What to Wear for an Interview

Updated: August 6, 2023

After reading this article, you’ll:

  1. Comprehend how to adjust your interview attire according to the company’s culture and the industry norms, enhancing your first impression and demonstrating your cultural fit within the potential workplace.
  2. Learn how to dress appropriately for different seasons and how to balance comfort with professionalism, aiding in your overall confidence during the interview process.
  3. Be equipped with practical suggestions on where to shop for affordable and professional interview attire, as well as understanding how to present yourself professionally in a virtual interview setting, ensuring you make a positive impression regardless of the interview format.

After a few semesters of wearing jeggings and an over-sized sweatshirt to classes, meals, and meetings, it’s easy to forget that things work differently in the non-college world. Once you’ve polished your resume and cover letter to perfection and lined up that all-important interview, you’ll need to consider your outfit choices. While your appearance has nothing to do with how good a worker you’ll be, it will greatly affect the impression you make when you walk in the door. With a few simple guidelines, you’ll be dressed for success in no time.

The new rules of interview fashion

Maybe your personal stylist (okay, your mom) told you to wear a full suit and tie to every interview if you’re a guy and a skirt suit, pantyhose, and kitten heels if you’re a girl. While that’s still solid advice (honestly, you can never go wrong with a nice suit), workplace fashion and gender norms have changed a lot in the past few decades. Today, not all industries require you to show up in your Sunday best.

Here’s the new rule of thumb:

Research the company ahead of time, find out what people who work there wear, and aim to dress a little better than that.

“What’s a little better?” you might ask. Let’s say you’re trying to land an internship or entry-level job at a tech company, where things tend to be pretty casual. Even if everyone working there wears jeans and hoodies, that doesn’t mean you should dress that way for your interview.

Instead, if you’re a guy, you can look at the way everyone dresses and determine that a suit would be overkill. You might try a button-down shirt and a nice pair of slacks. For ladies, you have more options, but a similar look works well; try a tailored blazer, blouse, and pants. Men might finish off their look with a pair of brown or black loafers, while a woman could wear patterned or colorful heels to make everything pop. And if you don’t conform to traditional gender standards, wear whatever feels most comfortable for you—as long as it’s polished and professional.

You can also take your cues from your target company’s industry and location. If you’re interviewing at a financial firm on Wall Street, you should definitely wear a suit. On the other hand, if you live on the West Coast, you’ll find that companies tend to have more casual dress codes, so you can dress down (but just a bit).

So, how do you research a company’s dress code? Your best bet is to get it directly from the source. If you’re interviewing for a job through a recruiter, just ask them. If you can’t find any online info on your upcoming internship, reach out to the company’s HR department to inquire. However, if you’re feeling shy, you can always check the company’s website, too. They may have a published dress code (score!) or photos of employees that can clue you into the appropriate attire for your interview. And don’t forget your network—it may be that a current or former employee can give you some insider advice.

Industry Attire

Here’s a rough breakdown of what could be suitable attire based on industry:

Tech Industry

Many tech companies have adopted a casual dress code, with employees often seen in jeans and t-shirts. However, for an interview, it’s better to step up the formality a notch. For men, a smart casual look might include chinos, a button-down shirt, and clean sneakers or loafers. Women might opt for a professional blouse or sweater with slacks or a knee-length skirt, paired with flats or moderate heels.


In stark contrast to the tech industry, the finance world is traditionally quite formal. Unless informed otherwise, plan to wear a suit. Men should choose a conservative tie and shoes, while women can opt for a skirt or pant suit paired with closed-toe heels. Colors should typically be more on the neutral side, such as navy, black, or gray.


For medical professionals, the dress code can vary depending on the role. However, in general, formal attire is a safe bet for interviews. Men might wear a suit or at least a formal shirt with a tie, while women could opt for a suit, dress, or skirt/blouse combo. Avoid open-toe shoes, and keep jewelry minimal and non-distracting.


The dress code in education depends on the level (e.g., elementary school, high school, university). However, err on the side of caution and dress professionally for the interview. For men, this could be a dress shirt and slacks or a suit, and for women, a dress, suit, or blouse with a skirt or slacks. Again, neutral colors are a safe choice.

Creative Industries (e.g., Advertising, Media, Design)

In creative industries, your outfit can showcase your personality a little more. That said, maintain an air of professionalism. Men might choose a smart-casual combination like chinos and a patterned shirt, while women could wear a stylish dress or a trendy blouse/skirt combination. Unique accessories can highlight your creative side.

Remember, these are general guidelines. It’s essential to research the company’s culture and dress code before your interview. A great rule of thumb is to dress one step more formal than the company’s everyday attire. The goal is to show respect and demonstrate that you understand the company’s culture.

Budget is an important factor when dressing for interviews. Here’s some guidance on affordable and accessible options:

Tips on Brands/Stores


They offer a wide range of business-casual and professional attire at affordable prices. You’ll find everything from blazers and dress pants to button-down shirts and blouses.


Known for its high-quality basics, Uniqlo offers a great selection of affordable business-casual options. Their clothes are also well-made, ensuring they’ll last for multiple wears.


While slightly more expensive than H&M and Uniqlo, Zara often has sales that can make their clothing quite affordable. They offer trendy business-casual and professional options.

Old Navy/Gap

Both stores offer a selection of affordable business-casual clothing. They’re especially good for basics like shirts, blouses, and khakis.

Thrift Stores/Second-hand Shops

You’d be surprised at the quality of clothing you can find at thrift shops. It’s possible to find high-quality, gently used professional clothing at a fraction of the price.

Online Marketplaces

Websites like Poshmark, ThredUp, or eBay often have second-hand or discounted professional clothing.

Accessibility and Affordability


If you have a big interview and want to make an impression but can’t afford to buy a suit or professional attire, consider renting. Websites like Rent the Runway allow you to rent high-end clothing for a fraction of the cost.

Clothing Swaps

Consider organizing a clothing swap with friends or colleagues. Everyone brings professional clothing they no longer need, and you can exchange items for free.

Dress for Success/ Career Gear

These non-profit organizations provide professional attire for low-income individuals to wear to job interviews.

Capsule Wardrobe

Focus on buying a few versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits. This can be more cost-effective than buying many individual outfits.

Invest in Quality Over Quantity

It’s better to have one good-quality suit or dress that fits well and will last, than several poorly-made items that will need to be replaced.

Remember, while looking presentable and professional is important, most employers will focus on your skills and experiences rather than your outfit. Make sure your attire is clean, neat, and appropriate for the company culture, but don’t stress too much about having the perfect wardrobe.

Remote Interviews

The rise of remote work has significantly altered the norms of interview attire. However, the core principle remains the same: you want to present yourself as polished and professional. Here’s how to navigate dressing for remote interviews:

Upper Half Focus

Since the camera usually captures only your upper body, put more effort into choosing a professional-looking top. Opt for a neutral-colored shirt, blouse, or sweater. Men might want to add a tie or a blazer, and women might consider a stylish necklace or earrings to add a touch of professionalism.

Lower Half

While it might be tempting to wear sweatpants or shorts, it’s safer to go for a complete professional look. You might need to stand up during the interview, or you might simply feel more confident and prepared if you’re fully dressed.

Lighting and Color

Pay attention to how your outfit looks on camera. Some colors can appear different under certain lighting conditions. Before the interview, check how you look on your webcam to ensure your outfit appears as you intend.


Your background should be neat and professional. A messy room can distract the interviewer and send the wrong message about your organizational skills.

Technical Aspects

Test your tech setup ahead of time to ensure your interviewer can see and hear you clearly. You should also prepare for any technical glitches that might occur.

Ultimately, the shift to remote interviews doesn’t change the fact that you need to present a professional image. The best advice is to prepare for a virtual interview the same way you’d prepare for an in-person one: by dressing professionally, preparing thoroughly, and ensuring you’re ready to make a great impression.

Tips and tricks for interview fashion success

TL;DR: We’ll wrap things up with our top fashion pointers.

  • Start with the basics. Wear something clean, wrinkle-free, and properly fitted. That means nothing too baggy, too tight, or too revealing.
  • Always bring a jacket or cardigan. A versatile blue or black blazer can go with just about any outfit, with the bonus that it’s easy to tuck away if you end up feeling overdressed. You can go from business-casual to casual in a snap!
  • Stay neutral. For more conservative working environments, the best interview colors are black, grey, or navy. White and khaki are generally considered more casual.
  • Clean up. For guys, make sure you’re cleanly shaven. If you have facial hair, make sure it’s well-groomed.
  • Be smart about accessories. Keep jewelry to a minimum, though a statement necklace is fine if you’re interviewing for a more creative role. Lose any nose or tongue rings before you walk into the interview.
  • Be true to you. While you want to be professional, you need to be comfortable with what you’re wearing to feel confident and interview at your best. If you’re a woman who hates wearing dresses, simply wear pants.
  • It’s more than what you wear. Don’t eat right before an interview; you don’t want to have bad breath or something green stuck in your teeth. If it’s raining or windy, use the bathroom at a nearby coffee shop to tidy up and brush your hair. Don’t smoke beforehand and don’t wear a heavy perfume or cologne.
  • If you’re unsure, dress up. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. If you’re even slightly unsure, be conservative and wear a suit.