Interviewing On the Sly

When interviewing and employed, use these tips on dressing down interview attire for the office

by Joyann King

In a corporate culture where business casual is making waves, showing up to work in a three-piece suit is a dead giveaway to your colleagues that your dentist appointment is really an interview — somewhere else.

Fortunately, there are ways to tone down your look for the office but avoid a changing overhaul in the cramped restroom before your interview. By pairing a few casual items with your more formal interview attire, it will be anybody’s guess why you look just a little more polished today.


1. Wear flat boots or ballet flats.

Leave your gorgeous pumps in your car or under your desk in favor of lower heels. Bare legs and ballet flats or riding boots with tights will instantly dress down your interview appropriate skirt or dress. Bonus: Your feet will thank you.

2. Trade your jacket for a soft cardigan.

Layer a cozy cardigan in a soft color over your interview blouse or dress. Cardigans evoke a sense of casualness not usually appropriate for a formal interview. Leave your jacket hanging in your car or at your desk. Bonus: It will stay wrinkle-free.

3. Add a fashionable scarf or trendy jewelry.

A boldly colored necklace or Pucci printed scarf are a bit too fashion-forward for a formal interview. Add these fun accessories to your interview attire for a whimsical look; just don’t forget to tone them down before your interview. Bonus: Compliments from your colleagues.


1. Leave off your jacket and tie.

In this case, it is all about what you don’t wear. If a formal suit isn’t in your office dress code, simply leave your jacket and tie off till the interview. Bonus: Comfort! Isn’t that enough?

2. Wear a sportcoat or pullover sweater.

If you prefer to wear a coat to the office, opt for a more casual sportcoat or a cozy pullover. These layers will instantly dress down your suit pants and button down. Bonus: Style points for mixing it up.

3. Keep your shoes casual.

Leave your shiny Allen Edmonds under your desk in favor of a casual loafer or driving shoe. A low-key shoe even when worn with suit pants clearly will deter your colleagues from suspecting that you are looking for work elsewhere. Bonus: Your shoeshine will stay fresh.
Joyann King is a New York fashion editor and stylist. She has worked in the fashion departments of glossy magazines like Glamour and Self and contributes frequently to and Formerly the fashion editor at and a stylist for Macy’s and JCPenney, Joyann loves helping real people find their own personal style. She can be seen in fashion videos on and offering her unique perspective on current trends.

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