It’s 2022, meaning interview attire for women has seriously evolved since experts suggested sporting a boring black suit in order to be safe. Now, strict, high school–esque dress codes are out, and authentic style is in. It’s totally possible to send the signal that you’re a qualified professional who’s serious about the opportunity at hand, while also showing off your personality and attitude through fashion.
Interview attire is not so much about dressing conservatively as it is about dressing appropriately for the environment you’ll be in. Use your judgement, and don’t wear shoes that are too worn or scuffed, clothes that are wrinkly, or a bag that’s falling apart at the seams.
After doing your company research and preparing for tough interview questions, keep these tips about interview attire for women in startup, corporate, and virtual environments in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to making the perfect first impression.
Interview attire for women: 15 tips for dressing your best on interview day
1. Don’t choose your outfit the morning of your interview. Decide on your attire in advance the night before and set out your clothes.
2. Pay attention to the details. Wrinkles, we’re looking at you.
3. Don’t over-accessorize with big flashy jewelry.
4. Wear shoes you’ve already worn before—you don’t want to walk around with blisters all day.
5. If you wear makeup, stick to your day-to-day look. A bold lip shows confidence, but a smokey eye is best saved for the post-interview celebration.
6. If you have an in-person interview, don’t douse yourself in too much perfume.
7. By no means do you have to get a manicure, but make sure your nails are clean.
8. Dress for the season. Layer your clothes in order to stay warm, and shed your coat if you get too warm.
9. Make sure you remove the tags from any brand new clothing items.
10. If you haven’t worn your blazer in a while, air it out so it doesn’t smell like the bottom of your dresser drawer.
11. Ensure you’ll be comfortable when sitting down. If you feel like you can’t breathe in your outfit, your discomfort will show during your interview.
12. Your interview isn’t the time to experiment with ground-breaking fashion. Save the neon colors for later.
13. Although it might seem antiquated, check out the company’s dress code to see if they have any strict policies on visible piercings or tattoos. A quick scan of the company’s social media can give you an insider’s view of their office attire, too.
14. Choose a bag that’s big enough to fit all of your essential interview items but doesn’t steal the show away from you with too much sparkle or contrasting colors.
15. If any of your clothes are dry clean only, take them to the cleaners right after an interview so that you're already prepared for the next one.
Read more: 11 Essential Items to Bring to an Interview
Interview attire for women in a casual, noncorporate, or startup environments
Each office sets its own dress code, and startup and noncorporate environments are known to showcase some seriously casual attire. Interviews are a great time to show how you’d fit seamlessly into a company’s culture, and there are a variety of ways to make a respectful first impression while showing off your unique style. The idea is to mix formality with a sense of creativity and personality.
Experts agree: Jeans are fine for casual work environments.
Darker jeans are completely acceptable for a noncorporate interview since it’s super easy to offset jeans with a nicer shirt and shoes. Not only would overdressing be uncomfortable for you, it can also be off-putting to your interviewer if it signals that you haven’t done any research on the company culture. Plus, creative and technical positions tend to have more leeway in the attire department so long as they’re not client-facing.
But…do some research before whipping out your ripped jeans to an interview.
Although interview attire for women has come a long way and noncorporate jobs are starting to really emphasize the ‘casual’ in business casual, showing up to an interview in stringy, ripped jeans might not be the best idea. If you’re willing to accept the risk and have done your research, there are definitely ripped jeans out there with holes that don’t have tons of threads hanging out that can be dressed up with a nice blazer, blouse, and shoes.
Use your blazer and shoes to dress up or down.
Again, before picking your outfit, see if you can suss out the level of casualness in the office. If the office attire errs on the side of more formal, pair a nice black blazer with a neutral blouse, dark-colored jeans or slacks, and flats or heels. If it seems more lowkey and fun, show off your style by picking out a statement patterned blazer to wear with dark jeans and an awesome pair of sneakers or mules.
Interview attire for women in a corporate environment
Corporate industries like law and finance usually mean you’ll be dressing in business formal or business professional attire, which can be a little intimidating. But your corporate interview attire doesn’t have to be boring or all black. Modern business outfits allow for color, a little bit of pattern, and lots of options.
Bring out the power suit.
No, we’re not talking about the boxy, shoulder-padded interview attire for women from the ‘80s—here, we’re going for a tapered pair of pants and a well-fitting blazer. Pick a bold color or a subtle pattern, but remember that your clothing shouldn't steal the show or distract from your message.
Experiment with button-ups.
Button-ups don't have to be boring. Don't limit yourself to the basic white, blue, or black cotton shirts, and absolutely experiment with fabrics and textures. For example, opt for a silk chiffon button-down that you can layer over a camisole or try a button-up with some ruffles.
Buy a statement dress.
Color-blocked geometric dress? Yes, please. Statement dresses exude confidence and show that you’re ready to take command of a room and share your amazing ideas. Dress in a standalone statement dress or layer a statement tank dress over a white button up for some more pizzazz. Feel free to skip the panty hose in 2022.
Interview attire for women in a virtual environment
Screening interviews often occur over the phone or on a video chat platform. Plus, due to the uptick in remote work during COVID-19, many second and third round interviews are also held virtually. Prior to any virtual interview, look at yourself wearing the outfit in front of your background to test the lighting.
Wear pants, please.
Although it’s tempting to keep your sweatpants on, put on a real pair of pants. Studies show that what you wear influences your mood, confidence, and posture, so wearing a complete head-to-toe outfit will help keep you in the interview mindset. If you absolutely must, you can keep your slippers on for comfort.
Avoid colors or patterns that blend in or clash with your background.
For example, if you sit in front of a green wall for interviews in your home, avoid wearing a green top that’ll blend in with the background. Similarly, if you sit in front of an accent wall with polka dots or stripes, choose a neutral shirt to help draw the attention back to you.
Include a signature item, but forget flashy accessories.
A tasteful signature item like a headband or colorful neck scarf can show off your confidence over video where it’s harder to fully understand someone’s style. Other accessories like jewelry are usually a great way to showcase your personal style. But when it comes to interviewing virtually, it’s best to leave them off. You don’t want the interviewer to focus on how heavy your huge metal necklace looks instead of actively listening to your answers or how your dangly earrings are interfering with your headphones.