What should I wear for my interview at a startup?

I know startups are casual but I want to make a good first impression. What's the right way to dress without being too stuffy?

Hmm... that may be a little much :P. Again, the best way you can show interest is to demonstrate that you know a lot about the Company and ask pertinent questions about the Company and the role you are applying for.

Got it. Will definitely wear a button up and nice dark jeans. I've had a ton of debate with friends so it's awesome to get this stuff cleared up.

Good question! This is something that I struggled with the first time I interviewed at a startup as well. But having gone through the process and actually now having interviewed a lot of people as a startup hiring manager, I think I can give you some advice.

First of all, its obviously better to be overdressed than underdressed as a general rule. Also consider your audience (i.e. what position you are interviewing for and where your hiring manager used to work). If you're going for a sales or investor relations position, you might want to dress up more than for a product position for example.

What I would stay away from:
Business professional (i.e. full on suits, fancy ties, cuff links, etc.)
Sport coat and slacks is probably still a little formal, but acceptable
Any intense heels as a woman

What I would wear/have seen people wear:
Slacks/nice jeans with a casual dress shirt
Slacks/nice jeans with a polo
Nice jeans with a sport coat
Stick with the dress shoes (instead of sneakers)
Chunky sweaters or fun/colorful blazers for women
Skirts/slacks/dress with modest heels

The biggest take away I would give though is that an interview has much more to do with a person's personality than what they wear. As long as what you wear isn't completely outlandish, the primary focus should be having a friendly, open and non-"stuffy" attitude.

Hope that helps!

Hey Emily,

I was not expecting this, and I really appreciate the detailed response.

One other question: if the company I'm interviewing at sells shirts with the company's name on it, would I look desperate if I came in with that shirt on?