In my experience, one of the most nerve-wracking parts of an interview is deciding what outfit to wear. On one hand, I want to be professional. On the other, I want to wear something that will catch the eyes of my interviewers and make a lasting impression. I want to wear something comfortable, but not all office wear is super comfy. And the question always remains – is the office environment more casual or formal?
I have spent a lot of time preparing for and participating in interviews over the last year. I have put together a considerable office attire wardrobe and have refined a few outfits that I always turn to for interviews, ranging from casual to professional.
Not all interviews are super formal, and overdressing may send the wrong message to the interviewers. However, there are ways to maintain professionalism without overdressing.
This outfit is great for a less formal interview! The top is soft and flowy and similar to a baseball tee style. The neutral colors paired with a pop of color pairs professionalism with originality.
The pants are not jeans and not dress pants. They are the Pixie pant from Old Navy, which is one of my favorite go-to pants. The fit is snug but stretches, allowing mobility while ensuring a flattering fit.
Since the outfit is casual, feel free to pair it with some fun shoes! Here, I paired it with a pair of yellow flats from Old Navy, adding more color to the outfit.
One of my favorite fashion styles is mixing seasons. For instance, I paired a fall/winter mock neck sweater with a pair of lightweight, capri pants.
The sweater provides comfort and warmth, in case the interview is in an air-conditioned office. However, you will not be overheated given the flow of the pants.
I paired this look with a pair of warm, camel colored flats. Since this outfit is casual, I didn’t feel the need to pair it with heels, but it can easily be dressed up with some heels and jewelry!
The next interview outfits are a really happy medium between casual and professional. By this I mean that it can be dressed up or down really nicely. Also, the pieces are a bit pricier than those in the casual category.
The shirt is a blouse that was thrifted from a local Goodwill (so not exactly “pricey” as aforementioned). Any patterned blouse works great for this outfit. This shirt also has ruching on the shoulders, drawing attention upwards and accenting my posture.
The pants are from H&M and SO COMFY! I bought them in two colors – cream and teal, and they are my new go-to pants.
I didn’t pair this outfit with any shoes for the picture, but flats or heels would complement the outfit well. Try to match the color to your shirt to get funky, or keep to a neutral color to maintain more professionalism.
Any dress can be styled to be more or less formal. This Lands End dress is an awesome office or interview dress. It is an appropriate length and doesn’t slide up as I walk. The material is soft and thick. It is form fitting but definitely not a body con dress.
Many different patterns are appropriate for interview dresses. This small floral pattern works great, but so does a larger floral or something geometric. A solid color is also great, too!
I love the cap sleeves of this dress, which give the dress a little more dimension and character.
I would pair this dress with a pair of black flats or heels, depending on the level of professionalism of the office or interview.
I love love LOVE this outfit! One of my absolute favorite styles is a blouse tucked into a mid-length skirt. The pattern of this skirt is beautiful and the solid colored blouse accents the colors in the skirt.
The top is from Old Navy (I believe). It isn’t one of my favorites, if I am being honest. It is a thin material that wrinkles really easily (as pictured!). I also tend to sweat a lot and this shirt doesn’t do me any favors in combatting that issue.
The skirt is from SHEIN (from which I no longer purchase clothing). Consequently, it is a cheap material and also quite thing. But, it has been great for short interviews or virtual interviews, or Instagram pictures!
Formal might just be my favorite category, but only because I finally found great pieces to add to my wardrobe. Formal office attire is also my favorite type of clothing to thrift because I deem it a major win if I find a great piece for way cheaper than retail.
For example, this pink blazer was thrifted from a local Goodwill! It is arguably my favorite thrift find, for many reasons. It is a great material, a fun and unique color, and fits me perfectly.
I pair this blazer with neutral tones and my grey work pants (also thrifted). Since the blazer and pants are solid, I like to wear a patterned blouse. The shirt is a hand-me-down from my older sister, who got it from New York & Company.
I pair this outfit with a pair of black heels to tie in the black of the blouse.
This outfit was one of my first professional outfits that I acquired. I bought both the shirt and the pants from Express for a psychological conference at which I was presenting my research. It is such a fun outfit because it is professional but also young and stylish.
The shoes are from Forever 21 I believe, so they aren’t exactly quality shoes, nor are they comfortable. But, they do the job for presenting at a conference or interviewing for a job.
This pantsuit is the most expensive outfit I have in my office wardrobe. I splurged on this blazer and matching pants since I needed a really professional outfit for my PhD interview (which I was not accepted to – check out my blog post about how I applied to seven psychology PhD programs… and wasn’t accepted to any of them).
The pants were custom hemmed for these shoes, which I got from Target.
I wore a different shirt for my interview, but the one pictured here was thrifted from Goodwill and is originally from the Loft.
These are only a few of my office pieces and are the ones I most often gravitate towards for interviews. For example, I wore the first outfit in the “Happy Medium” category today for a virtual interview! For tips about what to wear for virtual and video interviews, take a look at my blog post about Zoom interview tips to help you snag that job.
Nobody should have to compromise style and fashion for professionalism. Don’t be afraid to try new styles and mix different pieces, and find what complements your body and personality best to make a lasting impression on your potential employer!
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