By Julie Conway
In Part 1 we gave suggestions for interview outfits that make you look professional but also show off your personality, with a focus on women. Now, we’ll turn our attention to men.
But first, we’d like to note that these gender binaries are not intended to limit anyone- we’ve divided up tips into audiences for simplicity’s sake. We fully encourage you to take whatever suggestions are useful to you, and please feel free to ask questions or post comments below.
As we noted in Part 1, job interviews take serious preparation, with “what to wear” being only one of the puzzle pieces. Perhaps you don’t have time to think about fashion, and just the idea of creating an outfit is adding to your stress. But remember, you want to make a strong first impression. And, you don’t want to look like you just rolled off a corporate assembly line. You’re a creative professional, for Pete’s sake!
So what do you do? We mentioned before that having a personality is not a crime. There are ways you can accomplish your goals of meeting professional expectations and not suffocating your personality. We firmly believe that by being thoughtful and judicious with your fashion choices, and mindful of what is appropriate for an interview, you’re sure to impress.
Here are 5 quick ways that you can pull off “polished and professional”… and show off your creative personality:
You might think that a dress shirt isn’t really all that important. You just have to find something to wear under a suit jacket or sweater, right? Right, but it depends what purpose you want the shirt to serve. Do you want to add color or a pattern to contrast with a solid, neutral suit? Or do you want a simple white shirt to balance any color or patterns in your suit? No matter what you choose, you’ll want to be sure to think about how your dress shirt coordinates with your tie.
A well-fitting suit will always make you look good, and it’s also the safest choice if you have an interview with a company with a formal culture, such as a law office or a bank. While you want to be equally formal (and respectful of the company culture), you don’t want to look like you’re headed for a funeral. Instead, opt for a neutral color- dark blue or gray suits are popular choices- and have the suit tailored for you, if it was not custom-made.
Sweaters and jackets
Sometimes you don’t need to be so formal for an interview, but you still want to present yourself as stylish and professional. In these cases, a dress shirt with a blazer, sports jacket or a well-fitting sweater is the way to go. You could add a tie if you like, or you could go without: if the tie pulls the outfit together, or if it adds a bit of interest to a neutral look, go for it!
Ties can be a great way to add some variety to an outfit, with color, pattern or texture. Just be sure that the tie you wear adds something- it’s tempting to go ahead and choose your favorite tie, or one that has brought you luck, or one that someone just bought you as a gift. But if these options don’t complement the rest of your outfit, leave them at home. And as a sidenote- you might also consider wearing a tie clip. While not a necessity, these can be a great way to subtly add a little visual interest.
There are a variety of options when it comes to style and color in men’s dress shoes: oxfords and wingtips are common favorites. For an interview you’ll want to choose shoes that are on the formal side (no sneakers, slip ons, etc.), and make sure they’re polished and looking sharp.
Job interviews can be nerve-wracking: you’ll want to prepare thoroughly, answer questions well, highlight your best qualities, ask good questions, and overall give a solid, positive first impression. No big deal, right?
Perhaps fashion is low on your list of concerns when preparing for a situation like an interview, in which you’re to be assessed on your skills, talents and qualities. But it’s important to realize that visual appearance plays a big part in how people regard you- especially in cases where they are just meeting you for the first time.
Think of your interview as a challenge and an opportunity to bridge (with style) that inevitable gap- the one between who you really are and the one strangers perceive. Your thorough preparation and attention to detail, whether in your PowerPoint presentation or your appearance, will give you confidence at a time when you’ll appreciate it.