Jeans are a popular choice when it comes to the workplace, but they’re not always appropriate.

Jeans are casual clothing, and most offices have at least one Friday per month when jeans are acceptable. But if you’re interviewing for a job, you’ll want to wear something more formal.

If you’re not sure whether or not jeans are okay for the interview, ask your future boss what he or she prefers. In some cases, the interviewer will let you know in advance if he or she has a preference — for example, some employers prefer that you wear business casual attire during an interview and then change into dress pants and a blouse before heading into the office every day.

If your potential employer doesn’t tell you what’s appropriate to wear on interview day, err on the side of caution and dress up just a bit more than usual. Jeans are usually acceptable only if they’re dark colored (blue or black).

Are Jeans Okay To Wear To An Interview

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Can I Wear Jeans to a Job Interview?

Are jeans part of an acceptable job interview outfit?

You have only a few seconds to make a good first impression when you walk in for your job interview. Often, nonverbal cues can make all the difference — your handshake, the energy you give off, making eye contact, your confident smile, and your wardrobe

The minute a hiring manager sees you, they’re looking you up and down to determine if you care enough to be there and land the job. That means ditching the jeans and opting for something a little more upgraded.     

Can I wear jeans to an interview if the dress code is business casual?

While several organizations opt for a business casual dress code for their employees, it’s important not to confuse business casual with actual casual wear. It’s also essential to keep in mind that you should remain professional during an interview since you are not yet an employee; your goal is to become an employee. 

Even if an organization has a more laid-back dress code that includes wearing jeans to the office, it does not mean you should wear jeans for your interview, regardless of the type of position you’re interviewing for. You might be asking:  

  • I’m applying for a part-time job, so jeans are cool — right?
  • Are jeans OK to wear for an entry-level or student job interview?
  • My job is hourly, and I’d be wearing jeans to work, so why not for the interview?
  • I’m interviewing with a tech company, so jeans should totally be OK to wear, right?

The answer? It’s best to err on the side of caution. The answer isn’t always cut and dry, but jeans are generally never appropriate interview attire, even if you’re a student, you’re applying for a part-time or hourly wage job, or you’re interviewing with a tech company. 

It’s true that you don’t want to show up in a suit and tie for your interview if everyone else in the office is wearing business casual or jeans, but you also don’t want to give off the impression that you’re too laid back or don’t care enough by underdressing.  

What should acceptable job interview attire look like?

While some individuals may still land the job even if they wear jeans, why risk it? Unless you’re explicitly asked to wear jeans, choose to go with business casual attire when interviewing with an organization that has a more laid-back dress code. In doing so, you will be setting yourself up to make a good first impression without worrying about whether or not you’re underdressed.

Generally speaking, avoid wearing bright colors and patterns to an interview; white, navy, black, grey, and beige are appropriate and professional interview colors. And neat, wrinkle-free clothing that fits well is essential, regardless of the dress code.

Meanwhile, men and women should wear suits for interviews with organizations that have a business formal dress code. For business casual and laid-back work environments, dress pants or a knee-length skirt with a tucked-in blouse are good choices for women, while men could opt for a polo shirt or sweater with slacks. For shoes, they should be clean and closed-toed (no sandals!) for everyone, unless they are open-toed pumps or high-heels for women.   

So, if you’re asking yourself, “Can I wear jeans to an interview?”, you might wish to persuade yourself not to do so if you have hopes of making it beyond the interview.  

What you should not wear to a job interview

You should try to avoid wearing the following items to a job interview due to their inappropriate or distracting nature:

  1. Casual clothing
  2. Sandals or flip-flops
  3. Poorly fitting clothes or shoes
  4. Flashy clothes or jewelry
  5. Stained or wrinkled clothing
  6. Too much makeup
  7. Heavy perfume or cologne

1. Casual clothing

Aim to dress in professional attire, even if interviewing for a company with a relaxed dress code. While you do not want to appear too formal, you should choose to dress in clothing that represents your qualifications.

No matter the company, you should always refrain from wearing torn clothing, like ripped jeans, even if that is a style. Denim and jeans should be avoided because it appears unprofessional in most settings.

You should avoid wearing T-shirts, especially novelty shirts or anything with art or wording. Graphic T-shirts can be distracting because the employer’s eyes will be drawn to the design instead of the person wearing the shirt.

Do not wear gym attire, like sweatpants, as this likely conveys a lack of seriousness in the interview. If it seems as if you do not care about your appearance, the interviewer may conclude you don’t care about the job.

2. Sandals or flip-flops

Just like sweatpants and ripped jeans, sandals and flip-flops are too casual. While you may be relaxed while wearing this type of footwear, it does not look professional.

3. Poorly fitting clothing or shoes

You want to be comfortable when you are doing a job interview, so you should wear well-fitting clothing that both enhance your appearance and are appropriate in a professional setting.

It is important to wear shoes that complement your outfit and also fit well. When you wear shoes that are difficult or awkward to walk in, you will act uncomfortable during your job interview so invest in footwear you will feel good walking in and wearing in the workplace.

4. Flashy clothes or jewelry

Avoid wearing clothes that show too much skin or your undergarments. You do not want to have a bare midriff or low-cut neckline.

If you have tattoos on your arms or lower legs, you may choose to cover them during the interview as body art can be distracting. Also, some companies may have policies about tattoos so check ahead of time. Be conservative with piercings. Nose rings and other facial piercings may be prohibited by the company.

Unless you are applying for a job in the fashion industry, avoid wearing clothing that is overly flashy or trendy. Steer clear of distracting jewelry, such as overly large earrings, and choose simple pieces that complement your outfit. You should also avoid wearing necklaces that are too ornate and wearing more than one bracelet. Noisy bracelets or bangles could cause a distraction during your interview.

5. Stained or wrinkled clothing

You want to make a good impression, and stained clothing will do the opposite. Not only are stains embarrassing, but they are distracting and cause you to look sloppy. Like stained clothing, wrinkled clothing makes for a careless appearance.

6. Too much makeup

Tastefully done makeup should accentuate your facial features. If you wear heavy makeup or bold colors, this could be distracting and take away from a positive interview.

7. Heavy perfume or cologne

While it is important to smell good during your job interview, heavy perfumes or colognes can be distracting, and possibly aggravate people’s allergies so use sparingly or not at all for the day of the interview.

Related: What To Wear to an Interview: Professional, Business Casual and Smart Casual

Check out Ingrid Nilsen’s interview look-book for inspiration on making a great first impression.

What you should wear to a job interview

For most companies, conservative interview attire is a safe option. Choose clean, well-fitting clothing that evokes confidence and professionalism.

Wear clothes that are appropriate for the industry and the job you are applying for. For example, if you are interviewing for a job in an attorney’s firm, a business dress or a suit may be the most appropriate. If you are interviewing for an internship at a tech start-up, you can choose business casual clothing that best fits with the company dress code.

Jeans may be appropriate for certain jobs. For example, you may be allowed to wear darker (usually black) jeans for a workplace with a relaxed dress code. Otherwise, you may want to choose khaki or dark-colored pants. Watches are a safe option as long as they complement the rest of the outfit.

Some tips for dressing appropriately

Here are five tips for wearing attire that makes a good impression on your interviewer:

1. Plan ahead

If your interview is in a few days, figure out several conservative options and figure out if you need something new to accompany your existing pieces.

2. Do sensible shopping

Investing in classic business attire may be a good idea, especially if you are just beginning your job search. Find pieces that can be worn with numerous outfits and have a timeless style.

3. Get input from friends and family

If you can, ask for the opinion of family or close friends on your interview attire. They can give you honest feedback and guide you in choosing clothing that complements your body type.

4. Research the company dress code

Call the company where you are interviewing and ask about appropriate interview attire. They can guide your choices according to dress-code policy. Check out the company website and look at images of workers or take a look at what people are wearing as they depart the office or head to their vehicle in the parking lot. 

5. Wear what makes you feel comfortable

When you wear an outfit that is free of distractions and feels good on you, then you’re more likely to be able to focus on the interview and your responses to questions and really show your confidence.

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