Instead of doing another hunt for interview suits, this week I thought we’d ask the question: what is the best interview attire for different types of jobs?
I’ve always approached our various suit roundups from the perspective of Interview Attire for a Very Conservative Office, but I think there’s a fun discussion to be had about what to wear for interview attire for a business casual office, or a creative casual office, or an Office So Casual People Wear Hoodies and Jeans.
Warning: my advice for a lot of these positions is still going to be “wear a suit,” both because it shows you’re taking the interview seriously, it is going to be so much easier than almost all of the other stuff we’ll discuss, and — even if you’re interviewing in a place where people wear hoodies and jeans — if you’re hired in a position of authority (lawyer, say) then you’re being vetted and interviewed to be the grown up in the room.
This post contains affiliate links and Corporette® may earn commissions for purchases made through links in this post. For more details see here. Thank you so much for your support!
But let’s discuss! What do you think is the best interview attire for different types of jobs? Here are some of my thoughts, below…
Pictured: black / navy / navy / black
The Best Interview Attire for a Conservative Office
Go formal, all the way: wear a dark suit in a seasonless wool. Cut your vents. A matched dress and blazer is fine, as well.
If you are very junior and interviewing with very senior people (such as, say, that crusty old partner emeritus they trot out for interviews) then a skirt suit is still probably your best advice, but pants suits have come so far that I’ll say wear whatever you feel the best in.
Our favorite mid-range suits for women as of 2023: one / two / three / four / five
Do the mirror check if you’re wearing a skirt. If you need a blouse or a top for under your suit, a collared shirt still looks crisp and stylish; a no-button blouse like Everlane or J.Crew Factory also works; you can also go for a silk sweater or an elevated t-shirt in a very traditional color (think pastels, whites).
(See also our entire Guide to Interview Suits.)
Pictured above: black blazer / gray blazer / pink blazer / white blazer
The Best Interview Attire for a Business Casual Office
This depends a lot on what position you’re interviewing for, and it’s where things start to get difficult because it depends on the office, the region, and who you’re interviewing with.
My $.02: if you are interviewing for a role of authority, you should have a blazer on, unless you are such a rockstar that you are interviewing for CEO.
It can be really tough to know what to wear for these interviews, though, so I would err on the side of being overly conservative rather than overly casual, and if you don’t plan on wearing a blazer, at least bring one with you. If you look at the company’s social media presence or pictures of staffers on their websites you might get an idea of how they present themselves to potential clients — but it’s hard to believe you’re going to go wrong to show up in a suit because it is, after all, an interview.
This kind of look might also work for one of those fun “is it an interview?” situations where you’re meeting someone with hiring input for coffee, or as an informational interview where there is no job.
(See also our entire Guide to Business Casual.)
Interview attire that might be appropriate for a business casual office:
- the same dark wool suit you’d wear to a conservative office interview, but with a bit more personality in the outfit — a brooch, a necklace, fun shoes, a patterned blouse you love — if the conservative office interview attire is plain vanilla, think “butter pecan” here — still dependable and pretty basic.
- (first photo above) — suiting separates, so long as they clearly are non-matching — a blazer worn on top of a sheath dress, for example, in a different color or with a different texture
- (gray blazer image) — the column of color look where you have a solid column of color with your blouse and pants but a “fun” blazer on top. Think Elizabeth Warren!
- (pink and red outfit) — nontraditional suiting separates, like a collarless blazer, a knit sweater jacket or jardigan, a pleated skirt instead of a . The look is very formal and would still look dressed up and polished, but in my humble opinion, this has to be very close to your personal style — it’s hard to play dress up and look confident in a look like this otherwise.
- (white blazer outfit) — a matched color on top with a different color on the bottom. This works nicely with a light blue blazer, blue top, and black pants, but you can also go for basic black on the top and then a clearly non-matching pant or skirt on the bottom.
- not pictured, but still an option for some casual roles at casual offices: a sleeved dress with pockets, maybe with a blazer carried with you that layers nicely.
- not pictured, but possibly an option for more conservative roles at more conservative offices: a slightly fun suit — I probably wouldn’t advise wearing a bright red suit to an interview but a light gray suit, a black and white gingham suit, a dark suit with an unusual pattern
Pictured above: Black blazer / black dress / navy dress / black moto blazer
The Best Interview Attire for a Casual Office
TREAD VERY CAREFULLY HERE!
If you are interviewing for a role that is creative, maaaaaybe you can consider a bright red suit or something a television show might tell you was interview attire.
But interview attire for a casual office is hugely dependent on what typical wear is for the office, what you wear most of the time, what you feel the most confident in, and how you really want to present yourself.
For my money, I would still stick with interview attire for a conservative office, but go for fun accessories — bags, shoes, scarves, necklaces, brooches, rings. (Watch out for bracelets that clang or earrings that catch the light and distract from what you’re saying.)
Most times you’re still going to want to go for a more traditional “interview” outfit (dark colors) but go in with the theory that there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll want to remove your jacket as soon as you enter the room. A sleeved dress with pockets (in a dark color) is another great option, like this one from MM.LaFleur — it gives you a great base to have fun with accessories while still being the grown up in the room.
In addition to the interview attire for business casual offices, consider wearing:
- Separates that are more dressed up than what you would regularly wear — if you expect to be in jeans for most of your time as an employee, wear pants, or jeans with heels and a blazer
- a statement dress
- a basic sheath dress — but only go sleeveless after some serious thought, social media investigation, or with a back-up blazer or cardigan with you
- a nontraditional jacket or topper, like a moto jacket — but really, proceed carefully!
Readers, what did you wear to your last interview? Did you feel like your interview attire hit the mark for the type of job, was too casual, or too formal? Readers who interview frequently, what are your thoughts on these outfits — do you think they’re the best interview attire for different types of jobs?
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
I’ve found that for tech interviews I can wear a business casual outfit – skirt and a nice top, dress and a cardigan – it can straddle the line between something I feel comfortable wearing to an interview and casual enough.
I interviewed at two think tanks wearing a dress and jacket, not a suit, and that’s been fine
I think the more conservative you are the better, at least for interviews for legal jobs. You do not want to look sloppy on day 1; everybody knows we all get sloppy later, but NOT on day 1.
Never too many shoes...
Kat – is there a link to the navy dress with the belt in the header image/bottom image? I love it so much.
I would also like to know. That dress is super cute!
Adding in the links now — I’ll do that dress first. :)
And how about a link to the gray sweater blazer, second outfit in the business casual options? I would wear the heck out of that.
Yes, link please! It is a gorgeous dress.
It’s linked under the bottom picture where it says “navy dress”. Comes in other colors!
I think a casual office is hardest. In my current tech company role (where I’m in compliance, so probably the most conservative and straight-laced function there is) any suit would have been total overkill, and probably would have honestly been a detractor. I was told to dress business casual for the interview, which I did (Boden dress with a nonmatching blazer) and ended up immediately removing the blazer to dress my outfit down.
I’ve only recently (last 5 years) interviewed at casual places (mostly creative agencies), and then my current role is business casual but one interview was on a Friday. For the casual places, I typically wore a dress with a non matching blazer or sometimes just a nice dress if it had sleeves – pretty much the nice end of what I’d wear if I had client meetings. For my most current role (business casual), I wore black pants and a black blazer but with a floral silk top for fun as I went to the client side but was coming from a creative agency so wanted to infuse some creativity. Then for the Friday interview for the same role I wasn’t sure if they wore jeans or not Fridays so wore my typical nice dress with a blazer and my interviewer was wearing jeans and a flannel with a nice cardigan.
When I interviewed as a new grad 5 years ago for engineering positions in tech, I stressed out so much about this. Ended up in a fun patterned B&W sheath dress for one interview (wayyyy overdressed) and I think slim black pants + biz casual top + flats for the others (fine, though I was still a bit overdressed given my target companies were all squarely in the California Jeans and Hoodies dress code camp).
Now with a bit more experience as a woman engineer, I’d feel comfortable wearing dark jeans to dress down the biz casual blouse (I’m really not a t-shirt person). Black ponte pants would also work, if I steered away from the standard “dressy casual” flats (or god forbid heels, seriously don’t wear heels for a Silicon Valley eng interview). I’d wear Euro-chic sandals if possible, or Chelsea boots in winter, maybe a casual-looking slip-on loafer. It’s tough for me to toe the line of being *slightly* dressier than my probably-male interviewers without calling attention to being a Well-Dressed Woman.
Also, all this experience is in California… if I were interviewing at the NYC or London offices of my current Big Tech company, I’d happily bump up to any form of unisex-ish business casual sans suit. The male engineers actually know how to dress there.
I seriously lust after that Grey Fringe Detail Tweed Jacket by Rebecca Taylor. Too bad it’s sold out. Maybe not. Sigh. If anyone knows of a similar look with the details—more than another boxy look—please share.