Job talk: How to dress for the summer interview

If you’re a job-hunting male at this time of year, there are very few wardrobe choices that will deliver you to an interview looking like a professional — and not like a sopping mess. To help you out, Digiday spoke to two experts on the topic. While some of the advice is perennial, other tidbits might keep you looking and feeling cool at your next big opportunity. Spoiler alert: no shorts.

If the suit fits, wear it
“No matter what the season,” said Matt Sebra, style editor, “I think a guy really needs to go back to the basics of the classic charcoal or navy suit, a white or light blue shirt and solid tie with minimal pattern.”

But there are things to consider when making your choice for the summer months. “You can find that look in a lighter-weight fabric,” Sebra continued, “whether that’s a wool or a cotton. Stay away from linen for sure.”

When choosing wool, pick one with either a half-lining or a quarter-lining. “That just means there’s less lining in it, and lining is what makes you sweat, since wool as a fabric actually does breathe and lets air in,” he said.

And of course, nothing can undo a man’s gravitas like an ill-fitting suit. “Most off-the-rack suits now do have greatly improved fits, but I would still say go see a tailor,” said Sebra.

And, while you’re at it, noted Michael Williams, founding partner of PR and marketing firm Paul + Williams, wear a blazer. “When you’re wearing a shirt and it’s hot in New York, you’re going to be sweating. So you want to wear something that’s going to cover that up.”

This is not the time to be a peacock
As expected, there are some big don’ts when preparing your outfit. “In terms of patterns, it’s usually something that guys should steer clear of,” said Sebra. “They can do a micro-stripe if it’s tonal with the suit and doesn’t scream out that loud, but you don’t want to do a pinstripe; you don’t want to do plaid.”

“It’s not really time for you to be a peacock,” said Sebra. “It’s time for you to make a first impression and have the interviewer focus on you.” Not your togs.

And when it comes to footwear, one thing is certain: Avoid sock-less chic. “Even though it is hot, keep the socks on for the interview and then take them off when you’re going home,” Sebra said.

Do your homework
No matter the season, it’s important to know your audience when deciding how to dress. “Know what the agency culture is like,” said Williams. “Apply that to whatever you wear. But there’s a limit to how casual you can go.”

While Sebra feels the suit is supreme, he also notes that many creative fields would frown on a candidate being too buttoned-up. “Maybe it’s just a pair of khakis and a blazer, or a great-fitting shirt, tie and a pair of gray dress slacks that drive home the impression that you can put yourself together.”

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