Pre-interview outfit fear is one that I know well. My most recent interview was for a newspaper fashion desk, and I remember being crippled with panic: what on earth do you wear to impress at a national newspaper? I carefully chose a navy, cord Warehouse dress, worn over a much-loved Monki black roll-neck, with 30 denier tights and some trusty loafers. But what are the rules when it comes to interview outfits for women in 2022?
Now, I think I’d be much braver with my choices, including with colour. I do stand by those loafers, though – classic wardrobe items that never go out of season should be the building blocks of your interview look and your workwear wardrobe, then you can use trending pieces to add a new season flourish so you’ll stand out for all the right reasons.
Most importantly, the key is to feel comfortable. So, whether you’re tuning in over Zoom or turning up in person, I’ve compiled the ultimate fashion formulas to help you nail your look – and the job.
What to wear waist up for a video interview
Zoom interviewees, take note. After you’ve fumbled about with the sound and your Wi-Fi connection, making a statement over video chat might feel daunting. But you have the advantage of only worrying about your top half, and this is where you can really go for it on the colour front.
Opt for block shades that complement your skin tone and contrast with your background. I highly recommend a power-blouse in a punchy, memorable colour. Avoid anything with an oversized fit, as this can appear informal and too relaxed.
Jewellery is the perfect final addition – especially when the focus will be on your top-half. Go for simple styles and avoid anything too blingy.
… and for the bottom-half
OK, they might not be able to see your trousers on a video call interview, but by plumping for a smart option (rather than comfy joggers), you’ll be in the right frame of mind to talk business. Equally, don’t wear your slippers. They may not be able to see your feet, but you can. Having toasty toes is tempting, but wearing proper shoes will totally change the way you hold yourself.
What to wear for an in-person job interview
The chic trousers and skirts
For real-life interviews, stick to tailored styles and avoid anything flared as it can look too casual. I like Reiss for the quality – whatever you buy it will wash well over and over again, though it comes with an investment price tag.
If you prefer skirts, don’t be shy of leather which is the ultimate power dressing staple. Try a knee-length style in a neutral colour. For a tweed, Chanel-inspired classic that hits just above the knee, head to Hobbs which always does a good version. Whatever you buy, make sure you can sit down in it with ease beforehand.
The blazer is the jacket to know
Every fashion editor swears by this sartorial staple for good reason. You can throw one over pretty much any look and it’ll magically pull your outfit together, thus making you appear put together, which is exactly the vibe you want to omit.
There’s plenty of gorgeous tailoring across the high street this season. If you’re over black and navy and want to inject more personality, try other muted, versatile shades like burgundy, brown or green. Add a crisp white shirt for a clean look, and don’t rule out a simple striped number. Simply avoid printed jackets or super slouchy styles and leave pinstripes well alone.
The failsafe flats to seek
A loafer, as you now know, is my personal choice, but other flats to have on your radar include ballerinas, sling-backs, Mary-Janes and brogues.
On to ballet flats and brogues. I’d recommend choosing styles with a chunkier sole for comfort. Boots also make the cut for interviews, but I’d counsel you to try a heeled style to avoid looking too casual – your Dr Martens won’t cut it here. A sleek ankle style is perfect with tailored trousers, though knee-length boots will look best with skirts.
The heels that are actually comfortable
In some work places, stilettos are still king, and if this’ll apply to the role you’re interviewing for, it’s worth investing in the very best at most comfortable pair you can afford. Note that the magic number for a comfortable heel height is three inches, so unless you’re a seasoned pro, use that as your absolute maximum.
The stylish handbags to carry
You can really express your personality when it comes to arm candy, and there are plenty of statement styles which are practical, too. A rigid leather tote is perfect for stashing interview notes and for hot deskers, as it’ll easily fit a notepad, laptop, gym kit and the kitchen sink.
If you’re a minimalist phone-lipstick-keys kind of girl, – personally I can’t relate – then the world’s your oyster, but sleek shoulder styles and 90’s baguette bags are the top trends to try now. Whatever you choose, be sure to avoid clutch bags, neon and anything overly embellished as they send the wrong message.