Making sure you are presentable and are wearing the right clothes can help present yourself as a key candidate to future employers. The rest is up to you. Part of the rest is having the right amount of confidence and one great quality of clothes is that they can help you to feel more confident in yourself. But what should you wear?
First of all, what you should wear completely depends on what kind of interview it is. This article will cover 3 rather basic types: smart, formal and casual. You may find that your interview is something in between or is not very clear. In this case, it is best to dress smart. A smart dress code is where you have to dress very neatly and look presentable. This is taken a step further for a formal setting, but in a casual one you don’t have to dress up quite so much. For all types, you should try to wear neutral colours and things that are comfortable as well as suitable.
If you are struggling to find what to wear read on for some great tips and ideas for your perfect interview outfit. Let’s jump into it!
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If you don’t know how you are expected to dress going to your interview, dressing smartly is your best bet. But… what is it?
What is Dressing Smart?
You may have had people telling you to dress smart and not really been sure of what they meant. After all dressing “smart” is quite hard to understand especially with other terms to confuse you, such as smart-casual or business-casual.
In truth, these terms are all pretty different. Generally, I think that the best way to describe dressing smart is dressing up a little bit, but not too much. Think about the kind of clothes that you would get away wearing to a semi-strict sixth form college. Maybe even the kinds of things you teachers may wear (especially if they’re a bit younger).
Every basic smart outfit (particularly for an interview) will consist of these 4 elements.
Generally, this will mean trousers or a skirt. There are so many styles of these across feminine and masculine clothing. For a smart outfit to go to an interview, you need to choose something that looks sensible and neat and most importantly is comfortable. Also, try to go for ones that have rather plain or neutral colours as shown in this article.
In feminine clothing, straight-leg, tapered, wide-leg, cigarette and pegged trousers are great styles that can easily make your interview outfit absolutely perfect. In masculine clothing, you may be better off going for styles such as chinos (although you may have to choose these carefully, so they still appear smart), slim-fit trousers and wool trousers. Please bear in mind that there may be many other kinds, just make sure to choose something that is presentable.
2. Smart Top
For a smart interview, you will need a smart top. By smart I mean something that looks sensible, fits well and is generally appropriate for the interview. A top that has writing or logos is generally a bad idea and if you want to wear a top with some specific design, try to keep any patterns to a minimum. This is important so it doesn’t appear to overwhelm your outfit.
Also, your top should fit with your bottoms; your outfit shouldn’t look completely mismatched. To help with this, you may want to consider the colours and the design of each part of your outfit, especially the top, before picking it.
3. Sensible Shoes
Shoes have a special power to make or break your outfit. They can add to it, especially if you are thoroughly considering colour coordination. They can take away from it, by being messy or not fitting right.
It is crucial to make sure that you have the right shoes for your outfit and that they look sensible and neat in order to make you look sensible and neat.
Also, make sure that your shoes are clean and tidy, your shoelaces must be tied neatly or tucked away and there should be no mud or dirt on them (it would be a bonus of you polish your shoes). Your shoes should also be closed, so that your toes aren’t visible.
4. Smart Jacket
Jackets aren’t a necessity, but they can bring a lot more to your outfit. It can help to make your outfit seem smarter and maybe even make you appear more professional. They are also really useful in winter or simply when it’s cold because they tend to look a lot more presentable than a coat. You may want to consider looking at a blazer, as they are known for being quite smart.
Smart Outfit Ideas for an Interview
Here I will show you some smart outfits that you can go away and try for yourself.
Especially in winter, this outfit can be your best friend as it gives you an excuse to add in some extra layers without making it look too messy. For this outfit, you want to match a neutral coloured (not black) turtleneck with a black skirt, or some trousers and a black blazer to complete your look.
Alternatively, you can wear a black turtleneck with some dark toned bottoms (generally dark grey, navy, or dark brown). You will want to wear black shoes with this, I suggest a pair of boots or some loafers (although flats and medium-high heels can also work).
Splash of Colour
Wearing all black can make you seem a little too serious. Adding a splash of colour to your dark outfit can really help interviewers to see you at your best.
For a smart interview, I would suggest wearing a colourful smart top, shirt, or blouse (as I have explained in greater detail above) along with your trousers (or skirt), shoes and sensible jacket all in black.
By colourful, what I really mean is a single-coloured top that is smart (without writing or logos, etc.) and not too bright. Also, try to avoid neon colours and go more for a pastel shades or other less noticeable colours.
If a rather dark and plain outfit just isn’t for you then you can try to brighten it up a bit by wearing pale shades. This is especially great for summer and may even help to make you feel a bit more positive. For a smart interview, you may want to stick to the neutrals as they are a bit safer than wearing bold colours, such as red or orange.
For this outfit idea, I would suggest sticking to beige or camel colours for your bottoms (I think either a pencil midi skirt or any style of trousers would work best). Either white or light blue for your top, as these colours are still neutral so they can present you as more professional.
I would suggest going for a basic shirt as it will help to make you look smart, especially with the lighter colours. You may want to add a jacket to pull your outfit together; a blazer would fit quite nicely, especially if you pick it in the same colour as your trousers.
As a teenager, you are a lot less likely to have to dress formally for an interview but if the time arises, you still need to dress to impress.
What is Dressing Formal?
For an interview, formal dressing is where you may need to wear a suit or a semi-fancy dress but not overdo it. After all you don’t want to look like you’re going to prom or even a wedding. Think about the other half of your teachers (yes, I mean that ones that wear full suits or simply feel a bit overdressed for the school environment).
Think about the elements of their outfits: suit jackets, shirts, blouses, skirts, trousers, dresses and even the particular types of formal shoe (but don’t worry, you don’t need to dress exactly like your teachers). You may find this suiting & business wear guide useful to get a better understanding of the formalwear that you may need for interviews.
Just like with smart clothing, there are certain types of clothes that make up and define a formal piece. Below are 3 pieces of formal clothing.
In formal wear suits are commonplace, so it will do you some good to wear one, even as a teenager. A basic suit includes a shirt, trousers (or a skirt), a suit jacket and a tie (although this is less common in feminine suits).
The main idea of a suit is that everything is matching, so you will have to think very carefully about how you put your outfit together, generally you will buy it all at the same time. For a formal interview, you will generally want black, dark grey or blue for your suit, but other neutral colours may work better for you.
There are so many different ways of wearing dresses that it is no surprise that they are a key feature of formal wear. This is generally for feminine fashion and can be a great alternative to a suit if you’re looking for something different. There are so many different styles of dresses, so it is crucial that you choose the right kind for your interview, as you don’t want to appear too casual or even too dressed up.
Some great dress styles for your formal interviews are A-line dresses and sheath dresses as they can convey a great sense of professionalism. You will also want to make sure that your dress doesn’t have any patterns and is only one colour.
3. Formal Shoes
Finding the right shoes can be even harder than knowing what clothes are best for an interview. When choosing your shoes, you have to consider how they fit with your outfit in terms of style, colour and how well they fit you. You also need to make sure that they look sensible, neat and tidy to make your outfit seem more appropriate for the level of formality. For your shoes to be sensible, you need to make sure that you are choosing the right type of shoe.
In masculine clothing, some great types are oxfords, monk strap shoes or loafers. In feminine clothing, loafers, flats and high heels work quite well, just be sure that you can walk in the heels. Your shoes should have a dark colour, such as black or brown. You need to make sure that your shoes are clean and tidy, you may even want to consider polishing them.
Formal Outfit Ideas for an Interview
Below are some formal outfit ideas that you could experiment with.
Shades of Grey
For formal interviews, you need to dress up a bit so why not wear a full suit all in grey? Grey is a great neutral colour so wearing a whole grey suit can be great for interviews. You can choose whether you want a light grey suit or a dark grey suit, depending on what would suit you more.
This outfit is made up of a simple grey shirt or blouse, a grey skirt or pair of trousers, a grey suit jacket or blazer and dark formal shoes (brown or black). Adding a tie, bow tie or simply a bow is purely up to you. I would suggest doing this as it can help to make your outfit look complete.
Hint of Colour
If a pure grey outfit isn’t quite your style, then this outfit idea may just be what you’re looking for. This outfit is just like the splash of colour from the smart wear outfits but tweaked slightly to fit into a more formal setting.
Instead of having a full element of colour it will only be a small part of your outfit, such as a tie or scarf. The main outfit is generally a simple black suit with either a black or white shirt or blouse.
Alternatively, for more a feminine style, you can wear a smart dress and either a scarf or some other subtle accessory to add that hint of colour. Generally, try to avoid orange and red as they can send off the wrong message to your interviewer.
Big on Blue
For an interview, blue is a great colour as it can help you to seem confident (but not arrogant) as well as reliable. Click here to find out more. Teenagers are sometimes considered unreliable and inconsistent; this is a great image to portray.
This outfit is another suit, although you can opt for a dress instead. You would match a dark blue suit (both the jacket and trousers or skirt) with a white or light blue shirt and either a blue or grey tie (this is optional for a feminine outfit). The tie can have a pattern but try to make sure that it is appropriate for your interview and not distracting from the rest of the suit.
You will also want your formal shoes to be dark blue or black. For the dress option, you would want to wear a simple monotonous dark blue A-line or sheath dress with a dark blue blazer or suit jacket.
You may think of casualwear as the easiest of the three, but it can be a bit risky, especially if you don’t know what you are expected to wear.
What is Dressing Casually?
For an interview, wearing what you would normally wear when you’re at home or even going out with your friends won’t really cut it. If you haven’t guessed by now, for interviews, casual is actually smart-casual.
Smart casual is something in-between dressing smart and dressing in your everyday clothes. Generally, this means that you have to look both neat and casual enough to go almost anywhere. But bear in mind that for an interview, you may want to especially emphasise the smart in smart casual.
Just like with smart and formal outfits, casual outfits have some basic elements that make them work.
Other than jeans, there are various types of bottoms that you can wear for a casual interview. An important thing to remember is that everything you wear should be comfortable and fit well on you.
Try to avoid overly casual bottoms, such as, jogging bottoms and shorts, as these can be a little too casual for an interview. Also, you may want to avoid wearing bottoms with excessive patterns as they can also seem too casual.
Some great types are straight-leg and slim fit trousers or chinos, just like with smart clothing. The only difference is that you would pair these bottoms with a more casual top.
Jeans are allowed but try to pick ones that aren’t ripped or stressed and don’t have patterns. You may also want to pick a darker colour, such as dark blue or black, as it may make your outfit appear more professional. This is still quite important despite the casual setting.
While you don’t have to wear anything fancy, it would be best if you really think about the top you want to wear and how it fits into the outfit. Despite being casual, a mismatched outfit isn’t a great idea when going to an interview.
You may also want to avoid tops that have writing or logos or even have excessive patterns on them as this may be seen as a bit too informal. Some great options are button-down tops or casual shirts, but you can also wear other types, such as plain T-shirts that are single coloured.
With casual interviews you don’t have to try quite so hard with your outfit and the main way you can relax is with your shoes. As with smart and formal interviews, you want to make sure that your shoes are clean and that your shoelaces are tucked away.
However, you can wear almost any type of shoe, as long as it fits with your outfit. I would personally suggest avoiding certain shoe types such as sliders, sandals, crocs, flip flops and even trainers as these can all seem too informal for an interview.
A jacket is a great way to make you look more presentable and it can also help to pull your outfit together. Both of these are especially great for a casual interview outfit because you don’t want to look too casual. A jacket can help to add that smart element to it without making it too much. However, you need to make sure that you choose the right kind of jacket. Leather jackets, puffer coats and hoodies can all seem inappropriate for an interview setting, even if it’s casual.
Casual Outfit Ideas for an Interview
Here I will discuss some casual outfit ideas for you to explore.
Add a Blazer
This outfit idea is really simple and is pretty much the exact definition of smart-casual. For this outfit, all you need to do is match a presentable casual outfit with a blazer to give you a perfect blend of professionalism and casualness.
The presentable outfit can be anything in line with what I’ve already mentioned about the elements of a casual outfit, but I would suggest wearing dark bottoms that match with a dark blazer. Make sure your shoes are also presentable, I would suggest wearing ankle boots, but you may prefer something else.
Turtlenecks are great as they can be worn in both casual and formal settings, so they’re absolutely perfect for interviews. This outfit idea is once again pretty basic and it’s pretty similar to the turtleneck outfit idea for smart interviews. All you have to do is match together a turtleneck, some jeans and a blazer.
You will probably want to have the blazer and the jeans in roughly the same colour and then have the turtleneck in a neutral colour, such as black, grey, or khaki. Once again, I suggest wearing ankle boots or lace up boots to finish off this outfit.
Check Out Those Chinos
Just like turtlenecks, chinos are a great clothing item that can be worn in both casual and more formal setting, allowing itself perfectly to a smart-casual outfit. Try to pick a pair of chinos with a neutral colour, to help give you a sense of smartness, despite the casual setting, and then pair it with a white shirt or blouse. I would suggest wearing pure black lace up canvas shoes (that have no other colours) for an added sense of casual neatness.