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“I Only Have Jeans for an Interview!”: What You Need to Know

Imagine this: You’re shortlisted for an interview with a job you want. You wish to make a good first impression. But when you open your closet, you start to panic when you realize, “I only have jeans for an interview!!”

I’m here to help you navigate the style dilemma for job interviews. This is crucial as a significant 55% of a good first impression relies on appearance. I’ll answer questions like – is it OK to wear jeans in a job interview? What to do if I only have jeans for an interview? What should I wear to an interview?

With this, you’ll know exactly how to dress to impress when you walk into that interview room. So let’s get started!

Read More: What To Wear To A Career Fair On Campus.

Is It Okay to Wear Jeans in a Job Interview?

Some of you might be thinking, “It’s the 21st century – what you wear shouldn’t matter in an interview.” Maybe. But that isn’t what most job interviewers think. One person from Quora admitted, “As a manager, if someone came to an interview wearing denim, or anything too casual, I’d take a long, hard look at their CVs, hoping for something that really stands out.”

That said, it all depends on the company you’re applying for. Sometimes denim jeans are an accepted dress code, while other times it’s a big NO-NO. Someone from Reddit says, “Jeans are perfectly appropriate for a lot of tech companies.” While someone else commented, “In a number of business fields and professions, though, formal dress is expected at interviews.” 

You can research the company website what the culture is like, and see whether jeans are a norm in the workplace or not. If you’re unsure, it’s always safest to dress up for your interview. Avoid wearing the jeans. Remember, it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. 

What to Do if I Only Have Jeans for an Interview?

But let’s go back to your dilemma, “I only have jeans for an interview.” If that’s the case, I’ll give you some questions and answer them with a tip on how to improve your interview attire.

“How do I make myself look formal with jeans?”

If you don’t want to appear too casual, you can match your jeans with a formal top. This will balance out the ‘casual’ to ‘formal’ attire. For men, a business casual polo, a dress shirt, or an upper-half suit and tie will make up for the jeans you wear. For women, pair your jeans with a nice blouse. 

To make your interview outfit even more acceptable to a hiring manager, you can wear dressy shoes, a nice accessory, and a blazer. Dave Fano, the Founder and CEO of TEAL, says, “Wearing a jacket of some sort gives a more professional feel, even while still wearing jeans.” Krystal Yates, an HR expert, adds, “Wear nice shoes and a nice shirt to offset the denim.”

Read More: Is It OK to Wear Open Toe Shoes to an Interview? Everything You Need to Know

“What type of jeans should I NOT wear to a job interview?”

If you must wear jeans, make sure that it’s at least an acceptable pair. Even if an interviewer is OK with casual clothes, they will certainly raise an eyebrow if you come in with ripped jeans. What’s more, always make sure that the jeans are clean and pressed. So before the day of the interview comes, wash your jeans, press out the wrinkles, and set off the creases. You want it to look as “formal” as possible

“Can you wear jeans to an interview as a female?”

It might surprise you, but jeans are more acceptable to wear for women than men in an interview setting. The reason is that female jeans are usually neater and dressier. It doesn’t look as casual as men’s jeans. So pick the jeans from your pile that has a dressier style. 

“Can you wear jeans to an interview as a male?”

Wearing jeans to a job interview is harder to accept for males because it tends to have a more rugged look. To counter that, you need to pick a nice pair of jeans that fit perfectly and have a more formal cut. 

“Can I wear black jeans to an interview?”

It’s best to not wear jeans at all. But if you have nothing else, black jeans, or any dark wash color, are better than light ones. The reason why is that black/dark is often associated with formality and sophistication. Also, black or dark colors pair well with other colors. This way, it’s easier to match with a formal top. 

“What if I don’t feel confident wearing jeans for a job interview?”

Confidence is highly important when you answer interview questions. However, something as small as knowing you’re not in the appropriate interview attire can ruin that for you. If you want to feel more confident, then I suggest you rush out and buy (or you can borrow) a pair of slacks, dress pants, skirts, and dresses. You can even choose to buy and wear a suit. 

Don’t worry, you can find a lot of cheap clothing items at Walmart or Target. If you want to get the job, don’t let this small hindrance get in your way. 

How Should I Dress for an Interview?

Let’s say you’re deciding what to wear early on. You have time to sort out clothes that you might not have.  If so, here is what’s appropriate to wear for a job interview attire:

  • A formal top. If you like wearing business casual, you can simply wear a nice polo, blouse, button-up shirt, dress shirt, or sweater. To improve your overall look, you can finish it off with a blazer that matches. Try to avoid wearing T-shirts or bare spaghetti straps as much as possible. One is too casual and the other too revealing for an interview atmosphere. 
  • Slacks or dress pants. These will make it a more professional outfit. So if you want to dress professionally, avoid jeans and shorts and go with slacks or dress pants. 
  • Skirt or casual dress. When interviewing for a job, skirts and dresses are appropriate attire. However, make sure that the hem goes below your knees (even when you sit). It’s not a professional look if you show too much skin. 
  • Suit and tie. If the company has a formal dress code, always wear suits. If you’re wearing a suit, then you’ll be seen as someone who can dress well. It might not guarantee you the job, but it will certainly help make a good impression. 
  • Dress shoes, nice boots, flats, closed-toed heels. Wearing sandals, flip-flops, open-toed shoes, and sneakers is the same as wearing jeans in an interview. It might be appropriate but it’s best to avoid it. OK, maybe it’s easier to get away with wearing casual footwear than jeans. Still, if you want to wear appropriate clothing, choose formal footwear like dress shoes and flats. 
  • Bare head. No, I don’t mean go bald. I mean that don’t wear hats or other headwear. Skip the hats, headphones, beanies, and earbuds. This might just distract or annoy the hiring manager. Worst, it might make them not take you seriously. Just a side of caution: I’m not talking about headwear worn for religious or cultural reasons. Headbands and clips are good, too, as long as they don’t look too kiddie. 
  • Minimal jewelry. When some people hear ‘dress for the job interview’, they think that the more jewelry they wear, the better it will look. However, that’s not the case. Too much jewelry might make it seem like you’re attending a party instead of a job interview. So just go for minimal jewelry. If you have facial piercings or other body jewelry, try to look into the company culture and dress code. If you’re not sure, it’s best to err on the side of caution and remove it for the time being. 

Final Words

If you have a job interview today and you find out “I only have jeans for an interview!” Then you can try to improve the overall look by following my tips. If you have time to pick out your outfit, then make sure to follow the appropriate attire that I listed here, too. 

About Author

Founder of Eggcellentwork.com. With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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