Sure, Seattle is a casual town. But job-interview day is no regular day.
In Seattle, dressing for comfort is fine for the every day, but what about an interview day?
When it comes to what the modern man should wear to a job interview, here are some do’s and don’ts.
Look into what people in your prospective position/company wear day-to-day.
“Take that into account and step it up a notch,” says Keaton Taitingfong, a personal stylist at Nordstrom’s downtown Seattle flagship store. “Your outfit should be comfortable but slightly elevated, to show enthusiasm for the interview.”
Navy or charcoal suits are solid picks, Taitingfong says.
Do focus on color, style and fit.
Color. A basic interview outfit might consist of a blue suit, blue shirt and a complementary tie, such as red and blue stripes, tonal stripes or a micro-patterned tie, says Bernardo Cozza, men’s sales manager at the Seattle location of Mario’s.
“Always subtle,” Cozza says.
The interviewer should be focused on your words, not your outfit. “Instead of listening to what you’re saying about yourself, the interviewer could be distracted by the clothes you’re wearing.”
A blue shirt is a solid bet, Cozza says. “Blue is a calm color,” he points out.
Style. If the office is one in which shorts and sweatpants don’t raise eyebrows, your interview attire should still appear “put together,” Cozza says. You want to look like you care and pay attention to detail — critical for most careers.
“Even if the place you’re interviewing at is very casual, there is always a place for a blazer or a smart third piece, such as a light sweater or cardigan,” Taitingfong says. “It may be the only time you ever wear something that dressy, but for an interview it’s important to show you’re serious.”
“No flip-flops,” Cozza says. Even if your interviewer is wearing a pair.
Many men make the mistake of assuming a good suit can last a lifetime. “That’s wrong,” Cozza says, pointing out that lapels and notches widen and narrow over time. A suit bought in 1987 may look more like a costume than an appropriate wardrobe choice.
“I don’t want to sound superficial, but it sticks in people’s minds. They might think, ‘This guy’s good, but his taste is questionable,’” Cozza says, who recommends a new suit every four to five years.
Fit. “Make sure your clothing fits perfectly. If the fit isn’t right you won’t make the right impression,” Taitingfong says.
Alterations may take up to 10 days, so try on your suit for fit well in advance. Cozza suggests three weeks, if possible.
“For most people, a suit may be too loose. Maybe they’ve lost weight,” he says. Or maybe the opposite.
Don’t forget accessories.
Socks can match your tie, Cozza says, or be in the same color family (warm, cool or neutral) as the suit. Then pick out a pair of black, burgundy, cognac or light brown shoes, with buckles or laces. With professional-casual pants, clean loafers in good condition are a solid choice, Cozza says.
“Footwear has become more casual over the last few years, and we see customers wearing an elevated sneaker with everything from jeans and a T-shirt to a suit,” Taitingfong says.
“If you’re going to wear a sneaker, you can’t go wrong with a leather option,” he notes. But avoid branding, and “consider a low-top, which will be a little more versatile with your wardrobe.”
Both agree: No matter which type of shoe you wear, cleanliness is of utmost importance.
“If you wear a brand-new suit with a contrasting color of shoes that are scratched and dirty, it ruins the whole outfit,” Cozza says. You might even polish those oxfords, pre-meeting.
“Accessories, when done tastefully, are the best way to add a signature flair,” Taitingfong says. “Whether it’s your favorite watch, a pop of color from a pocket square or your signature optical frames — do what you love and what makes you feel most comfortable.”
Don’t overdo it.
But once again, a little goes a long, long way, he notes.
“It’s best to avoid throwing on every accessory you own at once, so if you’re questioning if it’s ‘too much?’ It’s probably too much.”