Before the pandemic, we all got dressed for work every day—and did a zillion other things—before commuting and getting to the office on time. Now, a lot of us are out of practice. And that makes choosing an outfit for a job interview all the more stressful. What do people even wear to interviews in 2023? And what if it’s a remote interview—should you choose a silk blouse, or is that trying too hard? Is it better if you just wear a plain t-shirt and let your professional experience and interview answers speak for themselves? Here, experts break down the interview attire women can shop confidently right now—with expensive-looking cuts and budget-friendly prices.
One of the most common mistakes an interviewee can make is underdressing, according to Gillian McHattie, a Stitch Fix expert stylist. Before even looking into your wardrobe, she says to rule out clothes that are “too casual,” such as wrinkled t-shirts, ripped jeans, and other informal attire. “For some companies, underdressing can give off the impression that you don’t respect the opportunity or take your professionalism seriously,” McHattie says.
In the age of Zoom interviews and remote work, many people are finding themselves needing to look presentable only from the waist up. This advantage gives people the chance to focus on the top half of their body—but keep in mind that you’re on a small screen.
“Stay away from bold prints like stripes,” Kate Tudoreanu, a career success coach, says about virtual interviews. “They can cause visual distortions on the screen, which may distract your interviewer and make it hard for them to focus on you.”
Whether you’re in-person for the interview, or presenting yourself virtually, it’s always a better choice to be dressed in a way that exudes professionalism and care. McHattie recommends dressing “a notch above the office dress code” if you’re unsure.
“This not only demonstrates your understanding of the company culture, but also shows that you've made a genuine effort to make a stylish and professional impression,” she says.
Every industry is different. Your style choices will likely vary depending on the type of role you’re applying for. Interviewing at a law firm versus a fashion magazine will require a different thought process. Know your audience and research how formal or casual you think you can go, but always make sure you look professional.
“You can never be too dressed up for an interview,” Tudoreanu says. “Even in a more casual environment, you'll come across as put together and prepared.”
Make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free. Even if you choose the nicest shirt you own, an interviewer will be distracted if it's full of stains, rips, or wrinkles. Presenting yourself well includes taking care of the clothes you put on.
Wear something that fits well and is comfortable. If the skirt you chose is too short, or the pants fit a little too snug, you’re going to show just how uncomfortable you are during the interview. You’ll need to focus on conveying your skill set rather than fidgeting with your clothes. That also includes shoes you can walk in.
“For maximum comfort, I recommend pairing your interview outfit with either ballet flats or loafers,” McHattie says. “If you prefer something more formal, go for a pointed black pump. The choice is yours.”
Maintain your personal style. While most organizations hire people for their expertise first, standing out amongst other qualified candidates often comes down to your personality—and part of that can be portrayed through your style. Tudoreanu says to remember to consider your personal branding.
“This is what you want to be known for and a way to show your personality visually,” she says.
McHattie agrees and recommends looking at accessories to show who you are. “Whether that’s by carrying a bag that offers a pop of color or finishing your look with a pair of trend-forward mules,” McHattie says.
If you’re still questioning what to wear, both Tudoreanu and McHattie suggest investing in a staple interview outfit—but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring.
“It takes the guesswork out of deciding what to wear so you're never overwhelmed and scrambling at the last minute,” Tudoreanu says.
McHattie recommends opting for “classic and timeless pieces such as a well-fitted blazer and tailored pants in neutral colors like black, navy, tan, or gray. This ensures that you're well-prepared for a variety of interviews if you’re on the job hunt and gives your look an extra touch of sophistication.”
Both experts agree: You should always have a few timeless pieces in your wardrobe that go beyond trends and ensure you look effortlessly put together. Think neutral colors that can be interchangeable and easily accessorized.
If your interview takes place in the fall or winter, layering a quality sweater over a button-up shirt is always a good go-to. Consider pairing it with a long, satin skirt and knee-high boots.
If you’re overwhelmed by the idea of styling multiple pieces, simplify with a midi dress. It leaves you with little decision-making other than what shoes or accessories to add. Keep it simple with quality fabrics and styles that aren’t overly revealing.
If you’re fond of the Ivy League look, these pieces make up the adult version of college prep. Think big buttons, square necklines, stripes, and long, pleated skirts.
A monochromatic dress or matching set looks sophisticated without too many bells and whistles. Wearing one neutral color for tops, bottoms, and shoes looks put together, no matter your age.
If you want to add shoes, may we recommend the Racer Slingback Pumps at Macy’s, on sale for $80; The Bradley Lugsole Loafer in Leather at Madewell for $158; or the Tandery Knee-high Boots at Aldo for $90. Walk in—or join the video call—confidently, knowing you are about to nail the first impression. And don't forget: This all-in-one interview prep guide will help you nail the rest of the conversation.