Preparing for an interview doesn’t have to be made more stressful than it needs to be. Knowing exactly what you should be wearing is an important part of this. So, can you wear a sweater to an interview?
A sweater can be worn to most interviews, including those in formal and corporate settings. V-neck sweaters are usually the most appropriate as they’re easy to wear over collared dress shirts and neckties. Choose one in a dark, muted color and a thin knit.
Although that’s the gist, there’s more to it.
After going through some crucial tips to make sure you wear the right sweater in the right way, I’ll round things up with a couple of frequently asked questions.
Let’s get to it.
7 Tips For Wearing A Sweater To An Interview
Consider all of these tips before putting together your outfit.
1. Go For A V-Neck Or Crew Neck Sweater
V-neck sweaters are the best type to wear to an interview because they’re the easiest to dress up and to wear with collared dress shirts. However, crew neck sweaters in a thin knit would usually also be considered appropriate.
V-neck sweaters are incredibly versatile – they can be dressed down or dressed up depending on the setting or occasion.
When dressing for an interview in formal or even business-casual work settings, you’ll want to dress as conservatively as possible.
The style of sweater you choose will play a big role here, as it’s no secret that some will look more casual than others.
When applying for a job in either a business-professional (formal) or business-casual setting, you’ll want to wear a 2-piece suit for the interview.
While the suit may not be necessary for a business-casual work setting once you get the job, you’ll want to dress a notch more formally for the interview itself.
When wearing a suit with a collared dress shirt, V-neck sweaters will usually be the best option.
The reason for this is that the sweater collar will allow enough room for the tips of the shirt collar to be visible and uncompressed.
Having said that, it’s definitely possible to wear a crew neck sweater over a dress shirt.
It just doesn’t look quite as good or as formal.
When you want to impress with what you’re wearing, a V-neck sweater would be the best option with the crew neck coming in second place.
2. Choose A Dark And Neutral Color
When dressing for an interview, choosing dark, subtle, and muted colors is usually the way to go.
There are two main reasons for this.
One is that they blend into the background without drawing much attention. At an interview, you don’t want your sense of dress to draw any attention at all.
Another reason is that dark and neutral colors are easy to color match with the other items of your outfit.
That may include your suit, your tie, as well as your shoes.
So, if you’re looking to dress more formally for the interview or you simply want to play it safe, go for a dark and neutral sweater.
Black, dark grey, charcoal, and navy blue would be the classic options that are pretty tough to go wrong with.
While a lighter color would be absolutely fine for more casual work settings, sticking to neutral and muted colors would still usually be the best way to go.
3. Go For A Thin Knit
Sweaters come in many different fabrics and weaves. In general, the thicker and more rugged the sweater looks and feels, the more casual it’ll look.
Cable-knit sweaters are cozy and great when you’re lounging around at your house or at a friend’s place.
But they look and feel so casual that they usually wouldn’t be appropriate for a setting such as an interview.
Sweaters with a thinner knit look and feel more formal.
They’re also easier to wear over dress shirts and layer under items such as suit jackets, blazers, and overcoats.
The silhouette will look more natural and relaxed.
To sum that up, if you’re looking to dress more formally, a V-neck sweater in a thin knit would usually be the best option.
4. Avoid Patterns And Branding
The more subtle and understated the sweater looks, the better. One way of ensuring this would be to choose one in a solid color with no patterns.
Patterns can be distracting and will also instantly make a sweater look more casual.
Logos and obvious branding will have the same effect. They can draw unwanted attention and also make an otherwise formal outfit look more casual.
It’s worth mentioning here that tips such as these may not be necessary once you’ve got the job.
A patterned sweater with obvious branding probably won’t be that big of a deal when you’re actually attending a business-casual workplace to work.
When attending an interview for the job, however, you’ll want to play it safe and consider these nuances to make sure you’re dressing smartly enough to impress.
5. Avoid Turtlenecks And Hoodies
Avoid turtleneck sweaters and hoodies when attending an interview. In general, they’ll look too casual in most work settings and are difficult to pair with formal items.
While the turtleneck and blazer combination can work well in smart-casual settings, it wouldn’t be enough for an interview in even the most relaxed work settings.
Hooded sweatshirts (a.k.a hoodies) are even more casual than turtlenecks and simply wouldn’t be appropriate for the vast majority of interviews.
A possible exception would be if you were applying for a job as a skilled tradesman in a manual job where it really wouldn’t matter what you wore for the day-to-day job.
There’s a pretty good chance a turtleneck or a hoodie would be fine for the interview because the dress code for the job is either extremely relaxed or non-existent.
But if there’s any doubt, it’s simply not worth the risk.
A common question is whether a zip-up sweatshirt would be acceptable for an interview.
In general, it’s also best to avoid zip-up sweatshirts, especially if you’re applying to a more formal work setting.
Keep things simple – go for a V-neck or potentially a crew neck sweater instead.
6. Layer With A Blazer
A sweater can be worn with a blazer to an interview if the work setting clearly has a business-casual dress code. If the workplace is more formal, the sweater should be worn under a suit jacket instead.
Here, it’s important to lay out the difference between a blazer and a suit jacket.
A suit jacket must be worn with its matching pair of suit pants; this is what forms a full 2-piece suit. The suit jacket shouldn’t (usually) be worn without its matching pants.
A blazer, on the other hand, can be worn with non-matching pants (eg. dress pants or even chinos).
While it’s possible to wear a sweater and a blazer (with a non-matching pair of pants) to an interview, it shouldn’t be done if you should be wearing a 2-piece suit instead.
A blazer and sweater combination would only be appropriate if the workplace is a little more relaxed and the interview wouldn’t require a full suit.
7. A Sweater Vest May Be OK
A sweater vest would be fine for most interviews if it looks formal enough for the workplace. To be safe, choose a V-neck sweater vest in a dark, muted color and a thin knit.
While opinions may vary here, in general, a sweater vest can look just as formal as a long-sleeve sweater.
The features to look for in a “formal” looking sweater vest are the same ones you’d look for with a normal sweater.
The darker and more neutral the color and the thinner the knit, the more formal it’ll look.
Most sweater vests come with a V-neck as well, making them easy to dress up with a collared dress shirt.
Overall, they’re a lot more versatile than people give them credit for.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to a couple of frequently asked questions to really round things up nicely.
Can You Wear A Sweater And A Tie To An Interview?
A sweater and tie can easily be worn to most interviews, including those in more formal settings. While V-neck sweaters pair more easily with neckties, crew neck sweaters are usually still appropriate.
As long as you stick to the tips listed earlier on, there should be no problem when wearing a sweater and a tie to an interview.
V-neck sweaters will allow more of the tie to be seen; another reason why they’re generally better when you’re looking to dress up.
While it’s still reasonable to wear a necktie under a crew neck sweater, it’s important to note that only a small part of the knot would be visible.
Can You Wear A Sweater And A Dress Shirt To An Interview?
A sweater and a dress shirt can be worn to the vast majority of interviews, including those in business-casual and formal settings.
In general, dress shirts are more appropriate than Oxford shirts when dressing for an interview.
While both options would be pretty likely to pair easily with your sweater of choice, a dress shirt will remove any risk of underdressing.
The rugged texture of Oxford cloth may be appropriate to wear to business-casual work settings, but wear a dress shirt for the interview just to be safe.
Hopefully, that’s everything you could ever need to know to wear a sweater to an interview in a subtle, stylish, and professional manner.