Keep It Relaxed, but Put Together for Your Casual Job Interview Attire
Consider yourself a walking billboard when you enter a job interview. Without saying a word, you convey an important message to your potential employer through your clothes. You already know you need to look sharp and professional, but what is the proper casual job interview attire? How do you convey a put-together style if the workplace and interview are “casual?”
Even formal workplaces like law offices or banks have casual Fridays or other designated days to dress in “business casual.” The traditional office space has shifted. More and more, employees can connect over Skype and email, or work remotely. As industries change and evolve, a more casual dress code, with different expectations, has taken over.
However, “casual” does not imply sloppy or careless. Clothes and style still matter; they just change from stuffy and formal to comfortable, cool and accessible. Some job interviews might require a dark suit and tie, with shiny black shoes. But most jobs in tech, retail, start-ups or creative industries require a less conservative and much more fashion-forward look.
Even jeans and a T-shirt, the ultimate casual fashion statement, can still look slick and dressy depending on their style and how you choose to accessorize.
Here are tips to keep in mind as you put together your casual job interview attire:
Classic Staples and Must-Wears of Casual Job Interview Attire
- Wear a watch. It sends a subtle message that you’ll adhere to schedules and deadlines, and shows that you’re not overly reliant on your phone. A classic, streamlined timepiece is a sure thing. It always says “cool and collected.”
- Wear a blazer. If you have a casual base, like dark jeans or khakis with a crisp basic shirt or tee, then add a cool blazer instead of a sweater. This is a standard piece that references “old-school,” while showing that you’re modern and hip. This is the perfect dressy layer for any casual ensemble.
- Wear nice shoes. If you go for sneakers, like Converse or bright tennis shoes, make sure they’re in perfect condition. You won’t be getting an old-fashioned shoe shine, but whatever the style, your shoes should sparkle.
- Wear a classic outfit as your base. Stick to clean lines and ageless styles for your base outfit. Whether gender neutral or gender specific, choose timeless pieces and fabrics with a classic edge. Think dark denim, khaki or navy on bottom and white, chambray or light gray on top. Then top it off with that blazer. Push up the sleeves to show off your classic wristwatch, along with your relaxed and confident demeanor.
What to Avoid
- Mixing seasons. Black is fine for winter, but you’ll seem awkward in summer. For women, hosiery is optional in warmer months, but never wear sandals or open-toed shoes. Flats or heels are fine when they’re a traditional and timeless style.
- Rumples and creases. It’s fine to be casual, but use the iron. Don’t look like you keep your clothes in a pile.
- Trends. Avoid anything faddish. They could make you look flighty or immature. Stick with basic classics and you’ll be safe.
- Loud prints or colors. While you may love that vibrant blouse, it might make you seem extreme or brash. If you go for something with color and texture on top, keep your base grounded and traditional.
- Too much skin. No shorts, minis, capris, v-necks or deep plunges for men or women.
These days, being “professional” doesn’t mean you have to wear a white collar in a strict, downtown office. You might work non-traditional hours in a casual, modern space. The hiring committee, even if it’s just one person, still needs to know that you’re responsible, efficient and cool. You can convey that sensibility with casual job interview attire that conveys your message. You’ll do that in the conversation, but the place to start is with your casual and confident clothes.