What to wear for interview when you’re 50+

Over fifties advice on the correct attire for your interview

So – you’re over the moon, you’ve been offered an interview – well done you. But now you start to panic as you realise you have no idea what to wear! Should I go smart or casual, or smart-casual – what does that even mean?! Should I go for a classic or modern look, (and for men) do I need to wear a tie? At Jobs 50+ we understand that it can seem like a daunting task, but with our simple tips, you’ll be strutting out in confidence and securing the job of your dreams!

What to wear for interview when you’re 50+

1) Work environment

Think about what kind of a company you’re going to see. Is it a start-up, or public sector, creative, is it fun or is it more serious, professional services, is it a full-time management position, or a short-term temping job? The type of work culture will have a big influence on what is the norm.


A start-ups and creative environments will tend to be less formal and more casual, employees are more likely to be wearing jeans and T-shirt and jumpers with trainers than trousers. At the opposite end of the spectrum, public sector and financial services type environments will be more traditional and formal where staff where trousers, blouses and shirts and maybe even ties.


2) Have a look on their website


Take a look on the company website. What are people wearing in the photos? What kind of imagery and language are they using? If it’s traditional and formal, with people dressed smartly, this will give you a good indication of the culture. If it’s fun, maybe colourful and feels friendly, relaxed, then it’s more likely that less formal attire is required.


3) Smart, casual and smart-casual!


Confused?! You’re not alone. As a rule smart is going to be a dark suit or trousers / skirt with a white blouse or shirt (and possibly a tie for Finance or Management role in a formal setting), or a classic or plain-styled dress in a dark colour. Smart dark leather shoes will work well. Keep jewellery and accessories simple and elegant. Think visit to a 5 star restaurant.


Casual will more likely include pants of some description, or maybe jeans, with a T-shirt or more casual shirt or blouse, which could be coloured or patterned as this is more about expressing yourself and being authentic. Jewellery can be lightly bolder and more reflective of your personality. Shoes can be simple, best to avoid branded white trainers, though a ballet pump or matt leather shoe should work well. You could stray from black to brown here, maybe even a colour. Think supper with your best friend.


Smart-casual is somewhere in the middle! Think mid-week dinner date with your best friend. It’s casual with a smart twist – jeans or more casual trousers / skirt / dress and a white or pale shirt with a jacket that you can take off is always going to be a hit. You can accessorise to elevate a casual outfit to a smart-casual one, with some smart shoes, statement jewellery, scarf or a brooch.

And with all looks, if you’re wearing make-up, keep it simple, classic and professional.


Ask the recruiter or hiring manager 


If you are using an agency, ask them for advice as it’s their job to make sure you are fully prepared. Otherwise, you could call the hiring manager to get confirmation on the dress code. If they say, come as you feel comfortable, go smart its that’s you, or go smart-casual but don’t go completely casual just in case it’s not appropriate.


4) Ask for feedback 


Ask people that you trust for honest feedback on your outfit – give them the low-down on the job and the company and show them your outfit on – this will also help give you confidence.


5) If in doubt, go slightly smarter


If you’re still unsure, plump for smart casual in the middle. But the most important thing, is whatever you decide on, you need to feel comfortable and confident, so once you’ve made your decision, walk tall and make sure you own it! 


Good luck!