How To Nail An Interview Outfit, According To Fashion Industry Veterans

by Hannah Baxter, Coveteur
Courtesy Coveteur

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Is there anything more nerve-racking than the moment right before a job interview? Hundreds of thoughts are buzzing through your mind: How does my résumé compare to others? Is this the right fit for me? What questions should I ask at the end? Will I get hired? The whole situation is understandably stressful, even for the most experienced among us. But the last thing you should ever worry about is whether or not your outfit will give off the right impression—the impression that you’re an exceptional, responsible, and worthy candidate.

Luckily, we have access to some incredible editors, managers, and directors from both the Coveteur and Bustle offices who have learned exactly what makes them sit up and take note of a well-dressed applicant. With dozens of hires under their belts, as well as their own experience climbing the fashion ladder, they have some valuable advice for anyone in the midst of a job hunt.

Katie Becker, Beauty Director at Coveteur

“Most of the time, your best bet is well-cut pants and your favorite blouse. But thankfully, in fashion and beauty, everyone is on Instagram or at least well-photographed, so it’s easy to see the style of your interviewer and the rest of the office. That’s usually your best guide. Do they ever wear jeans to the office? Is it always dresses, dresses, dresses? Do they seem to love blowouts? Don’t straight-up copycat them, but wear your own personal look that seems to fit the vibe. Although I sense the return of the blazer, I’ve never worn one to an interview.”

Laurel Pantin, Editorial & Fashion Director at Coveteur

“The main thing I look for is that the candidate looks polished and thoughtful, but also comfortable. The daily grind of fashion is not glamorous (I wear sneakers and jeans almost every day), so I need to see that the candidate prioritizes their work over their ego — meaning no sky-high spiky heels, skirts they can’t walk in, tops they need to fuss with, etc. It’s a delicate balance between practical and stylish! When feeling extra stumped, a good, flowy midi-dress, or a nice pair of trousers and a button-down works perfectly.”

Kara McGrath, Deputy Editor, Fashion & Beauty at Bustle

“You should definitely do a little Insta-investigating to get a feel for what other people who already work at the company wear. If it seems like a laid-back place, don’t show up in a full-on pantsuit. That being said, just like you should be your honest self in interviews, you should also dress like your honest self. I want to see your personal style and how you interpret trends more than your ability to copy all the Do Wear and Don’t Wear lists out there. And if that means wearing some version of jeans, a T-shirt, and sneakers to an interview, I’m all for it.”

Caryn Prime, Managing Editor at Coveteur

“You definitely want to feel comfortable in whatever you choose to wear. Because you’re already going to be a little nervous on an interview, the last thing you want to do is be nervous and self-conscious, or worse, fidgeting with your clothes. So you should choose something that you feel confident in, but that also conveys professionalism — nothing too short, or too casual, or too revealing; best to err on the side of simple and classic. You want to be remembered for your answers, ideas, and personality, not for what you wore!”

Gabby Prescod, Senior Fashion Market Editor at Bustle

“It’s super important to be smart about your interview look because it is the first impression that your potential employers will have on you and you want to make the right one and a lasting one. I think the most important thing is to wear something in which you feel confident and comfortable. There are definitely clothes that make you feel a certain way and the way you carry yourself in them can affect how people perceive you. I would stay away from anything too loud and bold (you don’t need to wear the season’s latest trend), — just stay true to yourself and keep it professional.”