First impressions are powerful, and you don’t often get the chance to change someone’s perception of you. What you wear to a job interview is almost as important as what you say in the interview, so it’s important to dress appropriately. For most positions, business casual is an acceptable choice – but what exactly is business casual? Keep reading to see us break down what to wear to an interview.
Women have a lot of options when it comes to interviewing attire. Many outfits can be dressed up by adding a blazer or a pair of dress heels. A good rule of thumb is that it’s better to be slightly overdressed, rather than underdressed.
Women’s Business Casual
Business casual is a style of clothing that is less formal than traditional business wear but is still intended to give a professional and businesslike impression. Basic components of a business casual wardrobe are: blazers/suit jackets, button-down shirts, khakis, dress pants, sweaters, blouses, and dress shoes.
Casual clothes, such as athletic shoes, t-shirts and crop tops, leggings, and jeans are not acceptable in a business casual work environment.
Many office attire guides tell their readers to opt for conservative colors like blue, black, gray, and white. We believe that in business casual settings, most colors are acceptable. (Although we do recommend staying away from neons and crazy patterns.) If you’re a person who loves pink, or any other color, feel free to express yourself by wearing it!
There are five components to a standard women’s business casual outfit:
- Blouse or Top
- Slacks or Skirt
- Blazer or Cardigan
- Dress shoes
Blouses and Tops
When choosing a blouse, opt for one that has a conservative neckline. Patterns and bright colors are fine, but you should avoid graphic tees. Long-sleeve button-down shirts are always an appropriate option, and most shirts will look good tucked into slacks or a skirt.
Short-sleeve tops are a good choice for business casual outfits. If you decide to wear a sleeveless blouse, pair it with a cardigan or a blazer. Spaghetti straps are not acceptable in an office environment and are not an appropriate choice for an interview.
In colder seasons, a sweater can also be worn as an alternative to a blouse. Opt for one that looks professional – without holes, stains, or graphics.
Dress Slacks and Skirts
The right pair of dress pants can add a stylish and professional flair to your outfit. Slacks should be an appropriate length – nothing that sits higher than the lower calf. Ankle dress pants are acceptable, but you should leave capris and shorts for the weekend.
Choose slacks that fit well and are made out of quality material. If your pants are too tight, they may be considered inappropriate for the office, and if they’re too large, they may look sloppy. Working in a traditional office, most of your workday will be spent sitting, so look for trousers with a comfortable waistband. In the event that you’re stuck between two sizes, opt for the larger one and have the pair of slacks tailored.
An important factor to consider when purchasing pants is what type of shoes you’ll wear with them. If you’re the type of woman who prefers heels over flats, you’ll need slacks with a longer hem length.
Skirts can be a comfortable alternative to pants but come with their own set of rules. Just like slacks, choose a skirt with a comfortable waistband. If the fit is too tight, it may be uncomfortable to spend your day sitting down.
An appropriate length for any skirt is either at or slightly above the knee. If your skirt is any shorter than that, you may need to save it for outside the office or wear a pair of opaque tights underneath it.
Blazers and Cardigans
It’s not necessary to wear a blazer or cardigan with every business casual outfit. However, if you work indoors, chances are that your office is air-conditioned, so you may want a jacket to keep you warm.
When deciding on a blazer or a cardigan, choose one that’s free of wrinkles and in good condition. Unfortunately, your favorite cozy sweater probably isn’t office appropriate. Opt for something without distracting graphics or logos.
Dress Shoes and Flats
If your closet is full of shoes, you probably have a ton of business casual options! Flats, heels, loafers, and wedges are all acceptable choices for an interview.
Avoid athletic shoes, sandals, flip-flops, anything with open toes, and heels or wedges with platforms. Flats should be made out of suede or leather, but not fabric.
When you’re putting together your interview outfit, feel free to dress it up by adding accessories. Earrings, necklaces, rings, and watches are all wonderful options.
Choose tasteful jewelry that adds to your overall appearance. Large, neon, or noisy accessories can be distracting to an interviewer, and you want the focus to be on your answers, not your appearance.
You put a lot of time and effort into getting an interview, and now it’s your time to shine. Remember the saying, look good, feel good?
By choosing an interview outfit that’s both professional and comfortable, you’re mentally preparing to put your best foot forward. Now that you know what you should wear, check out our helpful interview tips.