Job Interview Outfits for a Millennial on a Budget

Jolene Pilgrim
25 Jul 2017

“You only get one chance to make a first impression.”  “Dress for the job you want.”  “Say yes to the dress.”  Okay, so maybe not that last piece of sage advice, but when it comes to interviewing and appearance, there’s plenty of anecdotal wisdom that says your looks definitely matter in scoring that big career move.  

If you’re young and on the job hunt, however, splurging on those Louboutin heels or Armani suit may be a bit out of your starting budget.  No need to worry; it turns out that designer labels may not be as important in dressing to impress as you would think.  We’ve got the reason why, as well as plenty of other advice to help get you looking and feeling your best for that big interview.

Tips for Her

While changing cultural and corporate norms have moved us away from the days where dresses and skirts were a necessity for women at the interview table, when it comes to appearing professional, a conservative suit and blazer combo is still the go-to outfit of choice.  That pink polka dot shirt bedecked with rhinestones may look amazing on the dance floor, but is entirely too flashy for a board room.  Stay away from bright colors or patterns and opt instead for solid shirts or blouses with simple detailing.  Bags, briefcases or purses should be sensible rather than designer and heels should be kept low and comfortable to best provide all day support.

Personal styling wise, professional and conservative is the name of the game for makeup, hair and nails.  If you opt to wear eyeshadow, lipstick or other facial accoutrements, neutral colors will accent without distracting from your qualifications and experience.  Your hair should be well groomed simply styled with elaborate cuts or colors avoided.  

The important thing to remember for women and dressing for the interview is that your potential employer will most likely not see or recognize designer duds versus more reasonably priced items. The traditional black suit, in pants or skirt version, is universally accepted interview attire regardless of the desired position.  Keep things simple and comfortable to help build your confidence and set the stage to let your personality shine.

Tips for Him

Much of the same dressing advice for women also applies when it comes to coordinating men’s interview attire.  Suits in conservative colors, cuts and styles will establish a neutral and professional pallet and will help set the tone for your interview.  Think dark greys, blues and black for the suiting itself with neutral, solid patterned shirts worn underneath.  When in doubt, nothing beats a classic white shirt.  Just be sure to iron everything ahead of time or splurge on a dry cleaning bill to have everything professionally cleaned and pressed.

Coordinating accessories such as shoes and ties should be equally conservative.  Now isn’t the time to bust out that novelty tie, no matter how laid back the office environment may seem. While some men enjoy sprucing up their wardrobe with  unique sock choices, this type of trendsetting wardrobe choice is best left until after you’ve scored the job.  

Personal grooming is just as important for men as it is for women.  A fresh haircut and shave shows your employer that you care about the small details; exactly the type of trait most employers are looking for in their new staff members.  Whenever possible, keep hair short and well styled, or pulled back neatly if you maintain a longer length.

Finally, just as in women’s label choices, the price or brand of your suit or outfit isn’t your golden ticket to scoring the career of your dreams.  Opt for well-fitting garments that are neutral and professional and rely on your intelligence and job skills to land that big role.  Your attire should set the tone, not steal the show, and allow you to feel your best on the big day.

Article updated from the original on July 24, 2017

Jolene Pilgrim