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What to wear to an interview?

There is an adage that goes “you can tell everything about a person just by looking at their shoes”. While this might not be entirely true, clothing choice does influence perception, (consciously or not) and so how you dress for interviews and for work really does matter.

Aside from how others perceive us, looking good makes us feel good and can provide a much-needed confidence boost when you are feeling unsure. So, with an interview loomed and so much riding on our outfit choice, how do we know which one to choose?

Dress your way to success

Research suggests that when we wear certain items of clothing, we adopt the behaviours we associate with them. In other words, when we wear a smart business suit, we mean business. Believe it or not, dressing smartly can also improve our alertness.

Stick to the norm

More than 90% of the time, candidates are expected to wear a suit or smart business attire to interviews. With the onset of flexible and casual working this percentage may decrease, but unless explicitly informed otherwise, it’s still best to assume that a classically smart outfit is the way to go.


Suits will always be in. They never go out of fashion and there is so much choice that you can choose a suit that looks great but still conveys your own style and personality. Whether you are interviewing for a top finance job or if you’re headed to a creative start-up to be a marketing rock star, there is a suit will work perfectly.

  • Stick to dark, simple colours – avoid light browns or colourful shoes.
  • Wear cotton not linen – linen will crease on your journey to the interview.
  • Shoes should be brown or black – but brown will only work with a brown or blue suit.
  • If your shoes are leather, make sure they are polished.
  • Your tie should be simple and work with your suit. Extra points if it matches your socks.
  • Your socks should generally be dark and simple unless they purposely match your tie of course!


Gone are the days of a skirt being a must. You can wear whatever you choose - trousers, skirt or a dress are all absolutely fine. It is more important that you are feeling comfortable and confident in what you wear.

  • You can’t go wrong with black – but brown and navy can look classy and elegant too.
  • Avoid busy patterns, try block colours instead.
  • If in doubt, add colour with a scarf or a belt.
  • Don’t be too adventurous with shoes – avoid the temptation to wear exceptionally high heels.

Where to shop

No matter what your budget is, the rule of thumb is to wear the best outfit you can afford. Here in the UK, we are spoilt for choice, we have brands and shops to suit a wide range of budgets.

Under £100

Shops such as Primark, H&M, Next, and Topman/Topshop all offer modern office-wear. For suits, these shops are especially good as they offer options at £100 and under to fit every kind of build.

Mid-range £100-£250

Department stores such as House of Fraser, Debenhams, Marks and Spencer and John Lewis all stock a wide variety of brands and tend to have large sections devoted to work-wear. It may even be worth visiting an outlet centre, which specialise in heavily discounted designer clothes.

Bigger budget £300 +

Brands like Whistles and Cos offer particularly trendy office-wear if you have the budget.

Find the perfect fit

If you find the perfect outfit in the sale but it is slightly too long or baggy, get it altered. A good tailor or a seamstress can work wonders. It doesn’t matter how expensive an outfit should be, if it doesn’t fit right it won’t look right.

Jazz up your look with quirky accessories

Although it’s important not get carried away with outlandish outfits, it’s still important to have fun and show your personality through what you wear. A little colour and invention can present you in a positive way without making you seem uncommitted or flippant. Colourful socks or scarves can work well, or even a bowtie at the right company. Pocket squares, from shops like TM Lewin, can add some elegance and jazz up a plain suit. Even braces can work well! If you want to add a little flair without affecting your outfit, find a quirky bag or briefcase that sets you apart instead. For support with your job search and even personal advice on dressing for your interview speak to a Tate consultant today.

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