The perfect interview outfit

One of the most stressful parts of being a mum in business for me is clothing.  I literally live in jeans and a t-shirt but that’s not always appropriate for some networking, meetings and interviews.  When you eventually get invited to events, they are often with short notice and come around quickly — leaving you with little time to decide what to wear! CT shirts, retailers of menswear and suits, gives us some advice:

Casual Dress :

Casual dress is suitable when you’re attending most networking events (unless a dress code is stated) or interviews with potential clients, charity work or a casual unpaid internship. For these interviews, it is likely that they won’t expect you to be dressed very formally, and will be more concerned with your personality, including your punctuality. Of course, it’s always good to make a positive first impression, so still consider what you’re wearing.

networking

Women : 

For women, skirts and jeans are appropriate in a casual interview — wear what you feel comfortable in. To ensure you still look presentable, you should avoid mini-skirts with bare legs and ripped jeans. You could wear a smart dress with tights and a cardigan or a shirt-jumper combo with a smart pair of slacks or jeans.

Since it’s likely to be a relaxed vibe, you shouldn’t worry too much about footwear. Opt for a smart ankle boot or flat pump, and perhaps avoid trainers and high heels.

Men : 

For men, it can be hard to dress casually without looking too underdressed. Jeans are definitely appropriate, but similar to our advice for women, steer clear of ripped jeans. You should avoid wearing joggers or tracksuit tops, as these will not give off the best impression. A safe option would be a long-sleeved top, jeans, dress shoes such as Chelsea boots or brogues, and a smart jacket.

Business casual : 

emerging markets

This is where I struggle the most, interviews/networking events may specify business-casual attire on the invitation. I don’t wear suits and I’d be really uncomfortable wearing one which would impact on how I feel and come across.  If you are unsure what to wear, it’s best to dress too formally rather than too casually to avoid giving off the wrong impression, but to still feel comfortable. It’s a fine line.

Women : 

With a business-casual dress code, you have more freedom with what you wear than in a strictly professional interview. You could wear pinstripe or patterned dress slacks with a smart shirt tucked in.
Or, wear a smart shirt with a wide collar underneath a long-sleeved sweater. This look gives off a formal impression, whilst not as professional as a shirt and suit jacket.

Men : 

For men, to be appropriate for a business-casual dress code, you should wear a smart shirt. Why not invest in a non-iron shirt? It stays free of creases and there’s no need to rush around with the iron the morning before the interview! Also, if you’re travelling by car or public transport to the interview, a normal shirt can become creased but this is avoided through the non-iron garment.

You should avoid a polo shirt, as this is too casual and still steer clear of wearing jeans.

Professional : 

For formal interviews, you should adopt a professional look as these interviews could be in front of directors of the company. You want to look your best here; your appearance certainly counts, and with the high level of competition at this stage, you don’t want to fall at any hurdles.

Women : 

In a professional situation, women should opt for a suit. When it comes to dressing the bottom half, go with what you feel comfortable in. If you decide to wear a skirt, wear one with a hemline just below the knee to avoid it rising and becoming too revealing. A suit doesn’t have to be boring — shop around and discover suits that are tailored in different ways — find one that suits your body shape. When it comes to footwear, heels are acceptable but make sure you can walk with confidence in them. If you don’t feel happy wearing heels, opt for pumps or shoes with a smaller heel.

Men :

Men should wear a suit when it comes to a formal interview, too. Wear dark socks to blend in with your outfit and bring a briefcase to look professional. Brogues are a good choice of footwear — they are stylish and smart without being mundane. Choose a tailored suit that you feel represents your style, a slim leg may be best suited for you and your shape.

work wear

What to avoid : 

As we can see, the main thing to do is to make sure you feel comfortable in your outfit — it will show in the interview! However, there are a few things that you should avoid:

  • Too much perfume or aftershave.
  • Too much jewellery or makeup.

Do you struggle to find the right outfit to wear for events? Or do you have a go to outfit?

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1 Comment

  1. June 3, 2018 / 10:33 pm

    I skipped right onto business professional style – that’s my safe zone for sure. As you said, it’s a great balance between looking “too professional” and looking too casual.
    I will definitely try out a shirt with a wide collar underneath and a long-sleeved sweater – I can already imagine myself in that combination. That’s the beauty of business casual style, right? With a sweater on top, you can experiment with everything else underneath.

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