First things first
When you’re preparing to dress for an interview, know what kind of office you’re walking into. While working with a recruiter, don’t be afraid to ask for the dress code. You definitely don’t want to show up in your highest heels or a suit if the company culture calls for sweatshirts and jeans. The reverse would be just as uncomfortable!
The smart casual interview calls for ease and comfort, but is also appropriately stylish and is increasingly popular in casual industries like tech or cities like Austin.
While your candidacy doesn’t begin and end with a dress code, it’s important to feel confident when you walk into the room for first time. Ultimately, you want to feel and look like you belong there already.
Keep it comfortable
Smart casual is comfortable and functional. Of course you want to show your best side in an interview. You also want to show who you are without pretense, and that means feeling comfortable in your skin, and wearing something natural to you.
If you’re the type to bike to the office, pick something that works for you. Don’t go for a suit when a simple button down will do.
How loud is too loud?
Maybe dark or neutral colors aren’t really your thing, but you feel pressured into a pantsuit when the time to search for a new job comes around.
Though you might not want to walk into an interview in your favorite beaded vintage gown, there’s no need to shy away from a colorful print or fun pattern. Pair loud pieces with something more conservative and you’ll feel like yourself.
Smart casual calls for simplicity, but the devil is also most certainly in the details. So dress wise to the famous Coco Chanel quote: “When putting on accessories, take off the last thing you’ve put on.” Your favorite necklace or the smartwatch you wear everyday won’t be ostentatious, but decorative.
Keep in mind that Chanel also said “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future,” but it’s probably best to ignore this advice for an interview. That goes for the body spray wearing population too — don’t distract the interviewer with your overpowering scent.
Sharp, but not stiff
Pick one key higher-end piece to dress yourself around, and you’ll look professional without coming across as stern. This could be anything from your sharpest pair of dress slacks, to the new heeled boots that make you feel like towering royalty. Think: a solid blazer over a patterned shirt, or a slouchy cardigan over a simple dress.
Keep it clean
It’s now long been acceptable to rock a full beard and facial hair, but keep it tidy. Some scruff looks great when it’s trim, but if you look like you’ve just rolled out of bed with an untamed beard, it might not translate well in an interview.
Same thing goes for makeup mavens. Save the glitter and glam for the weekend, but by all means put your freshest face forward. If red lips or bold eye makeup is your jam, pick one or the other, but don’t overdo it with both.
You do you
Companies use interviews as an opportunity to get to know who you are, and if you’ll be a good fit in their environment. Maybe a particular smart casual dress rule just doesn’t resonate with you.
The quickest route to confidence is to be yourself. Break the “rules” if it means letting the true you shine.