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5 Tips for dressing for an interview

Laura Williams, M.S.Ed. is a personal trainer, freelance writer and entrepreneur who works with a wide variety of fitness clients. She's the founder of the popular website, - Girls Gone Sporty, and she's the host of the High Impact Blogg...

Dress to impress

When you walk into an interview, you have only one chance to make a good first impression. Don’t get off on the wrong foot by wearing the wrong wardrobe. Use these five tips to dress for your interview and be a shoe-in for the job.

how to dress to improve for your interview

1Suit up

Even if you're applying for a position at a casual workplace, wearing a suit to your interview will send the message that you take your position seriously and you respect the hiring manager's time. You don't, however, want to walk into an interview wearing your mom's boxy suit from the '80s or a bright colored suit that will distract the interviewer. Use these tips when picking out your interview suit:

  • Opt for conservative colors like black, gray, navy, tan or brown
  • Wear a matched two-piece suit whenever possible – it's much more difficult to pull off separates
  • Look for solid-colored suits or suits with a faint stripe or plaid
  • Avoid skin-tight or very loose pant suits - they should look tailored and sharp
  • Avoid short skirts - skirt suits should cover your thighs when seated
  • Look for proper fit – sleeves should reach just beyond your wrists and pants should be long enough for the shoes you wear to the interview (generally about 1/2" to 1" off the ground)
  • Avoid suits with dated or glaring details like big shoulder pads or oversized lapels – the more simple and conservative the suit, the better

First day on the job? Dress to impress! >>

2Accessorize wisely

The interview is not the time to bust out big cuff bracelets, giant hoop earrings or yards of layered necklaces. Keep your jewelry simple – a gold or silver watch and a wedding-style ring are both appropriate, and earrings may also be appropriate depending on the industry. You may even want to visit the workplace a few days before the interview to take note of the jewelry other women are wearing. Use this as a guide, then dial it down a notch – it's always best to err toward conventionalism.

3Cut the cleavage

You want the hiring manager to be focused on your answers during your interview, not "the girls." Choose tops that button up or are conservatively cut. You don't have to button a blouse all the way to your neck, but you do want to make sure that not even a hint of cleavage is showing. Reduce attention to the area even more by choosing simple blouses in muted colors and patterns.

4Be a shoe-in

Like your other wardrobe choices, a simple and conservative shoe is your best bet. Pick a closed-toe pump with a two to three inch heel in a neutral color that blends well with your suit.

See the top 10 shoes every career woman should own >>

5Bag it!

Rather than carrying a traditional purse, consider carrying a business-like laptop bag that can double as a briefcase. This will enable you to easily carry extra copies of your resume and reference letters without needing to fold them. Solid, neutral-colored bags are best, but there is some flexibility here. Just make sure the bag complements your suit and isn't a glaring color like lime green or lemon yellow.

Choose bags that are both fashionable and functional! >>

More on the workplace:

Ways to win your boss over without saying a word
Fit tips for women's business wear
Dress to impress: How fashion can affect your career

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