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What Not to Wear to an Interview: 11 Guidelines from the Experts

From relying on comfort to avoiding controversial garments, here are 11 answers to the question, “What are your most helpful tips for what NOT to wear to an interview?”

  • Commit to comfort
  • Stay away from jeans
  • Limit over-accessorizing
  • Don’t try to be trendy
  • Avoid accident-prone clothes
  • Avoid too bright or flashy clothes
  • Don’t dress like someone you’re not
  • Wear clothes you’d wear to grandma’s
  • Don’t wear hats or anything that covers your face
  • Be mindful of other’s allergies and sensitivities
  • Don’t wear anything seen as controversial or political

Commit to Comfort

Don’t wear anything you don’t feel comfortable in. Find a compromise between what is appropriate and what is comfortable, because your discomfort will show during the interview.

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Your body language will show your discomfort, and your interview answers might become distracted the more uncomfortable you feel. Interviews can be nerve-wracking enough as is without feeling unnecessary discomfort.

John Berry, CEO and Managing Partner, Berry Law

Stay Away from Jeans


It doesn’t matter how casual the interview or the interviewer is; it’s always better to dress more formally than jeans.

Fernweh Editions Fern & Petals Candle

While it may seem like jeans go with every top, or that darker or black jeans may pass for slacks, interviews are always a place where candidates want to put their best foot forward. 

More professional alternatives are neutral-colored slacks or gauchos, which also pair with most professional tops. No jeans in interviews apply to every job and nearly every industry.

No matter if a candidate is applying to a job waiting tables or their first job after graduating college, it’s always best to stay away from jeans during interviews and instead try on something a bit more professional.

Bryor Mosley, Career Coach, Southern New Hampshire University

Limit Over-Accessorizing


In a professional setting, such as a job interview, it’s important to keep accessories simple and minimal. This allows the interviewer to focus on the person and their knowledge, skills, and qualifications, rather than supplements. 

Excessive jewelry that makes noise, sunglasses covering your eyes, or big hats covering your hair can distract and negatively influence the final decision to hire the candidate. Besides, over-accessorizing will be seen as a lack of professionalism. 

Elegant jewelry such as a watch, stud or short earrings, one or two rings, and a subtle necklace is usually sufficient for a job interview; don’t go for more.

Additionally, avoid accessories such as hats, scarves, sunglasses, and other items. It’s important to choose accessories that complement your outfit and do not detract from your overall appearance.

Nina Paczka, Community Manager, Resume Now

Don’t Try to Be Trendy

outfit too trendy for an interview

Fashion trends come and go, and more often than not, I see early professionals using an interview as a time to show off their personality and fashion sense in the wrong way. Style, yes, allows you to show who you are, but do so within reason. 

If the current trends are crop tops, this is NOT the time to wear this to an interview. Flashy white Nikes?

Again, NOT the time or place to show off your most recent purchase. Interview attire should be professional in nature, not offending, and polished. A classic suit or dress that you accent with color or accessories is fine. 

Avoid showing too much skin; this, of course, is more common among the women that I’ve interviewed, but no matter what the current trends, the best plan is classic business casual or professional attire.

Megan Blanco, Internship Coordinator, Career Coach, and Adjunct Faculty, University of Central Florida

Avoid Accident-prone Clothes

One often-overlooked tip for dressing for interviews is to avoid overly flowy, easily snaggable or tearable, or stainable clothing. If you get a spot on your shirt or get a skirt caught in the door, chances are the interviewer will be understanding.

However, these incidents can chip away at your confidence and throw you off your game, so it is best to stick to clothing that is less likely to cause distractions.

Michael Alexis, CEO, tiny campfire

Avoid Too Bright or Flashy Clothes

One tip for what not to wear to an interview is to avoid too bright or flashy clothes. You want your interviewer to focus on the content of your answers and not be distracted by too-bright colors or too-flashy clothing styles. 

Stick with a neutral color palette and professional styling to make the best impression possible.

Remember that the clothing you wear reflects your personality and can show your attention to detail. Wear something appropriate for the job you are interviewing for, and make sure it looks clean, pressed, and wrinkle-free.

Mariusz Michalowski, Community and Career Expert, Spacelift

Don’t Dress Like Someone You’re Not

Clothes not to wear to an interview

Many guides on how to dress during an interview focus on listing what is appropriate, and forbid items such as miniskirts, T-shirts, and so on.

While these tips may be valid in many places, they can often give you the idea that you should entirely shed any shred of personality your clothing expresses and come to the interview looking like a completely different person. 

My advice is, don’t be afraid to show your true colors! What you wear to such occasions can often set down the rules for how you can present yourself while employed.

If you plan to pick something that does not feel like you, ask yourself this question: Will I really be comfortable in clothes I dislike every day at this company? 

If the employer finds your preferred look unacceptable, maybe the company simply isn’t the right fit for you. Since many of us draw our sense of identity and confidence from what we wear, I don’t believe we should be forced to let that go during interviews, and even more significantly, at work!

Piotrek Sosnowski, Chief People and Culture Officer, HiJunior

Wear Clothes You’d Wear to Grandma’s

I once met with a student who was preparing to attend a career fair the following week. After discussing her resume, I inquired about what she would wear to the event. She showed a blouse and black pants. I said, “That sounds great.” 

Unfortunately, she came to the career fair wearing a low-cut blouse and skin-tight black leather pants. That was definitely not what I had in mind when she described her outfit. My advice—if you wouldn’t wear that outfit to Grandma’s house, don’t wear it to a job fair!

Shelley Maley, PHR, GCDF, Founder and CEO, Dreamcatcher Career Coaching, LLC

Don’t Wear Hats or Anything that Covers Your Face

don't wear to interview

Don’t wear hats or other clothing that covers your head or face. You want your interviewer to see your facial expressions and read your body language; hats or other covering clothing can impede this.

Additionally, hats and other head coverings can give off the impression that you are trying to hide something. Opt for a professional hairstyle instead.

Yusuf Shurbaji, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Prismfly

Be Mindful of Other’s Allergies and Sensitivities

I strongly encourage candidates to avoid potent scents, such as wearing heavy colognes or perfumes when going to an interview. This can also include body wash, lotion, hairspray, etc. 

A good rule of thumb when determining if something has a scent is, “if it makes you cough or sneeze when you rub or spray it on, it’s probably not a good idea to wear it when meeting new people.

You never know what other people are allergic to or sensitive to. When you wear something with a heavy scent, you can leave quite an impression, and often it’s not the one you were hoping for.

Chelsea Jay, Career and Leadership Development Coach, Seasoned and Growing

Don’t Wear Anything Seen as Controversial or Political

When preparing for an interview, it is important to reflect on what you will wear. You want to look professional and presentable, but avoid anything that could be interpreted as controversial or political. 

While these items may make a statement, they can also cause offense and detract from the impression you are trying to make.

Keep in mind that your focus should be on making a good impression, so stick to colors and clothing styles that do not draw attention away from you. 

This will give the interviewer the opportunity to evaluate your qualifications and skills, rather than be distracted by any clothing choices.

Remember that an interview is about making a connection and showing that you are the perfect fit for the role, so don’t let your clothing choices distract from that.

Derek Bruce, Senior Director, Newcastle First Aid Courses