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ASK ANDI: What Do I Wear to My Interview?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Towson chapter.

Dear Andi,

I have an interview for an internship and I have no idea what to wear! Help me find the perfect outfit!

-Dress for Success

Dear Dress for Success,

While appearance isn’t everything, it sure is a lot, especially in the sense of first impressions—which have the tendency to be lasting. Appearance in the working world is critical because it represents the company, service, or office. Professional attire is meant to look clean, uniform, subtle, and conservative because dirty, clashing, loud, and risqué are a turn off to clients and customers.

The same standards for impressing clients and customers are used to impress potential employers. If you want to get the job you have to look the part. So how do you do this?

There are a few important style rules that are imperative to professional attire. Depending on the applicant, the situation, the interviewer, and the job, you may get away with bending some of these rules. However, it is always best to err on the side of caution and follow these rules. If you realize the interviewer or the office environment has more lax dress standards, then you can have fun with that after you begin working there, but don’t let this assumption prevent you from getting the job.

Now for the specifics.


A suit is always the best option for a professional interview. You can choose whether you wear a pant suit or skirt suit. If you choose a skirt, make sure the skirt is not too short or tight and that you wear pantyhose (bring an extra pack of pantyhose in case they snag on the way to the interview!) It is best that you wear a matching blazer and skirt or slacks to appear uniform and clean. Avoid bright colors altogether. Black is the most preferable color, but you may be fine with navy blue, dark grey, dark brown, or crème (in order from best option to least preferable). The trick is to stay as neutral as possible. You can probably play with fun colors once you get the job, but for the interview, you want the interviewer to focus on you, not to be distracted by your turquoise blouse.

For the blouse, pick a solid or a subtly stripped shirt. Again, stay neutral. A white shirt always pairs with a black suit…in any occasion. Make sure your blouse isn’t too low cut or see-through. Play it safe with a neckline no lower than your collar bone. Shoes need to be neutral and preferable the same color as your suit. Kitten heels are the best options—try to avoid flats and definitely avoid wedges, spikes, pumps, or high-heels. Find a shoe with a low chunky heel and make sure it is close-toed!

Accessories and Jewelry

As far as accessories are concerned, the less is the best. If you have your ears pierced, tiny diamond, pearl, or metal ball studs are okay. Make sure the stone or pearl is white and that you limit the metal studs to either silver or gold. If you have multiple ear piercings, only wear on set of earrings on your earlobes and remove the extraneous earrings. Facial piercings should be removed too. You may wish to wear a necklace but keep it as simple as possible. A single bracelet or small dress watch is fine too. Limit yourself to one ring per hand and again, avoid the loud and the gaudy. A small, matching, and neutral head band is acceptable, but you don’t want to over accessorize.

Hair and Make-up

On to the cosmetics. Keep your nails clean and manicured, remove any polish and just add a clear topcoat for shine. Makeup is necessary believe it or not. But you want to look natural and subtle—not like you were involved in an explosion at the Crayola Crayon factory. Use a blendable and matching concealer to cover up any dark spots, blemishes, or imperfections. Use either a lightweight liquid foundation or lightweight mineral powder—make sure it matches you natural skin tone and avoid glittery bronzers. Eye makeup enters a risky zone. It is best to avoid eye-shadow or dramatic eyeliner. If these must be worn, chose the most skin-matching color possible for the shadow and use a think eye-liner pencil. Mascara is acceptable but do not cake it on! Make sure your hair is clean and well-kept (brush it, don’t have it flying all over the place or in a crazy style). Leaving in down is okay if it is neatly contained, otherwise a low ponytail or low bun (a neat bun-not a messy bun) are good choices.

Other Important Things

A very subtly scented perfume or body spray is acceptable but do not go overboard! Make sure you brush your teeth and do not chew gum! Bringing a few breath mints is a smart option. Make sure you bring a briefcase or tote with the following necessities:

  • Extra pantyhose (if you’re wearing them)
  • Your resume, cover letter, and any other important documents
  • Breath mints
  • A Tide-To-Go stain remover pen (but you should be avoiding messy foods prior to the interview)

Although it is a lot, looking the part isn’t all. Make sure you prepare anticipated interview question responses. Do your research and know about the position and the company—for brownie points come with a few relevant questions for them. Turn off your cell phone and other devices.

These guidelines can seem very uptight and superficial, but you want them to see the essential you and not be distracted by your appearance. You can lax up these rules at the job but now isn’t the time to break any of them! And don’t forget to bring your most important accessory—your smile!

Good Luck!

Xoxo Andi

Emmie G. is a graduating from the Honors College at Towson University where she is currently pre-law and majoring in English with a concentration in writing. In Fall 2013 she will attend law school.  She is the Vice President of Her Campus Towson as well as the author of the branch's advice column, Ask Andi. Writing is one of Emmie's favorite hobbies and she enjoys writing and editing articles for Her Campus. In 2012, Emmie was the managerial editor of and was published in a poetry anthology produced by her undergraduate class. 
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