What to Wear When You're Job Searching (Hint: Not Pajamas)
There’s plenty of advice out there on what to wear to impress at your interviews, but what if you’re not at that stage of the job hunt yet? What if you’re still scouring job boards and sending out applications left and right without so much as leaving your couch?
It can be really easy to fall into a rut of staying in your comfy gym clothes—or never even changing out of your pajamas. But this can really affect your psyche and your confidence level when you're looking for a new gig. Even though it may seem silly to put in the effort when no one is going to see you, it will make you feel better to get into a routine of feeling put-together. Plus, there will be times where you need to interact with other people pre-interview—like networking events, informational interviews, or even heading down to the corner cafe to escape the confines of your home.
So, whatever stage of the job search you’re in, I’m here to help you look and feel good while doing it. Check out these ideas below, then go nab your next job!
Job Hunting From Home
My go-to routine for staying out of a rut while job searching involves waking up early, exercising, getting dressed (in real clothes), and then hitting the job boards or working on applications.
But even with a routine, you can still keep things comfortable. I love wearing either a boyfriend jean or a skinny jean that has a little stretch in it (think a cotton-Spandex blend), a slouchy tee, and a button-up shirt left unbuttoned. And for guys, the same jeans-and-t-shirt formula works (minus the skinnies, of course!). Oh, and if you throw on a pair of comfy slippers to enjoy some of the benefits of sitting at home, well, I promise I won’t tell!
Job Hunting From a Coffee Shop
Sure, you may not see anyone you know when you go into a coffee shop, but you'll still be out in public—and you never know who you’ll meet! So, feel free to wear something casual and comfortable, just go a little nicer than your at-home look.
For women, leather (or faux-leather) leggings for can be super comfortable but also add an edge, or a pair of white skinny jeans also works well. Wear an oversized sweater in a neutral color to stay cozy and a light scarf to add another layer in case you get cold. Guys, keep it simple with jeans, a clean t-shirt, and a light jacket thrown over the top for a little extra polish.
Going to an Informational Interview
Informational interviews can be tricky. Unless the person you’re meeting with is a high-level exec and you’re going into his or her office to talk, you don't need to wear your interview best. But, since you do want to impress no matter who you’re talking to, you’ll still want to look put-together.
My go-to outfit is a pair of peg pants (slim-fitting and a little cropped at the ankles) in a print or plain black and a non-bulky sweater: I prefer a navy blue, grey, or black v-neck in cashmere or cashmere blend. Add simple jewelry and ballet flats or loafers, and you're ready to go. For the fellows, a pair of navy blue or grey trousers and a nice slim-fit sweater with a button-down underneath looks sharp but not overdressed.
Going to a Networking Event
Of course, your networking getup will depend on what the event is and where it’s taking place, but let’s assume it’s a happy hour event that’s business casual. You don't want to be too overdressed and seem like you're trying too hard, but you also don't want to look like you just rolled out of bed.
For ladies, try a pencil skirt with a longer-sleeved t-shirt and a light jacket (just skip the blazer to avoid looking too business-y). Finish off with a fun, conversation-starting necklace and your favorite heels or booties. Guys, a navy blue or grey pair of chinos or trousers with a chambray shirt (or any button-down that’s on the casual side) and blazer will offer just the right amount of sharpness.
Going to an Interview
Without a doubt, all of this sharp dressing will score you plenty of interviews. For the next stage of your job search, check out our ideas for looks that will land you the job for both women and men!
Hailing from the Peach State, Hannah Baker is a recent transplant to NYC via DC and has worked in television and social media. An obsessive pinner, she loves decorating, finding the best eats (and drinks) in her new neighborhood, and entertaining her goofy dog, Leon. Follow Hannah on Twitter @hanfranbabebake and Pinterest at HFBAKER.More from this Author