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Is it OK to wear red to a job interview?

Is it OK to wear red to a job interview?

Wearing the right outfit to a job interview is crucial. You want to make the best possible first impression on the interviewer and show that you’re professional, competent, and would be a great fit for the company. The color you choose to wear is an important part of your interview attire. Red is an eye-catching color that elicits strong reactions, so should you wear red to an interview or avoid it? Here’s a deep dive into the pros and cons of wearing red to a job interview.

The Symbolic Meaning of Red

Before getting into whether or not red is interview-appropriate, it helps to understand what the color tends to symbolize. Red is associated with the following connotations:

Power Passion
Energy Urgency
Attention-grabbing Bold
Aggression Dominance

As you can see, red can evoke both positive and negative feelings. It’s eye-catching and projects confidence. But it can also come across as aggressive or mildly threatening if taken too far. This mixed symbolic meaning of red makes it a tricky color choice for a job interview.

Pros of Wearing Red to an Interview

Here are some potential benefits of wearing red to a job interview:

Makes you stand out: If all the other applicants are wearing navy, black, or gray, wearing a red outfit will help you be remembered. Hiring managers meet a lot of applicants in succession. A bold red ensemble could make you more memorable.

Projects confidence: Red conveys power and passion. Wearing it can make you appear confident and self-assured. Interviews are your chance to talk yourself up and convince the employer you’re the right one for the job. Red can help you do that more effectively.

Matches certain industries: For creative fields like graphic design or fashion, red is likely more acceptable and even expected. The bold color suits those artistic, innovative industries well.

Makes you appear energetic and enthusiastic: The color red is stimulating and vivid. It brings a sense of energy and excitement. Appearing energetic about the role during an interview is positive.

Cons of Wearing Red to an Interview

On the other hand, here are some potential drawbacks of wearing red to a job interview:

Can come across as aggressive: While you want to be confident during an interview, aggressiveness is undesirable. Since red can symbolize anger and dominance, wearing too much of it could undermine your goals.

Distracting: A bright red outfit could prove distracting. You want the focus to be on your qualifications and interview answers, not your clothing. A more muted color may be less distracting.

Inappropriate for more conservative roles: Flashy red clothing likely isn’t suitable for industries like banking, law, finance, or academia which tend to be more conservative. You don’t want to appear unprofessional.

Goes against typical interview attire: For most industries, dark-colored business suits are the standard interview apparel. Wearing red could make you appear unaware of those norms and unprepared.

Suit color matters more: The appropriateness of red depends largely on what clothing item it is a part of. A red blazer is likely more acceptable than a red suit.

Guidelines for Wearing Red to an Interview

If you do decide to wear red to a job interview, here are some guidelines to follow:

– Stick to a red blazer, shirt, or accessory instead of a full red suit or dress.

– Make red an accent color paired with more neutral pieces like navy, gray, black, or white.

– Prioritize a darker, muted shade of red over bright crimson. Maroon or burgundy is safer than fire engine red.

– Consider red for industries like fashion, media, tech, or the arts rather than banking, law, academia, or consulting.

– Match the vibrancy of red to the culture and environment of the workplace. Bold red may suit a startup better than a corporation.

– If in doubt, opt for no red at all. You can’t really go wrong wearing a traditional neutral-colored suit.


The bottom line is that wearing red to a job interview can be polarizing. It offers some benefits in terms of standing out and appearing confident and energetic. But can also backfire by seeming overly aggressive or unprofessional. Consider the specific workplace culture and role you’re interviewing for. For most traditional corporate jobs, go for a standard neutral suit. Jobs in creative fields offer more leeway to pull off red appropriately and make it work in your favor. But when in doubt, err on the side of caution and opt for navy, black, gray, or brown rather than bold red. Focus on showcasing your skills and qualifications instead of making a splash with your outfit choice.

Expert Opinions on Wearing Red to an Interview

Don’t just take my word for it – here’s what three career experts have to say about wearing red to a job interview:

Amanda Augustine, career expert:

“I wouldn’t recommend wearing red from head to toe, as you risk coming across as aggressive or cocky. But a red dress paired with a black blazer or red heels with a navy suit add just enough color without being overwhelming.”

Robin Ryan, resume expert:

“Red is a power color that can give you confidence during an interview. But beware that different shades conjure up different perceptions. Dark red is the safest option.”

Lisa Rangel, executive resume writer:

“Wearing red is like walking a tightrope – the right shade and styling can project self-assurance, but it can also imply aggression or showiness if taken too far. For most job interviews, I’d advise playing it safe with more muted colors.”

Key Takeaways

– Red is an eye-catching color that implies power and passion. It can help you stand out and appear confident.

– But red may also be perceived as aggressive or unprofessional, depending on the shade and amount worn.

– Stick to red accents and pair with neutral colors. Prioritize darker, muted reds over bright hues.

– Red is likely more appropriate for creative, trendy industries than conservative corporate roles.

– When unsure, opt for traditional neutral interview attire over risky red ensembles.

– Focus primarily on showcasing your qualifications, not making a splash with your outfit.

The Verdict

Here is a simple checklist to decide if red is interview appropriate for you:

– The role is in a creative, trendy industry like fashion or tech Yes No
– The workplace culture is relatively casual and youthful Yes No
– You’re wearing red as an accent color, not head to toe Yes No
– The red is a darker, muted shade Yes No
– You feel confident you can pull the look off professionally Yes No

If you answered mostly yes, wearing red may work to your advantage. If you answered mostly no, traditional neutral interview attire is likely the safer choice. Weigh the criteria carefully as you decide what to wear. And when in doubt, opt for navy or black over red.