What Not to Wear: Interview Attire for the Summer

Summer: that three-month period in New England where we finally get to feel the sun and warm breeze on our skin. But when it comes to interviews, feeling that warm breeze may mean you’re not wearing the right clothing. Today, we’re talking all about interview attire: what to wear and what not to wear.

As always, dress your best

There are some small ways to adjust your attire to deal with the summer heat,. But for the most part, the rules of what’s acceptable really don’t change much. Despite a heatwave, the ideal is always to go all-out with your interview attire. Simply put, this is the interviewer’s only chance to see how you dress. They can’t be sure that today’s somewhat casual attire isn’t your norm year-round (even if you tell them). With that said, let’s have a look at a few things that could help.

Ladies first

For the ladies, you can lighten things up considerably simply with the blouse you choose to wear under your blazer. In fact, you can potentially wear a sleeveless shirt as long as you commit to keeping your blazer on for the entire interview. One thing to keep in mind, however, is the fact that you could be headed into a thoroughly air-conditioned office. You may wish to dress in layers so you have options (which potentially cancels out the sleeveless option).

When it comes to print, color, and design, simple is the way to go.  While summer can tempt us to select bright colors and vibrant patterns, this isn’t the ideal time for a fashion statement.  Minimize the number of colors (and their intensity), and go with designs that are a bit more conservative. And when it comes to bottoms, even the most professional capris are business-casual, at best. Stick to the classics—basic slacks or a professional knee-length skirt.

The Shoe Dilemma

Last (but certainly not least) is shoe selection. With all the fun and dazzling options, it’s tough to stay simple on this one. But when it comes to interviews, our recurring theme of simplicity still holds true here. Skip the open-toed shoes, anything related to a sandal, and the bright and/or extremely large, high shoes. The head-to-toe look should be about achieving a polished blend with nothing that stands out in any way. Those shoes may be fabulous, but do they create that cohesive look or do they stand out awkwardly?

Tips for the gentlemen

Shirt and tie is still the very best choice.  In some cases, you have the option of a short-sleeved button-down shirt. With that said, you may wish to rethink that if you’re going into a more formal environment, like a law firm. Either way, you should not eliminate the tie, and it’s even better if you can manage the jacket as well.

The one pitfall I still sometimes see the guys struggle with is the polo shirt. It’s a huge temptation and is passable in many environments. But despite their clean appearance, they are never more than business-casual. Plus, you can’t pair it with a tie. For those reasons, it’s just not a safe route to take on a job interview.

Written by Adam Lafield, Recruiter & Marketing Specialist