What is inappropriate to wear to an interview?

    Flip-flops, leggings or yoga pants, and overly revealing clothing are inappropriate items of clothing to wear to an interview. Depending on the type of job that you are applying to, there may be some variations of what you can wear but you should avoid wearing those items. They can be seen as inappropriate for the workplace in most situations.

  2. Is wearing black to an interview OK?

    Yes, it’s OK to wear black to an interview. Black is a basic color and is often associated with leadership by interviewers. Just like any interview, you should do your research on the type of clothing to wear to the interview to best match the company and their culture. Other colors that are best to wear to an interview are blue, white, and gray.

  3. Is there a dress code for interviews?

    Yes, there is typically a dress code for interviews and it can be professional or business attire. While researching the company for the interview, not the company culture and what current employees wear. This will help you determine how professional or casual you can be with your clothes. Whatever you wear, your clothes should be clean, wrinkle free, and free of any rips or holes.

  4. What colors should you not wear to an interview?

    You should not wear brown, orange, red, and multi-colors. Brown can come across as comfortable and reliable color but it can also imply that you are boring and slow to change. Orange is associated with someone who is unprofessional.

    Red can work for interviews but it is also a tricky color. It can show that you are powerful and strong but can often overtake a room and make you seem rebellious and aggressive. Multi-colors or patterns can often be distracting for an interviewer. If you choose to wear something with a pattern, make sure it is subtle.


  1. Northern Arizona University – Dos and Don’ts: Professional Dress for a Job Interview

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating / 5. Vote count:

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Articles In Interview Attire Guide
Never miss an opportunity that’s right for you.


Caitlin Mazur

Caitlin Mazur is a freelance writer at Zippia. Caitlin is passionate about helping Zippia’s readers land the jobs of their dreams by offering content that discusses job-seeking advice based on experience and extensive research. Caitlin holds a degree in English from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA.

Related posts