Thursday, September 9, 2010

RareBurghers' Simple Guide To A Young Man's Interview Wardrobe


Okay, the summer after graduation is over, which means that many young men will begin or continue a series of job interviews. It also means that parents or grandparents will be thinking about how a particular young man's "wardrobe" might help facilitate employment.

Our answer to that would be: start from scratch.

RareBurghers has a few helpful tips for families who want to begin making a return on that quarter mill they just shelled out for a B.A. You will notice that we address the tips directly to the young man, despite the fact that he may not be paying and parents will be tempted to go shopping with him. He should do the shopping himself, after calm consultation with interested parties. Basically, if he cannot follow these simple tips, with some loving guidance, he should not go to job interviews yet; he isn't ready, even if his mother or father owns the company.
cap toe oxford
1. Start with the shoes. This is the only way to revise or begin building any man's wardrobe. Many will argue that you begin with The Suit. To those we say that the best bespoke suit in the world will not make up for uncomfortable or inappropriate shoes no matter how poised the interviewee.

Can you wear the Gucci loafers your mom gave you last Christmas? No, Nyet. Even if you are interviewing for a trader position and every male in that room is wearing Vibram-soled Gucci loafers, the answer is no. Buy a pair of comfortable black cap-toe oxfords: skip the squared-toe models. Bonus: should you ever land that job, you can wear these shoes later at your wedding.

As an alternative, especially when interviewing for less formal positions, invest in a pair of simple black loafers without buckles or tassels. The latter shoes should cover most of your instep and not appear to be slippers. Remember to buy the shoes well before any serious interviewing takes place, so that you can break them in.

If you spring for similar shoes in brown, that is a good way to build on the essentials, but wear the black shoes to the interviews.

Those of you who are familiar with RareBurghers know about our own designer-shoe adventures, so please be cautious, when choosing where to shoe-shop. Alden makes quality shoes in basic styles. Some department stores also carry affordable basics. Buying cheap shoes is like buying a cheap car. Buy the best possible shoes, even if  they cost slightly more than you or your benefactors think you can afford.

2. Now The Suit. After securing the right shoes, finding the right suit or suits will be more natural, since a good suit flows up from the shoes, not down from the chin,which, of course, will be clean-shaven.

We recommend a charcoal grey worsted-wool suit. Don't  worry about getting a more expensive high "thread count." A mid-count weave will breath easier in warm weather and re-fresh after hanging overnight. We choose charcoal over navy, because it's a bit more versatile; the trousers may be worn with a dark blazer for casual wear. Also, when removing the suitcoat in an office, grey trousers look much better than navy, which make everyone look like a police officer.

navy pinstripe

If you buy two suits, we prefer a navy pin-stripe, by a slim margin, over solid navy for the second. The stripes should be at least 1 inch apart. Avoid loud chalk or pin-stripe suits often worn by British Bankers.

As with the shoes, buy a suit that may cost a bit more than you  or your benefactors wanted to spend; however, this first time around, don't go over three figures: $500-1000 will do it. Those JCrew suits? Fine, but you will need to have a good tailor work on them. Go to a store to try them on first before ordering online. When properly dressed for business, you should never wear a suit-coat if the sleeves are too long to allow some shirt cuff to show. Do not even think about having no vent on the suit-coat. We prefer a trouser cuff, but no cuff is okay, especially when wearing no-lace shoes.

Finally, a word about the possibility of wearing a navy blazer with brass buttons and grey trousers in lieu of the suit. Actually, two words. Absolutely not. For business, if you wear  a "jacket" that is not part of a suit, you cannot wear brass buttons. Ever. Save that for the Club, Bub.

3. The Tie. Unless you have been in a Ravi Shankar retro-phase, you will not own any Nehru suits. This is a good thing, since the modern western suit is specifically designed to show off a necktie, no matter what Silicon Valley says. 

You may already have some ties hanging on the floor of your closet. These could very likely be bright, cute, affordable Vinyard Vines'-type ties. Riding the train to the interview, you might see many men wearing these ties to work. Despite this, do not wear them to the interviews; the men in those rooms either believe that they earned the right to wear fish on their ties at work, or their wives purchased them as less expensive alternatives to Ferragamo or Hermes' ties. The women interviewing you will not be impressed by cute.

Get 2-3 fairly conservative ties. We recommend dot-ties: white on navy, light blue on navy, especially small white dots on black with the grey suit. A black or navy silk knit tie is always a good bet, and goes well with that charcoal suit.  J Crew or Banana Republic usually carry most of these.

Width? Do not wear the thinny-thin ties. Contrary to what some believe, you are not making a statement with your tie (nor the shoes and suit for that matter). The tie design and width should not distract the attention of the person with whom you are speaking. When in the presence of the dullest interviewer or the smartest, most attractive woman of your dreams, the tie should not be a reason for someone to break eye-contact.

sterling silver/pewter buckle

4. A "Brief" guide to Socks, Belts, Shirts, Boxers.

Socks. Yes, wear them. We recommend over-the -calf, but, in summer, these can get warm. You want to stay comfortable, so mid-calf cotton socks are fine. In winter, always wear merino wool socks. Get six pair, two each of black, navy, grey.

Belts. Yes, wear one. (Parents and Grandparents, a sterling silver or close facsimile buckle is a great gradutaion gift). By purchasing both the black and dark brown leather belts for this accessory, you have all of your belt needs covered for years, except for the rides on the Harley. If you choose one belt only, make it a black mid-width one with a silver or pewter-type buckle, not shiny-yellow brass.

Shirts. Buy two white broadcloth or pinpoint oxford shirts with straight colors. Buy one or two blue shirts of same cloth; the blue should not be too light or dark. Also, those solid silk knit ties look good on  a striped shirt. A French cuff is okay, but only use knots, not metal links to secure the cuffs. Button-downs? Okay, if you must for times when they might tell you to take your tie off and relax.

We recommend having someone measure your neck and arm length, and buying the closest possible comfortable fit. You must try-on shirts sold in M, L,XL sizes, like those from JCrew. The sleeves should fall just below the wrist bone for most of you, and the neck should not pinch or gather when wearing a tie.

Boxers. Absolutely.Whatever else you were thinking about, stop. You will know.

If anyone is flinching at the possible total cost of this wardrobe, $2500 or so, consider that this is about 1% of the cost of that college education. Consider also, that for most young gentlemen, they simply cannot get to that promised pot of gold without "suitable" attire.

1 comment:

Mimi said...

While growing up in Delaware in the 1950's and 60's, I always thought the Phillies were the only team that never made it to Series! Little did I know I had company. Mary