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What to Wear to a Job Interview: Outfits for Men

Different job interview outfits for men

Deciding what to wear to a job interview can often cause unnecessary stress.

Most people struggle with this due to interview anxieties, “knowing” they will be judged, or simply because they lack the information.

Note that wearing the right outfit for an interview is a confidence boost and helps reduce the anxiety this process brings.

What to Consider Before Choosing the Outfit

You will need the confidence to sell yourself during an interview with a potential employer.

Different job interview outfits and wardrobes for men

One major contributing factor to this confidence is your outfit and how you’re dressed.

It has to be professional and presentable; otherwise, your words won’t amount to much over a badly clothed picture.

Keep Your Interview Outfit Simple & Clean

Your attire is the perfect way to have a lasting impression on the interviewer, and not at all for the wrong reasons.

Don’t add flash and flare to the outfit. Instead, keep it as simple and clean as possible so that it sits well in a professional setting.

Details make clothing items more casual

Some people wear too much to look good, but it offsets the real purpose.

For instance, it’s a bad idea to wear a pocket square, tie, and peak lapel suit all at the same time for an interview.

You don’t want your prospective employer to think you are too high maintenance.

Therefore, stick to neutral colors and simple accessories. Add a personal touch here and there, such as with the tie but keep it refined.

Iron Your Clothes Before Each Interview

This should go without saying. I understand why men hate ironing, but all the effort it takes pays off.

A neat and tidy attire free of any wrinkles and creases speaks volumes about your personality and fashion sense.

Iron your clothes before each job interview

Moreover, the employer tends to take you as someone mature and responsible because of how neat you present yourself.

So yes, you must wear freshly ironed clothes before every job interview.

Understand the Company’s Culture

Understanding the company culture beforehand can be quite handy for a job interview.

If you wear the appropriate clothes, it makes you come off as a natural fit for the company.

Moreover, it puts you in the employers’ good books and helps balance out any lack of experience or skill.

This is because employers often believe it is better and easier to work with someone who understands the company culture than with someone who is simply skilled.

If you are unsure about the dress policy, try surfing their website or passing by the office.

It’s also acceptable to email the HR department and ask them directly.

What to Wear to an Interview & Where to Start with the Outfit

Not all office spaces have the same dress code. Different jobs require a specific way of dressing.

Remember that you cannot have a universal outfit that works for all interviews.

Keeping things on the formal side is recommended at most offices, and most interviews require wearing a suit.

On the other hand, startup interviews are relaxed, so you don’t necessarily have to wear one.

Light-Colored Shirt

The starting point for an interview outfit is the shirt. I suggest you stick to light-colored shirts.

Solid dress shirt colors to wear with a suit

They give off a soft, calm feeling and are a safer and better option for a first impression.

The traditional light blue, light pink, white, and even light grey are good shirt color options.

If it’s a more formal interview, opt for a button-up shirt in these colors.

You can opt for a button-down shirt for a startup or business-casual interview.

Blue is one of the favorites for job interviews, so keep it in your options.

Dark-Colored Dress Pants

If you decide to wear a light-colored shirt, contrast it with dark-colored dress pants for a balanced look.

As for the style, you can put on a pair of navy dress pants, grey chinos, khakis, or even dark wash jeans.

Different pants styles to wear for a job interview

A light blue shirt with black or navy pants is a classic combination for job interviews.

A light pink shirt over navy or grey pants does the job pretty well if you want to come off as more sophisticated and up-to-date with the latest trends.

Whatever style or color you choose, make sure they are well-fitting.

Sweater with Button-Down Shirt for Business Casual

A sweater layered with a classic button-down shirt is one of the most dependable business casual looks.

Different business casual sweater style options

Since the shirt has to be light-colored, you can add contrast to the sweater by opting for darker shades.

I recommend neutral or darker colors like navy, black, and brown for the sweater.

These shades sit well with almost all shirt colors.

However, keep in mind this look is not for formal business interviews. So reserve it for easy-going environments such as a startup.

How to Pick the Blazer

The jacket style has to match the job interview formality.

Different jacket styles to wear for a job interview

For a more formal interview, wear a matching suit jacket and pants.

Also, stick to solid dark colors and avoid adding flair to the outfit. I would recommend navy, charcoal, or even medium grey.

However, if the interview setting is a bit casual, it is your chance to wear a more relaxed outfit.

Wearing separates vs. matching suit jacket and pants

You can go for a separate blazer and pants. For example, you can match a navy blazer jacket with grey slacks.

Business casual settings also allow for subtle patterns, but only if you have a good sense of matching them.

Proper Dress Shoes

No matter how casual the setting, a job interview is still a professional meeting.

The most common dress shoe materials are leather, velvet, and suede

Therefore, you must stick to the proper dress shoe type and avoid anything too casual.

Your best bet is a good pair of black Oxford-style shoes.

Different oxford dress shoe types

You can opt for a dark brown pair for a more contemporary touch.

Derby-style shoes work too. Their formality is almost like the Oxfords.

Chelsea boots are an excellent choice for colder days. So are Chukka boots.

You can also wear loafers and monk straps for more relaxed interviews. However, trainers and sneakers are usually a no-go in most interview settings.

Adding Texture and Accessories

Adding texture and accessories takes your ordinary outfit up a notch with some style, class, and sophistication.

For instance, a navy corduroy blazer looks sleek without making you look uptight or stuffy.

A tweed blazer offers a similar sleek look, especially when paired with a matching button-down and slacks.

You can skip the tie if it’s a business casual interview; otherwise, pair the blazer with an eye-catching tie for formal settings.

Outfits to Wear for Formal Business Job Interview

If your potential employer has placed a formal business dress code in the workspace, you will have to hit the peak of formality.

Business formal dress code and attire for men

To start, you need a dark single-breasted suit jacket with matching pants.

Make sure it is a solid color, though sometimes subtle pinstripes work too.

Navy suit, pink shirt, and dark red foulard tie

Keep the tie solid, and ensure it matches well with the suit and the shirt. Sometimes it is also okay to have a small, printed design.

Charcoal grey and navy suit are your best choices for formal business attire.

Wearing a charcoal grey suit on a job interview

A black suit is also an option, but it can sometimes be too formal and ceremonial for an interview.

Suits in lighter shades are not recommended because of the informality they portray. You don’t want to come off as non-serious and too laid-back.

However, brown and blue suits can produce some decent semi-formal shades appropriate for a job interview.

Brown suit, white shirt, and solid black tie

Also, it should go without saying that the suit should be well-fitted with no saggy or overtight pants or jacket.

Also, unbutton the suit jacket when sitting down for the interview.

Unfasten the suit jacket when sitting

In addition, the suit should be matched with a button-up shirt, preferably solid color.

White is your best color choice for the dress shirt, but light blue and light pink are fine too.

Formal job interview outfit: navy blue suit, light blue shirt, and mid-blue tie

Finally, you finish the look with a good pair of formal shoes.

Black is the go-to choice, but dark brown is also considered an acceptable trendier look.

Grey suit, white shirt, navy striped tie, and brown dress shoes

Oxford and derby shoes are all you need, alongside a leather belt in matching color.

A matching leather strap watch can step up your sophistication game!

Outfits to Wear for Business Casual Job Interview

More casual interviews call for a business casual dress code.

Business casual dress code and atiire for men

However, this does not mean you can wear casual outfits.

Being dressy is still a requirement, and you can only do so with a polished look made up of a solid shirt and dress pants.

Charcoal blazer, light blue shirt, black chino pants and black monk straps

The suit jacket and tie aren’t a must for this outfit either.

A button-down long-sleeve shirt is a great choice for a business-casual interview. You can even scale it up by adding a dark blazer.

Navy blue suit jacket, blue shirt, tan pants, and brown shoes

I wouldn’t recommend too many patterns for this look, but you can play with some if you feel like it. Keep it subtle, though.

Sometimes a polo shirt works too but only in solid, neutral colors.

Add a twist to the outfit by tossing on a neutral, light-colored sweater.

Grey blazer and navy pants with sweater and shirt

As for the pants, keep them dressy and dark. Chinos are suitable for business casual as well.

The tie isn’t compulsory, but you can wear one for a sharper look if you want to appear dressier.

Keep it mute and neutral, as flashy ties can ruin the look and the interviewer’s impression of you.

Business casual outfit: blue shirt, khaki pants, and navy/red patterned tie

And always complete the look with a dark pair of black or brown formal shoes.

Oxford and derby styles are the classics, but brogues are also acceptable for a more stylish look.

Outfits to Wear for Startup Job Interview

Startup businesses allow for more relaxed dressing, which is why smart-casual attire works best for such settings.

Smart casual dress code and attire for men

However, don’t lose your professionalism in an attempt to accomplish the smart-casual look.

You can go for a t-shirt or polo shirt without any graphics with navy blue slacks and a nice sports coat for a nice smart-casual interview outfit.

But a polished, comfortable long-sleeve button-down shirt looks sleek.

Navy sweater, blue shirt, grey chinos, and brown Oxford shoes

Print or patterns on the shirt are okay, too, as long as they are simple and subtle. Sweaters and turtlenecks are also adequate.

Adding some color to a smart-casual outfit is acceptable, even if you branch out a bit from the usual neutral shades.

Brown sweater, blue button-down shirt, navy pants, and white shoes

As for the pants, khakis or chinos are your best choices. Make sure they are neat, clean, and free of wrinkles.

It’s best not to wear jeans to an interview, no matter how relaxed the environment is. Reserve the jeans for when you have been hired.

Wearing brown brogue shoes to a job interview

Dress shoes are always the safest option, but here you have some room to experiment as well.

I never recommend sneakers for interviews, but they can pass the benchmark if it’s a startup.

Grey suit jacket, blue shirt, black pants, and blue minimal sneakers

The tie is neither required nor recommended for smart-casual attire, but the belt is still a good addition.

What NOT to Wear to a Job Interview

It’s great if you follow all the above rules to dress up for a job interview.

However, what’s not great is wearing things that are NOT acceptable for such meetings.

Here’s what you need to avoid:

  • Bright and flashy colors are inappropriate for an interview setting.
  • Your overly casual outfits aren’t an option, even for an interview during summer.
  • Dated fashion articles tend to undersell you in a competitive job market.
  • Overdoing accessories is never a good idea. Keep them simple, minimal, and limited.
  • Whacky and novelty ties reduce your chances of being hired.

Other Things to Consider Despite the Outfit

Job interviews require you to put in the effort and have an eye for detail to stand out from the competition.

Getting the right outfit is just one step toward a successful interview.

You also need to ensure the little things work in your favor, such as neatly ironed clothes.

In addition, avoid putting on too much cologne, as it might give the interviewer a headache.

Obviously, hair is important. Even a neat-looking outfit doesn’t look neat with untidy hair.

Cut your nails because that says a lot about a person. The same goes for shoes and how clean they are.

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