Outfits Under $100: Dressing for Internship/Job Interviews

Prepare for interviews, presentations, or career fairs with affordable outfits for different scenarios.

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Women's interview outfits illustration by Stacey Abidi
Image: Stacey Abidi

This is the time of the semester when students begin to look at summer internships and jobs. I’ve been preparing for interviews like crazy lately, so I wanted to pass on what I’ve learned to you with some easy examples! 

Here are four affordable outfits (with one plus-size option) that are great for different types of interviews, career fairs, and class presentations.

Dress Smart – $97.83

One of the most important things to do when figuring out what to wear for an interview is to be aware of the company’s culture. If you wear something too casual to a company that has a formal dress code, it will reflect that you don’t know much about the company and potentially that you aren’t taking the position seriously. 

You can get an impression of how to dress based on information in the job description, by asking somebody you know who works there, or by sleuthing through the company’s Instagram and Facebook pictures. And when in doubt, dress more formally than you think you need to.

Smart beige blazer professional work outfit

Products: Blazer, Pants, Blouse, Pumps

This outfit is classic and chic. Instead of an all-black suit, a beige blazer is still neutral but a lot lighter and looks less stuffy. Keep it simple with nude pumps and a white blouse. If the collarless blouse option in this outfit looks too casual for your situation, you can switch that out for a crisp white button-up.

Keep it Simple – $93.21

One of the most difficult things to understand is the idea of business casual. The umbrella term refers to the level below wearing a full suit, but still nicer than wearing jeans. However, every company falls differently into the spectrum of business casual. Some lean more business-y, while others are noticeably more casual. 

For an interview scenario, it’s best to lean a little nicer than you expect to dress on a daily basis if you get the job. This way, you’re safe either way.

Business casual interview dress outfit

Products: Necklaces, Notebook, Dress, Tights, Heels

An easy way to dress business casual is with a nice dress! This dress is very structured so it’s suitable for a wide range of workplaces. The pattern gives the outfit a unique flair while still looking professional. For more personality, throw on an accessory that is bold but still minimal. Adding tights and black shoes keeps the outfit more on the professional side. 

If you want to wear heels but aren’t experienced walking in them, choosing heels with a wedge will help you keep your balance. You don’t want to look uncomfortable during the interview just because of your shoes! Another interview tip is to bring a notebook with you to take notes. A common complaint interviewers often cite is that the person applying for a position has no questions at the end, which is easy to avoid if you jot them down during the interview.

Add Some Flair – $93.78

Depending on the position, it may be beneficial to add some personal flair to your outfit. For example, employers in creative industries may expect applicants to dress a bit more boldly. The important thing to keep in mind is that you still want to look put-together. Even if the creative team wears jeans on a daily basis, you want to show that you can be professional when you need to be.

Collared sweater business casual outfit

Products: Flats, Button-up, Sweater, Skirt

This outfit shows a hint more personality than the two previous looks thanks to a bolder shoe choice and polka-dotted collar. A plain black sweater and skirt keep the outfit neutral and presentable, but in this look you don’t have to worry about wearing tights if you’re sure it’s not important. 

Pro tip: If you’re having trouble layering a collared shirt under a sweater, try layering a cami on top of the button-up before you put on the sweater. This will help flatten the button-up so it doesn’t show through the sweater. Another option is to look for collared shirts in thinner materials like chiffon. If the material isn’t thick, it’ll be less visible through the sweater.

Patterned Pants – $95.41

Plus size business casual pattern pants outfit

Products: Lip cream, Flats, Shirt, Pants

Another great way to dress for an interview where you’re not sure on how formal to dress is to wear patterned pants. There are a lot of work-friendly patterns that add flair while still looking professional! 

This outfit is just a simple button-up, pants, and flats but it still looks stylish because nothing is plain. Add a bold red lip color if you want to take it up a notch, or stick to neutral makeup if you’re trying to stay low-key.

What do you think?

Which of these outfits is your favorite? Do you have any extra tips on dressing for interviews? What is the dress code in your work place? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below!

7 thoughts on “Outfits Under $100: Dressing for Internship/Job Interviews”

  1. In my opinion the only outfit acceptable for an interview here is MAYBE the first one. It may just be the model, but that skater skirt in the third outfit looks WAY too short for an interview. When going for an interview you want to look as formal and neutral as possible. Long (not ankle), single-color pants or a muted patterned skirt, a conservative blouse, a blazer, and shoes that cover your toes. I know it sounds uniform-y, but interviews are really not the time to let your fashionista side fly. You’re trying to impress a whole panel of people with different tastes and judging outfits does play a role in that (though it shouldn’t). The outfits are cute for once you’ve got the job and have learned the office culture, but interviews are a different, more conservative, beast.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the feedback! My goal was to try and have a variety of options depending on the workplace. From my personal experience, dressing too formal in a workplace where the dress code is casual to business casual can reflect that you don’t understand the company’s culture and look out of place. I agree that reviews are definitely more conservative, but I wanted to have varying levels for people to consider for their situation. 🙂

      Reply
    • I find the outfits to be okay in terms of color scheme but loosely structured. #1 top looks too much like a t-shirt and that wouldn’t fly in any sort of interview (outside of tech and even then I know people who would at least put on a henley). I would pair #1’s blazer with a wine-colored button-down shirt, keep the pants, and replace the nude heels with black ones. #2 is too unstructured and I feel like the wedges seem too youthful. I’d keep the black-and-white pattern but make it a wrap dress, throw on a black blazer over it, keep the tights, have actual pumps instead of those kitten flats. #3 the skirt is too flippy. Maybe swap it for a pencil skirt and the rest is fine. #3 needs a watch or something. It’s not nearly polished enough and that lip color is way too bright.

      Reply
  2. If anybody is short (like 5’2″ and below) and dislikes ankle pants like me, Old Navy’s Pixie Long pants are nice and inexpensive in multiple colors. I pair my solid navy pants with a navy H&M blazer and a button-down. I find that navy or gray separates that could match into “suits” are great (just keep the colors and fabric materials similar) since those colors are dark enough for winter but light enough to not die of sweat in the summer. Also, jewel tones or polished patterns are a great way to add flair to a “business casual” interview outfit while keeping it fairly structured without resorting to trendy pieces. For instance: black pants, white windowpane check button-up shirt, and a wine-colored cardigan with flats would be conservative but still maintain “casual.”

    Reply

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