Simple Interview Dress for Men

This week, we check in on Leo and Jordan as Jordan sees a tweet from a mutual lawyer friend about a job posting on Craigslist.

“Hey Leo, did you see this Craigslist post that my friend just tweeted about? This attorney has been posting the same ad for years! It must be because you’re the only guy sharp enough to land this job! Jeez, I wonder how he dresses…”

I looked over Jordan’s shoulder and saw the post:

Screen shot 2012 08 31 at 10.28.50 AM Simple Interview Dress for Men

I shook my head and laughed. “Jordan, you’ve met this guy before.”

He looked at me incredulously. “No, I don’t think I have.”

“Yeah, you have. Remember that guy last week in Court? He was wearing a shiny silver suit, a black shirt, and a neon pink tie?”

Jordan chuckled. “You’re not serious, it’s THAT GUY? Even I know better than that!”

I nodded. “I can’t imagine what he expects a ‘sharp dresser’ to wear to an interview if that’s his idea of sharp dressing. I wouldn’t know where to start.”

But for those of you who are looking to interview at a traditional firm, well, I might just be able to help. It’s that time of year again — fresh, newly-minted 2Ls spent the last few weeks bidding on OCI positions, and, if they’re lucky, got a few interviews.

Lauren Ros0 touched on women’s interview dress last week and used SuitsJessica Pearson to illustrate “how the right dress can be as polished and formal as a traditional suit.” Well, guys, we don’t have that option — at least not at most firms. You need to wear a suit, shirt, and tie. And while Suits’ Harvey Specter is a sharp-dressed guy, he’s a fictional character playing a senior partner — so it’s probably not wise to emulate his “power” dressing style before you even get your foot in the door.

The Basic, Boring, Uncontroversial Interview Outfit.

Remember that an interview is not a time to show off your style prowess. The whole point is to sell yourself — you grades, experience personality, whatever — to the interviewer. You don’t want your outfit to be so loud as to drown out the words you’re speaking. With that in mind, here are the basics you need for an interview:

  • Navy or Charcoal suit —  2 or three buttons. Solid preferred, subtle pinstripes acceptable. Properly sized and tailored. No black.
  • White shirt — solid oxford or broadcloth. Button sleeves. No fancy weaves or sateen stripes. Learn to iron.
  • Silk tie — sedate color, traditional pattern. No bright reds or yellows.
  • Dark socks — black, dark grey, navy all acceptable. If you can match them to the color of your suit, great, but it’s not a deal-breaker. No “fun socks.” Interviews aren’t “fun.”
  • Black leather lace-up shoes — cap-toes preferred. No slip ons. Make sure you’ve polished them
  • White linen pocket square (optional) — if you insist on wearing a pocket-square, make sure it’s 1) white; 2) linen; and 3) in a TV fold. This might not be the best option if you’re interviewing in a very-conservative firm.
  • A tasteful watch (optional) — when I say “tasteful,” I mean no giant sport watches or plastic cheapo watches. You’re better off without a watch than wearing a monstrosity like those.
  • A Traditional Briefcase — leather, black or brown. You need someplace to put your resumé and writing sample.

Leave The Following at Home.

  • Your super cool slim-cut modern suit. It will not impress anyone.
  • Colored or patterned shirts.
  • French cuffs and cufflinks.
  • Bright, colorful, or overly-pattered ties.
  • A flashy pocket-square.
  • Your iPod.
  • All jewelry, other than a wedding band.
  • Your Backpack.

Let’s hear how those interviews go, mavericks.

Additional Reading:

(photo: The date of an interview from Shutterstock)

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  • http://blog.simplejustice.us shg

    I strongly disagree, Leo. The socks must match the suit, though black socks will go with either grey or blue, but you cannot wear grey socks with a blue suit or vice versa. No, you cannot. It is a deal breaker.

    And a special note about the watch: I agree with Leo that it’s better to wear no watch than a kid’s watch, but there are only three pieces of jewelry a man wears, a school ring, a wedding band and a watch. Given how few options are available, many men tend to look specifically for the watch, as it’s a reflection of the wearer’s sensibilities for those of us who naturally look to our wrist rather than our iPhone to find out what time it is.

    Get a solid quality grown-up wrist watch. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but appropriate and tasteful. And you may find that good watches are pretty cool, objects of beauty and craftsmanship. Not such a bad thing to admire.

  • http://FishtownLaw.com Leo Mulvihill, Jr.

    You’re far more particular than I, Scott.

  • Seamus

    No love for the light blue oxford? And how are we supposed to know what kind of collar for our shirts unless we’re loyal readers?

    • http://FishtownLaw.com Leo Mulvihill, Jr.

      Not for the interview.

  • David

    Make sure that the watch is a silver banded black faced Movado! Right Leo?!?

    • http://FishtownLaw.com Leo Mulvihill, Jr.

      I wish it were something else, but’ I’ll settle for a watch I bought from a drunk guy at a bar. Good story, at the minimum.