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The Interview Dress Code: Choosing Your Outfit Based on the Field

Updated: Sep 13



Though seemingly trivial, what you wear to your job interview can play a substantial role during the hiring process. From waitresses to construction workers, the key to making a good first impression lies in tailoring your outfit to the field that you are interviewing for.


1) Retail

In the field of retail, the goal is to look put together but not too fancy. Depending on the type of retail you are interviewing for, the exact pieces of your outfit will differ. For example, if you are interviewing for a sales position in a fashion boutique, your outfit should display a sense of style and may even contain pieces bought at the boutique to demonstrate genuine interest. On the other hand, if you are interviewing for a sales position at a hardware store, you might dress more casually, in jeans and a button up. Above all, the common objective across this field is to look approprachable and friendly in an outfit that says, “how may I assist you today?”


2) Food Service

When interviewing for a position in a restaurant, whether it is for the kitchen or waitstaff, the key is to choose an outfit that resembles the level of formality and perhaps even the color scheme of the staff in the restaurant. For example, if all of the waitresses in the restaurant primarily wear different versions of a black dress and flats, model your look in this image. By appearing similar to the current staff, the interviewer will be more inclined to believe that you will make a good fit, which will ultimately tip the odds in your favour.


3) Business

From managers to administrative assistants, the business field is all about professionalism and formality. For men, this may mean a complete suit or a button-down shirt with dress pants and loafers. For women, perhaps a nice blouse and blazer paired with dress pants or skirt and a pair of sensible heels. Black is usually the base color for more professional outfits, but if you feel that wearing more color will help you stand out or suits the business you are interviewing with, then feel free to add splashes of color. If you choose to utilize color, experts agree that blue is by far the most well-received color by interviewers as it displays confidence and cooperation.


4) Trades/Labour

If you are interviewing in a highly physical and less formal field like the trades, then your outfit should reflect that. A nice, plain tee shirt and jeans should do the trick. However, just because you are dressing casually does not mean that your personal hygiene should be lacking. Your hair should be groomed and your overall appearance well-maintained.


5) Arts/Entertainment

Any position involving art or entertainment warrants an outfit that is oozing with self-expression. Unlike some other fields, this outfit should be unique and full of color (the right mix of course). In this field, you are not only allowed, but expected to use your clothing as a visual representation of your artistic talents and creative nature.

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Written by: MacKenzie Verhelst, BAPsych, CVRP-TSA


MacKenzie Verhelst is a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant for Creative Therapy Consultants. MacKenzie is a Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Professional (CVRP) with Transferrable Skill Analysis (TSA) certification and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from McGill University. She demonstrates expertise in vocational assessment, resume/cover letter development, interview preparation, active job search support, and job sustainment services. MacKenzie is passionate about helping others reach their utmost potential and advocates for finding joy in work. To learn more about Vocational Rehabilitation services, please visit click here.