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How to Dress for an Interview (links to picture examples)

Posted on February 23, 2021

You’ve heard a lot of advice about how to dress for an interview: Dress professionally! Dress for the job you want! Wear a suit! Be conservative! But what does that mean and what if that’s not me?

You probably will have to dress differently than you do most days. But you should still be comfortable and feel like yourself.
Before we get started, let’s get the don’ts out of the way: no flip flops, no shorts, no short skirts, no low rise or distressed pants, no stains, and no wrinkles.

Business casual is one of the most common and confusing dress codes that you will encounter because every work place seems to have its own definition. So, let’s start with the basic business casual formula: chinos, khaki pants, dress pants or knee-length skirt + button-front shirt or blouse + optional sweater or blazer + closed toe dress shoes. For an interview, you will want to err on the dressier side of business casual, which is often translated as dark dress pants, a white button front shirt and a pair of oxfords. This is a great start!

Now add a bit of personality by swapping out the white shirt for a colorful or patterned button front shirt, adding a watch and jewelry, or wearing interesting socks. Click here for a breakdown of business casual and lots of pictures of business casual for men. Women can find an explanation of each element of business casual here and pictures here.

Business professional dress is easier to interpret because it is stricter than business casual. Business professional includes dress pants, suit pants, skirts + button-front shirts or blouses + coordinating jacket or matching suit jacket + closed toe shoes. To add personality, wear a suit (or a structured dress) in a color or pattern, a colorful or patterned shirt, a fun tie or socks, jewelry, and a watch. The colors and patterns in professional dress are more subdued, especially for an interview. The following links have examples of professional outfits with color, neutral-colored professional outfits and a side-by-side comparison of casual, business casual and business professional outfits for women. This Pinterest board from NAU has collection of business professional clothing for men and this webpage compares business casual and professional.

It’s important to make a good first impression with your professional appearance but your words are more important than your appearance. The most important rule is be yourself!

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