How to Dress for an Interview
Clothing: Suit Up or Dress Down?
Making the right outfit choices depends on the type of job you’re interviewing for, the industry and the atmosphere of your potential employer.
If you’re trying to break into the corporate world, keep it coordinated. Nothing says you mean business like a suit coat—and this season we like them belted. Wide-leg trousers and a jacket are a total power move. A knee-length sheath dress layered under a blazer permits some play with a print or lightweight materials like silk or rayon (which can be a relief when you're in the hot seat). No jacket required for this role? A midi skirt is always chic with a blouse or knit top. Try to choose fabrics that aren't prone to wrinkling or awkward clinging. Our in-store stylists can help you find the right fit. And it's always a good idea to take your outfit out for a test drive.
Interviewing with a tech company or a startup? You'll likely have more freedom with your choices, and a more casual approach may even be expected. While Silicon Valley is known for their jeans-and-hoodie uniform, that doesn’t mean you should follow suit—or their lack thereof. Remember, you want to show that you understand and can fit into the company culture while still respecting your interviewer and the opportunity. Instead, ditch the blazer in favor of a neat blouse tucked into sleek, well-fitting trousers. And save the jeans and leggings for the weekend—or for after you're hired.
If you're in a creative field, don’t be afraid to let your aesthetic show with pops of color, playful patterns or interesting silhouettes. Just don't overdo it—you risk coming across as haphazard. Have fun with one part of the outfit, like a floral dress, dramatic sleeve or jewel-toned skirt. A shirtdress always looks polished; you can find one in almost any print or color. Plus, there are almost infinite ways to accessorize it to your taste. You might limit yourself to one trendy or statement piece, though, so as not to seem contrived or costumed.
Color: Shades of Meaning
While it may feel safest to stick to black, grey and navy tones, especially if the dress code is business professional, a fun checked or striped suit is completely acceptable in most workplaces and can make you stand out amid more staid candidates. Add a pop of color with your blouse, a scarf or your shoes to break up an overly monochrome suit or dress. Just avoid extremely bright shades (like neons and citrons) or patterns that might distract from your amazing ideas.
Shoes: Get Your Foot in the Door
A great pair of pumps with a mid-to-short heel is a classic choice, as are flats. A pointed-toe slipper or some sleek loafers are right in step with most offices. To put your best foot forward, avoid sneakers. And don't forget to polish whichever pair you wear.
Accessories: Fringe Benefits
Minimalist jewelry in gold or silver is an appropriate option, but don't feel like you have to forgo some flair. A tasteful hoop or chandelier earring can be all you need to take workwear from boring to beautiful. But don't get too blinged out; you want to look like a worker not a queen bee. Carry a structured handbag or tote to hold your résumé and portfolio while you shake hands.
Makeup and Hair: Groom to Improve
Makeup should look natural. Be sure to find a foundation or tinted moisturizer that's a good match for your skin tone. (Our Nordstrom Beauty Stylists can easily help with that.) Mascara and a dab of blush can make you look bright-eyed and healthy even when you didn't get eight hours the night before. Skip the smoky eye and go with a light application of eyeliner and a pink or peachy shadow. If you choose to wear lipstick, make sure you have time to check your application and teeth throughout the day.
It should go without saying that hair should be clean. Worn up or down, it doesn’t matter as long as it’s out of your face. Also, don’t go heavy with the perfume. Some people are sensitive to scents, so use it sparingly or don’t spritz at all.
Good luck. You've got this!