What to Wear to an Interview

You’ve just scored an interview for your dream job. Well done you!

But just because you’ve got the right credentials and experience doesn’t mean it’s a shoe in. First impressions last, and it would be a shame to blow the interview by not looking the part.

Deep breaths, we’ve got you covered. Whether it’s a formal interview or a casual chat, read on to find out how to dress for success.

 

What to Wear to a Formal Interview 

These interviews are the easiest to dress for—go old school every time. This is the world of law, banking, medicine, basically the professions your parents really want you to succeed in. 

We can’t state this enough … do not turn up in anything other than a well-fitting suit in a classic color (navy is a good choice, keep reading and you’ll find out why). And no, you can’t borrow your roommate’s, unless you are exactly the same size, and we doubt you are.

Wear a tie for this interview, and fasten that top button. We get this all sounds a bit like what your father would wear, but you can really show your own style in the shirt  and tie you select.

Take a look at the Cabrera Cotton Dobby Shirt  as a non-solid solid that adds interest, while the Mulberry Cotton Stretch Shirt is a classic with a hint of stretch for much-needed comfort while you’re being grilled about your academic achievements.

Formal Interview Checklist

  • Suit: a solid color in navy, black, or gray—two button, single breasted

  • Shirt: a long sleeve, white is safest but a slight pattern or pale shade is fine 

  • Tie: don’t go crazy with pattern and color

  • Footwear: a quality leather shoe, such as brogues or Oxfords

  • Belt: a conservative leather belt in black or brown

  • Socks: always match socks to your suit, no pattern

What to Wear to a Semi-Formal Interview 

If your interview is for a job in an office, say sales or marketing, you can tone down the formal attire, but not too much. You want your potential boss to see you’re taking this meeting seriously. 

Wear a suit, but you can drop the tie. No sneakers! It’s a look, but not for this. Without a tie, you can push it a bit more with shirt pattern. 

ZACHARY PRELL’s prints run from subtle to bold, so think about the office environment and choose accordingly. 

A gingham print shirt, such as the Paride, is timeless, while the vibrant colors and large-scale print give it a contemporary twist. 

The Van Meter in a tonal micro-cross print adds color, while the non-solid solid pattern adds depth and interest.

 

Semi-Formal Interview Checklist

  • Suit: a solid color in navy or gray—two button, single breasted

  • Shirt: a long sleeve, some color or pattern is ok

  • Tie: optional, consider the dress code of the office 

  • Footwear: a quality leather shoe, such as brogues or Oxfords

  • Belt: a conservative leather belt in black or brown

  • Socks: match your socks to your suit

 

What to Wear to an Informal Interview

If your interview is for a creative post or a start-up, it would be a mistake to turn up looking too formal. Obviously, you’ve got to make an effort, but you can show some personality in how you put yourself together—in fact, your potential boss will expect that.

Consider a stylish shirt, like the Sandler, or a polo, paired with tailored pants, such as the Aster, and a jacket. Mix, match, and add your own personal style.

 

Informal Interview Checklist

  • Pants: tailored, such as chinos, never jeans

  • Jacket: a smart bomber jacket in a dark solid 

  • Shirt: a short sleeve shirt is acceptable, as is a polo 

  • Footwear: leather sneakers will pass for an informal chat, leather shoes or boots, such as a Chelsea, are a safer bet


What Colors to Wear to an Interview

A CareerBuilder’s survey of 2,099 hiring managers and human resource professionals gives some insight into the colors you should wear for your interview. Blue and black are considered best, while orange, as you hopefully already realize, is a no-no.

According to the survey, black conveys leadership, blue implies you’re a team player, gray expresses a logical and analytical mind, white is associated with being organized, and brown is linked to being dependable. 


Clearly you’re not rocking into an interview wearing orange pants any time soon, but don’t be afraid to introduce a little color in shirts and ties, even in formal interviews. 

Again, if it’s a casual chat, particularly in a more creative field, you can turn up the volume, particularly in your choice of shirt.


What Type of Shoes to Wear to an Interview

First and foremost, don’t wear brand new shoes to an interview. This is a painful mistake made by many. It’s never a good look to be grimacing in pain when you’re trying to project your best self.

Every man should have at least one smart pair of shoes in his wardrobe for special occasions—consider them an essential. Look for a good pair of brogues, Oxfords, even a Chelsea boot will work.

If your interview is in summer, and isn’t a full-blown formal affair, a leather loafer is perfectly acceptable. We’ll allow a sneaker for an informal chat, but consider a leather low-top lace up that’s versatile enough to dress up or down.

Ultimately, if you feel confident and comfortable in what you’re wearing, you can concentrate on achieving your goal of bagging that perfect job. 

 

Explore Other Stories

  • Ken & Jim Giddon

    As Father’s Day approaches, who better to feature in our Visionaries series than the owners of a successful family business? Ken and Jim Giddon are the brothers behind Rothmans, the independent menswear boutique that operates in NYC, Scarsdale, and Bronxville. In addition to being proud dads (Ken is father to 26-year-old twins Kyle and Amanda, plus 21-year-old Will; Jim has 18-year-old Alexandra and 17-year-old Brooke), the brothers successfully reinvented their grandfather’s discount store, which first opened in 1926 on Union Square from a pushcart on the Lower East Side.

    Read more
  • Zach Groffsky & Taylor Lane

    With the launch of HELMM, Zach Groffsky and Taylor Lane have transformed how men buy and wear deodorant. From the stylish applicator and subscription refills that use less plastic, to deodorants scented with fragrances crafted by a world-renowned French perfumer. We met them to talk about the path to launching their brand.

    Read more
  • Sean & Brad Greiner

    The co-founders of Open Air Homes, a high-end rental company based in Southern California, are all about attention to detail, whether it’s the design of their properties, the locally created artwork on the walls, or the eco-friendly touches. Here, the brothers tell us what led to their passion for design and hospitality.

    Read more