Don’t underestimate the power of clothing. Your stylish choices have the potential to create a great first impression, giving you an added advantage on landing that dream job.
There are numerous inspiring looks online highlighting the best interview attire for women.
The challenge, though, comes in selecting the best look that suits your needs and unique personal style.
What Is Professional Attire for an Interview?
The first factor that you should consider is how professional your chosen ensemble looks. This is critical when putting together a corporate attire for female job interview.
There are three things we highly consider when determining what is professional attire for an interview:
How conservative is your look?
Don't interpret conservatism as being boring.
With good taste and careful styling, one can put together an outfit that looks respectable and elegant, yet interesting, as well.
Do you look responsible?
It is a big no to go to an interview with your attire all wrinkled up or, worse, stained. It tells a lot about how professional and responsible you are as a person.
Don't forget to pay attention to your grooming efforts, too. Fresh breath, a soft scent, and a bright smile can go a long way.
Is there room to grow?
Finally, you’d want to gravitate towards looks that are minimal and refined.
Since there's less visual clutter, these looks create an effect of a person who is eager and still has lots of room to grow.
The Two Dress Codes for Interviews
The second factor to consider when dressing up for an interview is the dress code. There are two: business-formal and business-casual.
What Is Business Formal Attire for an Interview?
It is ideal to think about how you can make your business attire as formal and refined as possible when achieving this look.
Wearing a pantsuit is usually the best option, paired with a formal, collared dress shirt underneath.
Try to keep your jewelry at a minimum, and choose a clean yet confident scent. A leather suitcase will look great, as well, along with a pair of high heels.
What Is Business Casual Attire for an Interview?
As mentioned, regardless of the dress code required, your outfit should always look, first and foremost, professional.
This means that while this dress code may mention "casual," it still doesn't give you the go signal to go to your interview wearing a pair of jeans or gym clothes.
Instead, we recommend pairing an elegant blouse with a pencil skirt.
It's ideal to have your skirt at knee length to avoid looking too revealing. Don't worry; a short slit will help add mobility if needed.
You can opt to wear a pair of cropped pants with your blouse as an alternative. Just make sure that it is made of a more dressy material.
A high-waisted pencil skirt can create the illusion of height, so heels are not required.
You can wear flats as long as they look professional and respectable. Stay away from loud prints and colors.
Lastly, complete your look with a handbag, minimal jewelry, and a clean scent.
The balance between a more laid-back vibe (compared to a more formal dress code) while still looking well put together is essential in achieving what is business casual attire for an interview.
Interview Attire for Women: Top Style Suggestions
To further provide style inspiration, here are more ideas for the best interview attire for women that we have organized into categories for easy reference.
Get Creative for Startups
Preparing for an interview for a startup can be quite tricky. This is because, unlike traditional companies, their operations and business culture can be quite unorthodox.
Going for a more formal look might make you look stuffy and, thus, unfit for the "personality" that they prefer for their business.
On the other hand, looking too casual might create a false impression that you're not taking them seriously.
Hence, here are a few tips:
Be proactive and ask them about their preferred dress code for the interview.
Do your research.
If the company didn't disclose any specifics about the dress code, then use the existing culture of the company as a reference.
How do their employees usually dress? How about the managers and team leaders? Try to recreate their look as much as possible.
Lastly, with your researched look as a base, try to add a style element or two that will tie the look together.
It can be in the form of an edgy heirloom timepiece, a pop of color with a cardigan, or a hip yet stylish pair of tie-up leather sandals.
In the end, you want a look that tells a story of familiarity over formality.
Showing up for a Business Pitch
Another hard look to style is what to wear before a business pitch.
Remove the guesswork by considering these three essential factors as you're putting your outfit together:
The Business Idea
What kind of idea or development are you planning to pitch? Is it a new product or service?
Again, what story does it tell? Will it translate better with a pantsuit? Or will it be better represented by a pencil skirt?
Who are you meeting? Is she a family member, an angel investor, or a grant provider?
A family member might feel more comfortable with something less formal. Meanwhile, an angel investor can prefer to see more of your creativity and personality.
Finally, taking an extra effort to look impressive in a business-formal attire might provide the advantage you need to land that grant.
Finally, you can make your brand more memorable by styling in its colors.
While it wouldn't be wise to attend an interview in an all-pink pantsuit, it will help to incorporate a single pop of that color through a piece of jewelry, your lipstick, or your shoes.
When in doubt, subtlety is the way to go.
Dressed to Impress
Most business looks involve pants or suit combos. The androgynous aesthetic can exude an air of respect and professionalism, after all.
However, you can also achieve the same results in a dress. You won't even have to worry about pairing it with a bottom since it is already a complete look on its own.
Here are the factors to consider when choosing the right dress for a work interview:
Your knees are a perfect indicator of how long your dress should be. Remember, it should follow the same rules when you're wearing skirts.
You would want a dress that has a more tailored fit, as well. It creates a better silhouette and simply looks more appropriate than a flowy or sheer piece.
Stick to neutrals. Bold colors and patterns can be visually distracting and can even take attention from you.
Muted or more subtle patterns can be further toned down with a blazer if needed.
Long sleeves are almost always a requisite for business looks, save for a few rare exceptions.
If you find that your dress exposes your shoulders, feel free to layer a blazer on top. Doing so will further tie the look together at the same time.
Again, it is recommended to opt for more neutral colors when choosing your blazer. Just make sure that it matches the palette of your dress.
Looking Professional in a Video Conference
As the landscape of the workforce shifts closer to remote working opportunities, it wouldn’t be surprising to find yourself being interviewed through an online platform.
Unfortunately, this can also make people more prone to relax in their outfit choices, thinking that the interview is going to be held at home anyway.
This is not the case. In truth, the two dress codes should still apply.
You would want to complete your look, as well. Don’t think that your interviewer won’t notice your pajama bottoms because she will.
Dressing right, even if it’s just an online interview, will have a profound effect on your confidence.
It’s hard to sound professional and respectable while wearing a dress shirt and a blazer with your pajama and bedroom slippers.
Your style and way of carrying yourself shouldn’t change.
In connection, there are two additional elements involved with video interviews.
Make sure that your camera and mic are working. Install additional lighting if necessary.
Don’t allow your background to clash with your chosen outfit.
A plain, white wall is your best bet in minimizing visual distractions and can also help in framing your interview attire.
Let's Talk About Colors
Another factor that can heavily influence your self-confidence is your choice of colors.
That’s because colors are closely linked with psychology and have the potential to create a subconscious effect on both you and your interviewer.
There are palettes that make you feel more happy, confident, and in control. On the other hand, there are those that can exude boring or overpowering energies.
Blues and Grays Are Safe Choices
The color blue inspires confidence and exudes stability and responsibility. Meanwhile, the color gray sends out a message that you are logical and analytical.
It also means that you’re a great team player.
Just be careful in wearing navy for more creative pursuits since it can also seem that you’re boring or playing it too safe.
Brown Is Boring
This is also the reason why we don’t recommend brown.
While it can mean reliability, it can also mean simplicity and not having enough courage to go out of one’s comfort zone.
Remember, an interview always involves taking chances. You are taking the chance with a new employer or investor, as she’s with you. Hence, it’s best to avoid brown altogether.
The Power of Black
Black is a very dramatic achromatic color. It exudes a sense of leadership and authority.
While it can be perfect when applying for a management position, or if you’re trying to prove your competence as a new business owner, it can also work against your favor when applying for an assistant or an internship.
Balance With White
Layering a black set with a crisp white dress shirt underneath can certainly balance the overpowering effect of black.
We recommend layering an all-black ensemble with a white blazer since it creates more visual interest.
White has the power to both tone-down strong colors and highlight them. It is a blank canvas that symbolizes being detail-oriented and impartial.
Purple and Yellow Highlight Creativity
Neutrals are definitely safe color choices. However, they can also be too safe, especially if you want to highlight your uniqueness and creativity.
With that said, purple and yellow are great color options when getting interviewed for startups and other creative-based positions.
Orange Is Not the New Black
Finally, Career Builder launched a study to determine the worst color to wear in an interview, and their results pointed out that this color is orange.
Apparently, it is linked to unprofessionalism.
More Tips on How to Nail the Perfect Interview Style
Aside from the look inspirations featured above, here are three more tips on how to nail corporate attire for female job interview:
Present yourself and your outfit in the best way possible.
Get your clothing pieces tailored to perfectly complement your shape.
It shouldn’t be too tight (as it can create a less conservative effect), nor should it be too loose (as it shows that you don’t care to highlight your best assets).
Never wear a wrinkled, stained, or worn down piece to an interview.
While you don’t need to buy a new suit every, it will help to invest in quality pieces and care for them according to the recommended steps in the garment’s label.
Tone down visual clutter.
As mentioned, it is best to stay away from patterns since they can look cluttered and distracting.
In the same merit, we also don’t recommend wearing oversized jewelry, loud makeup, or neon-colored pieces.
Be mindful of the details.
Finally, don’t forget the other elements that complete your attire.
Style your hair to make it look more neat and presentable.
You don’t always have to tie it in a bun, especially if your hair frames your facial features perfectly. However, you do want to keep strands off your face.
This will also make you more comfortable and prevent unnecessary physical gestures made when you’re unconsciously tucking stray strands to your ear.
Don’t forget how your nails and teeth look. Have your nails done and your teeth bleached before the big day, if possible.
There are mouth sprays that you can easily stash in your pocket to freshen up your breath anytime.
Make sure that every piece in your outfit looks their best. Footwear and accessories must be clean and polished (depending on their style).
Finally, don’t use an oversized bag unless necessary. Toting around a heavy bag while you’re in heels can make you sweat and feel uncomfortable.
Instead, opt to carry a handbag that best complements your outfit.
Corporate Attire for Female Job Interview
Achieving the most relevant and appropriate interview look rests on one's understanding of what is professional attire for an interview.
It must be an outfit that makes you look respectable, responsible, and eager to learn.
There are two dress codes commonly required for interviews. These are business-formal and business-casual wear.
There are exemptions to the rule, though, such as when you’re applying for a creative position.
When in doubt, it’s wise to base your attire with the existing company culture and principles.
While pantsuits are a style staple when it comes to corporate wear, a dress can look just as professional and respectable.
Don’t forget to consider the colors of your chosen pieces, too.
Neutral colors like black and blue signify leadership and reliability. On the other hand, the color orange indicates unprofessionalism.
Your choice of color is critical in determining what is formal or what is business casual attire for an interview, as there are both refined and kitsch palettes, as well.
Finally, the devil is in the details. Other elements make up your interview outfit beyond just your suit or dress.
Make sure that these elements won’t throw off your look by keeping them clean, polished, and relevant to your interview.