The classic advice to dress for the job you want has a major flaw, and it could make a job interview that much harder

man in suit wearing formal

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Don't look to the execs for the dress code.

  • The advice to "dress for the job you want, not the job you have" has a major flaw, according to one expert.
  • Senior leaders at a company have earned "a huge bank of credibility" to wear whatever they want," fashion blog founder Kat Griffin told The New York Times - so you can't look to them for advice.
  • It can get awkward if you're dressed more formally than your interviewers during a job interview, too. It's best to do your homework and learn what's appropriate beforehand, another expert said.

You're probably familiar with the saying "Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have."

The idea is that as a lower-level worker, you should dress more formally at the office, making good impressions on those you interact with and projecting an image of confidence.Advertisement

The only problem is that the advice doesn't always hold up.

Kat Griffin, founder of the workplace-fashion blog Corporette, told Lizz Schumer at The New York Times that you shouldn't necessarily try to imitate the style of higher-level managers just because they're above you on the corporate ladder.

"Senior people have a huge bank of credibility - they've earned the right to dress how they please," Griffin told The Times. "I advise readers to a) know generally what might not be acceptable, and b) to not wear any of those items until you see a midlevel person wear them, someone three to five years ahead of you."

Essentially, don't rush to match the wardrobe of the company's CEO if you don't know you have the leeway to wear the same clothing items. If you're interviewing for a role at the company, it could jeopardize your chances of landing the job.

Related: 17 things you should never wear to a job interviewOther experts buck the conventional wisdom to overdress for a job interview. As Business Insider's Rachel Premack noted, it could introduce a layer of awkwardness if you're wearing a suit and your interviewers are wearing T-shirts and jeans.Advertisement

If you're unsure about the dress code, the best advice is to simply call ahead and check with HR or another contact within the company.

"Some questions one may ask include: Is half the office wearing ties? Is half the office wearing flip-flops? What will my interviewers be wearing?" Marc Cenedella, founder of the careers site Ladders, told Business Insider. "If they're vague, you can always be direct and ask 'Will I feel out of place in formal business attire?' If they answer 'not at all,' you know it's expected."