Although it doesn’t have a strict definition, business casual generally means dressing professionally without being overly formal. It’s a step up from jeans and a t-shirt but a step down from formal business attire. It’s often a company’s default dress code and one that is a smart option for job interviews in nearly every industry.
Follow the guidelines below for women's business casual attire:
Wear a top that is comfortable, professional and conservative. Try a button-down shirt paired with a cardigan, a simple blouse with a casual jacket, a navy blue blazer or a knit sweater. Choose neutral colors and simple patterns. Avoid slouchy or oversize sweaters, ill-fitting clothes, plunging necklines and fabric that wrinkles easily. It’s also an option to wear a casual dress paired with a cardigan and simple belt.
Pair your top with black or navy slacks or a pencil skirt (knee-length or longer) that have been ironed. If you’re wearing a button-down shirt, you may want to tuck it into your pants or skirt for a polished look. It’s also acceptable to wear khaki or cotton pants, as long as they look professional.
For your business casual interview, wear black or brown closed-toe flats, pumps or low heels. Make sure your shoes are not scuffed, scratched or dirty, and avoid strapped sandals, flip-flops, sky-high stilettos, sneakers or brightly colored shoes.
Keep your jewelry choices simple and professional. Avoid chunky, large or distracting bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Instead, wear simple hoop or stud earrings, a delicate necklace and one or two simple bracelets that don’t jangle. If you wear nail polish, make sure it’s un-chipped and in a classic, muted color.
Collared shirts with long sleeves
Wear a light-colored, pressed button-down shirt with long sleeves and a collar, and make sure it’s neatly tucked into your pants. You can wear a knit tie with a simple pattern or solid color, but this is completely optional. It’s also appropriate to layer a nice sweater over a button-down shirt for a polished business casual look. Although it’s not mandatory, consider throwing on a grey, black or navy blue blazer or lightweight sports jacket for a more pulled-together outfit. Avoid wearing a polo shirt even if you’re interviewing at a laid-back company.
Crisply pressed cotton pants, light-colored chinos or khakis are great options for a business casual interview. Stick to neutral colors like grey, black, brown and navy blue, since these match many shirt colors. In some workplaces, it may be acceptable to wear dark-colored jeans. If you’re not sure if jeans are appropriate in this office, wear chinos or dress pants instead.
Choose dark-colored, freshly-polished leather shoes. You can wear brown or black loafers, lace-up dress shoes, Oxfords or another professional closed-toe shoe that compliments your outfit. Be sure to wear mid-calf length dress socks that match the color of your trousers. Avoid athletic socks.
You may choose to wear a classic wristwatch with a metal or leather band, but you should remove any distracting jewelry, such as earrings, necklaces or bracelets. Always wear a leather belt that closely matches your shoe color. You could add a simple pocket square to a blazer pocket to complete the look.
Final Step: Do a dress rehearsal
Try on your complete outfit a few days ahead of the interview to ensure everything fits properly and looks clean and professional. Do a mock interview with a friend or family member while wearing your interview outfit to see how it fits and feels. The night before, check one last time for any wrinkles, stains, holes or pet hair.
Finally, let’s review what you should not wear to an interview, regardless of how formal or informal the workplace is. Your goal in a job interview is to make a good first impression, and how you dress is an important part of how others perceive you. To make sure you look your best, avoid