Confused about what to wear to your next interview? You’re not alone. Many job seekers are asking the same question.
Can you wear something casual and comfortable? Are jeans considered appropriate attire, or should you stick to something formal?
Experts weigh in with their opinions on the matter.
Kristin Heller, PHR
Leadership Coach and HR Consultant, HR Creative Consulting
Wear what is appropriate for the role
As an HR professional who has participated in countless interviews, I can say that what you wear to an interview does matter; however, it is acceptable to wear jeans in many cases.
When I say “what you wear,” I refer to the clothing condition. It is not acceptable to wear:
- Ripped or torn jeans
- Unclean clothing
- Ratty old t-shirts
Back in the late 2000s, I had a candidate show up for an interview with a giant pot leaf on their t-shirt. This was not acceptable. It is about judgment. Wear what is appropriate for the role. Professional no longer means wearing a suit.
I spent years in a manufacturing environment conducting interviews from laborers to executive-level roles. I think jeans are perfectly acceptable at nearly every level.
- Manufacturing shop positions, yes, without question, please wear jeans.
- I think jeans are acceptable in an office position if they are nice jeans (no holes, no design) and are worn with a button-down shirt.
- When interviewing for a leadership role, including supervisors through the director level, I would tell people that suits are not necessary and that jeans are acceptable.
Often I would interview someone with a nice pair of jeans, a nice button-down shirt with a jacket and those candidates looked not only professional, but they looked the part.
In my opinion, the executive level is the only time jeans are not acceptable interview attire in a manufacturing environment. I think the position warrants a step up in clothing.
If you are a fabulous employee, do I really care if you do your greatness in jeans? Absolutely not!
We have to move past the archaic thought process that we can only be professional if we wear a suit. In the end, our attire does not make us any more or less effective at our job.
Interviewing is no different. I want the best technical and cultural fit for my open position. As long as the candidate dresses appropriately for the role they are interviewing, I will look past their attire and focus on the candidate and what they can bring to my open position.
I think it shows a level of intellect if a candidate can assess the role they are interviewing and dress accordingly.
Job Search Support and Higher Ed Consultant
Can you picture yourself fitting in with what you wear?
Whether you are in the job market because you were part of the great resignation or ready for new challenges, you may be preparing for interviews and asking yourself, “What should I wear?”
Like most things in life and business, the answer is—it depends. I offer the following tips to help you navigate this decision:
Know the interview format
If your interview is remote, you should plan to dress professionally from the waist up. You can dress comfortably from the waist down since your lower half won’t be on camera.
That may mean a suit jacket or collared shirt above and jeans or even shorts below. (Did you know that many TV news anchors dress this way?)
If your interview is in person, then it gets more complicated. Proper interview attire is determined based on the job function, the industry, and the employer’s organizational culture.
Know the job function
Acceptable interview attire varies dependent upon the job for which you are interviewing.
- If you are applying for an executive or management role, you should plan on wearing a suit to the interview.
- For an administrative role, think business casual; you may pair a dress shirt with khaki pants or a skirt.
- If you are applying for a blue-collar job such as manufacturing, construction, or maintenance, you may decide to pair clean, unfaded jeans (without any rips or tears) with a polo shirt.
Regardless of the role, here are a few things to avoid:
- Logo t-shirts
- Bare midriffs
A general guide to acing the interview wardrobe choice is to dress the way you would on the type of workday when you will be meeting with your most important stakeholders, whether that is your client or your boss.
Know the industry
Appropriate interview and workplace attire vary not just by job function but also by industry.
If you work in an artistic field (e.g., graphic design, entertainment, fashion, music), you will be able to take more fashion risks that let you stand out, such as wearing brighter colors and trendier styles.
In a conservative field, you may be expected to wear more neutral colors and classic styles that blend in.
Know the employer’s organizational culture
Within industries, there will also be a variety. Each employer has its own culture.
Can you visit the employer’s location to see how its employees dress? If not, look at their website. That will give you insights. How are the people in their photos dressed?
- Formal or casual?
- Trendy or conservative?
- Are there any exposed tattoos or piercings?
- Can you picture yourself fitting in?
Take note of how your interviewers are dressed
Take note of how your interviewers are dressed. If you get invited back for a second-round interview, you may stick with the style you used in the first round (after all, it worked!) or dress the way they did.
If you were in a suit for the first interview, but they were wearing business casual, for example, you may opt for something less formal.
At the interview, your goal is to be seen as someone who is qualified to do the job and who would fit in. You want the interviewer to focus on your answers instead of your appearance. Once you have the job, you may be able to relax your attire and show your personality.
HR Consultant | Learning and Development Manager, CIPHR
Do wear jeans if that is how you feel most comfortable
When I first thought about this, everything in me screamed: “No, of course not—you can’t wear jeans to a job interview!”
However, as I began to reflect more on this, I realized that my immediate and rather adamant response was perhaps clouded by my own professional background.
My career to date has always been in more customer-facing roles, meaning, every day, I would wear a suit to work.
For me, that was always the expectation. And, if your suit was creased, or your shirt wasn’t ironed, or it was untucked, it was viewed that you were projecting the wrong image—that you weren’t professional or equipped to do the job correctly.
That’s the way I’d been conditioned to think—not just by some previous employers and managers but, in many ways, society at large.
The pandemic has certainly shifted some of those expectations. Since 2020, we’ve had to adapt to new ways of working, and, in my HR role, I have hired many new colleagues remotely without meeting them in person.
Were they wearing jeans? I have no idea! And it made no difference to my hiring decision whether they were, in fact, wearing jeans or not.
What I look for in a candidate is based on their attitude and behavior and, depending on the role they are interviewing for, their experience and skills. That said, skills can always be taught, and experience can be gained in time with the right opportunities.
So, to summarize: Yes, please do wear jeans if that is how you feel most comfortable.
In my view, the fact that you may or may not choose to wear jeans at a job interview bears no impact on your ability to do the job that you are interviewing for.
Remember to bring your true authentic self to the interview:
- As it is who you are
- What your values are
- How these may align with an employer’s values
I will always encourage a working environment where my team can bring their true authentic self to work.
Employment, Learning and Skills and Careers Information Expert
If the industry, company culture, and role strongly support wearing jeans
What you wear at the interview should be appropriate to the dress code within the industry.
Consider the industry of the job you are applying for
In industries such as:
- Government roles
- Professional services
Business formal attire is usually worn to work.
Although there are many exceptions with more companies allowing business casual dress, what you wear to an interview must match the expected industry dress code.
While Goldman Sachs announced male employees no longer need to wear tailored suits, I would not recommend wearing jeans to an interview with Goldman Sachs if you want to secure the role.
However, if you are applying for roles in industries such as:
- Graphic design
- Some retail roles
- Editor or writer roles
Then wearing jeans to an interview may be acceptable.
Having said this, I would recommend one step up from the industry standard, such as wearing:
- Knee-length skirts or dresses
If you wear jeans, they should be black jeans with a regular fit. In other words, not too tight and not too baggy. Also, they should not have any holes, rips, or stains.
Consider the company culture of the company you are applying to
You do not want to arrive at the interview in a suit if your interviewers are wearing jeans. However, you do not want to be underdressed either.
Find out what their dress code is. You can research this on their company website or by looking at photos on their social media sites. If you know someone who works for the company, such as a friend, family member, or associate, you could ask them.
If you cannot find the answer from the above sources, you could consider going to the company a couple of days before your interview and observing what people wear to work from the company car park or nearby.
However, even if the company dress code allows wearing jeans, you may want to consider wearing business casual.
Consider the role you are applying for
If you are applying for a management role in any industry, you should not wear jeans to an interview. Equally, if you are applying for an entry-level position, you should usually not wear jeans as you want to portray your enthusiasm for the role, seriousness, and professionalism.
When you are trying to secure your first role in a company, the first impression you set will be critical.
Consider what else you are wearing
If the industry, company culture, and role strongly support wearing jeans to an interview, then you could consider it. However, I would recommend wearing a dressy top or blazer and dressy shoes in this case.
Do not wear a t-shirt, sandals or sneakers.
Consider how it will make you feel
When you look good, you feel good. You are more likely to perform well in an interview when you feel good.
When people dress smartly at interviews, they often feel more:
- Great about themselves
However, if you believe you will fit in better and be more confident by wearing jeans, then wearing black jeans may be the suitable choice.
Remember, most interviewers will make a decision regarding you and your suitability for the company in the first 30 seconds, so first impressions count! The above tips should guide you in ensuring you set the right first impression.
Yes, if the company has a casual or trendy environment
We all know the saying “it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” but in the case of choosing what to wear to a job interview, your choice of dress absolutely matters.
Many factors are out of your control during the hiring process, but what you wear to the interview is one thing you can control.
First things first: Do your research.
Look to find out the company’s dress code. You can check out the company’s website or even social media accounts to get a hint. If you’re not sure, just ask.
If the company you’re interviewing with is a casual or trendy environment, keep in mind that casual doesn’t mean sloppy. Pairing a sharp shirt or blouse with a nice pair of jeans and athletic shoes can still look great.
Just as you would spend time reviewing interview questions, make sure you allow some time to prep your outfit, too! Plan what you’ll wear the night before and try it on to make sure you feel confident in it.
What not to wear:
- Graphic tees
- Tank tops
- Undergarments that show
- Flip-flops or open-toe sandals
- Revealing or tight-fitting clothing
- Excessive perfume or cologne
CEO, Preeminent Recruitment
My emphatic answer—Yes, but with a few exceptions
First and foremost, times are a-changing.
Remote work, lockdowns, and influencers have created new societal norms. Do you remember when it was strange to see someone in sweatpants or (could you even imagine) PJs at the grocery store? Well, those days are gone, aren’t they?
Take a look around next time you enter a major grocer, you’ll find that sweatpants are the new jeans. Jeans are the new suit pants.
Now calling jeans suit pants may be a bit dramatic, but what’s even more surprising is showing up to your next interview in a full suit when the everyday attire would be jeans and a polo.
I worked in a sales environment for five years; over those five years, I saw the attire go from dresses and shirts and ties to jeans and t-shirts by the time I left.
Imagine showing up for an interview at this company, where the occasional Led Zeppelin T-Shirt made its way through the office in a suit.
When interviewing, conformity can be a superpower; ever heard of the “mere-exposure” effect or “mirroring?” This is a phenomenon where people like us because we seem familiar to them.
Jeans are commonly accepted in white and blue-collar America; therefore, in most instances, when picking out your clothes, go for those jeans.
Are there exceptions? Yes, of course—going for a banking job. Try a suit or something formal. Just remember to assimilate to what you would wear on the job.
CMO and Head of Public Relations, Bambee
Jeans are never proper attire for a job interview
Your appearance is often the first thing a hiring manager notices when meeting you for a job interview, so the sensible thing to do is dress appropriately.
Jeans are never proper attire for a job interview—an exception might be a labor-intensive job that may result in being hired on the spot and being told to get to work. Otherwise, take pride in your appearance.
During the course of the interview, other parts of your appearance may also be noticed:
- Whether your shoes are shined
- Your shirt is properly buttoned
- Your pants are creased
Some hiring managers pay close attention to detail, looking for ways in which the candidate is going the extra mile to make a solid first impression.
If you come into a job interview underdressed, there’s a chance you’ll be written off early as a serious candidate.
There is nothing worse than being called out for your appearance by a judge. If it gets back to us that an attorney or other employee did not dress appropriately for a courtroom appearance, that employee will be swiftly reprimanded.
You represent more than just yourself when you’re working for our company. Your wardrobe needs to reflect that. In fact, remove anything denim in it from the section of your closet containing work clothes. Save it for the casual parts of your life.
In short, don’t make a bad first impression. Don’t wear jeans during a job interview or anywhere else when you’re on the job unless your boss says it’s okay.
Human Resources Director, Mullen & Mullen Law Firm
Jeans usually leave a negative impact on the interviewer
I believe that wearing jeans to a job interview usually leaves a negative impact on the interviewer.
When appearing for a professional interview, it is crucial that you look neat and formal so the interviewers are aware of the effort you put in for it. Moreover, jeans are considered casual around the world by many companies.
When you appear for an interview, you want to leave a long-lasting positive impression on the interviewer since you are not an employee yet.
Moreover, if you have applied for a position in the corporate sector where dress codes are still implemented, it would be more appropriate to follow them and impress the interviewer.
As an interviewer, I would like to add that the way candidates present themselves is very crucial.
In businesses where employers often have to meet external clients, it is essential to hire someone who looks professional and behaves similarly.
Staff Writer | HR Specialist, Fit Small Business
Whether you’re wearing a suit and tie or jeans, make sure you maintain a well-groomed appearance
Whether it is appropriate or not to wear jeans to a job interview has been long debated.
Typically, you want to dress professionally (suit/tie, dress, or business casual). This tells the interviewer that you are serious about the job and professionally present yourself.
It would be vital to dress professionally if you’re applying for positions of authority such as:
Additionally, any job where you would be working in an office environment would warrant a more professional attire.
However, if you are applying for a position where jeans might be considered work attire, such as a restaurant or retail shop, then new-looking, properly fitting jeans may be appropriate.
Should you decide to wear jeans to an interview, make sure:
- They fit
- Do not have tears or holes in them
- Pair them with a professional-looking shirt and shoes
Whether you are wearing a suit and tie or jeans to an interview, you always want to be dressed professionally and maintain a well-groomed appearance.
If you wear jeans to a job interview, think about your opportunity cost
Yes, you can wear jeans to a job interview. No, you should not do it.
To be fair, you can wear whatever you want, but a job interview isn’t a walk to the grocery store, an evening run, or a visit to the park.
An interview is a stage you need to perform well to get the job. So from the moment you walk into the office, you must look, behave and talk your best.
Related: How to Nail a Job Interview
Let’s look at it this way: If you choose to wear jeans to a job interview, what is your opportunity cost (basically what you missed out on by wearing jeans?)? Had you been dressed formally in a well-fitted suit, you’d have been able to tick the following boxes:
- You are putting your best foot forward. It could either mean that you always dress well or understand what’s an appropriate outfit for the occasion.
- You’re also grateful for the opportunity, which would explain why you didn’t just show up in a pair of jeans and went ahead and wore formals.
This might sound far-fetched but hear me out, okay? Sitting across from you during the interview, the interviewer has their own thoughts about how a good fit you’d be for the company.
If you’re out there, wearing formals and carrying a serious/professional demeanor, it is way easier for the interviewer to visualize you as a future employee. That’s because you look like someone that’d fit in the company, like someone they picture when they think of a potential employee.
Wearing jeans would in no way undermine your talents and skills, but it would also not help you look like the perfect applicant they’re hoping to hire.
CEO and HR Manager, JunkYardNearMe
Yes, you can, but there is a catch
It is fitting to wear jeans if you have an interview for a specialized position and won’t include business confrontations. But, the catch here is to look decent rather than portraying yourself as unapologetic.
The quick answer is yes, but it depends on the position you are applying for. If you plan to work in a law firm, the answer is negative for sure.
To this date, there are no such rules that state the appropriateness of wearing jeans to the interview, which makes this scene look more confusing, especially to the new job aspirants.
In some cases where there are no business confrontations, it is okay to wear jeans. Nobody will make remarks about you for wearing jeans to the site of the interview, but your dress code is one of the primary factors that the interviewers look for.
So, with or without you knowing this, the way you dress creates the first impression on the interviewer. So, try to look authentic and formal rather than showing your unapologetic side because not every place is the appropriate one to show it.
Regardless of the organization, it’s better to avoid jeans with cuts or an overly gaudy outlook. What we wear has a deep impact on your overall first impression.
For any interviews, one should avoid wearing highly fashioned jeans like:
- Torn jeans
- Cut jeans
- Over-styled jeans
- Short jeans, etc.
Doing this would let the interviewers think that you would not abide by the company’s rules and try to overcome them at any time, which is a red flag at first sight.
Even if you do the interview very well, something might annoy the interviewers about you, and they will eventually decide to lower your rankings.
If you want to stand out and look decent and disciplined, it is advisable to wear normal jeans, portraying a formal look. Jeans with dull and dark shades with an overcoat, paired with a light-colored shirt, are a good combination for a perfect look for a job interview.
HR Manager, Office Topics
Do your research well to determine if jeans would be appropriate
You can wear jeans to a job interview, but there are a few things you should remember when you go in for the interview.
First, the company interviewing you has its own culture, so you don’t want to be perceived as an outsider if you’re wearing jeans.
A good way to navigate acceptable and inappropriate attire at your job interview is to research the company’s culture and make sure you’re not coming off as an outsider.
Here’s a clever tip—every company nowadays has social media profiles. Go on their:
Check out the people who work there to determine what kind of clothing they’re wearing. If your research concludes that jeans would be acceptable, make sure that your jeans are dark with no holes or beads.
Remember, not every interview is as cut-and-dry as you might think. If you’re applying for a position in a business-casual environment, you can still wear jeans.
Moreover, you don’t want to overdress—you need to look professional. In addition, you should wear good-quality clothing and shoes.
Head of Job Market Research, JobSearcher
If you wear jeans, make sure you convey professionalism
There are many factors to consider when deciding what to wear to a job interview, but the most important thing is to ensure that your clothing conveys professionalism.
If you’re unsure about what to wear, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and dress more formally. After all, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.
However, I would suggest the following points to consider wearing the jeans to the interview:
- Consider company culture: If you research the company culture and find that jeans are commonly worn in the office, then it might be okay to wear them to your interview. However, if the company culture is more formal, it’s probably best to dress up a bit.
- Think about the position: The type of position you’re interviewing for will also play a role in deciding what to wear. For example, if you’re interviewing for a creative role, jeans might be more appropriate than interviewing for a traditional corporate job. If you’re unsure, it’s always best to ask the hiring manager or recruiter for guidance.
- Use your best judgment: At the end of the day, you need to use your best judgment when deciding what to wear to a job interview. If you have any doubts, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and dress more formally. After all, you only have one chance to make a good first impression.
- Consider the industry: The industry you’re interviewing for will also play a role in deciding what to wear. For example, if you’re interviewing for a position in the fashion industry, jeans might be more appropriate than if you’re interviewing for a role in the banking industry.
Chairman and CEO, Frank Recruitment Group
Opt for something smarter and more professional
Office standards around the globe have relaxed significantly over the past two years, as some organizations dropped their business attire dress codes.
But you’ll want to consider the type of role you’re applying for before you reach for your jeans.
For technical non-customer-facing roles, jeans could be totally acceptable. However, if your duties will include a lot of contact with important clients and partners, your interview is a chance to give a flavor of how you’ll appear to the business’s important contacts—and jeans might appear too informal.
In most cases, I would recommend erring on the side of caution and opting for something smarter and more professional such as:
- A pair of tailored trousers or chinos
- A pencil skirt or dress—you don’t necessarily have to show up in a suit
- If you think jeans would be appropriate for the company you’re applying to, opt for some dark, well-fitting jeans over ripped, light wash jeans to ensure you still look put-together.
Creative, HR, and Content Director, The Kitchen Community
No more “suit and tie” guy
Conventional wisdom always upheld the idea that you had to dress to impress for a job opportunity and interview. My first HR mentor always maintained that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you expect to get, and to a large degree, that used to be true.
But the world has changed, and the way a person dresses matters less than their ability to actually do a job in the wake of the pandemic.
And as the vast majority of job interviews are still being conducted via Zoom or Google Meet, the chances that an interviewer will actually be able to see if you’re wearing jeans or not are slim to remote.
That brings me to my next point. The days of the suit and tie guy employee model are done and dusted.
Businesses are starting to adopt a much more flexible approach to workplace dress codes and don’t care what their employees wear (within reason) as long as they can do the job they were hired to do.
And if an employee works from home or remotely, then the way they dress is of no importance to, and can’t be regulated by, the business they work for.
Career Coach, CV Genius
You have nothing to lose if you go in wearing business attire
When you go to a job interview, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Often, non-verbal cues can make all the difference:
- The strength of your handshake
- Your smile
- Whether or not you make eye contact
- Most importantly, your wardrobe
The minute a recruiting manager sees you, they look up and down to determine whether you’re the right fit.
They might believe you have a very casual attitude if you’re wearing jeans, which might not make you an ideal candidate.
Granted, some jobs don’t find it unsuitable for candidates to wear jeans. Still, it’s better to err on the side of caution—you have nothing to lose if you go in wearing business attire.
Content Creator and Fashion Influencer | Owner, Her Bones
Dress for the job you expect
When it comes to wearing jeans to a job interview, the answer depends on the type of job you are applying for.
For example, if you’re applying for a business job, you don’t want to wear jeans, and these are often considered very casual clothes, and these jobs would expect you to wear business casual most days.
However, on the flip side of this, if you’re applying for a more casual job, such as bar work or in certain retail stores, then jeans and a smart top would be acceptable.
Some jobs are not as formal as others, and you will need to differentiate the type of job you are applying for and the overall dress code for the role.
Be smart about it
You still need to remember that you’re trying to give your interviewer the best possible introduction to yourself. So if you’re dead set on wearing jeans, at least make sure that they are the nicest, more presentable pair of jeans you have.
The attitudes and opinions about jeans have changed a lot in recent years, and most people probably won’t mind a well-fitting pair of black jeans.
However, if you turn up in baggy or ripped jeans, you don’t look as though you’ve put any effort into looking professional, and the people interviewing you will be a lot less forgiving.
The right pair of jeans can still look professional and smart, but don’t push your luck.
Consider whether it’s worth the risk
At the end of the day, you’re going there to convince the interviewers that you’re right for the job; and for a lot of people in management, they decide whether you’re going to be suitable for the role within the first couple of seconds after you walk in the room.
If you want to make the best possible impression as fast as possible, you’re going to make sure that:
- You are dressed in your best, most professional, most business-like outfit
- You smell good with nice cologne or perfume (but not too much)
- You have the best shoes
For some people, jeans won’t hinder their impression of you, but for some people, it will, so you need to consider whether it’s worth the risk.
Co-Founder and CEO, Suitably
Do not wear jeans unless the company explicitly states jeans are expected
It would be easy to dress for an interview if there was just one standardized interview dress code. Every company has its own dress code; however, this dress code is rarely explicitly stated.
From “business casual” to “business formal” to the always confusing “smart casual,” it can be challenging to decide what to wear.
As a general rule of thumb, my advice is not to wear jeans (light or dark) to an interview; unless a company has explicitly stated that wearing jeans is expected.
There may be certain companies in specific geographic regions where it is widely known that jeans are the norm.
When in doubt, I always advise you to check out the company’s website and social media pages. You’ll likely see “in action” pictures of employees and can get a feel for how they’re styling themselves on the job:
- If you see that employees follow a business formal dress code, match their level of polish.
- If employees are generally more relaxed, you can be too, but it’s still better to err on the side of dressing more formally, and jeans are extremely-risky.
Interviews are a proxy for how much research you have done into a company and your own judgment. Dressing up shows that you take the job seriously and care.
Jeans can be controversial. By dressing in jeans, it’s easy to come across as if you don’t care or are too laid-back (depending on how your interviewer feels about jeans).
Even if the company seems informal (for example, a tech startup where most employees are in jeans and a t-shirt), it’s better to err on caution and stick to a more polished interview dress code that does not include jeans.
Founder, On Brand
Like most things, it depends
On what then? Well, the job and company you’re interviewing for, of course!
When dressing for an interview, you need to make sure you’re dressing the part. Different companies and industries have different dress codes and expectations on how employees should dress.
For guys, it’s not as simple as wearing a suit no matter what job or company you’re interviewing for.
For example, if you were interviewing for an internal-facing role at a tech or software company, you would look overdressed, silly, and potentially not understand the company’s kind of culture.
In this instance, a pair of dark jeans (no holes or destruction and minimal processing) with a button-up shirt or sweater would be perfect.
If you are interviewing for a position that faces external parties (think sales, business development, etc.), you should, of course, dress up more.
This will prove to the interviewee that you know how to present yourself so that clients will take you seriously. Skip the jeans here and opt for a pair of wool trousers or, better yet, a suit.
Generally speaking, jobs in finance or banking also require dressing up. While suited dress codes are becoming a thing of the past in this world, it would be best to skip jeans and opt for dark chinos or trousers.
When preparing for your interview, take time to look at the company’s photos on its career website. You should try to mirror, if not minorly exceed, the kind of dress codes you see in the photos.
If you’ve determined you can wear jeans, here are some rules:
- No destruction
- Minimal processing (whiskers, starbursts, tacking, tinting, etc.)
- Dark washes (indigo or black)
- Well fitted! This usually means slim, not baggy.
- Don’t pair it with a t-shirt. A button-up or sweater is the way to go.
- And always, the right pair of shoes! A pair of derbies or maybe even clean leather sneakers (no logos)
CMO and Chief Editor, FAVERIE
It’s better to go overdressed than underdressed
How you dress affects what others think about you. This is critical when attending a job interview. You only have one chance to give a great first impression.
Whether it’s acceptable to wear jeans to a job interview or not is open to debate. However, many are the ones who claim that it’s better to wear something more upgraded.
Before making a decision, you should check the company’s dress code. If they are laid-back and casual, you might be safe wearing a pair of good-quality dark-colored jeans paired with something more formal.
Still, if you get an interview at a company with a formal dress code, you would better avoid wearing jeans.
Regardless of what you decide, make sure you don’t dress too casually.
It’s not advisable to confuse business casual with casual wear. This way, they would focus on your experience, not on what you’re wearing. Your goal is to get the job, so you should do your best to dress to impress.
More often than not, even if jeans are appropriate for work, they might not enjoy that you show up in jeans the day of the interview. When it comes to interviewing attire, it’s better to go overdressed than underdressed.
Consequently, a safer bet would be to wear dress pants or a knee-length skirt and a dress shirt or a blouse. Blazers are more than welcome, and dress shoes are a must-have. Make sure all your clothes are neat and wrinkle-free.
Retired Cosmetic Dentist | Fashion Blogger, Jodie’s Touch of Style
It depends on the company’s vibe and your personality
If you had asked me if you could wear jeans to a job interview when I was younger, I would say absolutely not. And I’m sure many older people would still take that stance.
However, as a fashion stylist, I believe that part of the interview process is showcasing your identity with what you are wearing. So the answer is going to depend on two critical factors:
- The company’s vibe
- Your personality
What to consider
For any job interview, one of the essential details to check before meeting anyone is to research the company and find out how they operate. Part of this research should include the company’s culture and who is working there.
With the rise of a more casual workplace, you want to show that you can fit into their environment, so if other employees are casual, then you should be too.
When you are putting together the outfit to wear for your job interview, you want it to reflect not only the company’s culture but also your uniqueness.
This doesn’t mean you should look sloppy or go to extremes. But the extras you add to your look can convey the details about yourself.
Another advantage of adding in those unique details is about standing out among the crowd of interviewees. You want to be remembered for your outstanding interview, and since we are visual animals, our exterior look is part of that.
If the company is run by younger people and is a casual work atmosphere, then wearing a pair of non-distressed jeans could be perfect.
In some places, it would be appropriate to include a blazer, so you are saying, “I am serious about working, but I can be casual too.”
Personal Stylist and Fashion Blogger
Jeans are not recommended even if the company’s culture is business casual
In general, I do not recommend wearing jeans to a job interview, even if the company’s culture is business casual.
A job interview is one of the most important first impressions you will make. What you wear for your interview will be one of the factors that will determine how your potential future employer perceives you.
I recommend dressing for the job you want. In my opinion, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed in most situations. Elevating what you wear to your interview will help you look like someone already successful and ready for the job position.
Possibly the one exception that I would make for wearing jeans is if you are interviewing at a young, hip start-up company. That is an interview where you want to skip the suit so that you don’t appear:
- Not aware of the company’s vibe
If you still choose to wear jeans, there are several key things I suggest:
- Avoid jeans that have rips or embellishments on them.
- Wear denim that is a medium to dark blue wash in a modern fit.
- Ideally, high-waisted straight-leg jeans for women and slim straight jeans for men.
- For women, I recommend styling your jeans with a silk blouse, blazer, and pumps.
- Men should wear jeans with a button-down shirt, a sport coat, and casual dress shoes like chukka boots.
Take time to do your research on the company’s culture. How you present yourself will greatly impact your chances of landing the job.
Senior Editor, Tandem
Jeans are acceptable to be worn to a job interview but not always
As a member of Generation X that has been in the workforce for 25+ years, I have seen business rules come and go.
For example, it was commonplace to put two spaces after a period in the past. In today’s day and age, we only use one. We also used to indent each new paragraph. Now, we justify to the left.
These changes in how we write correspondence and documents aren’t the only business rules that have taken place. Appropriate work attire is another business rule that has changed.
When I entered the business world (in the 1990s), business attire consisted of long-sleeved shirts for men and dresses or skirts and blouses for women. I rarely heard of an office that would accept jeans or sneakers as appropriate attire.
When it came to job interviews, the only acceptable clothing for a man to wear was a suit. For a woman, it was either a suit or a dress. This dress code seemed commonplace for many years.
As time has gone on, as often happens, rules bend, mold, and sometimes even break. What we once would consider unacceptable becomes the social norm, which is definitely true in the business world.
Inside offices, you will often see suits and dresses have been replaced with jeans and yoga pants.
What does this mean for job interviews? Should jeans be considered appropriate attire?
Andrew Gant said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” When you go to a job interview, making an impression is what you do.
Does this mean that you can’t wear jeans? Not always.
When you are about to be interviewed, you need to find out about the company and the company culture. Before the interview, ask what the office attire is. If you are told it is business casual, jeans would probably be acceptable, but with caution.
Remember what was said about first impressions? Jeans should not be ripped, torn, or look unkempt. If your jeans are well-fitted and paired with an appropriate top, then they could be proper interview wear.
So, yes, jeans are acceptable to be worn to a job interview…sometimes.
Author, “Telling Stories, Sharing Confidences“
Err on the right side and wear dressier slacks
Maybe it’s just me, but I would never wear jeans for an interview.
Granted, things are more relaxed today than when I was in the working world (I served 20 years in AF and nearly 30 years in education at the college/university level).
There are jobs where jeans might be appropriate, but even then, I would err on the right side and wear dressier slacks for men and women, a dress, skirt, etc., for women.
You wouldn’t want your potential employer to think they had to instruct you on the appropriate job before you are even hired. Once I had accepted the position, I would notice what attire was proper and dress accordingly.
Once while working as a department store manager, I interviewed a young woman who came dressed in slacks, pink socks, and little Mary Jane shoes.
As my store had a fairly strict dress code, I mentioned her outfit. She said she had worn this in her former retail job.
I explained that some stores weren’t as strict, and in the future, she might wish to dress more appropriately, at least for an interview, until she learned the dress code. She replied no one had ever told her that before.
Another time a grad student who worked in my office was invited to meet with a local health department and wondered whether to wear what she usually wore to class.
I suggested she wear something a little more professional. During her visit, they offered her her first post-graduate job. Returning to the office, she thanked me for my advice.
Personal Stylist and Fashion Blogger, Stylings By Jackie
As one might think, the answer isn’t a clear yes or no
It actually depends on several factors. You must consider:
- Job type and position
- Corporate or company culture
- Overall dress code
- If you’re working in retail, depending on the position, jeans can be appropriate.
- There is often a more relaxed dress code in a creative or tech field, so jeans could be acceptable.
- However, the answer is likely no in a corporate setting, as this work environment is stricter and generally prefers more professional attire.
- For business casual, jeans can be an exception in some cases.
When deciding if you should wear jeans to a job interview, I can share a few tips:
- Know the position you’re going for. If it’s a very casual setting, then jeans may be acceptable for an interview.
- Do your research on the industry and company to determine the dress code and culture. If it’s relaxed or professional, you should dress accordingly.
- One way you can ensure you’re looking sharp and make a great impression is if you opt to wear jeans, bridge the gap and elevate the look by pairing jeans with a nicer top and you can also add a blazer.
- Always complete your outfit with suitable footwear and accessories. This speaks to a casual yet still polished interview-appropriate outfit.
- And my top tip, when in doubt, if you’re going to wear jeans to an interview or work, wear dark wash or black. These are considered business appropriate.
Founder, The Men Hero
Wear jeans in an interview for a company with a relaxed dress code
When you walk to a job interview, you only have a few seconds to make an excellent first impression since the first thing your interviewer will perceive is your outfit.
If it’s a management position, you want to avoid jeans and wear a suit to show your interviewer that you take the role seriously and care enough to dress up. I expected this from any management candidate when I was a store manager in a sports retail store.
Now, if you are applying for a non-management position in retail, a non-luxury brand, or a more informal vibe, you can wear jeans for an interview. I wasn’t expecting a student applying for a part-time job to appear in a suit.
What you need to avoid when wearing jeans in an interview is to wear any jeans with:
- Bright colors
It’s still essential to wear jeans in neutral colors like black, grey, or blue. When in doubt, always opt for black jeans because everyone associates that color with a more professional environment.
In the end, you should wear jeans in an interview for a company with a relaxed dress code where you don’t appear too formal. Just avoid those ripped jeans in your closet.
Tall Men’s Fashion Expert, Tall Paul
A well-cut pair of dark jeans will not hurt your chances of getting hired
Will jeans hurt your chances of getting the job of your dreams? Fellas, I am going to be blunt with you.
No, a well-cut pair of dark jeans will not hurt your chances of getting hired at your dream job.
Yes, a loose-fitting pair of jeans your bought ten years ago with frays on the edges will drop your chances of getting hired by 70%.
In 2022 the way we connect work and work attire has changed; how many have you worn sweatpants to your weekly zoom chats in the past two years? That means we can get away with wearing different styles than our fathers did in their youth.
But there is a difference between dressing up a nice pair of jeans and wearing them confidently when meeting your potential new boss and strolling into the meeting looking like you just got off the couch after a full day of football Sunday.
Five rules for wearing jeans to a job interview
- They must be a dark blue or black
- The cut must be close to your legs (no saggy jeans)
- No holes or distressed look to them
- The cuff of your pant leg should not go over the top of your shoe
- Your belt should be black and not worn out
CEO and Founder, Feasting at Home
Considering jeans as a sign of laziness or disrespect has no place in 2022
As a former restaurant owner, I have interviewed and hired a really eclectic group of individuals—jeans or no jeans!
I think that considering jeans specifically a “red flag” or a sign of laziness or disrespect has no place in 2022.
It reminds me of the debate about whether or not a woman needs to wear makeup to be considered “professional.” It just isn’t relevant to whether or not a candidate is good for the job.
If someone shows up in clean clothing and conducts themselves in a way that is sympatico with my workplace, then that is way more important than the clothing itself.
Besides, you can get nice, classic jeans that look way more professional than an ill-fitting suit.
Co-Founder and CEO, Eterneva
Ensure you show respect when not certain
Some positions may infer that casual dress is acceptable at the interview, as that would be the attire for those duties.
However, this falls under the category that just because you could, does not mean you should, and why I would not recommend wearing jeans.
Part of what interviewers want to see is an ability to adjust and an effort to err on the side of caution to ensure you show respect when not certain.
Coming to an interview in jeans says that a person is:
- Not able to read the situation
- Made assumptions without evidence
- Was either not willing to make the extra effort to demonstrate their malleability
- Does not care if it could be read as disrespect
None of these qualities is something that should be put on display, making it a good idea to leave the Levis in a drawer and opt for something more appropriate for that moment.
Legal Specialist, Adamson Ahdoot LLP
Jeans are a no-no for us
A persistent reality in life is that appearances do matter.
That is especially the case when you’re making a first impression on a potential employer. The thought of anyone entering our building for a job interview wearing blue jeans is horrifying.
We’re a law firm, so we’re meeting clients every day. We’re inside courtrooms every day. We’re members of the California Bar. We have a standard to live up to, and our dress code should reflect that.
It is remarkable how some job sectors have endured a difficult pandemic by transitioning to a more remote-heavy workforce.
If you work from home, it really doesn’t matter how you dress, especially the parts of you that are out of range of your laptop camera during a Zoom meeting. That level of casualness doesn’t translate to an office setting.
The bottom line is that we don’t allow jeans to be worn. We discourage our clients from wearing jeans whenever they make courtroom appearances or appear for depositions.
We can’t ask our clients to dress up while not adhering to the same wardrobe standards ourselves. Jeans are a no-no for us.
Attempt to appear professional
Appropriateness of the dressing solely depends on the employer and company culture. The key factor is that you don’t want to create a distraction through your clothes unless the company is fashion-related.
From the company’s standpoint, we’re just seeking someone who can perform the job and work well in a team environment.
Simply put, all you need to do is attempt to appear professional. That is all. Everything else is largely needless. Dressing flawlessly will not assist you all that much. On the other hand, dressing badly might just be disadvantageous.
To put it mathematically:
- Dressing nicely will get you a plus 3
- Dressed improperly will get you a -5
We only notice what you’re wearing if it’s really distracting. Unless an employer explicitly states that informal interview attire is permitted, most employers will look down on jeans, especially dark ones.
Employers don’t allow jeans in the workplace because they may offend or distract others. Others may have a dress code that does not allow jeans.
Some employers have a long-standing tradition of not allowing jeans as a matter of tradition. Others still may have a policy that says that people cannot wear jeans to an interview.
Tip: For any reason, if you find yourself wearing informal dressing, try, “I sincerely apologize if this seems unprofessional, but this interview was scheduled at the last minute, and I’d rather appear casual than not show up.“
Chaye McIntosh, MS, LCADC
Clinical Director, ChoicePoint
Jeans are not interview-appropriate attire
Whenever our office decides to hold interviews, we know that we have to dress our best, so they get a good impression of the company they are about to join whenever they come to give an interview.
The same is the case with a person coming in for the interview. The saying “dress to impress” and “first impression is the last impression” could not be more true during interview calls.
Whenever an interviewee enters and is wearing jeans, we instantly think of them as someone who is not going to take their tasks seriously. That said, somehow, jeans are not interview-appropriate attire, not because people wear them casually, but because social norms should be respected.
Jeans will always be a piece of clothing worn on casual occasions.
Private Investigator and Surveillance Expert, Rivica Investigations
Jeans are always a safe choice
Of course, you can wear jeans for a job interview! I always encourage my clients to dress to make them feel comfortable. However, it’s essential to be mindful of the company’s culture and dress code. If you’re not sure what’s appropriate, it’s best to ask ahead of time.
Some companies are more formal than others, and you may want to dress up a bit more for an interview with them. But, in general, jeans are always a safe choice.
Just make sure they’re neat and clean—no holes or tears. You also want to avoid any overly baggy or tight styles.
It’s important to feel confident and comfortable in what you wear. So, if jeans are your go-to outfit for job interviews, go for it!
CEO and Founder, Textel
Jeans won’t do you any favors in the interview room
Jeans may be acceptable for certain job interviews, but as an experienced interviewer, I can tell you that jeans won’t do you any favors in the interview room.
The clothes you wear to the interview are all about respect—you’re dressing to show the interviewer that you care to make a good impression with your best foot forward.
Some hiring managers might be okay with jeans in the interview, but is that a risk to take that’s worth losing out on the job?
Don’t worry about overdressing. As a rule of thumb, most candidates should dress one level higher than they think the role requires because you can never be overdressed for an interview.
If you’re a young graduate, you’ll want to leave the jeans at home. You look young, so professional dressing can significantly impact how the interviewer perceives you.
Make them take you seriously with a killer suit or professional outfit that shows you understand that much like possession, perception is also nine-tenths of the law.
Founder and CEO, Uplift Legal Funding
Yes, you can sport it for the right reasons
Gone are those days when your attire was as important as your profile.
Any job must hire you for your technical skills. What you wear shouldn’t decide if you get the job or not. What you wear is a representation of your personality.
Moreover, wearing jeans doesn’t make you look unprofessional. It is perfectly fine to sport one as long as you are comfortable with it. It is crucial to bring your whole self to work. Sport it for the right reasons.
Further, if a company explicitly doesn’t allow you to sport jeans, it might be best to avoid it.
Furthermore, jeans are becoming increasingly popular these days. It is an attire that all genders prefer. There are work jeggings—a combination of leggings and jeans. This helps achieve a professional look while offering increased comfort.
Choose these options that will help you stay true to your personality without overstepping professional conduct and code.
Founder, Empire Of Real Estate
Yes, of course. But should you? No.
As a real estate agent, I have woken up unemployed for the past seven years. Each new potential client is a job interview. When working on commission only, it is vital to show up to that interview and make a great impression.
Making the wrong first impression in such a competitive industry can lead to a loss of thousands of dollars.
My rule of thumb is to dress to impress. It is crucial to stand out amongst the crowd, and a well-tailored suit can give you the unfair advantage you need in a competitive job environment.
It also shows effort, care, and respect to your potential employer, which can go a long way.
So can you? Yes, of course. But should you? No. Why set yourself up for an uphill battle? Stack the cards in your favor and take advantage of the variables you can control.
Yes, but consider the company’s degree of sophistication
Jeans are acceptable for interviewing purposes; there’s no question about that.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that if you wear jeans to an interview, you must also consider the company’s degree of sophistication.
In most cases, wearing a pair of jeans to an interview is not a huge deal, but how your interviewer perceives you in an interview is another matter. If they notice your jeans and say anything to you regarding jeans, there is a large percentage of you will not be able to pass an interview.
Because your first impression is your last impression, it’s best to avoid wearing jeans to a job interview. Dress formally and treat every opportunity as your final chance to seize it.
Niall John Lynchehaun
Managing Director, Midland Stone
If you wear jeans, I won’t take it against you, but if you dress up, it will work in your favor
I honestly don’t care whether you wear jeans to work if you are not working in a customer-facing role (for most of us here, every day is casual Friday).
But, do I mind if you wear jeans to a job interview? Yes and no.
I know that flexibility is the name of the game these days, and many companies want to come off as being cool to attract new employees, but if you dress to impress, it tells me that you care very much about getting hired.
Let me put it this way: If you wear jeans, I won’t take it against you, but if you dress up, it will work in your favor.
And you can’t really tell if the hiring manager is easy-going or not before you meet them. If I were looking for a job in today’s culture, I would play it safe and dress up.
This especially goes if I were to apply for an entry-level job where there are no “special skills” required. You want to do everything you can to stand out.
Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer, Nanabag
Yes, but follow a code
Yes, jeans can be worn for job interviews, but there is a “code to follow”:
- No skinny jeans: Instead, opt for a straight leg or a bootcut (a classic Levis 501 or 714 are a great option); pair it with a blazer with a masculine cut and a neutral t-shirt, and you’ll look professional plus stylish.
- No low-rise: 90′ are long gone, and we are thankful for that. Low waist never helps an outfit look put together—this denim model tends to cut the waist, and unless you are super skinny, skin will show and pop out, which is obviously not very professional.
- No applications: Jeans with an application can be worn only by children. They don’t deliver a message of a serious person, and it’s tough to style them in a way that will make you look professional.
- No cuts: It’s a very loved style of denim, but it’s considered casual. This category also includes jeans with a frayed bottom. They are very cool for a night out but definitely not suitable for a job interview. A.P.C. denims or Arket (straight model) offer great quality plus great prices, and most of their models are ideal for a work environment.
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