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Preparing for an upcoming job interview? Let’s see if you’re a hundred percent ready.

Killer resume and cover letter? Check.

Have you done a bit of research about the company and its possible interview questions? Check.

Professional interview attire? Well, let’s talk about that.

While hiring managers should focus more on your credentials, your job interview attire is also crucial to making a good first impression and landing a job. Generally, work clothes fall under two categories: business professional attire and business casual attire.

Whether you’re applying for a laidback startup company or a big corporation with a formal dress code, your goal is to look presentable and professional from head to toe.

Not all hiring managers are as intimidating as Miranda Priestly when it comes to fashion. However, you want to make an impression with your strong credentials and communication skills, rather than your revealing red dress with heart patterns and leopard print pumps, right?

Below are 13 of the biggest fashion no-nos hiring managers don’t want to see you in when you show up for an interview.

1. Loud Colors and Prints

Avoid anything distracting and attention-seeking, like bright colors and busy prints. That means your favorite floral blazer and bright pink dress should stay inside your wardrobe.

Choose solids over patterns and graphic prints. Choose dark and light neutrals over brights. Opt for “safe” colors, like white, black, grey, brown navy, and various shades of blue, which look professional.

There are exceptions, though. Bright colors may be used as accents, to have a pop of color to your neutral outfit. Small patterns like thin pinstripes, which look like solids from afar, are okay too.

2. Anything Revealing

If you were to ask a hundred people their opinion about what to wear to a job interview, the majority might answer, “Dress on the conservative side.” Anything tight, bright, short, or sheer shouldn’t make it into the interview.

Tops that have lacy or sheer fabrics and low-cut necklines may be dealbreakers for apparent reasons. For bottoms, super short skirts (above the knee) and skin-tight leggings shouldn’t also make an appearance inside the office of the hiring manager. Again, you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons.

In some cases, you may also be required to wear pantyhose if you’re applying for a company in a traditional, corporate setting.

3. Excessive and Flashy Accessories

Less is more. Avoid dangling earrings, big necklaces, and arms full of bracelets. Wear little to no jewellery other than a watch, a wedding ring, and/or simple stud earrings. No HR representative would like to hear noises from a bunch of metal jewellery pieces as you present yourself.

Purses and handbags should also look inconspicuous and conservative. Avoid bags with loud colors and prints.

4. Visible Tattoos and Piercings

To be safe, consider covering your tattoos or taking out your piercings if you have them. The majority of workplaces, especially in corporate settings, are still not open to these bold forms of self-expression. It wouldn’t hurt to wear long sleeves and taking out your rings for now.

5. High-Heeled, Toe-Baring Shoes

Let’s debunk the myth that all high heels = professional.

A pair of overly high-heeled (beyond 3 inches), open-toe, and open-back shoes, strappy sandals, and any footwear you’d wear on a party or date may elevate your style, but they’re not appropriate for a job interview. Stick to your basic closed-toe pumps in neutral colors.

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6. Crazy Nail Polish

Sorry but you need to choose between your crazy studded nail art and this job opportunity. Stick to your natural-looking nail polish and modest french tips. You also need to trim your inch-long coffin nails, honey.

7. A Face Loaded with Heavy Makeup

Wearing make-up is a must, but keep it understated and flattering. Go for a light, natural look, with neutral shades. Reserve your smokey eyes, glimmering cheekbones, and deep crimson lips for tonight’s night out.

8. Over the Top Hairdo

Accessories like vividly-coloured scrunchies or elastics, cheerleader-type ponytails, headbands, and hats, as well as overwhelming braids and lazy, messy bun trends, look out of place with a professional suit. The idea is to look polished and professional, so go for an updo by pulling it back into a low ponytail. You may also wear a barrette.

9. Overly Laidback Attire

Underdressing is just as bad as overdressing. Just because you’re applying for a company where the boss wears sneakers, doesn’t mean it’s okay to settle for something you’d wear while shopping for groceries. Avoid capri pants, t-shirt and denim jeans combo, sandals, and of course, ripped pants.

Step it up. Go for a buttoned-down top with a collar or decent neckline, trousers, and closed shoes. If you need something to elevate your casual weekend look, you can never go wrong with blazers and mid heels.

10. Leather Jackets

I know, wearing another layer, like a suit, make you look career-ready— unless it’s a leather jacket. It seems more like outerwear rather than an officewear. Go for a versatile blazer in non-glossy fabric, which looks chic yet professional.

11. Overpowering Perfume

While it’s a no-brainer to smell good, if your fragrance is too powerful it can be a dealbreaker for interviewers. Don’t wear strong perfume, especially if it smells overpowering or might cause an allergic reaction.

12. Outfits You’re Not Comfortable with

Make sure to wear clothes that fit you, not too tight, too loose, or too old (something you probably picked from your grandma’s chest). Next, to not being able to look your best, you may also not perform your best if you’re uncomfortable.

13. Clothes and Shoes in Bad Condition

The basic rule of being presentable: You may forget to put on makeup, but never forget to check if your clothes are fresh and pressed. Showing up in wrinkled, torn, stained or stinking garments may kill your chance of nailing the interview. Make sure to polish or replace your beaten-up pair of pumps too. 

Written By
Carmina Natividad is a daytime writer for HR Dept Au, a provider of affordable and pragmatic HR services and employment law advice in Australia. Writing about helpful tips on career management is her cup of tea.

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