Interview Tips Industry Insights

What to Wear to a Retail Job Interview

By: Jean Buehler
Jan 11, 2021 • 5 min read

What to Wear to a Retail Job Interview

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted for an interview at a retail store. Now you just need to decide – what do you wear? Your outfit is always important for any interview, but for a job in retail, people care more about the clothes that you wear! Clothing is, after all, what the store is for.

When you are looking for a retail job, it can be confusing to know what to wear to the interview. Is it better to match the shop’s aesthetic or show off the business attire that you purchased for interviews? How much of your own everyday personal style should shine through your outfit? How much should you prioritize professionalism?

These questions can come up for any kind of interview, but it can be especially confusing for interviews where style is the focus. Even the professionals agree. “You should definitely dress differently at a fashion interview than in the more corporate worlds of, say, finance or pharmaceuticals,” says Matthew Hunt, the publicity editor of Exposure America. So, what should you wear for a retail job interview? Let’s check it out!

Large Retail Stores

When you apply to work at a large chain retail store, it is best to go for business casual attire. It is best to avoid casual clothing such as T-shirts and open-toed shoes or sneakers. However, some larger retail stores advise sales associates to show off their personal style during interviews. After all, most fashion retailers want their sales associates to appear fashionable while they are at work. It will give the store an aura of professionalism and style that will likely help with business. So, don’t be afraid to be yourself!

The best thing that you can do is research! Search online to see if there is a dress code for the store and its employees. They typically consist of a specific color, bottom and top, but sometimes they branch out! Here are some good options to consider:

  • skirts
  • slacks
  • blouses
  • sweaters
  • polo shirts
  • dark jeans (no rips)
  • chinos
  • long or short-sleeved button-downs
  • shoes should be closed-toed

Many stores such as H&M and Abercrombie & Fitch appreciate it if you wear clothing from their store. If you don’t own anything from the store where you are applying, exhibiting some of your personal style through your favorite clothing items could be a good idea. Being comfortable will help you appear confident in your interview.

Retail Boutiques

When working in a more high-end store, it is good to be familiar with the clothing’s general aesthetic and try to reflect that in your interview attire. This does not mean you have to be wearing clothing that you bought at the boutique you are interviewing for, but selecting pieces similar to what they sell can be a gesture that will go a long way. “As a designer, I do appreciate if an interviewee has studied the collection and overall feel,” Lela Rose told At a boutique, it might be worth taking some fashion risks while still remaining professional.

If you choose between two blouses, for example, and one is sleeker, and one is more unique, you might choose the unique one for a boutique interview because the employer’s impression of you is likely to be quite affected by how they view your personal style. Though the final hiring decision will be based on qualification for the position over the outfit, how you present yourself through your style is an important part of the first impression you could make at a high-end boutique.

Department Stores

If you are looking to work at a high-end department store rather than a large retailer or boutique, you should trade out business casual attire for formal attire. Wearing formal clothing, especially for interviews in departments like formal wear or perfume, shows a level of professionalism that matches such a high-end store’s environment. Demonstrating a willingness to match the store’s style and professionalism in the interview stage shows that you value the employer’s time and values. It also demonstrates that you have the ability to judge what is appropriate in the workspace you will be entering.

Good business casual attire for women would be a conservative black dress with stockings, a solid, light-colored blouse with a blazer and pencil skirt, or a navy blue suit (since blue is the preferred interview suit color of 23% of hiring managers). Men should wear either a suit or a jacket with dress slacks, a button-down shirt with a tie, dark socks, and leather dress shoes with a matching belt. Avoid patterns unless they are subtle and not distracting. Turn to neutral colors that match and more conservative silhouettes. Remember, it is wiser to dress more conservatively than to arrive at an interview underdressed.

Designer Stores

High-fashion brands such as Gucci are often in search of very fashionable employees. For example, one of the interviews for Gucci associates involves questions about the knowledge of current trends. A designer store interview is where you want to find the most balance between style and professionalism. One idea might be to wear traditional formal wear to the interview and accessorize with high-end belts or jewelry to give the look an edge. You can purchase second-hand designer or on-brand clothing and accessories at TheRealReal or ThredUp.

Overall, you want the look to seem polished, professional, and you want it to match the store’s style as much as possible. Letting your accessories communicate your style is one way to accomplish this, but paying attention to other factors such as having neat hair and manicured nails can show that you have put effort into the way you look for your interview.

Know Your Store and Be Confident

All in all, the best advice that you can take for a retail interview is to get to know the store that you’ll be working for. Being familiar with what the current employees wear and what the store sells will help you pick out good outfits to present yourself to the hiring manager. Once you know the general style of a store or boutique, you can trust that if you try to match that style and demonstrate some of your own personal style, the manager will notice.

People who work in the fashion industry do care about clothes, after all, and they will be excited to see that you care as well. Wearing clothing that will impress a hiring manager will help you make a good first impression and might also give you the confidence to really nail that interview.

More Ways to Prepare for Your Retail Interview

There are so many ways that you can help prepare for your interview! Make sure that you take a look at some common interview questions and prepare some answers for them. There are even questions specifically designed for retail interviews that can help!

Your outfit for your retail interview will make a huge difference, but make sure to check out some different interview checklists to make sure you are fully prepared, from head to toe!

Finally, if this is one of your first interviews or you are getting back into the job market, check out how an interview is conducted from start to finish to know what to expect.

More to Read:

25 Best Retail Jobs in Boston

Best Retail Jobs for Teens

Why Retail Managers Should Hire With JobGet

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