Interview Outfits for Women 2022 – Expert Tips on How to Dress – WWD

Interview Outfits for Women 2022 – Expert Tips on How to Dress – WWD

The transformation of office culture means far-reaching changes across a multitude of variables, but when it comes to fashion, post-Covid workplace interview attire has its own set of rules.

Whether virtual, hybrid or in person, potential candidates and employees dress a little more casually everywhere. To start your job search, you can create a free profile on ZipRecruiter.com to apply to jobs with just one click. But “casualization” or the concept of “dressing much more casually” was a trend that was already underway before Covid, according to a report by McKinsey & Co, and the pandemic hastened a mood that was constantly brewing.

That means consumers have shown increased interest in athleisure, and with more casual office wear expected, the athleisure market is expected to reach $551 billion by 2025 and grow 25 percent, according to GlobalData.

While it seems we all lean on this mass careerization both at work and at home, it doesn’t necessarily extend to potential new employees or those in the application process.

“It was a very different time when I started my agency in 1997,” says Elizabeth Harrison, CEO and founder of H&S, who estimates that she has interviewed hundreds of people at all different levels of management, from SVPs to interns. “I would say the expectation of how people show up for an interview has evolved. Being neat and well put together is still very important, but what has changed is what neat and put together means is much broader now.”

This evolution of business casual, as well as our societal shift towards more inclusivity, means that many offices, from corporates to creative offices, have jettisoned many of the outdated rules in favor of new rules that reflect our shared quest for awareness and acceptance.

“As bosses and CEOs, we had to help educate our junior leaders, who are hiring for the first time, on how to expand their preconceived notions of what the ‘right’ look is because it has changed,” says Harrison. “Not everyone has access to a designer bag or carries something interesting from a designer that you’ve never heard of. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a good interview either; You can go to Zara or H&M for cheaper options.”

Casual interview outfits vs. formal interview outfits

One of the first rules for finding your outfit for an interview with a potential company is not to look in your own closet or rummage through it, but to try and get an understanding of how the company sees itself.

Take Harrison’s PR agency, for example, which represents a mix of luxury fashion, spirits and lifestyle brands and where creativity is not only encouraged, but seen as an enrichment.

“If you walk in looking cute, chic, and pulled together and wearing a cool baseball cap or streetwear, at least in advertising, marketing, or PR, you wouldn’t be resented,” she explains. “Now if you were interviewed for working on very corporate brands, I might pause and think that you don’t have the right style, but that you might not be the right candidate or style for the particular job.”

To help guide your research, Harrison recommends checking out the company’s social media pages, particularly Instagram, but its ZipRecruiter.com profile is also a great place to learn more about what the company is looking for in potential looking for new hires. Also, candidates who are invited to apply to open positions are nearly three times more likely to be hired.

“I would start by checking Instagram to see what people at this company are wearing. What does the CEO wear? Or the creative director? Is their style corporate, business casual, or casual?” She says, adding that you should not only check out the company but also their top executives to get an accurate snapshot of their workplace style. “Let the culture inspire you because if you’re not wearing jeans, don’t come to your interview in jeans – even if it’s jeans paired with a great blazer or jacket – because that shows you’re not pay attention to the culture or who they are as a brand.”

From formal to business casual, this guide will help you navigate the world of interview dress, with tips on what to consider, key elements that mean business, and other helpful pointers for dressing in all roles and industries – plus all the “don’ts” to avoid. And once you’ve settled on the dream interview wardrobe, Visit ZipRecruiter, the #1 job site in the US, to help you find your next opportunity.

What you wear reflects your personality

As our home and office lives merged during the pandemic, many employees and potential new employees began to dress to reflect their authentic selves while also maintaining and respecting their workplace culture.

“First of all, you probably don’t want to work in a place where you can’t show yourself for who you are,” says Harrison. “I think you should show yourself as yourself, but you should think about how that will affect your personality and your style.”

She recounts a recent faux pas by her creative director, who wore a fashion forward outfit of tailored shorts and a matching blazer, paired with a button-down. “He looked super smart and appropriate for someone in his creative director role, and we went to the client meeting, but the feedback we got was, ‘How could you bring someone to the meeting in shorts?'” and I couldn’t fault it him for it it was my discretion.”

Virtual interviews are still interviews

Many interviews are still conducted virtually, including at Harrison’s agency. However, this isn’t an open invitation to take your attire down a notch on the style scale — it’s still important to appear like you would if you met in person.

“I think as a result of Covid, people have become a lot more relaxed,” she says. “But I don’t think it’s a good idea to dress down for an interview just because it’s on Zoom. You can still tell when someone put a little effort into it.”

Even if you’re taking business upstairs, partying downstairs, dressing up for virtual interviews, it’s crucial that you continue to tailor your attire and style to what you think the company is expecting of you.

The point is, you made the effort anyway, and it’s a mark of respect for the person who took the time to interview you.

Dress for the season

It can be difficult to know exactly what to wear to an interview when the summer temperature soars to 95 degrees — or when you find yourself in the middle of a snowstorm on the morning of your big meeting.

“Luckily there are so many cute snow boots or other seasonal and weatherproof accessories out there,” says Harrison. “I’m also a big coat person. I think you can rock a great coat and keep it on; A coat is a great statement piece that you can really make work for you.”

And while it might seem like there’s nothing to wear when it’s an unrelenting 95 degrees outside, Harrison disagrees, saying there are “lots of linen dresses that are light and chic,” and you could even wear a top that hugs your shoulders accentuated for your commute, but don a blazer before heading in for a slightly more conservative feel.

“Just don’t wear flip-flops in the summer — there are nice sandals and other options — and nobody’s really going to blame you for weather-weathering,” she says.

Wear what you can count on

“Job interviews for a creative or art director role can get you crazy,” Harrison laughs, but she usually argues that “an interview is probably not the best place” to try something new. Just make sure whatever you wear fits you properly and is tailored to your body, as bulkiness leads to an overall sloppy look. This means that the cuffs should not protrude past the wrists and the shoes should be securely fastened.

“Wear something that you feel super confident in, and it doesn’t even have to be expensive because when you wear something that you know you’ll look great in, you come across as confident,” she explains. “You probably won’t play with your hair in an interview. You won’t be uncomfortable in your clothes or moving about, and you can focus on what’s really important, which is getting the questions right and listening to what the person interviewing you is saying.”

Smart casual clothing is booming

“Showing up for an interview isn’t like showing up for coffee with a friend, and it shouldn’t look like it,” says Harrison. “It’s a big deal, it’s a try.”

When you’re not quite sure what to wear, it’s helpful to rely on the “smart casual” category. For men, that might mean a neutral button-down shirt — no blazer necessary — paired with pressed chinos and loafers, while women can count on a long-sleeved blouse with a subtle pattern and neutral-colored pants (never jeans) with ballet flats or low heels. It’s a light and fun style, yet professional and put together. Harrison suggests keeping makeup clean and nail polish neutral to be on the safe side.

“I think it’s great to dress like you want to be perceived and dressing for the next job you want to get is great because I think it will make you look polished and great.”

Meet the expert

Elizabeth Harrison is the co-founder and CEO of the New York City-based communications agency H&S, formerly known as Harrison & Shriftman. She has worked with global lifestyle brands including Jimmy Choo, Alice + Olivia, Wilson Apparel and Remy Martin and believes the secret to professional success is hard work, persistence and the ability to pivot and change.

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