What to Wear to a Retail Job Interview

When you have a job interview for a retail position, you may not need to dress in business attire unless you are applying for a management position, or if you're interviewing at an upscale retailer.

What to wear to a retail interview depends on the type of retailer and the level of position you are applying for. In some cases, you'll need to dress professionally. In other cases, business casual attire is appropriate.

The following are guidelines for what to wear for a retail job interview at designer stores, department stores, company stores, and large retailers.

Large Retail Stores

Worker and couple discussing plans in home improvement store

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When interviewing with a large retailer for a non-managerial level position, you should dress in business casual attire. That means no sneakers, no flip-flops, no jeans, no hats or caps, no sweatshirts, and no t-shirts with graphics or writing.

This is true even if you're interviewing for a position at a home improvement store or "big box" retailer. You don't need to dress formally, but you do need to be neat and tidy.

  • Men can choose from dress slacks or chinos, a button-down or polo shirt, socks, and dress shoes or loafers.
  • Women can choose from a skirt (not too short) or slacks, blouse, sweater, twinset, or polo shirt, and closed-toe shoes.

Department Stores

Woman buying shoes in shoe store

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For a department store interview, you really can't go wrong by wearing business attire, especially in a large city, or if you are applying to the high-end departments such as jewelry or formal wear.

  • Men should wear a suit or dress slacks and a jacket, shirt, tie, dark socks, and dress shoes.
  • Women should wear a suit or an ensemble of a skirt, dress slacks, or a dress with a jacket, blouse, hosiery, and closed-toe shoes.

In more casual geographic locations and departments, business casual is acceptable but stay on the formal and conservative side.

  • Men can wear dress slacks with a shirt and tie (skip the jacket), dark socks, and dress shoes or loafers.
  • Women can choose from a skirt (not too short), slacks, blouse, sweater, twinset, hosiery, and closed-toe shoes. 

Jewelry and Designer Stores

Two people looking at jewelry in display cabinets

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For a jewelry store or high-end designer clothing store, you should arrive at your interview dressed in business attire.

  • For men, this means a suit, shirt, tie, dark socks, and shoes. Dress slacks, shirt, tie, jacket, dark socks, and dress shoes are also acceptable.
  • For women, a pantsuit or skirt suit, blouse, hosiery, and closed-toe shoes, or a dress with a jacket, hosiery, and closed-toe shoes are acceptable.

Company Stores and Outlets

Associate helping shopper
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When interviewing at a company store or outlet, business casual in the style of the company is appropriate. Many companies encourage their employees to wear items from their collections, and even if you don't own anything appropriate with their label, something in the same style is acceptable.

  • For men, wear dress slacks or chinos, a button-down shirt with or without a tie, dark socks, and dress shoes. Avoid polo shirts for your interview, even if they are acceptable for working there.
  • Women should wear a combination of a skirt (not too short), dress slacks, blouse, sweater, twinset, jacket (optional), and hosiery with closed-toe shoes.

How to Choose Interview Accessories

Woman filling out application
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Bring a briefcase, portfolio, or folder for your resume and job application (if you are returning a completed one), a notepad, a pen, and breath mints.

Women should keep their purse small, and their makeup, hairstyle, and jewelry conservative. It's always a good idea to bring extra copies of your resume, in case you end up meeting with multiple people. Also, bring a list of references.

Make sure that you also choose appropriate accessories for a job interview.