Dress for Success: What to Wear to an Interview

The saying “You can never make a second first impression” is never truer than in an interview.  One of the first impressions you’ll make is through your appearance. You don’t need to spend a fortune, or look like you’ve just stepped off the runway at Fashion Week, just remember to follow a few basic rules when dressing for an interview.

Dress codes can vary drastically from industry to industry, however it is best to err on the side of caution and dress a little more professional and conservative for an interview.  It is much better to be overdressed, than underdressed.  Not only will it show the interviewer that you are taking this job opportunity seriously, but that you will be able to fit in with the rest of the organization.

Here are a few tips to consider when dressing for an interview:

  • Fit is more important than price tag.  A tailored suit or jacket from a department store will look more professional and polished than an ill-fitted designer item.
  • Don’t dress too sloppy: wrinkled or extremely baggy clothes are not for the workplace.
  • Take it easy with the perfume and cologne.
  • Make sure you cover tattoos and take out piercings, unless you are interviewing in an extremely creative and casual environment.
  • Bring a professional leather portfolio, briefcase (for men) or purse (for women).  Backpacks and large tote bags do not belong in an interview.


  • A matching suit in a conservative color is always a safe bet, however a neat blouse or sweater can be paired with a skirt or dress pants.
  • Please keep your mini skirts for the weekends.  Skirts and dresses should be no more than an inch or two above your knees.
  • Avoid showing too much cleavage.
  • If you choose to wear heels, make sure they are less than 3” and appropriate for the season.
  • Choose simple accessories.  It is okay to show your personality through your jewelry, just don’t go overboard.
  • Keep your makeup conservative.  An interview is a good time to practice the ‘‘less is more’’ motto.


  • If you don’t own a matching suit, then at least wear a sports coat or a shirt and tie with a pair of trousers.
  • Choose a conservative tie.  Steer away from theme ties or ones with obnoxious colors and patterns.
  • Don’t wear white socks.  Choose a dark pair that matches the color of your pants.
  • Facial hair if worn should be well-groomed.
  • Clean dress shoes finish the look.  Sneakers and boat shoes don’t belong in an interview setting.

Remember, confidence is key in an interview.  Be comfortable with what you are wearing and let your personality and confidence in your abilities shine through.