If My Job Interview Requires Professional Dress What Does That Mean?

by Maria Christensen

If a company goes to the trouble of telling you exactly how you're expected to dress for an interview, it's a good idea to do what they ask. The impression you make as you walk into the interview is important, and if your attire is appropriate you've essentially passed the first test that determines who gets hired. When professional dress is specified, they want to see you dressed conservatively. This shows you take the company and yourself seriously.


Professional dress is standard or encouraged in many industries, such as banking, finance and the law, where dressing conservatively can help instill confidence in clients. Suits, muted colors and sensible shoes are traditional choices, and tradition is what drives the definition of conservative and professional dress. While you can get away with a slightly more updated look with the cut of suits, modern shoes and accessories, avoid trendy clothing and colors that are too loud.

For Men

A suit and tie are a must for men. Leave the sports coats at home and ensure your jacket and slacks are the same color and texture. Go with solid colors in neutral or dark shades, such as grey, navy blue or black. Keep the colors and patterns in your tie muted -- dark red works, but bright red doesn't. A striped tie is fine, but avoid distracting patterns. A white, collared shirt always works, and it's an easy choice, but if you want a little more contrast, a pale color, such as blue, also works. Don't let your tie color doesn't clash with your shirt color. Finish off your look with dark colored dress shoes and a plain belt that matches your shoe color.

For Women

Professional dress for women also means a tailored suit. Save the sweater set for business casual working environments and don a jacket that matches your skirt or tailored slacks. If you wear a skirt, check the length by sitting down and crossing your legs to see how far up it rides. You want to keep the skirt at knee length when sitting. A blouse, collared shirt or light sweater work well under your jacket. Go with white or a pale color and avoid flashy or trendy patterns. Dark colored, low-heeled pumps worn with stockings is your most conservative and traditional option for shoes, but if you pick something a little more modern, don't have an open toe or stiletto heel.

Accessories and Details

The most conservative outfit in the world won't pass muster if it's wrinkled or dirty. Use a lint brush before the interview and check for hanging threads. Polish your shoes to ensure they are scuff-free. Keep accessories to an absolute minimum. A conservative watch is fine for both men and women, as is a ring on one hand. A simple necklace works well for women, but avoid overdoing the jewelry.

About the Author

Since 1997, Maria Christensen has written about business, history, food, culture and travel for diverse publications, including the "Savannah Morning News" and "Art Voices Magazine." She authored a guidebook to Seattle and works as the business team lead for a software company. Christensen studied communications at the University of Washington and history at Armstrong Atlantic State University.

Photo Credits

  • Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images