Gender Neutral Interview Attire and Business Clothing
If your day-to-day attire doesn’t conform to a traditional gender norm, your interview clothing doesn’t have to either. In this day and age, there should be no position that requires you to dress in a way that makes you uncomfortable.
Regardless of your gender identity, gender-neutral clothing is appropriate for anyone to wear. Whether you are a woman who steers clear of overtly feminine apparel, a man who prefers a more gender-neutral look, or a non-gender-conforming or transgender person, you’ll be able to dress for success without a problem.
For example, a button-down shirt is fine for anyone to wear in the workplace. It can be dressed up or down, and paired with slacks, a blazer, or a tie.
The key is finding clothing that achieves the three Ps: proper fit, polished, and professional.
This goal is true regardless of what you opt to wear. Here is what that means:
- Clothes should not be too large, small, tight, or baggy. Suggestions for androgynous business clothing sources are below, but also consider visiting a tailor if necessary.
- As well as fitting properly, clothing should be clean and wrinkle-free.
- When in doubt, neutral colors - such as black, taupe, beige, brown, blue, and gray - are good options.
Tips for Deciding What to Wear
In addition to trying to achieve the three Ps, there are other factors to consider when choosing the attire that works best for you. Here are some tips on how to do just that:
Stay true to who you are. If you’ve never felt comfortable in a dress, opt for a pantsuit. Confidence is key from the get-go, and it is hard to be confident when you feel uncomfortable in your clothing. Wear clothing that highlights your personality and allows you to be yourself.
Consider a daily uniform. To avoid decision fatigue and make your mornings smoother, create a look you can wear every day. For example, you can invest in several neutral-colored button-downs and a few pairs of slacks to rotate through. Wearing a uniform isn't new, as demonstrated by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama, who live this way. You will save brainpower, time, and always feel good in what you are wearing.
Observe the level of professionalism. Unless there is an industry standard, opt for business casual or perhaps more professional attire for your first day on the job. Take note of how other employees are dressed and base your degree of professional attire accordingly. To get a jump start on the standard dress code, you can also consult human resources ahead of your first day of work.
Employer Dress Codes and Policies
What you wear to a job interview is your choice. However, the employer may have a dress code in place that impacts what you wear to work. Again, once you secure a job offer, you can consult with the company's human resources department or the hiring manager to inquire about the company dress code and how it might impact you.
If you find yourself stressing out about how to present yourself in an interview, you should keep in mind that your well-being at work is a huge factor in your professional success. You probably wouldn’t want to work at a company that pressures you to dress in a way that conflicts with your identity. So in the long-run, it is best to wear clothing that reflects you as an individual.
Overly strict dress codes may lead to discrimination claims if they focus too much on how men and woman must dress for work.
If being discriminated against is a worry for you, consult the Human Rights Campaign website to learn more about discrimination laws in your state, including whether or not you are protected by law and what to do if you feel you have been a victim of discrimination.
The Human Rights Campaign recommends that, "If an employer has a dress code, it should modify it to avoid gender stereotypes and enforce it consistently. Requiring men to wear suits and women to wear skirts or dresses, while legal, is based on gender stereotypes. Alternatively, codes that require attire professionally appropriate to the office or unit in which an employee works are gender-neutral. Employers can legally implement gender-specific dress codes as long as they are not arbitrarily enforced and do not favor or affect one gender over another."
Androgynous Clothes for Interviews and Work
If you are looking for style advice, check out Qwear, an excellent resource for people with gender-non-conforming styles. And, if you’re ready to do some online shopping, check out these stores for androgynous business clothing and formal menswear for women:
- Haute Butch has an extensive clothing collection for women who prefer a masculine style of dress.
- VEEA is a popular source of androgynous fashion, selling dress shirts, jackets, cardigans, vests, and accessories.
- GFW Clothing (that stands for gender-free world) sells shirts that are designed to fit body types, rather than genders.
- Although technically a store for menswear, Topman is known to provide masculine clothing in fits and sizes that cater to women.
NACE. "Gender Inclusive Professional Dress Guidelines," Accessed Oct. 19, 2019.
Inc. "Why Successful People Wear the Same Thing Every Day," Accessed Oct. 6, 2019.
SHRM. "Strict Dress Codes May Lead to Discrimination Claims," Accessed Oct. 31, 2019