Best Colors To Wear In A Job Interview

By Vickie Elmer

As your big interview approaches, you look deep into your closet to see what to wear. Your bright red jacket, the one that seems to give you strength and luck, calls out: "Wear me!"

Then you remember the advice you once read somewhere: Wear a dark, plain professional suit to your job interview. Stick with solid navy, gray or black, or maybe a pinstripe.

So today's question is: How much color can you put on when you want to portray yourself as powerful and professional?

"You can wear a red jacket to a job interview. But it's helpful to know something about the organization's culture," said Stephanie Legatos, a career coach, colors counselor and owner of Be Well Partners.

In the fall and winter, Legatos favors a splash of red or purple when she meets with clients or potential clients, and she considers new client meetings akin to job interviews. Occasionally she will wear a black-and-white zebra patterned jacket. "I feel fabulous in that jacket," she said. Yet she knows it may be a little "out there," so she balances it with very conservative shoes and handbag, and she doesn't wear it to every new client meeting.

When you're choosing your colors and your attire, be thoughtful on what you're doing -and who you're meeting and what message you want to convey. Legatos suggests you ask yourself: "What do I really want to project?... This is a person who's promotable. This is a person who knows how to establish a presence. "

Added Ellen Schulman, a career counselor with CareerGenerations: "Do you really want to be perceived as the orange, turquoise or chartreuse lady interviewing? You want to standout, not the color."

Consider the color.

Colors convey meaning and emotion. Red means luck in Chinese, and red and black are power colors, said Legatos. They may work for an executive or contract negotiators' job. But if you're interviewing for an administrative assistant job at a nonprofit, you may be better off in a less bold color – blue or brown or something more neutral. White – as in a shirt or blouse- suggests clean, purity, honesty. People do have these subconscious reactions to the colors you're wearing.

Consider the mix.

If you're trying for professional with some flair, pair a dark suit with a bright colored blouse or shirt. Or wear the red jacket but make the rest of the outfit a muted gray with plain professional black shoes. Wear a scarf or a tie with some zest to bring in a little color. If you love purple, by all means, carry your purple purse. But the purple purse and shoes and blouse, "that might be a little much," said Legatos. Brighter colors are fine; just ask yourself: How much is right? To be safe, you may want to wear mostly neutrals and just a "splash of color," said said Schulman.

Consider your audience.

If you're heading to a Wall Street investment bank, you may want to wear something more conservative than if you're interviewing at Apple or Google. And if you're talking to the creative types, or want to work at Chico's, a woman's clothing chain that mixes a palette of color and styles, you may be fine in your jewel tones or rainbow of colors attire. But if you're meeting the CFO or the head of the legal department, tone it down: Wear brown, navy, black. "The key here is to show yourself as someone who fits into the organization," said Schulman, who worked in the fashion industry before becoming a career coach.

Years ago, Legatos wore a dark eggplant purple suit to a job interview at a Boston-based mutual fund company. Everyone else seemed to wear black or navy. The interviewer gave her that "once over with the eyes. That threw me off," she recalled. She knew immediately that her suit, though professional, didn't fit into that place.

Consider your confidence.

If that red jacket gives you a sense of courage and conviction of your high value, then it may be worthwhile to wear it. Same with some special necklace, family heirloom watch or other good luck charm that you can slip into your pocket.

However, if you feel most authentic and confident wearing a beaded blouse and a fringed jacket and old jeans with holes in the knees, you may put that on for a few minutes, look in the mirror – and then change into something more professional for the job interview, Legatos said Being authentic is important, but so is the understanding that your social image may differ from your professional presence.

Next: 5 Ways Your Job Search Will Change In Autumn

Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now

Stories from

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

I applied as a manager for the Christmas Corner at our local mall (the temporary store within the mall that offers Christmas and pictures with Santa) and I wore along straight cut red skirt and a short sleeved green fitted jacket over a white top. The look went well and I was offered the position that same evening. I also had quite a bit of experience in a similar field which helped also. So try to consider what your applying for. During the season our uniform is black on black but that shouldn't stop you from using a little color for the interview. I know that if I had to wear a stuffy grey suit to work every day it wouldn't be a good fit for my personality so I try to inject enough of me in to interview clothing so the employer and I can truly see if it's a good fit.

October 21 2011 at 1:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

If you take a beer, be sure to bring one for the interviewer.

October 21 2011 at 1:14 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

and NEVER wear panties!

October 21 2011 at 12:53 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Avoid pink or pastels except for an accent color. You will be seen as too 'girly'.

October 21 2011 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

my last interview, thankfully was over 16 years ago, and I don't foresee having to go through that again, ever..

However, I ALWAYS wore a red suit to interviews. My skill set and experience are impresssive, but when you are in a prodominently male field (IT) you need to give them something to remember you by - as a 5'10" woman, wearing a red suit, you will not be forgotten!

October 21 2011 at 11:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you know a company has a "color," like a logo that has certain colors, wear something in that color. I work for Procter & Gamble, and when I interviewed with them I wore an outfit with varying shades of blue. I was offered the position at the end of the interview. This has worked for other jobs I have apllied for also.

October 21 2011 at 9:31 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web