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What Not to Wear to an Interview

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Figuring out what to pull from your closet for an interview can be a little tricky. There are many considerations to make when choosing an outfit.

These range from the type of fabric you pick to the color of the garments. So, with hundreds of options, it may be easier to narrow down what not to wear to an interview.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about interview attire. We’ll also dive into how to dress to impress.

Do Clothes Really Matter for an Interview?

When you walk into an interview, there are a few factors that make up your first impression. These include your attitude, body language, and, of course, your attire.

Chances are, the employers will take note of what you’re wearing. This will help the interviewer decide whether or not you’re a good fit for the company culture.

That’s why professional attire is an important part of interview prep.

Let’s take a look at why your outfit is crucial.

For starters, appropriate attire shows that the applicant is able to follow guidelines. Doing so gives off the impression that you’ll have an easy time adhering to the rules.

That will go a long way to help you stand out during the meeting.

Other than that, your clothes can dictate how you behave. For example, when you’re in a formal outfit, it’s easier to act more professionally.

Psychological Impact of Clothes

Besides appearance, your outfit will also have a major impact on your mental state.

Clothes are an easy way for a person to express their individuality. This is great in social situations because it makes it easier for people to interact with each other.

However, in the workplace, it can cause alienation. Some people will feel left out, while others will consider themselves superior.

This isn’t helpful in cultivating a healthy teamwork mindset. That’s why most workplaces enforce a strict dress code.

Following this code will signal that you want to be a part of the company’s team.

What Not to Wear to an Interview

Choosing an outfit right before a job search meeting can be a bit of a challenge. That’s especially true if you don’t know what pitfalls to avoid.

There are a few attire rules to follow, regardless of the type of job interview you’re going into.

In this section, we’ll go on a deep dive to figure out what to stay away from when choosing an outfit.

This will be slightly different for men and women.

What Not to Wear for Men

As most people know, formal wear isn’t exactly all that comfortable. Plus, it’s much harder to stand out when all your competitors are wearing a similar suit.

That’s why job seekers are constantly looking for ways to change up their outfits.

Here are a few items to steer clear of as you pick out appropriate interview attire.


Even though shorts are comfortable, there’s no place for them in a work environment. Not only are they informal, but they’re also impractical.

That’s because they offer much less protection than dress pants. For example, if you spill a cup of coffee in the office, shorts won’t do much to prevent burns.

Flip-Flops or Sneakers

Flip-flops are an excellent choice when you’re going to the beach or lounging around your house. However, when it comes to interviews, it’s best to keep them on the shelf.

These casual footwear options are not a good idea for the office. The opened design will leave applicants vulnerable to unintentional toe stubs.  

In addition, when you want to put your best foot forward, stay away from sneakers. They’re slightly more acceptable than flip-flops, but they don’t work for every occasion.

Some employers find them too unprofessional for the workplace.


It’s difficult to dress up a t-shirt in a way to make it appear formal. That’s why most employers encourage candidates to stay away from them.

Other than that, t-shirts wrinkle easily. It’ll be tough to get all the way from home to the interview chair without creasing the garment.

In addition, you won’t be able to tuck them into your pants or wear a tie with them.

Any Text on Clothes

Patterns and text are not usually acceptable in an interview. There are a couple of reasons behind this rule.

First off, they can be overwhelming and distracting. This may cause the interviewer to look at your outfit instead of asking you questions.

Besides that, they make applicants stand out too much from the crowd. That can lead an employer to assume they are incapable of being part of a team.

Strong Scents or Too Much Cologne

In an interview, you want the hiring manager to pay attention to your skills and experience. This can be tricky if they’re trying to figure out what cologne you’re wearing.

It’s also good to remember that perfumes are subject to personal opinions. That means, just because a candidate likes a scent, doesn’t mean the interviewer will.

So, avoid using scents that can travel for miles.

Uncomfortable Garments

Wearing uncomfortable clothes has many drawbacks. First off, they’ll make it difficult for you to move around the office and have friendly interactions.

On top of that, adjusting your outfit during a meeting may make a candidate seem nervous.  

For that reason, it’s crucial that you wear comfortable attire. This will help you radiate confidence and it’ll make the meeting a tad more pleasant.

Wrinkly Clothes

As you walk into an interview, you want to signal confidence and professionalism. This is almost impossible to do with wrinkled clothes.

They make a candidate seem disheveled and unprepared. In addition, it’s best to avoid tight or ripped clothing.

What Not to Wear for Women

Women have a lot more options when it comes to appropriate formal attire. However, there are still quite a few items you should stay away from.


Shorts are never a good idea for men or women. Luckily, there’s an alternative for female job seekers.

If it’s hot outside, and you want to stay comfortable, you can wear a skirt. Just make sure that the garment is at least knee-length.

That way, you’ll stay cool and professional.


Most people consider open-toed shoes inappropriate for a work environment. That includes flip-flops and, of course, sandals.

There are a few designs that are acceptable for an interview, but these are tough to find. So, instead of spending hours in the shoe aisle, it’s better if you pick a different option.

That can be flats, heels, or loafers.


For the most part, t-shirts don’t belong in a job environment. Although, there are some workplaces that allow women to wear them.

However, they have to meet certain criteria.

First off, they should be solid, neutral colors like browns, blacks, or grays. Other than that, t-shirts must have no patterns or text.

Finally, the neckline has to be modest, with minimal skin showing.  

Strong Scents or Too Much Perfume

Perfumes are acceptable in the workplace to a certain degree. You have to make sure that the scent doesn’t carry around throughout the entire office.

Otherwise, it’ll be a major cause of distraction.

Ideally, women should wear subtle perfumes with a fresh finish. That means you have to steer clear of any overly flowery or sugary scents.

Anything Too Revealing

When looking for appropriate interview attire, modesty is the key. Even during the summer, covering up is a sign of professionalism.

For that reason, candidates must avoid wearing garments that are too revealing. That includes plunging necklines, tight clothes, and ripped attire.

Not only are these inappropriate, but they can also be uncomfortable.

Too Much Makeup

Makeup is a great tool to make yourself seem more alert and presentable. While it’s appropriate to wear some cosmetics, this can easily get out of hand.

For an interview, it’s best to wear minimal makeup. That means a little concealer and maybe a bit of mascara.

Other than that, you want to stay away from bright colors and glittery shades.

High Heels

There are many employers that discourage high heels in the workplace. That’s because they produce a lot of noise which can be disruptive.

Although, there are a few acceptable versions of the dress shoes. These have to meet the following criteria:

  • Heel is no higher than four inches
  • Shoes don’t have a platform
  • Shoes are a solid neutral shade

Too Many Accessories

Once you pick out an outfit, it’s time to choose a few accessories. The key here is to wear understated jewels.

Otherwise, the interviewer may focus on your outfit and forget about the meeting.

So, it may be best to leave out the accessories altogether. However, if you’d feel more comfortable with some bling, there’s a way to do that.

Start off by avoiding any items that’ll glitter and catch the light. Instead, a couple of simple bracelets and stud earrings should do the trick.

The same applies to your purse. Keep it simple, with few embellishments.

What Colors to Avoid at an Interview

Now that we covered what articles of clothing to avoid, we can talk about colors to stay away from.

Here are a few shades that aren’t suited for the workplace:

  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Orange
  • Purple

These colors are flashy and can be distracting in an interview setting. That means candidates must avoid overly bright shades.

As a general rule, applicants should walk into an interview wearing neutral colors. These include black, navy blue, and white.

Do Shoes Matter in an Interview?

As soon as you walk into an interview, the employer will scan your overall appearance. This includes what shoes you have on.

What most people don’t realize is that footwear can tell a hiring manager a lot about a candidate.

In fact, there are studies that prove that you can tell about 90% of a person’s personality by looking at their shoes.

The color and condition of the footwear can give us a glimpse into how the applicant will perform.

For example, practical shoes can show that a job seeker is agreeable and flexible. On the other hand, wearing new footwear can signal high levels of anxiety.

How to Dress for an Interview

Figuring out what is appropriate to wear to an interview can be tough. So, there are a few tips you can follow to ensure your outfit works for the event.

Research the Company

Before we begin this process, it’s best to reach out to human resources or the hiring manager. Both will be able to give you a few guidelines as to what to wear.

Other than that, you’ll have to do plenty of research into the company culture. Figure out what most employees wear on a daily basis.

Next, read through the job description thoroughly. This can have a couple of details that’ll help you decide on the appropriate attire.

For example, if the position involves meeting many clients, chances are you’ll need to be extra formal.

Generally, it’s best to choose professional clothing that fits you like a glove.

Account for Seasonal Changes

After you’re done researching the company, turn your attention to the weather. Make sure that your interview outfit matches the seasonal patterns.

A good tip is to always bring layers. This will keep you warm, and make you seem prepared for anything the interviewer may throw at you.

Ensure Your Comfort

Just because you’re walking into a formal meeting doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. In fact, the more relaxed you are, the better you’ll perform in the interview.

That’s why it’s essential that your interview clothes fit you well. This way, you won’t have to waste time adjusting your attire.

So, be sure to dress in comfortable clothing to give yourself the best shot of landing the new job.

Finally, don’t forget to iron or steam your clothes before you head out.

These are just some of the tips to excel in the interview.

Wrapping Up

When wondering what not to wear to an interview, there are a few considerations to make.

For starters, both men and women have to steer clear of shorts, flip-flops, and strong scents.

Other than that, male job seekers should also avoid t-shirts and wrinkly clothes.

As for female candidates, it’s best if they stay away from heavy makeup and too many accessories.

To figure out the best outfit to wear, research the company and ensure that you’re comfortable. Finally, be sure to account for seasonal changes.

If you have any more questions about what to avoid during an interview, please leave us a comment.

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