Is It Appropriate to Wear Jeans to a Job Interview?

Is It Appropriate to Wear Jeans to a Job Interview?

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So you landed a job interview, and you’re picking out what to wear. Hopefully, you’ve got a few good options in your closet. If not, you may be wondering if jeans will do the job.

It is usually not appropriate to wear jeans to a job interview, even if the job has a casual dress code. However, if you have no other options, make sure to wear your most professional-looking pair of jeans. Avoid jeans with flashy colors, strange designs, or rips in them.

Jeans should be avoided at all costs when choosing what to wear to a job interview. However, sometimes getting a brand new suit or pencil skirt isn’t an option (especially if you’re in the job market waiting for your next paycheck!). Therefore, in the following sections, I’ll also take you through what types of jeans will give you the best shot at looking professional.

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Can I Wear Jeans for an Interview if the Dress Code Is Business Casual?

As the workplace progresses, rules and policies pertaining to attire are becoming more and more relaxed. Therefore, interview dress codes can be confusing, especially if you’re applying for a minimum-wage job or somewhere where the setting is usually pretty casual. Virtual interviews can further this confusion. 

It is not recommended to wear jeans to an interview, even if the dress code is business casual. Most experts suggest always dressing up a little, even if everyone at the job site is wearing jeans. If you have to wear jeans, wear your nicest pair. 

Though some places may not care if you showed up in jeans, it’s a good rule of thumb to be cautious about what you’re wearing. It’s better to find out you’re overdressed once you’ve got the job than find out you’re underdressed and overlooked for the position. Experts suggest wearing slacks, knee-length or ankle-length skirts or dresses, or suits. You should avoid jeans at all costs.

Understandably, if you’re searching for a job, you might not have the extra cash to grab a new outfit. Many communities offer community closets, which offer business-casual clothes in all sizes for free. They may also give out coupons for thrift stores, allowing you to pick a more affordable option.  Therefore, give your local closet a call. They might even be able to help you out with a ride or delivery. 

What Can I Wear to a Job Interview?

If you genuinely thought jeans were a good idea for a job interview, you may be wondering what’s actually acceptable. Generally, an establishment will describe what’s appropriate for the job interview, whether on their invitation or on their website. If not, there are some simple rules of thumb you could follow.

You can wear a professional shirt (such as a button-up or blouse) with pants (slacks or suit pants), a knee or ankle-length dress or skirt, or a suit to a job interview. For management or upper-level job interviews, you should exclusively wear attire in the business, semi-formal, or formal family.

You’ll want to dress up, rather than down, for any interview. Even if it looks like everyone dresses in jeans, you have to remember that they already made it past the interview phase. A good impression is about showing someone you care about your position and aren’t taking it for granted.

I’ll talk in more detail regarding the appropriate attire in professional and casual job interviews below. The rules are usually pretty similar (no jeans, no flip-flops), but there are some added considerations for different types of job interviews. You may be interviewing for a job at a restaurant, a store, or for a fortune five-hundred company.

What To Wear to a Professional Job Interview

Professional job interviews can be intimidating, so you must dress your best. Whether you’re looking to move upward in your company or having your first conversation with a possible employer, a good impression goes a long way. For a professional job interview, you should wear:

  • Suit jacket
  • Knee-length dress
  • Ankle-length dress
  • Suit pants
  • Slacks
  • Button up blouses 
  • Professional blouses
  • Low-heels
  • Matching suit

Stay away from wearing jeans and flip-flops, and never wear anything that has words written on it. 

What To Wear to a Casual Job Interview

Casual job interviews can be challenging to dress for, especially if you know you’ll be wearing jeans when you get the job. Even if that’s the cas, dress up for your job interview as best as you can.

Business casual jobs call for business casual attire. Jeans, flip-flops, and t-shirts aren’t business casual. For a casual job interview, wear:

  • Cardigans
  • Suit jackets
  • Blouse shirts
  • Button-up shirts
  • Khakis
  • Slacks
  • Trousers
  • Knee-length or ankle-length skirts
  • Polos
  • Sports-jackets

If you don’t know what your new potential employer is looking for, it’s okay to give them a call ahead of time. More often than not, front desk workers are happy to answer any questions about your interview.

Which Types of Jeans Are Best for Job Interviews?

Fashion has changed drastically over the past hundred years. People used to wear dresses and full suits when walking down the street; however, now, with the rise of athleisure, our attire has become much more casual. But have jeans finally become acceptable for interview wear?

Jeans aren’t appropriate for job interviews. However, if you must, you should wear your nicest, dark-wash pair with no holes in them. Black or white jeans also tend to look dressier than blue jeans, and you can try to dress them up with a shirt or blouse.

You should look through your collection of jeans and find the ones that are the cleanest and most professional looking. Again, jeans should be worn as a last resort, but it’s always better to go to the interview and try, even if you’ll be a bit underdressed. You’ll make a better impression than you would if you were to cancel.

You should also utilize community resources if possible. As I previously mentioned, community and career centers usually help those without interview-appropriate attire find something to wear. They, too, will give the advice of either no jeans or the most excellent pair you own.

Can I Wear Ripped Jeans to an Interview?

You can sometimes get away with jeans at an interview, especially if they’re an adorable pair. You may think your hundred-dollar pair of jeans is really nice, but if they’ve holes, think again. Price tags aren’t an accurate symbol of how professional they are.

You cannot wear ripped jeans to an interview. Even if people working at the same establishment or position you’re applying for can wear ripped jeans, you should still avoid wearing them at all costs.

You should never wear ripped jeans to an interview. There are virtually no ways to make a pair of ripped jeans look professional. Most workplaces don’t even allow them to those who are already employed. Sometimes, retail shops will make an exception if it’s a pair from their store. Even then, it’s still a better bet to go with a plain pair.

If you only have ripped jeans at your disposal, do what you can to find a community resource that may loan you a better pair. Or, if you’ve got nothing else, it’s best to be upfront about your situation during your interview. A simple explanation can take you a long way.

Can I Wear Skinny Jeans to a Job Interview?

Skinny jeans were all the rage in the 2010s. What started out as a trend for the youth and rockstars became acceptable in business casual and casual work environments, even if only on Fridays. Are these casual Friday staples appropriate for your job interview?

You can’t wear skinny jeans to a job interview. However, if you must wear jeans, slim-fit jeans or skinny jeans often look relatively business appropriate. Try to balance the jeans with a professional shirt.

Skinny jeans will be more acceptable than ripped jeans if you have no other options. Skinny jeans look better in a business setting than anything that’s ripped or written on. As long as your jeans are clean, holeless, and fit appropriately, you can consider wearing these to your interview. Some experts suggest wearing a slim-fit pair of jeans, which loosely translates into skinny jeans. Just make sure to pair them with appropriate footwear and a nice top.

Remember, though, jeans are not ideal. Wearing skinny jeans might be acceptable at casual establishments where employees wear jeans. If you’re applying for a management or upper-level position, you shouldn’t be wearing jeans at all.

Can I Wear Mom Jeans to a Job Interview?

Mom jeans have recently come back into fashion. Mom jeans are usually retro-washed, with a high-waisted top and flared bottoms. These jeans are definitely fashion-forward, but are they appropriate for an interview?

You can’t wear mom jeans to a job interview unless you absolutely have to. Skinny jeans or slim-fit jeans are often more professional-looking, however, there are a few ways you can dress up your mom jeans to make them look more business casual.

Don’t wear mom-jeans if you’re applying for a management or an upper-level job unless the interviewers say otherwise. However, if you’re applying in a more casual environment, you may get away with mom jeans. You can pair them with a professional blouse to make them look less casual. Mom jeans can definitely work in a business casual office, but again, you don’t want to start wearing them until you’re hired.

The Best and Worst Jeans Colors for a Job Interview

Sometimes, the color of jeans you’re wearing changes everything about them. Jeans have started coming out in all shapes and colors. You can find jeans that are:

  • Black
  • White
  • Khaki
  • Colorful

Each color of jeans gives off a different vibe, which determines the best setting for you to wear them. Lighter blue jeans tend to look more casual, while darker ones look more professional. 

When applying for a more casual job, if you must wear jeans, color matters. Dark wash jeans look best in this instance. When it comes to other colored jeans, shades like black, white, khaki, or red, their wearability in the workplace (and especially to a job interview) can vary.

Black

Black jeans may be the best choice when it comes to colored jeans. For a job interview, slacks are usually the most appropriate item to be worn. The good thing about black jeans is that the right pair can look like slacks from far away. Just be sure to dress them up for an interview, with a blazer or another professional-looking top. Heels also do a good job of making your attire look professional.

White

White jeans also look more professional than light or dark blue jeans, but they can also be exceptionally bright. If you choose a white pair of jeans, make sure to balance them out with your other outfit pieces. White jeans are mostly for casual wear, so they still fall under the “avoid at all costs” category.

Khaki

Khaki jeans are more appropriate than dark or light wash jeans for an interview for both men and women. Khaki jeans often create a more professional look and don’t technically belong to the blue jean family. Again, as with all jeans, dress them up with heels or a button-up shirt.

Colorful

Colorful jeans can be challenging to make work for a job interview. Often, they’re too casual looking or might be too bright. My advice is to make sure your colorful jeans are at least coordinated with some more professional-looking items in your closet. Additionally, try to go with darker colors rather than lighter ones.

Conclusion

What you wear to a job interview can be the deciding factor when it comes to securing the position you’re after. Try to dress a level up from the job you’re applying for. If you apply to a place that allows employees to wear jeans, you should still avoid them.

If you can’t afford to get a new outfit, some communities offer community closets that’ll allow you to borrow some free clothes before your job interview. Utilize these resources if attire is the only thing standing between you and the position you want.

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