Office Style 101: What to Wear to an Interview
Note: This story has been updated to include what to wear for all sorts of job interviews. Check out the new story.
Unless you’re intent on working for Mark Zuckerberg, your collection of hoodies and jeans probably aren’t going to cut it for that job interview. As the great Barney Stinson once said, it’s time to “Suit Up!”
We show you how…
For an interview, your goal is to dress conservatively while looking as sharp as possible. Save your pinstripe suit for that client meeting and leave your purple paisley shirt at the cleaners (and don’t go back for it). You want to look smart, attentive to details and unpretentious.
Dressing for your Job
“Wear something neutral…Nothing too flashy and nothing that makes you look as though you’re trying too hard. If you’re going into a bank wear a suit, but if you’re doing something creative, wear what you expect you’re going to wear doing the job. Start as you mean to go on.” – Kim Jones, Dunhill Creative Director
Be mindful of the culture of the company you are applying to. Is it a fairly conservative company where everyone is rocking a crisp suit? Or is it more of a lax dress code where polos, casual shirts and chinos are your bread and butter? If you’re still lost, don’t hesitate to ask the interviewer ahead of time on the suggested dress code for the interview. If you’re not comfortable with that, ask a friend or acquaintance who works in that field. When in doubt, overdress.
The Safe Bet Interview Suit:
- A well-fitting solid navy or dark gray/charcoal single-breasted suit.
- A white dress shirt (long-sleeved of course!) with a classic collar and single-button barrel cuffs.
- A solid or conservatively patterned tie such as a solid navy or gray tie
- Brown or black plain or captoe oxford shoes that are nicely polished.
- Socks that match the color of your suit.
Avoid These Interview Suit Mistakes:
- Pinstripe suits and shirts. Unless you’re interviewing with Patrick Bateman at Pierce & Pierce, avoid coming off overtly flashy and leave the pinstripes for the boardroom after you land the job.
- A black suit. “I only like to wear a black suit in the daytime for mourning.” – Glen O’Brien, GQ Style Guy. Enough said.
- An oversized, ill-fitting suit and/or dress shirt [see Bad Fit Disease].
- Overly wide or skinny ties with loud patterns. Keep your ties between 2.5 to 3.5 inches wide.
- Flashy cuff links. This is not the time to be wearing your Decepticon cuff links.
- A lavish, bright colored pocket square. If you wear a pocket square, take a cue from the men of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and wear a white, simple square fold pocket square.
- Scuffed or dirty shoes. Like bad grooming, dirty shoes will be an instant red herring to any discerning interviewer that you’re not paying attention to details.
- A bad haircut/grooming. Get haircut a few days before your interview, shave and make sure your finger nails are trimmed. Your grooming should be congruent with the rest of your impeccable self.
We Recommend: The Black Lapel Charcoal Gray Custom Suit
- Slim or Tailored Fit
- 2-Button Jacket
- Regular Notch Lapels
- Single or Double Vented
- Straight Flapped Pockets
- Flat-front, No Cuff Pants
- Skip the Ticket Pockets, Accent Stitching and Vest
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