What to Wear to Business Casual Interview

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What to wear to a business casual interview

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A reader recently contacted me to ask about what she should wear to a business casual interview. She’s been out of the interviewing game for a few years so she wasn’t sure what was appropriate.

I’m pretty sure this is a question we all ask ourselves. Do I wear a suit? Is a dress okay? What about a skirt? Here are my thoughts.

1. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed so wear a suit if you feel comfortable in it. But don’t wear a suit just to wear a suit. Black dress pants and a fun jacket or a nice cardigan can be just as professional.

2. See if you can do some research on the company beforehand and see if you can find any images of employees online. That might give you an idea of how they dress. But if they’re wearing jeans in the photos that doesn’t mean you can wear jeans! But maybe you can go with something more fun like some beautiful cobalt blue dress pants instead of black.

3. Dresses and skirts are fine but since tights and nylons are coming back into style it’s a good idea to wear a pair. Sheer black is always a good move with a closed-toe heel.

4. V-necks are totally fine, but just be sure to wear a nice camisole underneath so you’re not flashing all the goods.

5. Keep the jewelry minimal. No jangly bracelets or huge statement necklaces. Those are fun but save them until after you get the job.

I chose the pieces above because many of them you could mix and match to suit your own personal style. Black suits are fine and dandy but, hey, don’t forget to let a little bit of your personality shine through!

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  1. kelsey

    I think figuring out what to wear for an interview is so nerve wracking! On one hand you want to look professional but not stuffy. You also want to show off your personality but not too much. So confusing!

    Reply
    1. Erin @ Loop Looks Post author

      I think as long as you don’t look like a cater-waiter or a missionary (unless you’re applying for that as a job…) it’s fine to wear a black suit with a printed top. That does seem to be an easy default.

      Reply
  2. Anne

    Totally agree with Kelsey’s comment – it is really hard to not want to show off your personality in an interview! Look, I know how to accessorize! I like bright colors!

    These are good tips! Some of the items you picked are actually more casual than I would have thought, I guess I do always associate interviews with wearing a suit. I think the last time I had a business casual interview (in 2007, geez), I wore a light gray suit with a muted shell underneath. Light gray is a terrible color by my face, which I wish I had known before, so that may be another important thing to consider – what actually looks good on you?

    Reply
    1. Erin @ Loop Looks Post author

      You really can’t go wrong with a jacket or a blazer that fits in well in a color you feel good in, but a dress with a nice cardigan and a belt and heels can look just as classy without being too stuffy, too.

      But, you’re totally right that knowing what colors look best is a good thing to keep in mind.

      Reply
  3. Maggie

    I did A LOT of interviewing last year. I usually went with a blazer over a dress (and tights and flats). I had a printed dress and a color block dress that both worked well. To me it was a good balance of being professional without being stuffy. For my current job, I showed up in such an outfit, and my now-boss was wearing jeans. But since it wasn’t a stuffy suit, I still felt comfortable.

    As for the jewelry, I always avoided anything that made noise. You don’t want to be remembered as the woman with the noisy jewelry.

    Reply
      1. Maggie

        I have since learned that my company’s dress code is “business casual” but jeans are allowed every day. Also, I remember going on at least two other interviews last year where everyone else was in jeans or casually dressed. They were both tech companies though. The first time around, I felt pretty overdressed (I think I wore a skirt and suit jacket). The second time, I think I wore a more creative outfit that straddled “casual or professional?”, but still no jeans.

        Reply
  4. Bethany @ Accidental Intentions

    Ha, when I did my internship interview at my current job, I showed up in a “suit” (black blazer, black trousers, and white shirt…I don’t own a ~real~ suit), because that was the internship program’s dress code that they required we wear to all of our interviews. Needless to say, I was TOTALLY overdressed for this office. The internship program also left me under the impression that under all circumstances you MUST wear a suit to ANY interview if you ever expect to get a job, and it’s nice to know that’s not the case.

    Reply
  5. Emily @ Out and About

    I agree that it’s always better to err on the side of dressing more formally than less formally. And I think that it’s possible to wear a business suit but spice it up just a little bit without going overboard – e.g. wearing a fun patterned blouse underneath your blazer. I do also agree, though, that it is better to save the big statement jewelry until later!

    Reply
    1. Erin @ Loop Looks Post author

      I admit, I personally haven’t gone out on interviews in almost 6 years but I have sat on several search committees and been the interviewer. Thankfully most people dress appropriately! I’m much more likely to notice if your skirt is too short than I am if you’re just wearing well fitting clothes (that aren’t jeans).

      Reply
  6. Valerie

    Yeah I that even for formal business interviews, wearing a suit isn’t too common anymore. I think dresses with a blazer over is a safe bet just in case there are some old school professionals doing the interview!

    Reply

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