Interview Dress Code Advice for Women – Colors & Styles That Work!

When you’re preparing for a job interview, there are many things to consider. One thing that shouldn’t be ignored is what to wear to a job interview. You should dress for success, but you should also dress according to the position. When it comes to dressing for ladies, certain colors and styles work much better than others.

You might think there are more important things to consider when going into a job interview. While you should be prepared for the questions you’re going to ask and learn from past interview mistakes, your outfit shouldn’t be ignored.

In fact, the right outfit can make a big statement about you before you even say a single word. Consider what you’re wearing to be your first impression for an interviewer. When you look at your outfit that way, you’ll probably want to put more effort into it.

But, proper dress code etiquette can be confusing. It is also flexible, based on the type of business. A professional outfit can mean something different to almost anyone. Still, some things remain consistent and can help you out when it comes to feeling confident when you go into your interview.

What Should I Wear to a Job Interview?

This guide will cover what women should wear when they go for a job interview. There are specific styles and colors to keep in mind that can make a statement. It’s also important to know what not to wear to an interview.

The right interview outfits can make you feel better about yourself before you even enter the room. That will reflect on your attitude and personality and can make you look more confident to your potential employer. So, if you haven’t yet put much thought into the do’s and don’ts of what to wear, keep reading for the best tips.

Dark Colors Work Well

What’s the best color to wear to an interview? One of the best professional outfits you can wear is either a navy, gray, or black suit. If the company is more traditional and conservative, take that into consideration. You can pair your suit with a light-colored blouse underneath. But, try to avoid anything that might offset the professionalism of your outfit. This includes things like t-shirts or inappropriate tops underneath.

It’s also a good idea to stick with one or two colors. A dark suit with a lighter-colored blouse underneath is perfect. But, avoid bright colors or patterns that will take away from the interview by being distracting. Your goal when it comes to the right colors is to look like you’re more interested in doing an excellent job than getting compliments on your outfits.

When it comes to wearing a pantsuit or pencil skirt, it’s usually your preference. But, some companies do prefer one to the other and have specific dress codes about skirts. If you’re unsure which would be the best option, you should ask an HR professional. Chances are, they’ll appreciate that you want to look your best and look the part.

Keep in mind that for most companies, it’s okay to be ‘over-dressed.’ In fact, it’s rare that anyone would suggest you’re too conservative. It’s much easier to be under-dressed, in which case most people do notice, and it can reflect poorly on you before your interview even starts.

Even if you’re interviewing at a more laidback company, you should err on the side of caution. You may be able to get away with slacks and a nice blouse. But, keep the ‘over-dressed’ rule in mind.

Use an Accessory

One of the most standard pieces of clothing for a professional job interview is a white button-up blouse. Whether you wear it with a pair of slacks or underneath a suit, it’s a classic piece that never goes out of style. But, this tailored shirt can easily become more dressed up to fit your personality.

Maybe your interviewer has seen ten women with similar white blouses in a day. While your shirt won’t likely make or break your interview, it’s a good idea to mix it up a little and provide something that can help you to be more memorable. A conservative piece of jewelry like a necklace or brooch is a great way to do that.

Another excellent accessory option is a watch. Watches for women are making a comeback in the professional world. The right wristwatch can be classy and give the impression that you’re someone who cares about being on time. Choose a black or brown leather band, or a metal-link watch without a large face. Again, it should complement your outfit, not draw attention away from it.

If you do decide on an accessory, pick it out carefully. Once again, it’s always better to be more conservative. If you wear a necklace, it shouldn’t have any heavy or large charms hanging from it. A brooch shouldn’t distract your interviewer or draw attention directly to it. Your accessories are meant to complement what you’re wearing, not be the main focus.

Learn the Requirements on Hosiery

Pantyhose may seem like a thing of the past. But, many companies still ask their female employees to wear them. What’s the good news? Pantyhose are much more comfortable nowadays than they used to be. They are also more fashionable and don’t have to come with a load of negative stereotypes surrounding them. The hosiery from decades past is long gone.

Your best bet when it comes to wearing pantyhose is to choose a nude or sheer color that matches your skin tone. Pantyhose are meant to cover your legs, but they shouldn’t be a color that doesn’t compliment your skin. That can make you stand out and become distracting, rather than looking professional.

It’s important to learn a company’s policy on pantyhose before your interview. You can either ask the HR professional or another person that works for that particular company what the policy is. When you come to your interview dressed according to the company code, you’ll already look as though you’re ready for the job.

Say No to Shoe Trends

When it comes to the right shoes for a job interview, go with a classic choice. It doesn’t matter which styles are ‘in,’ necessarily. The best option is a closed-toe pump with a mid-heel. Wearing extremely high heels or open-toe shoes can create a distraction. Not only that, but they can end up being uncomfortable. You may be more focused on how your shoes feel than getting through the actual interview.

Whatever shoes you do wear, make sure they are clean and polished, if possible. Shoes might end up seeming like a minor detail, but when you’re sitting across from someone, they become more noticeable. If your interviewer sees that you’re wearing dirty shoes to a job interview, it could change their opinion of your character.

Only Carry One Type of Bag

When you’re going in for an interview, you can either carry something like a leather briefcase, or a nice purse. The key is not to bring in both. It might not seem like a big deal at the time. But, this can be a minor detail that ends up making a big difference. If you walk into your interview carrying several bags or briefcases, it may appear to your interviewer that you’re unorganized or frazzled. By holding onto one type of ‘bag,’ you’ll give the impression that you are tidy, organized, and efficient.

Hair, Makeup, and Nails

While they may not technically be a part of your wardrobe, completing your look with the right grooming is essential. Your hair should be neatly groomed and out of your face/eyes. Try to avoid styles like a ‘messy’ bun or ponytail. There are some cases where these styles could work. But, you don’t want to give the impression that you just pulled your hair back in a hurry because you were running late or didn’t know what else to do.

Makeup should be neutral and light. Heavily-applied makeup is usually frowned upon and can become a distraction. But, minimal, subtle makeup can let your interviewer know you take your professional appearance seriously.

You don’t necessarily have to focus too much on your fingernails as long as they are clean and trimmed. But, if you want to take it one step further,  you should choose the right manicure. You should wear a neutral-colored polish. Bright, vibrant colors might be pretty, but they can be distracting during a job interview and may give off the vibe that you’re not as professional as you should be.

what not wear to an interview

Choose the Right Outerwear

If you have an interview during the cooler months, or if the weather is terrible, you’ll have to wear a coat or jacket. Even if you have a professional outfit on underneath, that piece of outwear will likely be the first thing your interviewer sees until you can remove it. This isn’t the best time to wear your old winter coat. Instead, a black, navy, or tan trench coat or pea coat are great options. These pieces suggest that you hold yourself to a professional standard in every way.

We don’t often think about our coats as a marker for a first impression. But, if the weather turns cold or rainy before your interview, consider investing in a nice jacket or coat.

Is it Okay to Wear a Dress for an Interview?

Some ladies may feel more comfortable wearing dresses to an interview or when they’re at work. Certain companies may not have a problem with this. But, you should avoid wearing a dress to your first interview until you get a better idea of what the company atmosphere is like.

Dresses, no matter how conservative they may be, can often give off the wrong impression. They can imply a sense of unprofessionalism and can draw away from the interview itself by being distracting.

If you do choose to wear a dress, make sure it is as conservative as possible. The hemline should hit at or below your knee. Also, take care to avoid sleeveless dresses or spaghetti straps. Choose conservative necklines that don’t show off too much skin.

what's the best color to wear to an interview?

What are the Don’ts for Dressing for an Interview?

Now that you know some of the things you should do that can help you to look your best, you should also be aware of some things to stay away from. A personal sense of style isn’t always the best thing to show off during a job interview. As you become more familiar with the company and their dress code, you may be able to relax a little on the outfits you wear. But, for the interview itself, there are specific rules to keep in mind.

By avoiding these ‘don’ts,’ you could also be avoiding a disastrous interview before it even gets started.

Avoid wearing the following:

  • Short skirts or form-fitting clothes
  • Jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers
  • Strong perfume that could be distracting
  • Sunglasses on top of your head
  • Textured or brightly-colored hosiery

Ill-fitting clothes are one of the most significant problems people run into when dressing for an interview. For women, clothes that are too tight could be distracting and could be a direct violation of a company dress code. But, wearing clothing that’s too baggy can make you look sloppy and lazy. Try to choose blouses and pants that are specifically tailored to you.

If you have an interview coming up and you know your dress clothes don’t fit properly, invest in one or two well-tailored items that fit with your body shape. If you don’t have the time for that, you can still usually make your current wardrobe work. Often, tucking in your blouse can provide a neater, more tailored look.

is it okay to wear a dress for an interview?

Practice Good Wardrobe Etiquette

Anything you carry with you or have on your body can be considered part of your wardrobe or your complete look. It’s not always about the clothes you wear; it’s what you have with you, too. So, keep track of everything your potential employer could notice.

For example, some places of business have a strict tattoo policy. Others might be more relaxed if you have a few pieces of artwork on your skin. For an interview, though, it’s best to keep any ink covered up as much as possible. Even if it’s okay to show it later, this will let your interviewer know you’re taking the process seriously and can cover up your ink if you need to.

You should also keep any technology out of sight. If you’re wearing a suit jacket, don’t let your cell phone stick out of the pocket so your interviewer can see it. Even if it never goes off during the interview, the sight of it can be distracting. It shows that you can never be too far from technology, and your interviewer might think you’re easily-distracted or spend your entire day on your phone.

As you can see, there are several extras to think about when it comes to completing your look. Once you have your outfit in place, take a good look in the mirror. Try to notice if there is anything that should be changed based on what a typical business would consider professional.

Dress for the Job

In some cases, you may know ahead of time what the interviewer is expecting from you, based on the company. The look of the business world is starting to change for some companies. For example, many up and coming tech companies or businesses run by younger people promote a more relaxed environment. They may allow their employees to wear things like jeans, t-shirts, etc.

In these cases, if you show up to the job interview wearing a pantsuit and blouse, they may think you’re too serious or too formal for that particular company. Keep in mind that these types of businesses are still rare in comparison to more traditional ones with a strict dress code. But, if you know the business is more casual, try to find out ahead of time what they would like you to wear.

Women tend to have more options than men when it comes to what to wear to a job interview. This can either be seen as a good thing or bad thing. But, it’s all about using those options and choices to your advantage. As a female, you can look professional and still have the opportunity to show your sense of style and personality through what you wear.

The dos and don’ts of what to wear to an interview are relatively simple with just a bit of thought. There’s an old saying about dressing for the job you want. This advice still rings true. Show you’re confident in what you’re wearing while still respecting the rules of the company. This will help to give off the right impression before the interview even gets started.

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