A woman holding two dresses in front of a mirror, choosing what to wear to an interview

What to Wear to a Job Interview (+ What to Avoid)

5 min read | May 6, 2024
 Marta Gongos- Ad Culture By Marta Gongos

Attending job interviews can be intimidating and nerve-wracking, with hiring managers assessing if you’re a perfect fit for the company. Don’t let your nerves get the best of you—come prepared, comfortable, and confident by wearing the right interview outfit!

We’re here to help you make a strong first impression and advise you on what to wear to an interview, no matter the dress code. By the end of this, you’re on your way to landing a final interview and a job offer.

How to Pick the Perfect Interview Outfit 

The “appropriate interview attire” isn’t one-size-fits-all. Employers nowadays have varying company dress codes you need to consider. Some require employees to wear formal business attire, while others are comfortable with a casual company dress code. That’s why you must research your potential employer’s clothing policies to match their workplace environment and culture.

We’ve compiled the different company dress codes so you can plan what to wear for a job interview accordingly:

Casual Dress Code

This refers to a relaxed, loose, and less formal clothing style than business casual. Employees can dress casually but avoid wearing items meant for street or home wear. Cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and start-ups often have a casual dress code for a more comfortable and informal look.

Wear Avoid
Tops
  • Button-up shirts
  • Blouses
  • Pullovers
  • Turtlenecks
  • Sleeveless shirts (unless covered with a cardigan or jacket)
  • Tank tops
  • Crop tops
  • Backless tops
Pants
  • Chinos
  • Jeans
  • Slacks
  • Khakis
  • Knee-length skirts
  • Shorts
  • Sweatpants
  • Sports leggings
Dresses
  • Knee-length dresses
  • Short dresses (above the knee)
Shoes
  • Oxfords
  • Heels
  • Flats
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Flip-flops
  • Open-toed flats
Outerwear
  • Cardigans
  • Light jackets
  • Sweaters
  • Sweatshirts
  • Hoodies
Fabrics and Designs
  • Dark-washed or black jeans
  • Colourful patterns
  • Neutral colours
  • Linen
  • Revealing cuts
  • Inappropriate shirt designs

 
Related: How to Negotiate Salary: 5 Strategies and Tips

Business Casual Dress Code

Most small businesses and some start-ups enforce a business casual dress code. This combines traditional business wear and a relaxed or laid-back motif, creating a style that’s comfortable and professional for work. 

Here’s what you should and shouldn’t wear to a business casual interview:

Wear Avoid
Tops
  • Polo shirt
  • Dress shirts
  • Elegant sleeveless shirts
  • Vests
  • Turtle necks
  • Dressy tops
  • Spaghetti straps
  • Tank tops
  • T-shirts
  • Crop tops
  • Backless tops
Pants
  • Dress pants
  • Slacks
  • Khakis
  • Chinos
  • Dark jeans
  • Knee-length skirts
  • Short skirts
  • Shorts
  • Light-coloured jeans
  • Joggers
  • Sweatpants
  • Ripped jeans
Dresses
  • Knee-length
  • Maxi dresses
  • Short dresses (above the knee)
Shoes
  • Pumps
  • Flats
  • Loafers
  • Peep-toe shoes
  • Stilettos
  • Closed kitten heels
  • Oxfords
  • Boots
  • Boat shoes
  • Flip-flops
  • Tennis shoes
  • Fully open-toe shoes
  • Athletic sneakers
Outerwear
  • Cardigans
  • Blazers
  • Sweaters
  • Seasonal sport coats
  • Hoodies
  • Sweatshirts
Fabrics and Designs
  • Neutral colours and patterns
  • Knitwear
  • Silk
  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Designs showing profanity
  • Clothes with holes and stains
  • Revealing cuts
  • Light fabrics exposing undergarments

 
Related: 5 Ways to Ace the Intro Call With a Recruiter

Business Formal Dress Code

Most employers in traditional industries like finance and law require business formal attire. It’s a conservative and formal style embodying professionalism, authority, and competence—in other words, suit up! A pair of tailored jackets and slacks can impress recruiters.

Find out what to wear and avoid to a business formal interview below: 

Wear Avoid
Tops
  • Button-down shirt
  • Blouse
  • T-shirts
  • Sleeveless tops
  • Crop tops, backless, and polo shirts
Pants
  • Tailored suit pants or knee-length skirt suit that matches the jacket
  • Jeans
  • Khakis
  • Chinos
  • Shorts
  • Sweatpants
  • Joggers
Dresses
  • Knee-length tailored dress with matching jacket or blazer
  • Maxi dresses
  • Short dresses
Shoes
  • Flats
  • Heels
  • Leather shoes
  • Oxfords
  • Open-toed shoes
  • Sneakers
  • Flip-flops
Outerwear
  • A tailored suit jacket or blazer that matches the colour and texture of pants
  • Hoodies
  • Sweaters
  • Cardigans
Fabrics and Designs
  • Dark or modest colours
  • Wool
  • Cotton
  • Silk blend
  • Polyester-viscose
  • Any signs of profanity and revealing cuts

 
Related: How to Answer “Why Should We Hire You?” Successfully

Tips for Perfecting Your Interview Outfit 

Once you find out a company’s dress code, it’s time to create the perfect interview outfit that matches their work environment. We recommend the following tips to dress professionally: 

  • Wash and iron clothes days before the interview. Hang them on hangers instead of folding them to avoid wrinkles and creases.
  • Look for holes and stains on your interview outfit. See if you can stitch the fabric together or use a laundry stain remover
  • Remove pet hairs and loose threads with a lint roller. 
  • Fashion your interview outfit with the workplace and the season to stay comfortable and presentable.
  • Choose neutral or earth-toned colours for your make-up; avoid bold colours. 
  • Research the company’s tattoo policy and follow it accordingly.
  • Avoid using strong perfume.

A woman in a business formal attire shakes hands with her interviewer

Source: Canva

You’re Ready to Land a Job! 

Knowing what to wear to a job interview and showing up in the appropriate attire shows preparedness, interest, and professionalism—traits that make you a top candidate. More than that, the right interview outfit raises your confidence in answering questions smoothly! 

If you’re still seeking job opportunities, submit your resume at Ad Culture today—you might be the one we’re looking for. We’re a top marketing recruitment agency in Toronto, skilled in matching employers with adept candidates. Our fast-working team will find a company that fits your skills, giving you the chance to land interviews and get hired.

Call us at (416)-827-2944 or message us to learn how we can help you snag that job offer.

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