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Interview advised "business casual" in invite e-mail - suit overkill?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Median, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. southbound35

    southbound35 Senior member

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    If they made a point of stating that the attire is business casual, then I would not wear a suit.

    I would wear a pair of slacks, button down shirt and a conservative sport coat. You can always lose the sport coat if the place is really casual when you get there.

    Wearing a suit just says you're not paying to attention to what they said and gives off the sign that you might not fit in if they hire you.

    Another supporter of this opinion.
     
  2. petr

    petr Active Member

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    Great thread. It shows how important knowing the culture can be.

    I've done this type of interview a lot (given and taken).

    Sounds like you are about spot on. Cotton jacket though? Business casual is tricky for sure, but I am not so sure about cotton. If it accomplishes a casual vibe, without being too trendy, then it would be fine.

    Ever time I took a blazer I ended up taking it off quickly.

    Since your code is minimalist, I would make sure the pants, shoes and shirt were top quality and simple. You don't want someone to remember you for your clothes.
     
  3. greekonomist

    greekonomist Senior member

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    Why don't we create a single, pinned thread for Interview Questions? It would eliminate all these separate threads asking which tie to wear, etc. It would be like that denim question thread in SW&D.

    (To the OP: Listen to Bradford.)
     
  4. Bill Smith

    Bill Smith Senior member

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    Wear the suit, leave the tie at home.
     
  5. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Suit and no tie sounds a lot riskier than a tie and a sportcoat.
     
  6. SK8

    SK8 Well-Known Member

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    I went to an interview this past week and wore a navy suit, white shirt, dark tie and black Peal's. The job I was interviewing for was IT related. I interview with 4 people all wearing jeans and polo shirts. I didn't feel out of place and in fact almost felt like I had the upper hand. I ended up getting a call yesterday from the company with an offer. As a side note I also sported a beard...
     
  7. brandom

    brandom Well-Known Member

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    Totally agree with Fuuma, I feel like I must be taking crazy pills here reading some of the advice.

    West Coast business attire = button down and slacks
    West Coast IT = polo shirt on a good day

    I realize this is an interview, but to wear a suit, or even a sport coat I believe is to disregard their culture. In an interview they are assessing two things: if you'll be competent and hard working, and of almost equal importance is if you'll fit in with your peers.

    They specifically stated business casual, so regardless of the statement you're trying to make by dressing nicer, the first thing that comes to mind is you can't follow directions.

    I would wear a conservative button down with slacks, no tie. Depending on the firm culture, if more artsy or something I'd wear a patterned shirt (stripes or check, something boring) with a tie in that case.


    Agree with both Fuuma and dshreter, and will point out that finding pics of your (hopefully) future colleagues online is exactly what you needed to do. I always recommend for people to find out how they dress however possible (a secretary, HR, Facebook, company website).

    There is no way you should wear a tie. If you're under 30 or 35 (and you sound like you are), you shouldn't be wearing a suit without the tie, either, IMHO. That's casual for the older crowd, but still way overdressed for 20-something IT on the west coast.

    Wear a nice button-up and some slacks, possibly even a pair of better chinos. Nicer brown shoes, and DONE. You'll be better dressed than everyone there but the VP of marketing, and you'll show them that you can clean up, but that you still fit in. For your first day of work, wear jeans and the appropriate TshirtHell shirt with rude saying (kidding).

    FWIW, when I went to my interview like this (young, west coast IT), I wore jeans and a button-up with some nice brown shoes. I was in a roomful of people wearing suits, and the HR woman came in with no shoes and a leotard top on. It wasn't my dress that got me in, but I have no doubt it helped me a lot that I was completely comfortable in what I was wearing while being interviewed by people wearing athletic shorts, sweatshirts, etc. My 2 cents as a NOOB.
     
  8. whiteslashasian

    whiteslashasian Senior member

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    Wow, West Coast IT sure takes casual office wear to a new level. Gym shorts? Leotards? That is some next level shit.

    I do East Coast IT consulting and I wore a suit to my interview, wear suits to meetings, and wear a tie every single day unless it's Friday and I don't have any meetings (still keep a tie rolled up in a drawer just in case). I guess I just don't have that West coast mentality....

    I'd say wearing some nice chinos, sportcoat or blazer, button down with no tie, and some nice brown shoes can't hurt at all. As someone mentioned before, you could always hang up the jacket in a coat closet or something when you get there if you feel that would make the interviewer uncomfortable.
     
  9. brandom

    brandom Well-Known Member

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    Wow, West Coast IT sure takes casual office wear to a new level. Gym shorts? Leotards? That is some next level shit.

    I do East Coast IT consulting and I wore a suit to my interview, wear suits to meetings, and wear a tie every single day, unless it's Friday and I don't have any meetings (still keep a tie rolled up in a drawer just in case). I guess I just don't have that West coast mentality....

    I'd say wearing some nice chinos, sportcoat or blazer, button down with no tie, and some nice brown shoes can't hurt at all. As someone mentioned before, you could always hang up the jacket in a coat closet or something when you get there if you feel that would make the interviewer uncomfortable.


    Agreed on the next level...it was crazy. People protested b/c the cafeteria started requiring that they wear shoes (due to a health code violation).

    Now I'm East Coast, and they see business casual as slacks, button-up, with the blazer optional, (if you're in the office, not if you're on a customer site). You've always got a tie in your pocket, just in case you need one.

    But some of the West Coast shops are pretty out there.
     
  10. whiteslashasian

    whiteslashasian Senior member

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    Agreed on the next level...it was crazy. People protested b/c the cafeteria started requiring that they wear shoes (due to a health code violation).

    But some of the West Coast shops are pretty out there.


    looool[​IMG] that's just ridiculous...
     
  11. bowtielover

    bowtielover Senior member

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    I would go with just a shirt and tie and if that is too much you can always take the tie off. It is always good to be a little over dressed because you can always lose something to make the look more casual but it is harder to take something casual and make it more dressy.
     
  12. winston

    winston Senior member

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    In this situation I would think nothing of phoning up and asking reception what sort of dress is typical of the business. Not that there hasn't been ample good advice given in this thread on how to play it safe.
     
  13. pred02

    pred02 Senior member

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    West Coast - wear some Bermudas and your favorite Tevas... you'll fit right in!
     
  14. xpress

    xpress Senior member

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    Get a casual sports coat... Not every SC has to be stuffy!

    Some dress trousers... Shine your shoes... Grab a shirt with a hidden button down (best of both worlds in this scenario)

    And you're off to the races!

    Best of luck
     
  15. jgold47

    jgold47 Senior member

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    One note that I don't think anybody mentioned. A downside to wearing a suit when your interviewer is wearing business casual is that it may make your interviewer uncomfortable. While they may not hold it against you, strictly speaking, all things even who are they going to give the job to - the guy they felt more comfortable with.

    In HS i had a teacher who basically set up all the co-op's, and said, you should find out what they wear, then go step past. basically, if they are a khaki and polo place, where khakis and button downs. The idea was to get the interviewer instantly see you as already on the team. Showing up to a casual IT office in a pressed pinstripe suit send the wrong message. He sent me to my first interview at sears (HS people) in a striped shirt and dark slacks (what they wore was generally khakis), and when I switched jobs to best buy later that summer, in a light blue polo and khakis.


    Do your homework ahead of time. Stake out the office before the interview. If they're dressing business casual, you may want to tone down your look a bit.


    Hmm, I've just checked out their website and there's loads of staff photos - 99% of all the blokes are wearing jeans and t-shirts!

    I'm wondering if I should wear some dark wash jeans instead of the gray dress pants!


    Jeans is a little too far for me, even with a sport coat. That says meeting the friends for drinks later. Unless your interviewing on a friday, and even then.....

    Stick with what your planing, a nice shirt, slacks, and a jacket which you can take off if you feel uncomfortable when you get there.
     
  16. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    Suit and no tie sounds a lot riskier than a tie and a sportcoat.

    I agree. I was surprised at how many posters either recommended that or shirt and tie with no jacket.

    Suit and no tie can look dashing on a few men who can pull it off. George Clooney can. Most of us can't.

    Shirt and tie (coatless) just looks dorky--like an ill paid retail clerk!
     
  17. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I agree. I was surprised at how many posters either recommended that or shirt and tie with no jacket.

    Suit and no tie can look dashing on a few men who can pull it off. George Clooney can. Most of us can't.

    Shirt and tie (coatless) just looks dorky--like an ill paid retail clerk!


    This is along the lines of what I was thinking. If people at the office dress in even the most formal level of business casual, a suit will still be out of place, with or without a tie. Even worse, you'll look like a GQ-birthed sleezeball (I didn't forget a qualifier; this is inevitable).

    On the other hand, given the looseness of the business casual standard, anything beneath a suit is technically permissible. So, if you wear a sportcoat and tie, you may find yourself more formally dressed than most others, but at least you'll still be correct--in terms of both business casual dress and the Rules. And if they did really expect you to wear a suit, at least you're not far off.
     
  18. Median

    Median Well-Known Member

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    OK guys, I obviously can't go wearing a t-shirt and jeans.

    Couldn't find anything very good at Barney's, so went with a blue check button down shirt from Carolina Herrera (the very cute sales associate prolly swayed me). So it'll be black cotton blazer, blue check button down shirt, charcoal chinos and brown leather derbies.

    I'll let you know how I get on!
     
  19. Median

    Median Well-Known Member

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    Quick update - my outfit worked fine. Took the blazer off during the interview and didn't feel at all over or underdressed. Am through to the next round and think this company (one of the site affiliates) is completely bonkers but working there would be a dream come true. Cheers!
     

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