Here's how to style the most impressive interview outfits for women
Add “great style” to your resume with these polished looks.
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Job interviews are all about putting your best foot forward and making the best first impression. But preparing for an interview starts long before the meeting itself. In addition to polishing up your resume and practicing your answer to the dreaded “strengths and weaknesses” questions, consider refreshing your wardrobe with polished, put together interview outfits.
We asked a stylist how to select outfits for a job interview—and if there is a fashion rule book for embarking on a new professional chapter. If you’re searching for a new role through sites like ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn, make shopping these style staples part of your interview prep.
What are we wearing?
How to dress for a job interview
Want to make a good first impression? Research the company to see how its employees dress, says New Jersey-based stylist Lisa Emelo. “It used to be [that] you had to wear a suit for an interview, but now, my first advice is to investigate the company culture,” she says, noting that the landscape has changed since the pandemic began.
Regardless of the industry, some advice rings true universally. Just as interviews are all about finding a job that’s the right fit, be sure to select interview clothes that are the right fit for you and your style. “Even if you're wearing a Versace suit, if it doesn't fit you properly, you're not going to feel confident and you're not going to feel comfortable,” says Emelo, who recommends searching for tailored designs you feel confident wearing.
In addition to the many “dos,” interview outfits should also avoid several common “don’ts.” For instance, regardless of the weather, be sure to avoid shorts (even if they’re made of suiting material), flip flops, or other open-toed shoes. Additionally, even if you work in a creative field, skip any graphic tees or dresses and skirts that don’t reach the knee.
Business formal: Find a suit that suits you
Not every career allows for maximum style exploration. For roles in industries including finance and banking, you’ll need to adhere to a business formal dress code. “You really have to stick with traditional colors like navy or gray, but the way you add some style is with your jewelry,” says Emelo. While you should still avoid any big or distracting bling, throw on a simple piece of jewelry or a scarf with an elegant pattern to “add some personality.”
To go the traditional suit route, consider shopping styles from Banana Republic, which Emelo says look “pulled together and polished.” The brand’s Classic Suit Blazer is machine washable and available in gray and black in women’s sizes 0 to 20.
For pants to match, shop the brand's Ryan Straight Pant, which is available in the same colors and sizes.
While suits are standard for business formal dress code, you can also put a twist on the traditional look with a blazer-and-dress combo instead. Consider the aptly-named Resume Dress from J.Crew, which Emelo recommends for bringing a “little bit more flair than your average white button down with a pencil skirt or pants.” The fitted style, which falls at the knee, is available in women’s sizes 00 to 24 in gray, navy, and black.
Business casual: Dressing up but not uptight
For “most companies nowadays,” a business casual dress code will suffice, says Emelo. Don’t throw out your suits just yet though—you can separate the pieces to create a casual yet cohesive look. “The key is taking one piece of your formalwear, like a suit jacket or a blazer, and adding a more casual feeling pair of pants,” says Emelo, who also recommends pairing a cardigan or blouse with a suit set’s pencil skirt. In addition to ditching the head-to-toe suited style, you can incorporate more color into your ensemble. For instance, consider going with a blazer that has gold buttons, instead of the traditional navy or black business formal versions.
Consider the Textured-Weave Jacket from H&M, which features woven fabric and four shiny buttons. The double-breasted blazer is available in black in women’s sizes XS to XXL. “You don't have to spend a million bucks to feel competent and look like a million bucks,” Emelo says of more budget-friendly fashions from brands like H&M and Zara.
Add some personality with a blouse like the Satin Bow Blouse from Tory Burch, which Emelo recommends for infusing your interview look with fashion-forward touches. Shop it in ivory in women’s sizes 00 to 14.
Top off the look with delicate jewelry, like the bestselling Emilie Gold Multistrand Necklace from Kendra Scott, which is available in eight colors. While the layered look adds a little sparkle, it’s just subtle enough to let your skills shine even brighter. “You don't want [distracting jewelry] to be the only thing the person remembers,” says Emelo. “You want your skills to come through.”
$70 at Kendra Scott
Start-ups or creative careers: Show off your style—but stay on the safe side
If you’re looking for a creative role, your outfits can often be equally as creative. While you’ll still want to err on the dressier side for the interview, play with patterns, bold shoes, and other colorful accessories. Unlike business formal jobs, which require a nude or black shoe, you can opt for animal print for these meetings, says Emelo. Consider picking a fun print in The Point flats, from Rothy’s which we’ve previously tested. They come in women’s shoe sizes 5 to 13 in 25 colors.
If you prefer to go bold with your blazer instead, consider adding a pop of color with a brightly hued style. “Studies have shown that…women who wear red project power and confidence,” says Emelo. Try the Long Modern Blazer from Loft for a contemporary, single-button style available in red in women’s sizes 0 to 10.
Layer your blazer with something slightly more casual, such as the Square Neck Tee from Whistles—a brand frequently sported by Kate Middleton. The stylish, short sleeve top, which Emelo recommends, is available in black in women’s sizes 0 to 14.
Zoom interviews: Add some dimension to your digital style
For remote interviews, stand out on screen with a blazer that doesn’t blend into the background. “You should find a color that complements you,” says Emelo. “It shouldn't be a bright bold color because that's distracting, but you shouldn't wear neutrals like beige because then you'll get lost.” Since you’ll only be seen on screen from the top up, avoid wearing blouses with bold patterns or low-cut necklines. Be careful with accessories as well—while delicate pieces add flair, bangles or other loud pieces of jewelry could provide unwanted background noise whenever your mic is on. “People make an impression within the first three seconds before you even speak,” says Emelo. “So it's best to feel confident and comfortable and know that you have the right attire on.”
Try an elevated blouse like the Cece Pintucked Smocked Cuff Chiffon Top in navy. The refined look is fashionable without being flashy, and comes in women’s sizes XS to XL.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.