Okay, so you're suited up, shirt tucked in and you need those final details before you put on your shoes and go. Today is about those two big details you can't leave home without.
It's such a simple addition, and some argue that it's wholly unnecessary these days. But that aside, you need a tie. And although you can have a little fun with your interview outfit/suit in general, you can only have limited fun with your suit accessories in a professional setting. No bow ties or skinny ties here (as much as it pains me to say), and go easy on the pattern mixing.; there's a fine line between just right and too much. Go with a knot that's comfortable, but fits correctly with the corresponding collar.
The easy and traditional thing to do is to go with a white or light blue shirt with a straight or semi-spread collar and patterned tie, and although that's not wrong, per se, you'll stand out if you go with a well-patterned shirt and solid tie, in the correct color combination. It's a striking look that's on the rise as patterned shirts are having a moment. If you're too afraid of the pattern mix or you've already got a suit-on-shirt pattern mix and don't want to tempt anything with a third pattern, it's a go-to that won't let you down.
The shoes can be tricky, and they can really break a suit outfit if they're bad enough. If you're going to own only one pair of dress shoes, they should be black, and the toe shape should be neutral--not too round, not too pointy, not too square. The style is really up to you. A plainer dress shoe is probably the most versatile, but an oxford is a nice wardrobe component. If you don't like laces, there are nice no-lace options, but it's personal preference once you've chosen a good shape.
Of course, you should have an alternative to black in your closet arsenal as well. A mid-brown is going to be the most go-with-everything for your money, but if shoes are your thing, a good oxblood can also serve that purpose. A darker brown is harder to pair with the colors suits tend to come be, but the right shade in the right finish can go a long way if it's not your only pair of dress shoes. The shape principle still applies to these other colors, and I recommend having a trusty black and a brown/oxblood to go with your black, and all your grays and navys. Then if you still don't feel footwear fulfilled, you can go for more adventurous styles, designs and even colors.
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of a men's pocket tee is this ratty turquoise one my dad had, and wore almost exclusively to do yard work. This is a very sub-par representation of the potential this simple garment holds in a man's wardrobe. It is at very least a staple, and every man should own a handful of these in whatever colors and levels of wear he wants. Mens' outfits consist of so few items that they should all look good, and the pocket tee makes it easy for that to happen. On a casual day, throw this on with jeans or shorts and a pair of boat shoes or desert boots and you'll look like you tried with very minimal actual effort. If necessary, a white one can serve as an undershirt, or it can be worn under sweaters or blazers on cooler days. The possibilities are endless.
Most men think straight to button downs and polos when they think of a quick and easy outfit, but the very basic, very casual, but classic pocket tee should not be forgotten. Switch out some of your stained and faded college t-shirts and graphic tees that will do nothing to boost your sophistication in favor of a few well-fitting pocket tees. They don't have to be expensive, they just have to look good. When paired with other nice looking items (no horrible jeans, no gross gym shoes and please
not over a long sleeved t-shirt), a pocket tee can make an outfit just as well as a shirt and tie.
, Rag & Bone
, J.Crew, Levi's
The suit might cover the most surface area on a guy, but the shirt is what really sets the tone of the outfit. In the past, ties used to get all the attention. Shirts now come in varieties that invite you to be creative with the rest of your outfit, especially considering it's what you see if the suit jacket comes off. You just have to know how to combine colors and patterns in a way that works, and that's what I'm here for.
Before I go into what could ultimately be an endless exploration of the world of button downs (don't worry, I'll control myself), there's one piece of advice I want to give. I have to admit the fact that though I'm about to endorse everything but the traditional dress shirt, before you can take those leaps, you need the foundation of a white and light blue traditional dress shirt. In reality, you should get two of each, but should you need to be more conservative, this is the only way to go. And as usual, make sure it fits. Shirts come in a lot of different fits, and too tight or too billowy is not the right fit for anyone.
Moving on. Let's start with color. Solid colors will get you very far, especially if your favorite tie is one that doesn't sit well with other patterns. Apart from the blue and white shirts every man should have, stick with solids in agreeable colors, usually ones on the lighter side. You don't want to appear to be cheering on your favorite school.
These colors go well with any basic colored suit you should own, and even some non-traditional ones, like khaki. Patterns are where you get to have the most fun, but in a professional setting, you don't get to have too much fun. Stick to sophisticated patterns, again, in colors that can go with any suit and many tie options. The subtler, the better, but that doesn't mean you have to snooze over your choices.
Patterns can also add a lot of interest to your wardrobe and give you more options. Wearing patterns with a suit can often set you apart from other suit-wearers, especially if you expertly pattern mix with a tie or wear a well-matched solid tie. Like with solids, subtle is better, but because the color is less saturated on the shirt, you can incorporate bolder colors here with more condensed patterns. Patterns also add versatility and personality to your wardrobe when, after the interview, you don't always have to don the full suit or wear a tie.
My brother found out about a job interview with just two days notice, and texted me in a mild panic requesting suit advice for the big day. Beyond knowing that he should wear a suit, he was a little lost. It occurred to me that because much of the male population isn't exactly sartorially inclined (no offense), this might be a problem a lot of guys face. So here's the advice I gave my brother.
My first rule is that a man should always wear a suit to a job interview. I don’t care if you’re trying to be a janitor or a CEO; wear a suit unless you're told otherwise. Second, make sure your suit fits. You might as well wear your PJ's if it doesn’t.
These non-black neutrals leave a lot of room for a variety of shirt/tie combinations and can be worn all year round.
But just getting a suit on your body doesn’t mean you’re done. Men don’t have much flexibility when it comes to interview attire, so attention to details can be the best way to set yourself apart from other candidates. Try to stay away from plain black. The fact that you’re wearing a suit is formal enough, and unless you’re applying for a job on Wall Street, you don’t have to be quite that conservative. Grays, navys and subtle patterns will look just as professional, but will also give you an opportunity to differentiate yourself.
If you're really confident in your ability to pull off a suit, these less conventional neutrals can be an interesting alternative if done right.