Skinny Suits and Interviews

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I know what happened. The guy may have been shopping at Banana Republic or J.Crew with his children. The music was blasting, the displays were cool and all the retail employees were looking good when he caught the fashion fever. So he spent hours trying on the latest trends and all agreed that he looked pretty good for his age. And, they all agreed that there is nothing like a new suit to make a good impression in that interview. This is where the judgment and discretion enter the story.

Skinny suits look good on Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling. Skinny suits look good on the guys in GQ Magazine. For the not-so-slim guy interviewing for a management job? Not so much. The suit looked uncomfortable, he looked uncomfortable and as others pointed out – the suit was not age appropriate. Fashion is important, but just because it’s fashionable, doesn’t mean it’s flattering or comfortable. Both of which should trump fashion.

Hey, few of us weigh the same that we did when we graduated from college. It’s ok. Comfort doesn’t mean that you have no style. It means comfort.

In the converse of Mr. Skinny Suit, I interviewed a young person who was dressed like he was wearing his father’s clothes. And if so, his father might have been Winston Churchill. The clothes were ill fitting and were way out of style. It made him look old before his time, boring and out of touch. In this case the baggy out-of-style suit didn’t work. (Note: this case was not a matter of finances.)

I will not delve into what women should wear. It’s too dangerous for a guy to give counsel on that topic. Plenty of advice exists on and offline that can provide good guidelines. Comfortable and age appropriate are good places to start.

The rules about what is appropriate business attire continue to change and the lack of clarity there has clouded what works for job interviews. Is business casual defined as khaki pants and blazers or is it blue jeans and hoodies? In either case, what works for the interview? If the organization is always business casual, should one get dressed up for the interview anyway? The answer is always “It depends”. What to wear to the interview depends on geography; size of the company; age of the company; age of the people who work there; the department you are in; the weather and just about any other variable one can imagine. Just be able to use good judgment on the “it depends” rule and sin on the side of being safe.

There are lots of easy to find rules and guidelines that apply to what to wear to a job interview. You need to feel good about yourself. You need to feel comfortable in your skin, inner and outer. The easiest way to do that is to wear clothes that are comfortable, flattering, age appropriate and that fit.

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