woman dressed in blazer for interview

The enormous variety of women’s clothing can be a distracting obstacle when preparing for an interview. The vast range of choices and the variety of dress codes in modern-day offices pose overwhelming challenges for professional women. Modern workplaces can be business professional, business casual, smart casual, and anything in between—so how can professional women ensure that they are dressed appropriately for an interview and walk-in feeling completely confident?

We have developed a go-to 2019 interview attire guide for women to make a great first impression and perform at their peak potential in interviews.

Research the company

The most effective way to determine the right attire for an interview is to understand the company. Candidates should try looking at the company’s website, Glassdoor, Facebook, and Instagram to gain an understanding of their work style and culture. If there are photos of the company employees at work, even better! However, photos should be taken skeptically—they may be depicting a “casual Friday.” Also, it is smart across the board to take the current employees’ work attire up a notch when dressing for interviews. Interview candidates are there to make a good impression, and it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. 

Another beneficial research tactic that will help with several aspects of interview prep is asking who the interview will be with. Candidates can narrow down their options by finding out the interviewer’s name and researching that person on social media to gain an understanding of their personality and style.

women talking in interview attire
business women in professional interview attire

Business Professional Attire for Women

Generally, business professional attire is most appropriate. Unless a candidate is absolutely sure that a workplace adopts a more casual attire every day of the week, interviewees should give the impression that they are buttoned-up professionals. When in doubt whether business professional, business casual, or smart casual is appropriate: still aim for business professional. For women, this includes but is not limited to:

  • Suit in black, navy, or dark grey
  • Blouse and dress pants
  • Black dress and black tights
  • Blouse and skirt just above or below the knee

With any variation of these styles, professional women should also consider fit and color. Clothing that is too tight, baggy, or bright and flashy gives a bad impression and can be distracting to the interviewer. In a strict business professional setting, black, navy, and dark grey give the best impression. Women who feel more confident when they are able to express themselves through fashion can incorporate color with muted tones, such as blush pink, through the blouse or tasteful jewelry. 

Business Casual Attire for Women

Business casual dress may be acceptable when interviewing for a job in tech, at a call center, or when it is clear that the office has a relaxed dress code. When candidates are sure that business casual is the right choice for an interview, the following combinations will make a good impression:

  • Khaki slacks and a button-up shirt
  • Solid colored dress pants and blouse
  • Dress and blazer
business casually dressed women in interview
smart casually dressed women writing

Smart Casual Attire for Women

If women have an interview at a small startup, restaurant or cafe, or a retail store, smart casual attire may be acceptable. While jeans are considered smart casual, they should always be dark-colored, tailored, and can not have any holes. Like business professional and business casual, smart casual attire should be conservative and fit well. For interview settings where more casual attire is appropriate, consider:

  • Dark jeans and a blouse 
  • Dark jeans or slacks and a cardigan
  • Avoid low cut tops

For any type of interview, it is critical that professional women walk in feeling completely confident in comfortable—those factors will lead to peak performance. After doing research on the company and interviewer to determine the appropriate dress code, candidates should use this style guide to identify the ideal outfit to dress for success. If there is still doubt, professionals can contact a staffing firm for additional guidance from an expert recruiter.