Work Style

    Outfit of the Day: Creative & Casual Job Interview

    7th August 2013

    Last week I had a job interview at one of my dream companies.

    This company is cool, creative, and definitely casual. They let me know that they wear jeans to the office, so I should dress casual as well. I am NOT a jeans person, but I can definitely get down with casual wear. Sundresses are my signature, and what could be more easy-breezy than that? As it turns out, lots.

    Determining the appropriate level of casual look in a business setting can be as tense as a tight-wire act.


    My interview look very much resembled hers, but with powerclashing patterns and his shoes.

    I’m sure you guys don’t have to ask yourself  ”Too slutty?” when getting dressed, but there’s plenty of other nuances you should double check when getting dressed for a guaranteed-judgement situation like an interview.

    Sure, it’d be great if the world judged you solely on your work and not by that grape juice stain on your pants. But the fact is, they do, and in a brief situation with so much importance, like a job interview – where first impressions matter more than anything – you should take the extra effort to make sure everything is working in your favor.

    Disclaimer: You can always wear a polo or dress shirt with khakis or dress pants and nice leather shoes to be business casual and look awesome. The looks in this post are geared toward those who really want to push business casual in a creative direction.

    Here are my outfit picks for a casual workplace interview:

    Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 1.32.42 PM


    Sweatshirt – Gant, $95; Belt – Allen Edmond, $115; Jeans – Uniqlo, $50; Shirt – Charles & 1/2, $44; Boots – Florsheim, $170 

    Are you going into a creative field? Let your outfit be an extension of your portfolio! If you’re big on color in your designs, throw on a bright sweater. Show off your attention to detail in your outfit with a quirky pattern on your shirt or a limited edition shoe.

    Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 7.52.21 PMTee – Dogooder, $18; Jacket - J.Crew ,$218; Pants – Saturdays NYC, $77; Belt – Martin Dingman, $95; Shoes – Clarks, $125

    Tees are obviously a risky move, but if it fits perfectly, expresses your style and makes a statement, I think you could make it work. Throw on a sportcoat to make it more put-together than your regular weekend wear. Be sure to keep all of your other pieces extra tidy to show that you chose the shirt because you felt that it was the absolutely perfect piece and you would be selling yourself short by not wearing it.

    In other words, make it look intentional – not sloppy.


    Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 6.59.20 AM

    Shirt – Land’s End Canvas, $49; Belt – Bonobos, $90; Pants – Scotch & Soda, $94; Shoes – Frye, $198

    Level up all of the standard “business casual” pieces by adding color and texture. How much cooler does this look than a white button up and khakis? People like cool people. If you can make yourself look like the cool guy that you are, they will definitely remember you, and there’s no way they won’t want you.

     A few other things to remember come interview time:
    - Firm handshake, smile with ease
    - Bring a copy of your resume and a few samples of your work for each person scheduled to interview you, plus a few extras JUST IN CASE
    - Say your interviewer’s name when you thank them (“Thanks for meeting me today, Tom.”)
    - Send a follow up note or e-mail after your interview, thanking them for their time. Be sure to send one to every person involved in each step of the process; influence goes a long way and everyone appreciates good manners

    Tell Us:

    Have you had a casual workplace interview? What did you wear?


    • Tod C

      I give them and I have taken them. Certainly in a creative field looking creative helped and I found approachable mattered too. All of these would have been a decent choice for an interview with me if you were someone coming out of college. In a lot of professions looking like someone fun to work with can be a good choice.

      The senior guy I respect the most here mixes it up with T shirts one day and casual jackets the next so the second look would be good for his job. I go more conservative when I interview (closer to option 2 but with a button down shirt rather than a T) but I am looking for a more senior position.

      Just be sure you know what sort of clients people are dealing with, I recently went into a more banking/insurance oriented position and so I keep it more low key now.

      • gabi meyers

        Great advice, Tod! Do you remember any stand-out outfits from those that you have interviewed?

        • Tod C

          I hired a guy once because he wore a suit with an earring (showed he thought outside the box and he did) and another guy because he had a cool website.

          What sticks out more is the older guys who look past it with 80s glasses, ratty golf shirts etc. Look like you care is all it takes.

    • LawDawg

      This is interesting; however, it does not apply to me. The legal community has yet to catch up to the idea of a casual workplace, much less a casual interview.

      • hornsup84

        This. Knowing your audience is key here and–particularly for interviews–play within their rules/expectations. If the job is creative, they expect you to be more creative; if the job is conservative, expect conservative, etc.

    • ilyac

      For my first internship, after a successful phone interview we set up a in person interview, the last thing the guy said before we hung up was “See you Wednesday. oh, and for the love of god, please don’t wear a suit”. Which threw a wrench in my plans since I either had casual attire (jeans and a tshirt) or a suit to wear at the time.
      I ended up picking up a pair of khakis and a polo, not sure about the shoes, this was 6 years ago. I must have done something right since I got the internship, but for most of the summer I rocked jeans and a t-shirt or polo. This place was super casual.

      • Style Girlfriend

        I’m sure you felt much more comfortable fitting in with the other employees (while still looking put together) than you would have if you’d been wearing a suit…or shorts!

        Thanks for sharing your story

        • ilyac

          Definitely. One of the guys I had lunch with I found out after a month was the owner of this engineering company. Never would have guessed because most of the time he was in jeans and a polo. My direct boss was a t-shirt man.

          My next job was even more casual. I was a wood shop instructor at a day camp. Works boots, jeans and a t-shirt (usually with wood stain somewhere on it). Was not until 3 years ago that I actually had to dress like a real person for work.

    • average joe

      Who the hell drinks grape juice? :-)

      • Andrew

        This seems awfully reminiscent of a certain Chapelle bit..

        • Matt M

          WTF is juice?! I have apple drank! mmmm… it’s green!

    • average joe

      At the tail end of this article, Gabi gives a few interview tips. I’ve worked as a recruiter now for over 8 years and can say that she is giving excellent advice here. That name thing is HUGE! (good call Gabi) And as for the follow up thank you note…try keeping it to 2 sentences.

      Sentence 1 – Thank them for meeting will and tell them you enjoyed meeting with them.

      Sentence 2 – Tell them you look forward to hearing from them soon

    • Josh

      I now aspire to having my outfits considered slutty…I’ll even get my kilt shortened!

      • Max

        Next you’ll be showing off a bit of ankle while wearing pants, you jizabel.

    • average joe

      “Business Casual” was born in the twilight of Regan-era opulence to attract young professionals into companies with the hopes that they (along with other Kurt Cobain fans) would see their career opportunities as “totally cool” and “real” with that organization. What ensued was a slow decline into the dot com era’s anything goes at work, wardrobe speaking, but if one wore a tie or god forbid a suit, it was met with strange looks, feelings of awkwardness for the person wearing the suit notwithstanding. Today the term “business casual” means nothing except to the generation of workers eyeing retirement, and people like us who remember “what our fathers wore to work but we never had to.”

    • Jack

      ha, had an interview yesterday, was dressed to the nines (it was for a corporate job) – I think i would miss the extreme confidence a well fitting suit and tie gives me in a casual interview!

    • kellen owenby

      I work in a casual environment. I wear nice jeans and button up shirts pretty much every day. On Tuesdays, I have a standing meeting with some people from my parent’s/grandparent’s generation. So, I always dress up just a little in order to be better received by them, and it totally works.

      Other than that, I like to add pops of color with my shoes and accessories (socks, pocket square, watch band.

    • Max

      Sorry but sluttiness is my go to thought when picking out an outfit for work, that’s how I am able to close so many sales. Low rise jeans and short cut tops. I need to show at least a good 4 inches of midriff.

      • Style Girlfriend

        I mean, at least 4 inches. AT LEAST.

    • Glenn Pagano

      Great Post! I usually wear a suit with an oxford button up. If I sense the interview is casual I take off the suit and maybe the tie. Another great pair of jeans, only a little more expensive are Gustin jeans. Here is a link, By going to this link you will $20 off your first order.

    • Glenn Pagano

      I suggest for your basics check out Everlane, They cut out the middle man. You get a great piece of clothing for an inexpensive price. For jeans and oxfords check out They again cut out the middle man. I get $205 jeans for less than $100. If you sign up with that link you get $20 off your first order! I shop at both of these for 80% of my clothing. Check it out. These companies are revolutionizing the internet!

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