While your clothing may not be the most important factor when it comes to an interview, it’s important to give off as good of a first impression as possible. The question is, can you wear a black shirt to an interview?
Black shirts can be worn to an interview, but usually only if the work setting has a relatively relaxed dress code or if you’re applying for a senior role. The color itself has an air of authority and may not be appropriate for entry-level interviews.
That’s it in short, but there are more factors to it.
Here’s a guide to help you decide whether a black shirt would make a good first impression at an interview.
So, let’s get to it.
How To Know Whether You Can Wear A Black Shirt To An Interview
Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether a black shirt would be an appropriate fit for an interview with the industry you want to work in.
These should hopefully help you make more of an informed decision.
1. The Industry
Certain industries expect their future employees to dress in a certain way, and a black shirt may be the answer; however, it’s best to read further to determine if yours applies.
Here is something for you to keep in the back of your mind:
When dressing for an interview, it’s always important for employers to see that you fit into the environment.
Take formal business environments, for instance.
For this environment showing up in formal business attire is seen as the appropriate dress code. It is normally advised to wear a light color shirt that would stand out against a dark-colored, formal suit.
Since this is the case, you probably want to go above the normal business attire worn at work to stand out and try to exceed the employers’ expectations in an interview.
So, for jobs like an analyst or a banker wearing a black shirt is normally frowned upon. These corporate office environments usually wouldn’t take kindly to the aesthetic.
It’s best to avoid it for the interview as you are trying to make an excellent first impression. To do that you’ll want to dress how they’d expect you to if you were to get the job.
Wear a light-colored shirt with a suit that fits well and is of good quality if you want to put your best foot forward to get a job.
For other ‘casual’ business environments such as IT jobs and tech start-ups, there is more of a relaxed dress code, but these vary.
The tricky task in these work environments is finding the balance between casual and business.
A black shirt could be seen as dressing up a casual look that fits the correct vibe of the place; therefore, it could be a safe bet.
Lastly, you have manual labor jobs. These normally require you to work on-site.
A black shirt may seem too formal for this work, and you would likely be working outside in roles where a shirt can be quite restrictive.
In this environment, a T-shirt and jeans may be appropriate wear, but of course, none of the clothes should be branded or baggy.
If you stick to this, you should be fine, but observation is key, and it’s always good to double-check how ‘casual’ the actual dress code is.
2. The Position
After all, the higher the position you apply for, the more formal your attire should be.
This is because this is a leadership position, and therefore it is essential to be able to show that you can be a high-powered individual. After all, if hired for the job, people would look up to you for advice.
Therefore, wear an outfit that makes you look like you can run things.
Even if the workplace is a bit more of a casual working environment, a black shirt will assert this element of strength.
I would advise that for entry-level roles, you consider the working environment you are entering, as you’ll probably need to dress formally enough to not offend your seniors. At the same time, you can’t afford to take risks either.
A black shirt would probably not be appropriate attire at all – go for a simple, light-colored dress shirt (white or baby blue).
3. The Condition Of The Shirt
When attending an interview, it is an unspoken rule that as well as observing the individual items an interviewee is wearing, employers also note the quality of the items.
For example, a crinkled black shirt would never be a good look in any work environment, as it may convey to your interviewer that you are a disorganized person.
The tricky part with wearing black is that it easily washes out, so you may want to opt for a new shirt or one of good quality that lasts.
Do not just drag out the shirt at the back of your closet that has just sat there collecting dust.
Making yourself look presentable is just general etiquette and goes beyond the idea of formality.
A black shirt is a safe bet for some industries but can be your downfall if it’s not in good condition.
Even if a black shirt is not appropriate, a general tip is to make sure your clothes are neat and tidy.
How To Wear A Black Shirt To An Interview (If You Can)
These tips should see you through if you feel as though the look is appropriate.
1. No Branding
Some shirts come with branding on the side (usually the brand’s logo). For some employers, it can seem distracting. This is ideally not what you want them to focus on.
In addition to this, some businesses don’t allow employees to wear branded clothing.
Unless you are applying for a job in an industry like fashion where wearing specific brands could up your status.
So, when picking your attire, it is generally advisable to opt for a black shirt with no visible branding. This includes logos and writing – nothing at all.
It should be clean, simple, and plain.
More specifically, a plain Oxford button-up shirt would be suitable for either a formal business environment or a casual work environment.
2. Wear Items That Compliment The Shirt
When dressing up a black shirt, you should pick other items that have more of a formal look to them, such as dress pants, smart leather shoes, and a blazer.
However, if you want to dress down, then matching your black shirt with fitted jeans or chinos should do the trick.
The black shirt on its own in smart paired with the jeans gives a more casual look overall. This is the key in casual business attire.
When selecting appropriate shoes, it’s safe to go for Chelsea boots, chukka boots, or penny loafers in these more casual work environments.
In general, the items you pair with a black shirt should be complementary. Try to avoid too much color contrast between the different items you’re wearing.
This may not leave a good first impression on an employer.
A more uniform look is the goal.
3. Consider The Colors Of Other Items
Another thing to take note of is picking items with compatible colors. For example, in formal business settings, it is important to wear neutral colors such as blue, gray, and black.
A black shirt is quite versatile and would go with a range of colors, but it is probably best to prioritize being minimalist.
Bright colors would stand out for other occasions; however, they may stand out for the wrong reasons during an interview.
A black shirt can be worn with other neutral colors to break up the outfit, but it’s best to avoid picking other black items. Instead, opt for gray or navy.
Even in casual work environments, it is probably best to follow this rule.
This should make your attire seem more professional.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are a couple of frequently asked questions to sum up and improve your sense of clarity around this subject.
Can You Wear A Black Shirt With Gray Pants To An Interview?
Wearing a black shirt with gray pants to an interview would be too formal for a more casual business environment, but may be appropriate when styled with a matching blazer in a formal business environment.
Generally, gray is a good color to wear as it is minimalist, neutral, and unlikely to offend.
Can You Wear A Black Shirt And Black Suit And Black Trousers To An Interview?
It is advised not to wear a black shirt, black suit, and black trousers to an interview as there is no breakup of colors, making your outfit seem too serious and monochromatic. Instead, think about the industry you are planning to work for and which colors would make a great first impression.
A black shirt would probably not be appropriate for a corporate office environment in the first place.
But if you are applying to work in a more “casual” environment, a casual suit or a chinos + black Oxford shirt combination would be a reasonable option.
Hopefully, you now have a clearer idea.
Even though a black shirt seems like a safe choice for an interview, it is important to consider the industry and the position you are applying for.
This is also linked to what items you wear with a black shirt.