Applying for a new job can be a daunting process. Even after you’ve made sure your résumé is up-to-date and polished, and that your cover letter reflects your enthusiasm for the role, there’s the interview. You want to piece together an ensemble that says, "I’m employee material," but that also meets the vibe of the job setting.
If you’re gunning for a corporate position, formal is typically the way to go, but if the company is a bit more lax, brainstorming a few casual interview outfits before your time slot will help save you some time and (hopefully) expunge some of that nervous energy.
When you’re interviewing for a new job, first impressions may not be everything, but they’re significant, even if the company’s dress code is more business casual. “This dress code for work is the most relaxed and closest to your weekend wear,” celebrity stylist Soneca Guadara tells InStyle. However, you don't want to mistake it for sloppiness, she says. “Going on any interview, you want to look like a professional. A casual interview [just means] that you can mix and match separates to show off more of your personality.”
Keep these tips in mind as you approach your closet, but if you’re still drawing a blank as you survey your options, don’t panic. Ahead, Guadara and more stylists break down 11 casual interview outfit ideas that will help you focus on landing the role.
Add a Trendy Statement
Stylist and style therapist Christina Stein tells InStyle that a neutral outfit needs a little something to spruce it up, so she advises clients to incorporate a trendy color pop into their ensemble. “For example, the biggest color of the season is red, so you can add a red pump and coordinating bag, or just grab a skinny red belt to finish off a neutral look.”
Slip into Some Funky Footwear
People often lean on accessories like jewelry and handbags to dress up their interview outfits, but Stein argues statement footwear should not be overlooked in this styling scenario. For instance, the stylist says a pair of metallic flats with a coordinating suit will flat act like a neutral, “but is way more exciting than a plain black flat and it speaks to a trend in a classic way.”
Wear a Vest Instead of a Blazer
Stylist and creative consultant Carly Landig is all about the vest suit for casual interview outfits in 2023 and beyond. “It is a timeless look that has stood the test of the trend cycle,” she tells InStyle, describing her ideal ensemble as a vest paired with a matching trouser or a longline skirt. “It’s a polished yet effortless look.”
Give Your Maxiskirt Its Moment
Maxi lengths are going to be huge for fall 2023, but Landig says a leather maxiskirt, in particular, is an excellent choice for a casual interview outfit. “It’s the ultimate in cool meets sophistication,” Landig tells InStyle. “Tuck in a white button-down or a cozy knit, and pair an of-the-moment ballet flat or loafer for an air of nonchalance that says, ‘I know exactly what I am doing.’”
A Play on Proportions
In terms of a more general outfit recommendation, Landig tells InStyle she’s big on playing with proportions. “I love the silhouette of an almost floor-grazing dress paired back to an oversized or cinched waist blazer with a barely there sandal or closed-toe mule to finish the look,” she says of the styling technique. “The proportions feel new, yet sophisticated.”
A Neutral Dress
When you’re sweating an in-person interview, scouring your closet for one-and-done outfits will give you one less thing to worry about. One option stylist Naina Singla often reaches for is a neutral-colored dress because it requires minimal coordinating on your part, plus the color palette is appropriate for any occasion.
Heading into the fall and winter season, a sleeveless knit number in a warm chocolate brown hue paired with a matching cardigan, off-white low-heeled pointed-toe pumps, and a shoulder bag tops her favorites list as she says it’s a “cute and stylish outfit fit for an interview.” A navy midi is also on standby in the stylist’s closet, especially something lightweight in a drapey crêpe fabric.
Another fool-proof interview outfit staple Singla swears by is a trusted pair of high-waisted, tailored pants because the piece is super versatile. “Black [tailored] pants with a fitted white ribbed tank, an ivory cropped bouclé sweater jacket, and black ballet flats make for a comfortable and chic look perfect for a casual interview in the city,” Singla says, adding a classic straight-leg style would also do with “a sleeveless black turtleneck knit, a black statement belt, black kitten heels, and a tote in off-white or ivory.”
A Classic Blazer
Designer, and stylist Rachel Zoe (who is currently serving as a Style Mentor for the Express Styling Community) tells InStyle that a classic collared blazer is still and always will be a closet staple, as well as a workwear essential. “An oversized fit gives it a bit of an edge, yet paired with dark blue or black flared denim gives you a clean, sophisticated, and polished interview look,” says Zoe.
Go for Some Pleats
If traditionally tailored pants aren’t your style, Zoe recommends reaching for a wide-leg pleated style. “For a professional feel, pair with either a classic white button-down or a slim-fit cardigan for a clean monochromatic look. Lastly, add a lightweight trench to feel instantly elevated.”
Prioritize Comfort as Much as Professionalism
As the line between casual and formal dressing continues to blur, the more versatile pieces should be in your wardrobe. According to Stitch Fix expert stylist Jessica Sockel, the key to dressing stylishly for an interview is to strike that balance between professional and comfortable, especially if the environment is business casual.
“A trend we love to recommend is 24/7 dressing, which creates a great-looking outfit that caters to the comfort we all need,” Sockel tells InStyle. “We recommend opting for a lightweight, single-breasted blazer in a versatile color like black, charcoal, or camel that can easily suit a range of outfits and elevate your look. Pair the blazer with a polished top in a floral pattern, a pair of dark-wash, well-fitted jeans to keep your look elevated.” Finally, there’s shoes: Sockel recommends loafers or pumps, “whichever best suits your personal style.”
Layer on a Cardigan
Guadara recommends reaching for pieces that offer the same stylistic benefits as formal pieces, but with more ease. “Think of a soft cardigan over a tank top paired with elastic waist slacks,” she tells InStyle. “The cardigan frames your outfit the same way a blazer would, but with more comfort.” As long as your clothing is not ill-fitting — and free from stains, odors, and wrinkles — Guadara says this technique will not only ensure the interview showcases your substance, “but it will also reflect your personal brand.”
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Read the original article on InStyle.