Job interview outfits for women can include a button-down shirt, blazer with pants combination, a classic suit, a black dress with tights, or a statement dress for example. The interview attire needs to be tailored to the context: casual, business casual, or formal. In addition, it is recommended the interview outfit be in harmony with footwear and accessories, and of course, be clean and in good condition.
4 interview attire rules to follow
1. Do your research!
You'll definitely want to adapt your interview outfit depending on the company or role you're applying for.
Indeed, where some interviewers will expect you to wear very formal attire, others might be perfectly fine with you adopting a business casual outfit or even showing up in a t-shirt and your favorite sneakers!
Your interview outfit is a great first way to impress your interviewer as soon as you walk into the room, so do it the right way!
The importance of company culture
To find out how you should dress, do some research on the companies you're applying to. The most important element you'll need to find information about is company culture.
So here's what you're looking for: how do people show up at work? What's the company philosophy? Rather relaxed or formal?
How to find information about the dress code
A quick Google search might give you the answer
If you don't find any luck on Google, go to your - we hope - professional LinkedIn profile and search for people working at the company: your predecessors have been there, and they can probably help out!
At this stage, you should have a better idea of the dress code. You might still have a doubt though. If that's the case: ask the interviewer!
It's a perfectly legitimate question, especially if you can't find the information online. Write a professional email asking for more details on how what the dress code is for this position.
2. Choose your interview attire colors wisely
Neutral colors are often a good choice when choosing your interview attire: they pose a minimum risk as they are suitable for almost any situation or job interview, whether it's formal or more casual.
In addition, wearing neutral colors diminishes the odds of your interviewer being distracted by more flashy colors and paying less attention to the most important part of the interview: what you have to say.
Here are examples of neutral colors:
While neutral colors are less risky and more "conventional", we wouldn't disqualify bold, flashy colors altogether.
Again, the research you will have conducted on company culture and common attires in your potential future workplace will indicate whether you can choose bolder attire.
If you want to add a touch of creative, visual appeal that's also perfectly fine. Just make sure you add a moderate touch and don't overdo it.
Here are examples of these "moderate touches":
Creative patterns on your clothing
Bold accessories which contrast with your suit or dress
A bright pair of professional shoes
This is also where research will come in handy: an interview attire for a financial adviser or chief diversity officer position might differ from that expected for a fashion designer role for instance.
These are obviously two extreme examples, but you get the drift.
3. Opt for equally adequate footwear
If you make the effort of wearing a nice attire, whether it's a business casual outfit or a statement dress, please don't underestimate footwear. Please.
Shoes play a very large role in the first impression you'll be making.
Indeed, in their paper "Shoes as a source of first impressions", Gillath et al. (2012) found that a footwear owner's age, gender, income, and even attachment anxiety could be guessed based on images of their shoes!
In other words, your shoes have the power they reveal a part of your personality. Cool, right? Or maybe a sad facet of society actually.
Anyway, choose your footwear wisely, meaning:
Make sure it's in line with the dress code (that you researched)
Wear low heels or leather flats in formal or business casual contexts
You can opt for sneakers if the environment is really casual
No matter which shoes you chose, make sure they're clean and in good condition
4. Your accessory choice is also important
In the same way your shoes should match or be compatible with your attire, your handbag or briefcase choice is important. A winning interview attire is one that is professional from head to toe, accessories included.
Naturally, you'll want to bring a handbag, briefcase, or backpack to transport your professional CV and other documents and certifications you might need.
Here is what to keep in mind:
Opt for a sober, neutral-colored handbag, briefcase, or backpack
If you opt for leather and your shoes and other accessories also happen to be leather, make sure they match (brown shoes with a brown bag for example)
Same rule as for shoes: make sure your item is clean and in good condition
Again, this is all to be taken with a pinch of salt. If you can't afford a sleek leather handbag or briefcase and have no choice but to come with a regular backpack, then so be it.
If the recruiter judges on which handbag you chose to bring and not on your experience, skills, and academic background, you probably don't want to work for this company anyway.
A few interview attire examples for women
Women have a large range of interview outfits to choose from, from business casual to formal outfits.
The black dress with tights
Also classic. Also simple. Can't really go wrong with this interview attire choice either. The black dress is professional and goes quite well with patterned tights (sheer-striped for example, and not fishnets).
Make sure it hits just the top of your knee and covers your shoulders to maintain a modern, professional outfit.
The statement dress
Powerful and liberal. The statement dress is worn to attract attention and exhibit a part of your personality. Bright, eye-catching colors such as red will obtain such results.
Make sure you don't overdo it by adding jewelry and too many accessories. The dress itself will make big enough of a statement, as its name indicates. If you opt for this interview outfit, avoid dresses that are too short and too revealing. Go for a sober pair of footwear like black heels for example.
The navy blue blazer
Classic and simple. The interview outfit you can't really go wrong with frankly. What's great with the navy blue blazer is it can be worn with just about anything.
You can wear a navy blue blazer with:
jeans if your interview is in a casual environment
Key takeaways on interview attire for women
The days of the conservative job interview outfits seem to be over. At least for some companies. Not all.
It is thus very important for both men and women to conduct thorough research on common interview outfit practices at the company they wish to land a job with.
Choose physical and mental comfort
Whichever clothes are opted for, whether it's a suit, a blazer, a dress, a skirt, a pair of jeans, or a blouse, make sure you're 100% comfortable with what you're wearing.
While the company interview dress code needs to be taken into account, the first impression you make will also depend on the degree of confidence with which you enter the room.
In addition, keep in mind the piece of clothing you opt for might be associated with your personality.
Whatever you choose to wear, aim for a full harmony from head to toe, of your clothes, footwear, jewelry, and other accessories. By stay professional, we also mean clean and good condition items are the very minimum you should aim for.
Finally, a "good" or "bad" interview attire won't determine whether you land the job or not. It's one of the pieces of your overall performance and of the impression, you will be giving.
In other words, in addition to choosing your interview outfit wisely, make sure you prepare your interview well to impression on the recruiter not only with your looks, but also with your skills, talent, and experience. Give the interview process the preparation time it deserves. Don't forget to practice negotiating your salary too!