Have an important interview coming up but no idea what to wear? We’ve all been there before. Interviews are all about making a good impression, and, whether you like it or not, you will be judged based on what you’re wearing. Don’t want to spend the hour before your interview agonizing over what to wear? Have no fear: Laynie is here!
1. The “I-swear-it’s-casual” interview: Although I’ll never understand the Silicon Valley start-up-culture style, apparently casual interviews are a thing for you people. If you insist that dressing formally is just not an option, please do something more than just jeans and a t-shirt: This is your future employer you’re meeting with.
Ladies, consider wearing dark-wash or black skinny or straight-fit denim, and make sure those jeans fit properly (a.k.a. not too tight, not too baggy). For tops, I would recommend a cardigan and a sleeveless top made from a material that’s not cotton. Add some flats or nice-looking boots, and you’re good to go.
Guys, consider dark-wash or black denim as well. For your shirt, I’d recommend a polo shirt or ironed, casual button-down. For shoes, loafers would be best, but at least make sure the shoes you ultimately decide to wear are not dirty.
2. The business casual interview: This is a common one, but it’s also the one people seem to struggle with the most. It may seem daunting, but it’s simpler than you think.
Ladies, if you insist on wearing black denim and a nice top, at least add a blazer and some statement jewelry or a scarf. Flats or heeled booties would complete this look best. However, I recommend throwing on a dress over pants. Wear a solid color dress that is not too short or too revealing with a blazer and some jewelry, and you’ll look great! Also consider lace –it’s feminine and unique. The best shoes are flats or wedges; just stay away from sandals.
Guys, I’d recommend khaki, navy or black chinos with a button down that is, once again, ironed. Tuck your shirt in, wear a belt and definitely wear loafers or casual dress shoes. Stay away from jeans.
3. The formal interview: This one seems pretty self-explanatory: dresses or suits for women, suits and ties for men. But the biggest problem seems to always be fit, especially for women.
Ladies, let’s take a minute to talk about dress pants. Your black dress pants should NOT look like lounge or yoga pants. This effect is often created when the pants are too loose or too tight. It may take trying on 20 pairs of dress pants before you find the right one, but trust me, they’re out there. Do not settle when it comes to dress pants – and if you just can’t seem to find the right pair, you should definitely get a pair custom altered. Make sure they fit in the thigh and are streamlined in a straight line down to the toe, with an ironed crease in the front. And please make sure the top with those pants is dressy as well – either a button-down blouse or a top made from a very nice material. You wouldn’t believe how many dress-pants-and-t-shirt outfits I’ve seen, and it just doesn’t work. I also recommend heels, but if they’re really not for you, flats will work. One last comment: Dresses are definitely my favorite option for formal wear. Just please make sure they’re not too short – try to keep it at two inches above the knee, maximum. If it’s slightly more than two inches above the knee, wear it with opaque tights, but if it’s over around two and a half inches, definitely do not wear it to the interview! Better to be safe than sorry.
Guys, this one’s pretty self-explanatory: Suit, tie and dress shoes. And now is not the time to show off that random crazy-patterned tie you’ve kept around.
Follow these steps for interview attire, and you’re on your way to getting the job! In summary, dressing too formal is always better than not dressing formally enough, and make sure that whatever you’re wearing is appropriate.
Weekly challenge: Go through your closet and think about what you’re going to wear for your next interview. If you can’t find anything, invest in some nice pieces now so you won’t have to scramble later!
Contact Laynie Stephens at laynies ‘at’ stanford.edu.