top of page
  • Connie Cupples

A Woman’s Guide To Style for Job Interviews

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  In a job interview, every woman should put her best foot forward by wearing the proper attire.

Congratulations on landing the interview! The next question is, what should you wear?

Dressing appropriately for a job interview speaks volumes about you and is a significant factor in whether you get the job. In this article, I’ll discuss how women can dress for success and what you should avoid wearing to a job interview.

Women Should Consider a Few General Principles When Pondering Their Interview Attire

  1. Interview attire is not so much about dressing conservatively as it is about dressing appropriately for the environment you’ll be in.

  2. Take into account the industry, region, and location of the interview.

  3. Generally speaking, interview clothing needs to err on the conservative side regarding cut, color, and pattern.

  4. Interview attire is an indicator of your commitment to securing the job.

  5. Never overdress or underdress (abnormally) because it shows you did not research the company.

Are you still with me, girlfriend? You must think this is just some good old-fashioned common sense, but the positions forfeited due to wardrobe faux pas would surprise you. So, let’s start on the right foot by following some important guidelines so as not to flub the first few minutes with a poor impression via your appearance. 

Proper Interview Dress for Women (in general)

  • Dress conservatively, i.e., a tailored dress with a matching jacket or a dark-colored suit

  • Wear neutral colors, i.e., white, beige, black, and grey

  • Wear clothes that fit you well

  • Conservative, closed-toe shoes, i.e., flats or low-healed pump

  • Minimal jewelry  – keep pieces small – a nice watch looks smart

  • Wear neutral makeup and not too much

  • Have clean, well-manicured nails – if polished – make it a light color

  • Wear a simple hairstyle

  • Use very little perfume, if any

  • Carry a notebook and pen

  • Appear classy and sophisticated

Improper Interview Dress for Women (in general)

  • Torn or dirty clothes

  • Dressing too sexy

  • Improper fit

  • Uncomfortable and binding

  • Lots of accessories

  • Sunglasses on your head

  • Earbuds or headphones

  • Jeans

  • Loud and flashy garments

  • Visible tattoos and piercings

  • Clothing with logos

  • Tennis shoes or very high heels

Now that you have a general idea of the do’s and don’ts of interviewing protocol, you may be wondering about the various dress categories – and yes, this can become confusing! For example, here are just a few:

  • Business casual

  • Business chic

  • Traditional business attire

  • Smart casual

  • Executive casual

  • Boardroom attire

  • Business formal

So, what the heck does all this mean for me, you may ask? Well, several of these could be grouped, so for simplicity’s sake, I will elaborate on the following three:

  1. Business Formal: Wear a trouser suit, statement dress, dress pants, pencil skirt, and blouse, or a knee-length dress with a blazer for a more formal setting. Have a leather briefcase in hand. When you enter this job interview, you want to look as polished and professional as possible.

  2. Business Casual: Wearing dress pants, a blouse or button-down shirt, or a knee-length dress are all acceptable options. A high-quality cardigan can also compliment your look. Despite the name, you should appear neat, presentable, professional, and well-groomed.

  3. Business Chic: Adding flair to your outfit is acceptable if you are interviewing for a creative or artistic position. For example, you can add jewelry you made or more colors. You can exude confidence by wearing a color-blocked geometric dress.

Here is a bit of trivia for you. Did you know that females are judged more on appearance than men? It’s true. Employers who analyze the social media profiles of job applicants are far more likely to judge women on their appearance.

Besides the standard guidelines already discussed, there are other ways of knowing how to dress for an interview. For instance, you can research the company’s dress code by:

  • Driving by the company to see what employees are wearing (oh, but not on Friday – that could be a casual day)

  • Checking out the company’s social media accounts

  • Taking a look at the company’s website

  • Emailing the human resource rep about appropriate attire

Nowadays, many interviews are conducted remotely. Does this mean you can let your hair down and be more relaxed and casual? Yes, but this is still a professional interview. Wearing a complete outfit from head to toe is the best way to keep you in an interview mindset. Studies have shown that what you wear impacts your mood, confidence, and posture.

Here are a few tips for preparing for an interview:

  • Plan your outfit ahead of time

  • Be sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free – take them to the cleaners a week in advance if needed

  • Pay attention to details – no pet hair, stains, holes, or loose threads

  • One up everyone else on dressing – but don’t overdo it

There are a variety of jobs, so studying the industry and knowing how to dress for the interview is crucial. For instance, applying for a manufacturing job requires a different dress code than a bank president position; however, the goal is the same – obtaining the job.

Your appearance at the interview will indicate to the interviewer the type of work you will perform. If you look dirty, untidy, or have poor clothing choices, the company will assume that is the caliber of your work. 

Also, remember that the people at the company know nothing about you. How you dress for your interview will brand you for the time you work there. And you want to be branded as the person dressed appropriately for the position. 

You don’t need to worry when choosing what to wear for an interview. Following the tips above, you should be well on your way to success. Consider the standards of the workplace and aim slightly higher. If you need more clarification, aim somewhere between executive casual and business formal. If you do, you’ve got this. Good luck!


bottom of page