Jeans or blazer? Help dress Dave for a real job interview!

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This is Dave's casual Thursday look, which is much like his Friday through Wednesday looks.

This is Dave. Dave writes for Brokelyn, but he is up for a gig with a big-time media company. (Go Dave! Everyone else, write for Brokelyn!) We love Dave, so we want to make sure he is interview-ready when and if, starting with the look. Thing is, his current “look” consists of a wardrobe of t-shirts, jeans, and three insurance-guy suits. (No offense, insurance guys.) What should Dave wear for his hoped-for face-to-face at a fancy digital news outlet — and where should he get it? 

It’s not a newspaper, TV network or print magazine, so leave all your old-media fashion baggage behind. Suit or no suit? Jeans or no jeans? Tie or no tie? Tie with jeans, but no tie with khakis? What kind of shirt? Solid or plaid? Slayer concert tee? Are erm, sneakers OK? Sartorially speaking, we’re starting from humble beginnings here, so please help a fella out. Constructive suggestions welcome, but dump on Dave and you’re going to have to deal with Mama Brokelyn.

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  1. a well ironed/crispy/clean button down in some fetching hue (no grey/baby blue/other lame colors, think pink, green, purple, possibly royal blue, but stick with solid). if it’s chilly that day, wear a blazer (as opposed to a hoody or that jacket you love from the army/navy store…you know you have one). i’m of the opinion the jeans in this photo look clean and nice and are therefore totally interview-worthy and appropriate for a writer. i’d go with topsiders, loafers or nice/clean sneakers. however, you need to have an eye for this kind of thing with sneakers – because you can go wrong. they can’t be anything you’d go jogging in and they can’t be anything you’ve worn every single day for the past 9 years. but i just loathe seeing men wear dress shoes when they’re not wearing a suit. it looks douchey. I’M JUST SAYING! it does. so i’d go with loafers to be safe. and there you are! done.
    oh! wait. and shave.
    OH! and don’t load up your pockets with so much crap that they can hear you jingling down the hall and/or your booty looks suspiciously diaper-ish.

    GOOD LUCK, DAVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Suit or nice pants with a blazer. For a job interview, it is always better to be over dressed than under dressed. Always. No sneakers, no jeans, no T-shirts. Good luck!

  3. wear a suit. wear a good dress shirt, don’t wear a button-down shirt with a suit. doesnt matter if it’s an “insurance guy” suit, you don’t need to look like david beckham. i mean, that would help, but you dont need to.

  4. Casual Jeans (Not skinny or too baggy, no holes)
    T-shirt (Plain or with a design, but nothing distracting written on it)
    Blazer or Suit Jacket
    Dress Shoes or Dark Colored Sneakers (No running shoes or dirty shoes)

    I work in a field like this and it’s important to look put together but not too stuffy. We like to see people who are laid back and would be easy to work with, not uptight. Good luck Dave!

  5. I don’t know, I’m of the school that it is always better to be overdressed and overprepared. Investing in a suit and proper shirt and shoes will suck, but can be done and then you always have it in your arsenal (check Goodwill in high-end neighborhoods where people regularly donate brand-new suits). It shows you care, and it’s respectful, even if the office is business casual.

    If you’re just not gonna do the suit, I’d wear wear a sharp blazer and slacks. GOOD LUCK!

  6. The usual advice is, dress based on what you think is the dress code at the workplace. If the place is very laid back with t-shirts, then dress a bit above that. I would go with a button up and pants (anything but denim/blue jeans/shorts). Yet, if everyone is wearing suits and ties, you must wear a suit and tie.

    If I wasn’t sure of the dress code there, I would most likely wear a suit with no tie, nice button up shirt (and undershirt), top two buttons undone, with dress shoes.

    If it’s more casual, I still would never wear denim jeans. No sneakers either. But nearly any other kind of cotton pant/trouser and non-plaid long sleeve button up dress shirt.

    You want to give the impression, that you’re the most put-together and professional candidate. And a big part of that is visual. Ugh, this made me feel like my mom or a advice email.

  7. Wear a suit. You will lose major points for not wearing one if it’s expected of you. This far outweighs what you stand to gain by not looking overstuffed.

    • Disagree about the suit. I interview and have interviewed in the new media world… A suit makes you look out of touch, with at least the prevailing culture of the field. My boyfriend wears a suit, because he works in the stodgy offices of real estate.

      Dave could rock a funky tee, blazer, and jeans or a nice shirt (button down or sweater) with good jeans. Extra points for slacks. And always clean hair, good shave.

  8. A nice button down shirt and some cotton slacks or a clean dark pair of jeans. Try Uniqlo! Their stuff is nice and cheap.

    Dave’s cute!

  9. just make sure your clothing actually fits, you don’t want to look sloppy. try to find out what people wear at the office, especially what the boss wears. and yes, shave and comb your hair. maybe even get a haircut. good luck dave! oh, and bring nicely printed copies of your resume and references (it looks like you are unprepared and kinda unprofessional if you have to look through your phone for contacts). and put them in a folder. main idea: look crispy.

  10. Agree with those who say suit. I think you are much more in danger of making a bad impression by being under dressed than you would being over dressed. What’s wrong with the insurance salesman suits? As long as it fits and doesn’t look dated (i.e. no bell bottoms or psychedelic patterns) I don’t see why it would be bad. Unless you are in the fashion industry I don’t think a job interview is the place to showcase your personality in your outfit. That’s something you save for when you get the job. You want something safe that conveys professionalism for the first face-to-face

    That said, some things you can try to make your look less stuffy while still being dressy:
    -wear a blazer that doesn’t match your pants, perhaps in a contrasting shade e.g. blue jacket/khaki pants, navy jacket/dark corduroys etc.
    -wear a bright tie or scrap the tie altogether
    -wear a nice lightweight sweater with some color under your blazer
    racheld’s pinterest board had some great looks

    Final word: yes shave, and wear dark business socks (no sports socks or going sockless)

    Good luck!

  11. Dave,

    You don’t have to wear a suit to look distinguished and put together, but a good looking suit will set you apart from everyone else who’s interviewing for the same position.

    I haven’t seen the three suits you own, but you could probably get a lot of mileage out of them by finding and investing in a good tailor. Fit makes all the difference when it comes to suit wearing (and not looking like an insurance salesman). I oftentimes look for suits at thrift stores and consignment shops and then get them tailored. You can make a cheap suit look great for less than you can buy an expensive suit off the rack.

    You’re applying for a digital news media outlet, and you look like a young, hip, friendly guy, so you want to represent yourself that way. A light colored suit will be season appropriate, and will also look fresher than a darker, more conservative suit, but you should gauge that from the culture of the organization you’re going to be working for- do they value creativity and innovation or is it more about playing it safe and getting the job done? If you want to look especially debonair and daring you can pair a light suit with a boldly patterned shirt, a check, microcheck, or gingham in blue or pink. If you’re playing it safe, a navy or gray suit will still be different enough to set you apart from the black suit crowd, but still businesslike enough for a conservative prospective employer. You can never go wrong with a fitted and pressed white or blue oxford, but don’t be afraid to contrast a darker suit with a more colorful shirt. Add a tie and pocket square to blow them out of the water.

    For fit:
    Most guys wear clothes that are too big for them. Your dress shirts should fit like the t-shirt you’re wearing in the photo- snug. Your tie should be no wider than four fingers width. Keep the tie simple- patterns are dangerous, and you should definitely avoid themed ties. A simple diagonal stripe is good, or a solid navy tie would be best.

    Dress/suit pants shouldn’t be too much wider than the jeans you’re wearing in the photo and the hem should hit right at the top of your shoe- some people prefer a break, but you’ll look more put together if there’s no break. Please, no pleats.

    Suit jacket should fit snugly. Sleeves should hit right at the bottom of your wrists so there is a few centimeters of shirt sleeve showing (Note: shirt sleeves should NOT be longer than your wrist- your shirt cuff shouldn’t be touching your palm. If it is, it’s too long). The jacket should taper with your torso, so it should probably be taken in a bit at your waist. Get a two button jacket with notch lapels. It’s safest. The jacket should hit at the top of your thighs. This is shorter than most guys wear their suit jackets, but it looks better. I would try to find some brown dress shoes- you can find some good ones on ebay sometimes, or at thrift stores. They might be an investment, but a good pair of dress shoes will last you for a really long time if you take care of them (polish when they start getting too scuffed, and you can have them resoled when the soles wear down- this will get you at least ten years of life out of your shoes. Amortize that). Brown belt too. Black shoes/belt would not be bad, but brown will just look better.

    If you want to buy something off the rack, H&M and Uniqlo have stuff that’s not super expensive, and their suits already cut a slim silhouette so you won’t have to tailor it too much (see:, but it might be cheaper to do some thrift store/consignment shop runs and try to find something for super cheap and then have it tailored. It will take more time, but you might find something extraordinary and it’s worth it for the tailoring. Take a girl friend with you to keep you company and to give you feedback. It’s always helpful to have a second pair of eyes. Try on lots of stuff. It may feel tedious, but it’s worth it in the long run. At the end of it all you’ll have an amazingly tailored suit that will get you complimented at work, dinner parties, gallery openings, dance performances, and galas alike. Plus you’ll feel great walking down the street looking dapper as hell.

    Finally, and this may be controversial, but I would go in for a shave and a haircut. You have such a friendly face- you should do it justice by framing it with a nice cut and letting it shine.

    These are good reference resources for what to do and what not to do:

    Good luck.

    • Maddesign, never have your services been more needed than now. You know what I’m talking about. If I see the Santa shirt or anything resembling it you know where, there’s going to be hell to pay.

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