What to wear to an interview

business suit

As there’s an increased number of workplaces implementing a dressed-down work culture, it can be hard knowing what to wear to an interview. The confusion lies with some industries still expecting a sleek formal wear look, a business suit boasting refined, smart trousers, while others expect a toned-down get-up that shows you have the ability to blend with their company values.

The purpose of an interview is to prove to your potential employer you have all the qualities needed for the role; while they assess your suitability, it’s crucial you showcase yourself correctly. While your interview performance will count for a lot, how you present yourself lies at the core of your success. It takes seven seconds to make a first impression, so here at Cavani, we’ve rounded up some of our best interview attire tips and tricks, so you can create a look you feel both comfortable and professional in. The right job interview suit or well put together smart-casual fit is sure to give you immense self-confidence, putting you in a positive frame of mind that’s sure to calm those pre-interview nerves. 

Why is interview attire so important?

It shows you present yourself well 

Whether it’s casual wear or a business suit, a well-presented pristine look tells your potential employer that you’re serious about the role on offer. Presenting yourself in such a way is a reflection of you as it shows you respect the company and its professional standards. An employer should be able to look at you and know that the effort put in will translate into the office. A candidate that puts little effort in may leave an employer wondering if they will have the same laid-back approach to their work. 

It demonstrates you’ve done your research 

Whatever role you’re going for, there are normally professional norms associated with the industry. Financial or business roles may expect you to dress in a business suit, while creative roles such as graphic or interior design may watch out for elements of quirky personality infused into your outfit.

It shows you understand company culture 

You need to show up to your interview providing evidence you’ve done your research and identify with your potential company’s organisation. What better way to do that than through your interview suit or smart-casual fit. The last thing you want is to turn up in a high-class business suit when your interview panel is dressed down as it shows you’ve misjudged the company ethos and therefore aren’t the right fit for the role. 

What to wear to an interview 

Once you’ve done your company research, it’s time to complement your skills and experience with your physical appearance.  The following interview attire trends provide guidance for business formal, business casual, and smart casual-wear. We will explore the types of roles they are typically associated with, as well as interview suit tips for each scenario. 

1. Business formal 

If you’re seeking employment in industries such as finance, legal or banking, you’ll want a highly professional, sleek polished look that presents your assertive and confident personality well. An interview suit men can be proud of usually comes in the form of a tailored suit that sits comfortably with the jacket buttoned up. 

A well-tailored suit finished off with well-polished leather shoes, a leather belt and perhaps a briefcase. When it comes to jewellery, compliment with a nice smartwatch, but avoid any other unnecessary distractions.

What colour suit should I wear to an interview?

While you may be tempted to grab that black suit from the back of your wardrobe that only sees the light for the odd occasion, we would avoid it. When considering what to wear to an interview it’s important to note a black suit can be seen as rather dull or stuffy.  A light-coloured shirt and tie with a grey or dark blue interview suit is much more approachable.

We would also suggest keeping your accessories simple by avoiding heavy patterns, bright colours and especially novelty ties. A big no. Chic pastel-hued, a tweed or knitted tie that complements your suit is definitely the way forward here.

2. Business casual 

Marketing, technology, education and hospitality are normally seen in what is described as business casual. This can be quite hard to define as people have different views as to what this actually means, but for us, it’s all about perfectly balancing elements of casual wear with formal attire – just to smarten up a little. 

For men, smart trousers provide a good base for this look as you can be more relaxed when it comes to dressing the top half. You could try a button-down shirt with an open blazer, or you could throw a fitted V-neck sweater over a fitted collared shirt. 

When choosing shoes for an interview, leather brogues or Oxfords make the perfect smart-casual footwear. A great capsule addition to your wardrobe, they can be blended with a multitude of outfits, whether that’s at the desk or out for dinner. 

Another switch-up from business formal wear is swapping out the briefcase with an over the shoulder leather satchel. This will automatically give your appearance and approach a more relaxed vibe.

3. Smart casual 

Smart casual wear would have once never been an option when it came to interview attire, however as certain industries are shifting towards more flexible working, we are seeing dress codes reflecting this too. This type of wear is usually associated with creative industries, agencies and start-up business culture. 

Creatives such as these expect to see personality throughout your outfit, especially if your potential role is in the arts or fashion. This means you need to add a little artistic flair while still remaining professional.

A button-down shirt in a check or quirky print can help you get your personality across while remaining sleek and smart. Be sure to balance your choice of top or shirt against your trouser: for example, if you opt for jeans add a smart blazer, or dress down chinos or smart trousers with a V-neck sweater.

A great smart casual look is swapping your shirt for a plain t-shirt then finishing with a blazer. We’re also starting to see a lot more half zip knits making their way into the ‘The New Formal’ trend.  As well as smart sneakers joining the likes of brogues and loafers as a smart-casual interview shoe of choice.  

Unsure of the dress code for an interview?

While for some industry job roles the guidelines and interview dress code are clear and sometimes even provided prior to an interview, occasionally it is a little hard to determine the expectations of your interview attire.

If you’re still not sure after conducting some company research, it’s much better to turn up overdressed rather than under. Business casual is generally a good place to sit. 

You could try: 

  • Visiting the company social media pages for indication of dress code. Step up a level from this for your interview attire.
  • Re-reading all company correspondence to ensure there’s nothing you’ve missed in terms of interview outfit requirements.
  • Getting in touch with the company’s HR department for guidance.

Choosing how to present yourself professionally is an integral part of preparation; therefore planning your outfit ahead of time will prevent any pre-interview panic of what to wear, which could have a detrimental impact on your performance, and nerves. 

Ensure what you’re wearing makes you feel empowered, confident and most of all comfortable. Here at Cavani, we’ve got everything you need to make a cool and collected first impression; from interview suits and blazers to casual wear and loafers, we’ll have you looking sharp and ready to take on whatever challenge awaits you. 

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