Wear Red to a Job Interview? Yes and Here’s Why You Should


can you wear red to a job interview? Woman in red dress hiding

Should you wear red to a job interview? Yes. It is 2020. If you feel good in red and you want to wear it to a job interview then wear it.

Most career experts advise against wearing red to a job interview. What type of clothing you choose for a job interview depends on three things:

  1. How empowered and good you feel.
  2. See above.
  3. See reason number 1.

Let’s dig into this a little more. Whole Foods, for instance, states on its website you should leave the suit at home when interviewing for them.

But if you feel like a boss in a suit, wear the suit. Make sure to mention you appreciate their laid-back dress code, but this is who you are. If Whole Foods is looking for authentic people, they will respect that.

Let’s get back to the color red.

What the Color Red Means

Think of the color red. It symbolizes fire and alerts us to danger. It is energetic, festive, sexy, powerful, romantic and rebellious. Oh red, you are tons of delicious fun!

First, there’s the psychological meaning of the color. Then there’s the marketing message that red conveys to your audience. 

The Effect on the Brain

Red is associated with strong feelings. Whether that’s seething in anger or feeling romance or sexiness, this hue is passionate and powerful. It can even make you appear more attractive to the male species. In fact, one study had men view photographs of women wearing either a red, blue, green, or white T-shirt.

When asked to evaluate the women on their attractiveness and sexual intentions, the men favored the red-shirted women. The color can also subliminally convey dominance. Research showed that a person or team wearing red had a better chance of winning a physical contest. 

As a Marketing Tool

If you were asked to name five companies that use red in their logo, you would probably have no trouble doing so. Target, YouTube, Safeway, McDonald’s, Costco. They use the color because it grabs your attention. Scarlett can raise the energy in a room. Restaurants particularly like this color because the color has been shown to increase your appetite. 

When You Can Wear Red to a Job Interview

When you go to a job interview, you are marketing yourself to the company. Your resume and or application was your opening act. Now it’s time to show them who you are. 

If wearing red makes you feel powerful, confident and beautiful, then wear it. If you feel like you are trying too hard, it’s not really you and you are uncomfortable, then don’t wear red.

How to Wear Red to a Job Interview 

Crimson is not a color that you’re going to wear head to toe like you would wear black or navy. You want to choose a red piece and build the outfit around it. We’ve found five ideas for incorporating this dynamic color into your job interview outfit. 

Red shirt

Wear a Red Shirt

This chiffon blouse is not bright, and its soft edges tone down the threatening or dominant feelings that a person could feel from seeing this shirt. Pair it with simple black pants and black shoes to tamp down the energy. If you feel like you need to be more formal, add a black blazer.

Go for the Bold — Red Pants

Red pants

These pants could be appropriate if you are interviewing for an artistic job or in an unconventional field. Make sure to keep the top basic in black or white. Keep jewelry minimal and don’t ever apologize for being who you are.  

Add a Splash of Color to Black and White

These shoes from LifeStride would give you a punch of color with a white shirt and black pants. I love a good chili pepper-colored accessory. Pantone loves it too, as you’ll see. Add a statement necklace in or a fun bracelet to go with the shoes. If you are interviewing for a job that is uber-conservative, red nail polish (I heart Madam President by OPI), lipstick or undergarments.

Red shoes
Red necklace
Red nail polish

When Not to Wear Red

This color is not recommended for an interview with a company that has a strong chain-of-command. It might subliminally tell people that you are a threat to their authority and you don’t conform to the environment. If you work in an industry where tradition comes first, suits are the norm and 50 shades of gray are what you see in the hallway, not what your read at your desk, then red is a no-no.

Good luck and go get ’em.

Tracey Lamphere

Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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