What Is a Semi Casual Look I Can Wear to an Interview?

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Wearing a full suit is not necessary for a semi-casual interview.
Wearing a full suit is not necessary for a semi-casual interview. (Image: Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

While interviews for some professions such as attorney, engineers and executives should have a formal look of three-piece suits and ties, other professions are better off with a semi-casual look. A server, student union worker and babysitter are examples of jobs where interviewees can pull off a semi-formal look. To incorporate a semi-casual appearance, the candidate should use both formal and informal pieces of clothing and accessories. A general rule is to dress as if you already have the job; fashion your attire after the clothes the people in those professions wear.

Men

Though men should never wear jeans to an interview, a clean pair of khakis is an acceptable semi-casual garment to wear. The shirt should be long-sleeved and button-up, but a tie is not a necessary component. If the shirt is short-sleeved, balancing this casual shirt with black or gray formal pants balances the professional element with a laid-back appearance. Collared polo shirts are acceptable for semi-casual looks but should be free of any stains and wrinkles. Loafers are alternatives to dress shoes.

Women

Women should never wear jeans or a jean skirt to an interview. On the other hand, wearing a skirt with a colorful pattern or bright colors is one way to show a relaxed, yet formal attitude. For the top, wearing a camisole and a well-fitted suit jacket in a solid color can temper the skirt. An alternative is donning a wrap over a lacy or intricate tank top coupled with professional slacks. A semi-casual look can coordinate colorful jewelry as well. While interviewees should abstain from wearing large hoop earrings, an appropriate semi-casual look can still include a single chunky bracelet or a necklace with colorful beads or an ornate pendant. For shoes, women should avoid most sandals unless the material is high-quality leather and covers most of the foot. Salisbury University specifies that semi-casual shoes for women include small heels and flats.

Seasonal

Seasonably hot or cold weather alters style considerations for interviews. Pea coats are suitable options for both genders for the winter time. Puffy ski jackets, coats sporting an athletic team and anything with stains or holes should be avoided. During the summer months, women must ensure to wear modest clothes. Avoid wearing skirts that are shorter than knee length. Both genders should not wear anything that exposes the shoulder. Career-hq-tools.com suggests wearing breathable fabrics such as linen and cotton blends for interviewees living in sub-tropic climates. Such fabrics tend to help the candidate avoid sweat stains and also tend to be semi-casual in appearance.

Considerations

Sometimes interviewers have to skip from one professional interview to a semi-casual one. In such instances, Ann Marie Sabath, author of “Beyond Business Casual” suggests to err on the side of wearing the professional clothes to the other interview. An alternative is to simply wear a suit jacket to the professional interview and removing it for the next less formal interview. If unsure of the style for the interview, if possible, appear at the work site and survey the attire of the other workers. If workers wear jeans and casual clothes, semi-casual attire is acceptable for the interview. Business casual, on the other hand, means the interviewer should wear formal clothing.

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