The Fine Art of Dressing for an Interview: How to Avoid Overdressing


Dressing for an interview is akin to painting a masterpiece. You have the tools of clothes, accessories, and makeup at your disposal like a painter has paints and brushes. The key is to use it wisely and artfully to create a look that conveys professionalism yet still stands out from the crowd. Just like too much paint on a canvas can ruin a painting, overdressing for an interview can be detrimental to your efforts.

So can you overdress for an interview and how do you avoid it?

What Is “Overdressing” For A Job Interview?

Overdressing for an interview can be described as wearing clothing that is too formal, overdone, or flashy, especially for the company’s culture. Each company is different so what may seem as casual for one, maybe too formal, and vice versa. 

For example, if you are interviewing at a startup that has a relaxed dress code, wearing a three-piece suit with cufflinks and pocket squares isn’t necessary.

It can also include the color schemes and designs used in clothing and accessories. Loud colors and prints can be distracting and take away from your interview.

Expert interview coaching can help you get an idea of what kind of attire is appropriate for the company.

The Risks of Overdressing for an Interview

There are a few risks associated with overdressing for an interview.

1. Potential Negative Perception By The Interviewer

Overdressed candidates may be viewed as over dramatic or overly pretentious. This can give the impression that the candidate is trying too hard to make an impression and can be a major turn-off for many employers.

The goal of your interview should be to make a positive impression by being professional yet memorable. Therefore, overdressing can have the opposite effect.

2. Difficulty Standing Out In A Positive Way

Since overdressed candidates are usually viewed in a negative light, it can be difficult for them to stand out from other applicants in a positive way. 

Rather than drawing attention to their unique qualifications and achievements, overdressed applicants can become a distraction and be quickly forgotten.

3. Possible Loss Of Credibility Or Professionalism

An overdressed candidate may also come across as unprofessional or untrustworthy. This is because overdressed individuals often present themselves as too good to be true, and employers may be hesitant to take them at their word.

How to Avoid Overdressing for an Interview

Avoiding overdressing for an interview can seem challenging, however, it is a manageable task with the right preparation and mindset. Here are three tips:

1. Researching The Company’s Dress Code And Culture

Before attending an interview, it is important to know the company’s dress code and culture. This research can be done by visiting their website or talking to current employees.

This will help you gauge the appropriate level of formality needed for the interview. Knowing what type of attire is expected will also give you peace of mind when choosing your outfit.

2. Choosing Understated, Professional Attire

When selecting your outfit for an interview, you must choose something that is professional and understated. Your attire should represent who you are as a person and how you want to be perceived by the employer.

If possible, try to select clothing items that are muted colors and feature subtle patterns.

3. Accessorizing Appropriately

Accessories can be a great way to express your personality without overdressing for an interview. However, it is important not to go overboard when selecting and wearing accessories such as jewelry, scarves, hats, ties, and pocket squares.

Choose simple items that are not too flashy or overdone. Also, be sure to wear the appropriate number of accessories for the company’s culture. 

4. Avoiding Overly Formal Or Flashy Clothing

Finally, it is important to avoid overly formal or flashy clothing for an interview. Anything that is too overdone can be off-putting and make the interviewer uncomfortable.

For example, wearing a full tuxedo for a retail job would be overdressing for the occasion. It is best to stick with subtle, professional pieces that make a statement without overpowering the interviewer.

How to Dress to Stand Out in a Positive Way

In addition to avoiding overdressing for an interview, you can also dress in a way that sets you apart from other applicants in a positive manner. A mock interview can help you figure out what type of clothing works best for your body and the job you are applying for.

Here are three tips you should know:

1. Showing Personal Style In A Subtle Way

When choosing your interview outfit, it can be beneficial to showcase some of your styles subtly. This will help you stand out from the other applicants and make a more memorable impression on the interviewer.

Just remember to keep it appropriate for the occasion. Small details such as a patterned tie or a colorful pocket square can go a long way in making your outfit unique.

2. Making Sure Your Attire Is Appropriate For The Position You Are Applying For

The type of position you are applying for will also affect the level of formality of your interview attire. For example, if you are applying for a creative job, you may be able to get away with wearing something slightly more casual than if you were applying for a corporate position.

Always make sure your attire is appropriate and professional for the type of role you are applying for.

3. Highlighting Your Qualifications And Skills Through Your Clothing

Finally, you can use your clothing to highlight the qualifications and skills that make you an ideal candidate for the position. For example, if you are passionate about public speaking or presentations, try wearing a bold tie or a bright scarf.

Knowing the right interview techniques and tips can help you make the right impression.

Helping You Prepare For The Job Market

No matter what type of position you are applying for, you must strike a balance between overdressing and underdressing for an interview. Ultimately, by following these steps, you can create an outfit that is professional and appropriate while still showcasing your unique personal style.

By doing so, you can have the confidence to ace your interview and rise above the competition in the job market. 

To help you navigate the world of interview attire, book a  free consultation with us today! Our team of career consultants can answer any questions you have about overdressing for an interview and help you create the perfect outfit for any job opportunity.

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