What Does Look The Part Mean?

To Look the Part Meaning

Definition: To appear appropriate for a given context.

People use this expression when they want to say that someone looks right for a given activity or situation. For example, if someone in a business suit were trying out for the part of a lumberjack, his outfit might cause him to not look the part.

Origin of Look the Part

The exact origin of this expression is unclear. However, digital records seem to show that it originated in the early-1800s.

It seems probable that it comes from the theater. Actors must have the right look for their character. Directors choose the right person based on how well he or she will fit the role, or in other words, the part.

For example, if a skinny actor were cast to play a famous boxer, he would not look the part. He would need to change his exercise routine and diet dramatically to adjust his physique to the role.

Nowadays most people use this phrase to refer to the clothes one wears, ex. to dress the part.

Examples of Look the Part

looking the part meaningIn this dialogue, two employees are discussing an interview that one of them is going to go to.

Deanna: Guess what? I haven’t told anyone this yet, but I have an interview this afternoon for a job with better pay and benefits. If they offer me the position, I would also have more responsibility.

Emily: That’s awesome! So are you saying that you’d be more of a manager? If so, you have to look the part. You can’t go to your interview in that outfit.

Deanna: Why not?

Emily: It’s too casual. You need to wear something more professional if you want them to think you’re right for the job.

she looks the partIn this dialogue, two friends are discussing an upcoming date one of them has.

Patrick: You’re not going on your date dressed like that, are you?

Killian: Why?

Patrick: You want this woman to think you are interesting, well educated, and successful, right? You need to dress the part! Right now you look like you’re a mess.

More Examples

This excerpt is about a man who stole money from retirees.

  • “This is another case involving a fraudster trying to look the part of a wealthy financial adviser while doing nothing more than trying to separate people from their hard-earned money,” Andrew Calamari, the SEC’s New York regional office director, said in a statement. –New York Post

This excerpt is about how to improve your interview technique and have a higher chance of getting a job.

  • When you interview it’s important to look the part. In nearly every case that means wearing a suit for a man and the equivalent for a woman. You will also want to cover up any tattoos and remove any non-earring piercings. –USA Today


The expression to look the part means to have fitting attire for an event or activity.