As an SEO writer assistant, I will use quick answers to questions in the opening paragraphs to provide useful tips for what colors to avoid wearing to a job interview. I will also use H2 subheadings and tables as required to present the information clearly.
Choosing the right outfit for a job interview is crucial. While you want to look professional, polished, and put-together, you also want to avoid certain colors that may give the wrong impression. The interviewer will likely form an opinion of you within the first few seconds of meeting you, so you want to make sure your clothing doesn’t detract from the strong first impression you’re aiming for.
In general, you’ll want to stick with basic, neutral colors for an interview. But there are some specific hues that are definite no-nos if you want to look like a serious, qualified candidate. Here are the top colors to avoid wearing to a job interview and why.
Bright Neon Colors
Stay far away from bright neon colors like hot pink, lime green, and electric orange for your interview attire. These playful, fluorescent shades are way too casual and can undermine how professional and mature you look.
Neon colors are distracting and will likely be the first thing the interview notices and remembers about you – for all the wrong reasons. You want the focus to be on your qualifications, not your outfit.
Brown may seem like a safe neutral, but it’s actually not a great choice for interviews. Light tans and beiges are okay, but dark or reddish browns can look dirty, dated, or dingy rather than crisp and professional.
Dark brown can also make you appear bored or tired. Opt for grays, blacks, navies and other neutral shades instead of brown for your interview clothing.
Red is a bold, attention-grabbing color, which is why you’ll want to avoid it for interviews. Unless it’s part of a subtle print, bright red can seem overly flashy or aggressive for the corporate environment.
Dark burgundy is a bit more subtle than true red. But in general, reds make you stand out too much. You don’t want the interviewer remembering your outfit more than your actual qualifications.
Royal purple is another attention-grabbing color you’ll want to skip for interview attire. Light violets, lilacs or lavenders printed as accents are okay, but bold purple risks clashing with company colors and looking out of place.
Purple prints and accessories should be subtle. Solid purple dresses, jackets, pants or blouses are too bold and informal for an interview.
Yellow is typically seen as a fun, youthful color. Bright, sunny yellows will make you appear more casual and less serious. Soft buttery yellows are a bit more subtle, but still not ideal for interviews.
Yellow is tricky to match with standard interview colors like black, gray and navy. Play it safe by avoiding yellow clothing altogether for your interview.
Like yellow, pink reads as youthful, feminine and informal. Hot pink is far too flashy. Soft pink and rose prints can work for some female candidates, but generally, pink is a risky color choice.
If you want to incorporate pink, keep it minimal. For example, a pale pink blouse under a gray suit or a pink geometric print scarf with a navy dress. But steer clear of all-pink outfits.
Gold and Sparkles
Gold fabrics, metallics and sparkly accents are way too flashy for interviews. Sequins, shimmery fabrics, and obvious gold tones come across as tasteless and distracting.
Avoid lamé fabrics, sequined tops, glittery shoes and jewelry with large reflective stones. Keep the sparkle for social occasions, not professional interviews.
Avoid wearing all white to interviews. White clothing tends to show wrinkles, stains, and undergarments very visibly. Solid white can also look harsh if the fabrics are too shiny or sheer.
Cream, ecru and winter white hues are softer and can work for blouses or sweaters. But steer clear of bright, stark white for your interview outfit.
Black is typically considered a safe, standard interview color. However, head-to-toe black can look overly somber and severe. For a more approachable look, pair black with neutral colors like gray, tan or navy.
Black suits and dresses are fine. But offset them with a colorful blouse or accent scarf to soften the look. Don’t wear black on black for interviews.
Bright, Saturated Colors
In general, stay away from saturated, bright shades like electric blue, cherry red, lime green, purple and orange. While these colors project energy and youthfulness, they often appear too loud and distracting in professional settings.
Muted, softer tones like mauve, jade green, sky blue and blush pink are much more subtle options if you want to incorporate some color.
Bold graphic prints, florals and plaids can be too casual and flashy for interviews. If you want to wear a pattern, choose something subtle and muted like checks, pinstripes, or small-scale prints.
Pair printed blouses or accessories with solid colored pieces. Avoid mixing multiple loud patterns, which tends to look distracting and chaotic.
Key Colors to Wear
Some classic interview color choices include:
- Navy – A dark navy suit or dress looks polished and professional
- Gray – Quartz, charcoal and steel grays project competence and focus
- Black – A black suit or dress exudes authority (just pair with a colorful accent)
- White – Crisp white shirts complement all suit colors
- Tan – Khaki, beige and light brown appear relaxed yet put-together
Here’s a quick table summarizing appropriate and inappropriate interview color choices:
|Best Colors to Wear||Colors to Avoid|
|Soft pastels||Hot pink|
|Subtle patterns||Gold metallics|
|Muted, soft hues||Stark white|
Tips for Men
The standard interview outfit for men is a dark, conservative suit with a white or light blue collared shirt. Here are some tips on colors for men:
- Navy and charcoal suits are ideal neutral options
- Avoid brown suits, which can appear dated
- Wear black suits sparingly, and pair with a light shirt
- No bright ties – stick with silk ties in navy, burgundy, silver/gray
- White, light blue and pale pink shirts look crisp and professional
- Avoid black or dark red shirts, which look harsh
Tips for Women
For women, suits, dresses or a blouse/skirt or blouse/pants combo are all appropriate. Here are some top color tips for women:
- Navy, gray and black suits or dresses are foolproof options
- An all-black outfit risks looking dreary – pair with colorful blouse
- Soft blouses in pale pink, mint, lavender or ivory work well
- Avoid sheer fabrics – opaque, matte finishes look more professional
- No loud floral prints or bright patterns
- Sheath dresses in jewel-toned colors like emerald are sophisticated choices
More Interview Attire Tips
Beyond just color choice, here are some additional tips for choosing interview attire:
- Solid fabrics are better than patterned – subtle patterns at most
- No loud accessories – simple jewelry and leather bag/shoes
- Conservative necklines and skirt lengths
- Pressed, wrinkle-free clothing
- Polish leather shoes, no scuffs
- Freshly laundered clothing, go easy on cologne/perfume
- No stains, holes, missing buttons
- Hosiery and fitted undergarments should not show
Research the Company Culture
Always tailor your interview outfit to the company culture. Formal business attire works for banks, law firms, etc. But for tech startups and creative agencies, business casual is often more appropriate.
Do some research on the company’s image, office environment and employee dress code before your interview to ensure you mirror their cultural standards.
Ask Your Contact
If you’re unsure about how formal to dress, ask the company contact who scheduled your interview for guidance. Most will happily provide advice if you explain you want to match company cultural expectations.
Something like “I want to make sure I dress appropriately for the interview and company culture – would you recommend formal business attire or more casual business wear?” shows you aim to make a good impression.
Avoiding distracting, overly casual colors and sticking with traditional neutral, professional hues is your safest bet for interview attire. Focus on looking polished, put-together and confident by choosing the right colors.
Research the company culture and image so you can dress appropriately. Ask your company contact for guidance if you’re unsure what tone of attire is suitable. With smart color choices and the right outfit, you’ll impress the interviewer with your professionalism and qualifications.