You can think of choosing your interview attire as the final touch that pulls all your preparations together.
It needs to accentuate your professionalism but also be practical and comfortable.
And nothing can provide these qualities better than a stylish dress. But should you wear a dress to an interview?
You can wear a dress to a job interview with confidence as long as it fits the company dress code. For example, a well-fit suit dress in corporate-friendly colors such as black, gray, or darker tones of blue and green would fit perfectly in a formal interview setting.
But let’s consider when wearing a dress to an interview is appropriate and when it might not be the best choice.
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Are dresses appropriate for interviews?
Dresses are perfectly appropriate for job interviews because they can be styled to fit both “business casual” and “business professional” dress codes which are the norm in most office settings.
Even hiring managers wear dresses regularly when going to work.
But is it okay to wear a dress to an interview that is loose and colorful? Well, in this case, you might want to reconsider and opt for a more conservative option.
Remember that dress codes vary across companies. For example, a small start-up company is more likely to have an office dress code that is less conservative than one in a successful high-profile law firm.
Therefore, when choosing a dress for an interview, you need to keep in mind how you’d fit in the work environment.
Besides, dresses come in many shapes, forms, and styles, and finding one that will fit your company’s setting shouldn’t be a problem.
How to choose an appropriate dress for a job interview
When choosing a dress for your interview, it’s important to follow several small but very important rules:
1. Consider the corporate culture
Depending on the company’s corporate culture, you might be expected to look and dress a certain way.
While many companies might not have an officially established dress code, you are still expected to look presentable.
Your look should represent that you know the standards of dressing properly for a workplace.
2. Research the company’s dress code
To step up the knowledge of appropriate attire, you can research the dress code of the company that invited you for an interview.
To start with, you can pursue the company’s website or social media profiles to get a sense of its culture and search for clues about the dress code.
Or, you can get in contact with current employees and ask them what attire is considered appropriate for an interview there.
3. Avoid bright colors
During the interview, the attention should be on your skills and qualifications instead of your clothes. That’s why it’s important to choose the dress of the right color.
Choose a dress with a minimal pattern, preferably solid natural colors. The best colors for a job interview are black, brown, grey, and navy.
You can still add a splash of color with a stylish accessory, but don’t overdo it.
4. Don’t overaccessorize
At this point, you might already have an idea of what dress to wear for your upcoming interview, but the look wouldn’t be finished without proper accessories.
Remember that professional attire requires minimal accessories. When choosing your accessories, make sure that they are not too flashy but rather simple and polished.
Speaking of accessories, if you wear eyeglasses, definitely make sure to put them on for your interview, as they could increase your chances of getting the job.
5. Choose your clothes in advance
Try your choices of clothing the night before. You need to make sure that you feel comfortable and confident in your clothes.
Stay away from dresses that expose your underwear, or seem too tight. It is also important to avoid dresses that are too revealing since this can be viewed as disrespectful.
What kind of dress can you wear to an interview?
Now that you know how to choose an interview-appropriate dress, let’s take a closer look at the most common dress styles and what they can be paired with.
This should help you choose what kind of dress to wear to an interview.
It’s better to leave a long dress for a different occasion. A floor-length dress might not be the best attire for an interview.
Firstly, you might not feel comfortable in a dress like that. Secondly, it doesn’t fit the office dress code requirements. A long office dress should be slightly below the knee in length.
A short dress might not be the best option for a job interview either. But it’s all matter of how short is short.
For example, a dress that barely covers your hips might be too casual. At the same time, a mid-thigh dress can be appropriate in some corporations.
If you want to wear a dress with a mid-thigh skirt, then you need to keep in mind the material and tightness of the dress too.
Maxi-style dresses are better avoided when choosing an outfit for an interview, as they might seem too casual.
Black is a very classy color. As long as your dress is appropriate for the occasion and fits the dress code, you can wear a black dress for an interview with full confidence. Crush them!
Red is a powerful color. This color is heavily associated with energy and boldness. However, it isn’t necessarily bad in an office setting.
If you have an interview for a managerial position, showing some power and confidence wouldn’t be considered bad.
However, you should remember that red can be jarring and overtake the room. Therefore, you should be careful when wearing a red dress to an interview – maybe go for darker shades of red?
White is a color that is easy to match with almost any other color. It’s perfect for a basic dress that you can pair with a navy blue or black blazer.
This color is also associated with freshness and simplicity. Wearing a white dress can actually help you look more presentable.
A floral print is acceptable on some occasions when the office environment is casual. However, the floral print should be minimal, without large details.
If you aren’t sure how casual is “too casual”, think about where you would usually wear it. Would you wear it to a bar or for a walk on the beach?
If the answer is yes, then it’s not suitable for the office environment.
In a professional setting, you should avoid exposing your shoulders. While it’s better to avoid spaghetti straps, wearing a sleeveless dress is acceptable.
The width of the shoulder strap should be at least 1.5 inches. Additionally, it should cover a bra strap.
You can wear a sleeveless dress, as long as your shoulders are covered with something else, like a cardigan or a jacket.
Even if it’s hot outside, it’s essential to wear clothing that presents a professional image for an interview. Therefore, a summer dress with a flared skirt might not be the best option.
However, it doesn’t mean you have to suffer in thick, uncomfortable clothing. Choose a more conservative dress but from lighter materials.
They will help you stay cool during the heat of summer.
The materials you can choose from include cotton, rayon, and linen. But remember that your dress shouldn’t be too tight or short.
At this time of the year, a more loose fit can be considered the best, as a tighter dress can cause sweating in warmer times.
Sweater dresses are ideal modest dress styles for the office or working from home. However, they correspond to business casual attire and shouldn’t be worn if your future workplace has a more conservative dress code.
Leather is a versatile material. However, in terms of interview-appropriate clothing, leather does not always fit the description of formal.
A leather skirt can be worn to an informal meeting, but better avoided when it comes to job interviews.
A shirt dress is appropriate clothing to wear to an interview unless the dress code says otherwise.
This type of dress will be good for smart casual and casual workplace dress codes. However, you still need to pay attention to the length of the dress. A couple of inches below the knee is the best.
Dress and leggings
Wearing leggings for an interview is inappropriate, no matter what you pair them with. Your dress has to be worn with tights or stockings.
The color of your tights should ideally match the color of your dress. However, wear nude tights or stockings if your shoes are lighter than the outfit. The nude-colored garment should match the color of your skin.
Dress and boots
In colder times of the year, your dress can be easily paired with boots. There are several important points you need to know about when pairing your professional dress with boots.
Firstly, avoid boots with heavy soles. They give a more casual look and might not look the best with a more conservative dress.
Secondly, the color of the shoes should be classic – black or brown.
And finally, consider the length of the boots and boot shaft. Your boots should sit snuggly on your feet and ankles.
However, they shouldn’t be too long. Ankle-length boots will be the perfect fit for a business look.
Dress and sandals
In general, open-toe shoes are rarely appropriate to wear for work or a job interview. Therefore, the majority of sandal types are better avoided when choosing appropriate shoes to pair with your dress.
The sandals that are appropriate for the office environment include slingbacks, sometimes stiletto sandals, and closed-toe sandals.
It’s important to remember that sandals are usually worn in casual or smart casual business attire. If the work environment asks for a more conservative business look, then sandals should be avoided.
My opinion on wearing a dress to an interview
During the course of my career, I have interviewed plenty of women who showed up to their job interviews wearing a dress.
But I can confidently say that I’ve never had a case where a person wore a dress that was way too inappropriate for an office setting.
And even if I ever considered the choice of dress or its color a bit inappropriate, as a hiring manager, I’ve always strived to look past such details and focused on the candidate’s most crucial professional qualities.
To increase your chances of getting hired, make sure to check our comprehensive guide on how to prepare for job interviews and ace them!
Frequently asked questions
Is it appropriate to wear a sleeveless dress, or should I always wear a cardigan or blazer over it?
It is generally best to wear a cardigan or blazer over a sleeveless dress for an interview. This adds a layer of professionalism and ensures you are dressed appropriately for a more conservative office environment.
What type of footwear is best to pair with a dress for an interview?
Opt for closed-toe, conservative shoes such as flats or low to mid-heel pumps. Stick to neutral colors like black, navy, or nude to maintain a professional appearance.
How can I ensure that my dress is not too casual or too formal?
Research the company’s dress code and culture beforehand. Aim for a dress that is slightly more formal than the company’s everyday attire. When in doubt, it is better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.
What is the best length for a dress worn to an interview?
The best length for a dress worn to an interview is typically at or just below the knee. This length is generally viewed as professional and appropriate for most office environments.