Savvy Interview Style for Women

Woman in Suit

With the wide variety of clothing choices for women, it is often difficult to determine what to wear during the job interview process.  I always advise clients to research the company they are interviewing with to determine what the management wears on a daily basis. Once you learn what the accepted ‘uniform’ of the company is, you will be able to  create the image that will best fit into that company’s culture. For most professional positions, a suit is a must.

The ideal way to dress is to mimic what the managers a level above the position you are applying wear. Dress to simulate their department and position.

Perhaps the women managers wear separates (slacks or a dress) with a jacket. This makes choosing your outfit a bit more difficult. If in doubt about which separates to mix and match, always opt in for long sleeves. These are far better than short sleeves and sleeveless is completely unacceptable for interviews.

A skirt or dress is the best choice over slacks for job interviews. The hem length should be just at the knee or at most, one inch above or below. Nylons should be worn in a neutral color, about the same shade as your skin tone.

Dark and neutral colors are safest color choices for your suit to create the best first impression. Black, brown, navy blue, beige or gray are all good choices. Choose the base color that best highlights your features. If you have a fall complexion, choose dark brown. Winter complexions can wear black with minimal effort. If you are a spring or summer complexion and especially if you have blue eyes, choose navy as your base color.  For more information about which season you might be, refer to Carol Jackson’s book, Color Me Beautiful. After twenty plus years, is still an industry standard and provides great information on what colors to wear for your complexion

If you want to have a special edge in your job interview, follow Clinton Kelly, co-host of What Not to Wear’s advice. His frequent mantra is “a well dressed woman should have all three ingredients in their outfit: color, texture and shine.” This is great advice as long as you include just a hint of shine and it is not the largest  part of your overall look. An easy and unexpected way to add shine to your outfit is to wear patent leather pumps.

Speaking of shoes, keep them fairly conservative and avoid open toes or heels. A three inch pointy toe, kitten heel pump is a safe choice.

Make sure to carry a portfolio or crisp bag in a size that will hold an 8.5 x 11 pad or file folder. Always remember to pack a pen so you wont have to ask for one during the interview if asked to fill out a form.

Always make sure that your clothes fit impeccably. There is no quicker way to kill a good first impression, than to wear sleeves that are too long or shoulders that droop off your torso. Also, make sure to take a quick check of your backside before you head out the door for your interview.

Here are a few more quick tips to help you get dressed for your interview:


Women’s Interview Don’t’s

Dangling jewelry or jingling bracelets

Open toe or heeled shoes

Short skirts

Heavy perfume (if any)

Exposed cleavage

What Not to Bring to the Interview


Cell phone


Coffee, soda or water

Cover all tattoos

Show only two piercings (ears only!)

How to Get an Edge Ahead

Find a great tailor – Wear an Impeccably fitted suit

Show some savvy – combine color, texture and shine to complete your well-designed image

If you need advice for men about what to wear for job interviews, click here!

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