When is it OK to wear leggings to a job interview?

I was just on a social media group for job seekers, and someone had posted a question about whether it is OK to wear leggings to a job interview. They would be under a dress or skirt, she said, and it was -20 degrees outside. She said she had been told that wearing leggings under a skirt is “unprofessional,” and wanted to know what people thought.

Most people suggested she not wear them, which is good advice.

Many employers are going to frown upon leggings in a job interview. Obviously, you should not wear leggings to a workplace where business attire is expected, which likely includes jobs in finance and law. And, even if the workplace is casual, and the employees wear whatever they want, there’s generally an expectation of extra formality in the job interview, and people are expected to adhere to this. It’s a bit silly, but it’s true. This means you should always err on the side of caution, because why take a chance when you need a job? (To be clear, I don’t care what you wear, so please don’t think I’m leggings shaming you. I’m just trying to help you get hired.)

There are a few exceptions, of course. There always are. Here are some circumstances in which it might be OK to wear leggings.

It could be OK to wear leggings to a job interview when…

1. The environment is one where you would be out of place in business attire. A friend of mine once went to an interview at a record label in a suit, and immediately realized she wasn’t getting the job. There are industries where casual, original, or funky attire is key – like the fashion industry or a hair salon. And leggings can absolutely be part of that equation.

2. The interview is for a fitness-related position. You might be able to wear leggings to an interview for a trainer position at a gym.

3. The leggings are under a skirt and it’s cold outside. If the office is casual, and people are not wearing suits, leggings under a skirt should usually be fine. Especially if it’s cold outside, and you have boots covering your ankles.

That’s pretty much it for times when it’s OK. Every workplace and industry is different, however, and there are other situations in which it might be acceptable. Using your good judgement, if you have decided to wear leggings to an interview, you should make sure of that they are in good shape, and of a neutral colour. Avoid worn-out leggings, bright colours and patterns (like pot leaves, camouflage, and skyscapes with rainbows and unicorns), and those mesh panels on the legs (do you know what I’m talking about?). Also avoid jeggings. I don’t think jeggings are ever appropriate (unless maybe the job interview is with a store that sells jeggings).

And cover your butt. If you’re not wearing a skirt, and you are wearing leggings, make sure there is something covering your butt, like a blaser, long shirt, sweater, or tunic. Your potential employer should not be able to see your butt.

If you’re at all unsure, don’t wear leggings. Wear tights or pants. You can always wear the leggings with tights underneath and change in the bathroom before the interview.

Once you have the job, you can wear whatever you want within the rules of the workplace. Until then, it’s best to play it safe – and leave the leggings at home.

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