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Suit TOO Nice for interview???

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
Well, recently I've been contemplating changing jobs and I had an interview question that I thought you guys might be able to answer.

Until now, I've always worked overseas and the offices where I worked always allowed me to dress as nice as I wanted to dress without feeling "too much."

I've got a consulatation/meeting next week with another Japanese company here in the US and the executives of the company (from the President to the HR manager) all dress like 99% of Americans and 99% of Japanese businessmen... i.e. not so great. Probably some will be wearing pleated khaki's and a polo shirt (eek!) If others will be wearing a suit, it will probably be poorly fitting and drab, if our initial meeting a year or so ago (under different circumstances) is any indication.

Anyway, as a loyal Styleforumite, I'm a clothes horse. I would normally not think twice about wearing a suit to the interview, but all of my suits are Zegna, Raffaelle Caruso, and others of that level. My conservative shoes are mostly C&J, Church's, etc. (I figure I won't break out by Guardiani winklepickers...)

In short, I'm a little worried about looking TOO much and coming off as "putting on airs" just because I'm wearing a certain suit with a bunch of my potential bosses who look rather shabby in comparison (which is totally by their choice because they make a whole lot more than I do ). I know that sounds sort of vain, but I'd rather just be honest than look like an idiot next week.

My initial idea was to wear a sportcoat/blazer and slacks with a tie, but I was wondering if this slightly less formal approach would give a worse impression than a certain suit. Or, perhaps I could wear the suit but with a very conservative/drab tie? Unfortunately, my "conservative" tie is a dark blue Charvet. Yes, styleforum and AAAC, this is ALL YOUR FAULT!!! (haha) Especially that troublesome Medwards with his gorgeous shoes and bespoke suits.

Anyway, I just don't want to look pretentious when my intention was just to look very professional.

So, what do you think?

Thanks,
John
post #2 of 52
I would definitely wear a suit to an interview, but I would choose my most conservative suit, perhaps solid charcoal gray, and tone down the colors in the shirt and tie. A low-contrast look, i.e. a blue shirt and darker blue tie (not necessarily solid), should be subtle enough. I would also choose black shoes. I think most businessmen who are not clothes horses only notice the obvious things like colors. Nuances like construction quality and texture of cloth is lost on 99.99% of people.
post #3 of 52
wear one of the nice, but more conservative suits, and get a cheap Macy's tie for $20 so the tie isnt so awesome. And tuck the pricetag properly you could even return it after the interview.
post #4 of 52
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice!

See, problems like this come from being exposed to Styleforum and AAAC before one's income and social level are properly acclimatized.

I'm probably the only person (not on this forum, of course) in my income bracket with a pair of Lattanzis or who would consider buying a smaller car to buy nice shoes. And, just to reiterate, it's all you guys' fault!

John
post #5 of 52
This is a very unreasonable social problem. Why should anyone be afraid of being discreetly well-dressed?
post #6 of 52
I've seen a lot of these posts recently and I must say I'm troubled by the responses. My advice would be to wear whatever you feel the most confident wearing. If someone is going to discount your ability to do the job effectively because you look well put together than I would suggest you looking for another place to work. If you believe that in the end you don't have much to offer and therefore every little bit counts than by all means dress like the rest of the lot.

I think too much is made of the standardized interview attire whereas much less is made on sheer ability and aptitude. Either you have it or you don't and as long as you don't look like a complete disheveled ass you should be just fine.
post #7 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whnay.
I've seen a lot of these posts recently and I must say I'm troubled by the responses. My advice would be to wear whatever you feel the most confident wearing. If someone is going to discount your ability to do the job effectively because you look well put together than I would suggest you looking for another place to work. If you believe that in the end you don't have much to offer and therefore every little bit counts than by all means dress like the rest of the lot.

I think too much is made of the standardized interview attire whereas much less is made on sheer ability and aptitude. Either you have it or you don’t and as long as you don't look like a complete disheveled ass you should be just fine.

Very good point. Overall, I agree with you completely. But, I also think that sometimes one's aptitude and ability can seem diminished by a bad first impression. Whereas to all of us on the forum we would say "well put together" there might also be the effect of looking like you are overreaching. It is a new problem for me, as I said. In Japan, I always dressed "to the nines" and it always opened doors for me that otherwise wouldn't have been opened. If anybody has been reading the "Teaching English in Japan" thread, after I taught English on the JET Programme, it was actually my dress that largely lead to me getting my foot in the door for my next job (which was a hell of a lot better than I ever expected to get at age 23).

But, since I've been back in the US a few months after two years or so at that job, I've had at least three occasions where my nice dress actually endeared me LESS. So, I was just curious. As well, it was my older sister (who always dressed gorgeously and is an Advertising exec) who warned me about this anyway.

I wonder if it must be a strange American phenomenon, our fear of appearing too classy/intelligent/etc. instead of a cowboy.

John
post #8 of 52
I don't see a problem wearing a nice suit, chances are they wont have a clue what makes the suit special and will just think it fits nice. If they do ask about it, just fight the urge to actually tell them!
post #9 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by rach2jlc
Very good point. Overall, I agree with you completely. But, I also think that sometimes one's aptitude and ability can seem diminished by a bad first impression. Whereas to all of us on the forum we would say "well put together" there might also be the effect of looking like you are overreaching. It is a new problem for me, as I said. In Japan, I always dressed "to the nines" and it always opened doors for me that otherwise wouldn't have been opened. If anybody has been reading the "Teaching English in Japan" thread, after I taught English on the JET Programme, it was actually my dress that largely lead to me getting my foot in the door for my next job (which was a hell of a lot better than I ever expected to get at age 23). But, since I've been back in the US a few months after two years or so at that job, I've had at least three occasions where my nice dress actually endeared me LESS. So, I was just curious. As well, it was my older sister (who always dressed gorgeously and is an Advertising exec) who warned me about this anyway. I wonder if it must be a strange American phenomenon, our fear of appearing too classy/intelligent/etc. instead of a cowboy. John
Well I think you may be letting stereotypes dictate your behavior. At the end of the day your going to want to work with people that at the very least respect your passions and tastes even if they don't share them. To work with a bunch of folks that look down on such behavior seems a bit odd, you are quite naturally going to be around these folks quite often. My feeling is that you might as well enjoy them or you simply wasting your time.
post #10 of 52
Does one dress as ones peers (to be) or better seems an odd question, but does in fact address the issue of others expectations. Most women are trained to address the issue and almost automatically adjust their heel length, skirt length, top coverage to the group they are interacting with. Perhaps men can get away with out dressing their group if they do it with enough nonchalant--not too much matching, not over-shining shoes, having a wrinkle or two in their outfit, a frayed cuff, etc. Or maybe not.
post #11 of 52
Do you think that they recognize someone with a good suit? I don't think they even know the difference. I would go for a conservative choice, that way there is not that much that they can notice.
post #12 of 52
I suspect if Gianni Agnelli was at a job interview, most people wouldn't know the difference.
post #13 of 52
Thread Starter 
The hints and ideas are certainly helpful and interesting.

There was never a question of me, really, going to Men's Wearhouse and getting something frumpy in place of the solid Navy Belvest I was considering. So, don't worry! As I said, I was just curious to get everybody's opinions.

So, I think I'll just go with a very conservative, non-flashy tie and (shudder!) black shoes instead of oxblood, which I usually wear with that suit. I hope iammatt isn't reading this thread; our good rapport might be ruined by such a shoe revelation.

John
post #14 of 52
Good idea. Once you get the job, perhaps then you could slowly revert back to 'flashy' dress ... maybe starting with shoes, then ties, shirts, etc.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rach2jlc

I wonder if it must be a strange American phenomenon, our fear of appearing too classy/intelligent/etc. instead of a cowboy.


This happens in Australia too ... but here it's probably as a result of the 'tall poppy syndrome' that is present.
post #15 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by thinman
I would definitely wear a suit to an interview, but I would choose my most conservative suit, perhaps solid charcoal gray, and tone down the colors in the shirt and tie. A low-contrast look, i.e. a blue shirt and darker blue tie (not necessarily solid), should be subtle enough. I would also choose black shoes. I think most businessmen who are not clothes horses only notice the obvious things like colors. Nuances like construction quality and texture of cloth is lost on 99.99% of people.

I completely agree with Thinman with the minor alteration that I would always wear a white shirt to the first interview.

You are interviewing. You should be in a suit. If you wear a dark blue or grey suit and a white shirt with your blue tie, they will not know it is a $2000 suit if it is a staple color nor will they know the tie is Charvet.....that is unless they are hip and than it will be OK also.

Do not wear a dark blue zegna with a blue windowpane and a silky sheen however (I have one and it would never be called a "conservative suit" even in the base navy color it has). Wear one of your base navy or grey worsteds.

Perry
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