Once you have properly prepared for your interview, it’s time to pick your outfit. Many men ask us what to wear to an interview, and while it always depends on the job field, and the particular environment, we are going to help you to put together the perfect look for a job interview.
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What To Wear To An Interview: Suit & Tie
You guessed it. Regardless of what job you’re applying for, a dark suit and a tie will rarely be the wrong choice. Too be clear, a “suit” means a matching jacket and pants, and not an odd jacket combination.
The Exception to the Rule
Ideally, you don’t want to be “not wrong” but rather perfectly dressed for the job. A suit and tie express that you have respect for the opportunity, and that’s a good thing. At the same time, if you are seeking for a job at a casual design agency, a young startup or an outdoor construction or gardening company where everyone wears cargo shorts, a suit and tie can make you seem like you do not fit in.
Therefore, it is important that you do your interview prep-work. It is particularly helpful if you know somebody from the company so you can ask them about the proper interview attire.
The Office Job / Traditional Job: Stick with Classics
If you interview for an office or corporate job, it is always safe to wear a dark suit and regular tie, no matter if you are an accountant or a social worker. Even if nobody at that office wears a suit to work, showing up to the interview in business attire is a fool proof way of ensuring you appear serious.
The interview is not the time to be flashy or showcase your flair for style. It’s a serious meeting, and it requires a classic, dark suit. We recommend:
- A solid navy suit, charcoal or a grey suit – 2 or 3 button single-breasted with notched lapels or double-breasted
- Do NOT wear a black suit – those are for funerals only
- Wear a solid or striped white or light blue dress shirt with French cuffs and cufflinks or a barrel cuff. Skip the button down collar and go for a classic or semi-spread collar. Avoid bold prints, or contrast stitching.
- Wear a silk necktie: if you have a striped shirt, go with a solid grenadine tie in burgundy, red or blue. It provides texture yet it is very classic. If you go with a solid shirt, go with a muted, non-flashy pattern such as small polka dots, micropatterns or stripes. Muted colors in burgundy, mustard yellow, blue and bottle green are better than bright pink or bright blue. Avoid solid satin neckties because they are shiny and look cheap.
- Do not wear bow ties as they may be perceived as too eccentric
- It is important that you tie a proper tie knot because a loose knot implies sloppiness or discomfort when you want to be seen as confident and competent. The right tie knot helps you with that. The four in hand knot or Oriental are best, but if you prefer others, you can choose those too. Be careful with the Double Windsor, because it may make you look like a sleazy insurance salesman. A dimple is always a good idea.
- A proper white linen pocket square folded in a TV fold is best for a job interview because it is classic, non-flashy but polished looking. Note, years back some interviewers might have considered it arrogant to wear a pocket square but today it is entirely acceptable. However, there may still be people out there who feel intimidated by individuals who wear pocket squares, and if you want to play it safe, you can skip the pocket square.
- Wear Over The Calf Socks. A big mistake that many beginners make is to wear cheap, short black socks that slide down and expose hairy legs. This is unacceptable, and therefore, over-the-calf socks are the only option you have. With your solid dark suit, get something solid that matches the pants, subtle stripes, or solids with clocks that match the pants. Avoid contrasting socks or flashy patterns.
- Shoes: Black captoe Oxfords or Derbies are your best bet. If you do not have those, semi, quarter or full brogues work as well. TIP: make sure to lace your Oxfords properly – click here to learn how to lace Derby shoes
- Jewelry: Keep it simple, you do not want to add any lapel chain, wristbands, or gigantic watches to your outfit because it just provides an opportunity to dislike you. Of course, if you know that your interviewer is a watch lover, it pays to have a beautiful piece but avoid show-off accessories because it may be held against you. Cufflinks are right, a wedding band too, but other rings should be taken off.
- During winter, wear dark gloves in grey, a subtle scarf, and dark overcoat. Do not wear performance jackets or anything of that kind with your suit, because it makes you look like an amateur
- Leave your backpack at home. A backpack makes you look like a schoolboy rather than a professional adult. Instead, go with a briefcase or satchel, ideally in black or dark brown leather.
- Inspect your outfit for any issues such as loose threads, holes or stains because you do not want to show up to your interview looking sloppy. After all, the interviewer should be able to picture you representing their company in the best light possible
The IT / Creative / Startup Job – Mix It Up
In general, startups, creative agencies or IT companies have more relaxed hierarchies. Especially creatives often like to dress in an unusual way that stands out from the crowd. In startups, dress codes are often not even existent, and the motto is “anything goes”. If you apply for a job outside the traditional environment, wearing a dark suit and tie may put you at a disadvantage. That being said, if you are called out on your suit, you can always highlight that you wanted to show the proper respect, and no interviewer will hold that against you. If they do, chances are it is not a nice place to work anyways because who wouldn’t want to hire someone who shows proper respect?
So, what to wear for an interview in these unusual sectors? The answer is not clear, and it depends on many factors. What is important to remember is that you should feel comfortable and confident when wearing these clothes, all while showing respect.
- For example, instead of a suit, you could wear a jacket or a blazer with contrasting trousers.
- Brown shoes instead of black
- A more casual shirt
- Add a touch of sprezzatura to your outfit; you can dress it up by adding a boutonniere, a pocket square, coloured shoelaces. Just make sure not to overdo it – one accent is enough.
If you apply for an outdoor job or a position where you get dirty, a suit may be overkill, but you should still step up your wardrobe game and wear something more formal and polished than you would as a work outfit. In any case, you always want to ensure that you exude the same degree of seriousness and professionalism if you were wearing a suit.
The goal of interview attire is to make you look professional, and competent and to show respect for your potential employer. Therefore, most people should wear a dark suit with the proper accessories. However, if you are in a field where a suit would be overkill you can deviate from the classic interview outfit but it is essential that you always keep