Last week I touched on how women could dress for formal functions like job interviews and in formal environments like legal and accounting firms. Today, I want to touch on how men should dress for such functions and in such environments. As usual I will make it easy to understand with a frequently-asked-question and answer style format while also break into fragments this write up to address issues arising in the various compartments of a man’s dress ensemble when dressed formally such as shoes, belts, ties and even a wrist watch. However, I would not touch on dress shirts because a few weeks back, I dwelt extensively on dress shirts in a series titled: ‘How to Wear a Shirt’.
Is it alright to wear a blazer to an interview?
First of all, it depends on what type of interview it is, other intricasies such as the position applied for, the organisation in question may also determine whether or not a blazer is appropriate.
Like I said last week some enviroments and professions are very formal and wearing a blazer to an interview in such places will be totally inappropriate. For example, a person would look odd wearing a blazer for an interview at a bank simply because a blazer is more of a smart casual/ business item than a formal one.
For people going for job interviews at what I call ‘middle brow’ organisations - by this I mean organisations that are not too serious and not too casual such as manufacturing, media, oil and gas e.t.c. - even though such industries do not maintain a formal dress code but rather a smart casual one, yet because a job interview is a very serious occasion, interviewees should prefer a suit to a blazer. Also because an interviewee is not a staff but at best only a potential staff, appearing at an interview with a blazer instead of a suit would appear too familiar, intrepid, foward or impulsive.
On the other hand a blazer would be appropriate for a student going for an interview at an embassy for a student visa, a business man going for an interview for a visa at the same organisation, a business man pulling off a blazer at an interview for the award of a contract, or a sports’ coach at an interview for a coaching job at a sports’ club.
The key is to this is to pay attention to the setting you are involved in and dress accordingly. If the setting is a semi casual one, dress accordingly and if it is a formal one, dress formally.
Finally, if in doubt, leave the blazer out and opt for a suit instead. It is always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. It is always better to be seen as too serious than too unserious. The other option if in doubt would be to ask for the appropriate dress code so long as you would not be perceived as a novice by so doing.
•Whether a low hair cut is chosen or a mini afro is the desired hair style, one rule remains non-negotiable, it must be neat and tidy. Keep the edges of your hair trimmed and the same goes for a moustache and beard if any of them are kept.
•Ties that ride up to the belly and the chest are too short and appear tacky. Ideally, a neck tie should long enough to reach the tip of a belt buckle and not not way above or way beyond it either.
•Avoid ties with very large or funny patters such as mickey mouse e.t.c.
•Belts should always match the color of the shoes
•Slim 1-inch-belt is most suitable to formal dressing than thicker belts which are suited to jeans and chinos.
•Belts with big buckles are not fomal. The more pronounced or fanciful the buckle is, the less formal it is.
Talking shoes please bear in mind the following;
•Black is more formal than brown (other colors should be avoided)
•Suede is more formal than leather (Wearing a suede shoe for a formal job interview for example would be totally inappropriate)
•Lace-ups (shoes with laces) are more formal than loafers/slip-ons (shoes without laces)
•Never appear wearing a suit without socks
•They should be long enough so that if you cross your legs, the skin of your ankle and calf remain unexposed.
•Socks must be the same color as the trouser pants with a very mild or barely visible pattern. For example, black trousers, black socks; brown trousers brown socks.
•Socks with bold and bright patterns are not formal.
•Whatever its type, your watch should fit into a comfortable position and not move up and down when you move your arms.
•And, of course, digital watches no matter how cool go better with casual clothes or workout attire than with business suits or formal wear.
•Black leather band watches with silver/steel faces provide the most formal look. These watches look great with a suit.
One commonly repeated phrase in the world of etiquette which I like is this: ‘Your perfume must whisper and not shout’. This simply means perfume must be used moderately and not with unbearable extravagance. If you wear perfume and it smelled anything from an elbow length away from you, then it is already shouting. You need to be careful.
•Men should generally avoid jewellery, when dressed formally. Accessories such as chains and bracelets informal wear on men are considered unserious and hence unacceptable.
TATOOS and PIERCING
All tattoos must be covered, and for men, piercing is totally out of place. A man with a pierced earlobe will come off as either a lout or one who previously was one. The kind of impression no one would enjoy projecting or making allusions to at an interview.