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What To Wear To A Job Interview

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We made it pretty clear that first impressions are extremely important from our previous article on how to dress for a first date, and what to wear to a job interview is a common question we often get asked.

If you’re not used to wearing suits and dressing formally, you’re probably dreading having to ‘dress up’ for a job interview. Not knowing what to wear, not knowing how to tie your tie and debating whether your old school shoes are suitable are questions which are probably crossing your mind right now, but we’re here to help covering all bases in this article.

First impressions and your appearance are vital factors in whether the job interview is successful or not, so failing to address them could lead to you failing to land the job. Ready?

Climb The Corporate Ladder

Firstly we’re going to address what to wear to a ‘corporate’ interview. In other words, if the job you’ve applied for is more boardroom than free spirit, you’ll need to dress in a corporate manner and tap into the typical uniform the company expects.

reiss-formal

(Reiss Spring/Summer 2013)

You’ll need to invest in…

A Well Fitted Suit

Preferably navy or charcoal, a suit is going to be the first thing you’re judged on. Concentrate on the fit, making sure it’s altered/tailored as it should be. (Read our 9 Rules To Follow When Wearing A Suit Here).

You should really designate a bit of time to choosing a suit, and making sure it fits perfectly. What you wear with the suit becomes a secondary thought, and although the finer details are extremely important a badly fitted, poorly constructed suit will have the interviewer marking you down on appearance straight away.

You don’t need to invest £1500+ on a bespoke suit, as there’s some great ‘off the peg’ solutions which we’ll recommend shortly. But with any suit you want to consider some minor alterations so it complements your personal physique, as it should. As we mentioned in a previous article, consider the following:

Shoulders – The blazer should sit flat on your shoulder and the top of the shoulder on the jacket should be the same length as the bone underneath it.

The Trouser Break – This is up to personal preference but a general rule is the trouser cuff should fall neatly at the top of your shoe. The trouser will often fall a little bit longer at the back then at the front, and there shouldn’t be any loose fabric bunching up at the bottom.

The Mid Section – The jacket should be brought in slightly roughly at the waist to better complement your shape, and this isn’t a difficult adjustment. When buttoning the blazer it should close without creating strain, and again there shouldn’t be any loose or scrunching of fabric around your midline.

The Sleeve Length – A general rule is the jacket sleeves should show half an inch of shirt cuff. They’re too long if the pass your shirt, and they’re too short if the show more than an inch of cuff.

The Shirt

The shirt should be the base layer of the look, and it should be there to complement the suit and allow you to apply some personality to your look through accessories. Therefore keep it simple, and opt for a white or light blue. As soon as you overcomplicate it and opt for stripes, patterns or brighter colours, you’ve got more chance of wearing the wrong accessories and having a negative impact on your overall appearance.

Again, focus on making sure the shirt fits as it should (focus on the sleeve lengths and slimming the waist area) and opt for a classic button-down collar or a cutaway collar.

interneiw 1

(David Gandy for Marks & Spencer, TM Lewin, and SuitSupply)

The Accessories (& Shoes)

The finer details are so important, so put some time into choosing your accessories. You want to keep it minimal, as wearing too many accessories will create a ‘dandy’ effect and this isn’t your typical corporate attire.

The tie is the first thing to consider, and it’s good to avoid anything with a shine to it. Keep things traditional and opt for a width above 7cm, and make sure the knot is in proportion with your collar. A simple ‘school boy knot’ is easy to achieve and allows you to control the shape of the knot, where as the ‘Full Windsor’ takes a bit more effort but it will create a chunkier, more corporate knot. (See our guide on Shirt and Tie Combinations here).

A pocket square can also be a handy addition, but keep the fold simple and elegant by using the square or puff fold. The pocket square allows you to add a touch of colour or print, but don’t overdo it.

Failing to wear good shoes will also have a huge impact on your overall appearance, and we really can’t stress this enough. Invest wisely in your shoes, as styles such as the brogue, the monk and the oxford are timeless and will last you for years.

Keep it classic with dark brown or black, and make sure your shoes stay polished.

(Want to know how to transform your style with just 3 simple tricks? Click to register for the MFM Academy online event)

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Get The Corporate Look

napoli navy plainlazio grey check

brass fine suitmount street suit

cutway collar shirtsberluti white shirt

isaia linen tiemango blend tie

alberti maroonellery grensonn

The Casual Job Interview

Believe it or not, the casual job interview is harder to get right than the corporate one. At least with a corporate job interview, you know exactly the kind of attire they expect. Where as when you go for a casual job interview at a company that doesn’t expect you to dress up everyday, it’s hard to get the balance between impressing with what you wear and overdressing.

Sometimes they’ll specify what you need to wear when you’re offered the interview, but yet again it’s much better to overdress than underdress.

Focus On Separates

If you’re going for a more creative job working in an office environment, opting for separates could be your best bet. The full suit looks extremely corporate, but wearing a blazer and trousers in different tones creates more of a casual look.

Classic combinations are grey trousers with a navy blazer (or reversed) and also the more ‘Ivy League’ approach of navy blazer with beige trousers.

melange linen blazerpique ami jackets

mango suit trouserscotton poplin trouses

For more advice, read this article on how to wear separates.

The Button-Down Shirt

The button-down shirt is a real classic staple, and it’s the perfect go-to piece for a casual job interview. Wear it on its own (buttoned to the top or with the top one or two buttons undone) or wear it layered with knitwear, blazer or a jacket such as the Harrington.

mens blue shirtsmens fit shirt

ascot reiss whiteblack brushed shirt

You could also wear it with…

Slim Fitting Denim

Yes, jeans are suitable for a casual job interview, but make sure they’re well fitted. Also avoid washed denim and ripped denim, as this really is ‘too casual’.

Brands such as Levis, Nudie, and ACNE are our recommended go to brands, but high street stores such as Topman and UNIQLO also do great alternatives.

nudie organic jeansclassic topman jeans

Here are some more images for inspiration…

interview 2

(Mango Man, Reiss & Massimo Dutti)

The Firm Hand Shake

Good luck, ask for opinions on what you’re wearing before the job interview and remember the firm handshake.

(Want to know how to transform your style with just 3 simple tricks? Click to register for the MFM Academy online event)

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Paul McGregor
Paul McGregor

Founder of MFM, and short course lecturer at The London College of Fashion teaching all things marketing. Read my personal blog here.

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2 COMMENTS

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  • Jamie

    A bespoke suit is the bare essential for a job interview, and wearing a pair of formal shoes is a must. Thanks for sharing

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