Interview Clothes Advice?


I'm a recent college graduate going in for 2 interviews in NYC, and have limited dress attire. Is spending $300-400 on clothes and shoes worth it? Any tips?

Aug 7, 10 12:59 pm
Aug 7, 10 1:10 pm  · 

Who looks at clothes? Make sure you wear a nice watch and a good pair of shoes, though, makes you look organized (if your personality does not necessarily show it).

Aug 7, 10 1:40 pm  · 
 ·  1

wait, so should I wear yellow? I've heard it's the new black...

Aug 7, 10 2:45 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn

Depends on whether you're a man or a woman, what kind of impression you want to leave and what your overall goal is.

Aug 7, 10 3:19 pm  · 

Thanks for the responses. I'm a guy. I would like to showcase subtle class, and let my portfolio and interview do the rest. My main dilemma is one firm is a national health-care firm (the other is high-end residential) So I don't want to go too black...

Do I need a jacket? or could I get away with a nice shirt, skinny tie, and oxfords...any advice appreciated.

Aug 7, 10 3:31 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn

If you go sans jacket, wear a vest.

Grey/ash or grey with subtle pinstripes, possibly navy blue would work for both locations.

Khaki, white, light grey, funky colors would only fly at the high-end residential firm (and that really, really depends on where you live or are interviewing).

The national healthcare firm would be definitely straight laced. You could get a pair of really nice jeans and a sports coat... that way you can get at least two or three days a week of use out of it.

Remember, what ever you interview in is what you're going to be wearing til you basically retire. So, don't just buy an "interview outfit" for one time use.

Brown and plaid will work and give you more "semi casual" options. But you have to be either really attractive or really smart to pull that shizz off.

Aug 7, 10 3:52 pm  · 
Sharky McPeterson

It's a difference of opinion/taste, but I feel like a vest without a jacket is a bizarre move. A jacket without a vest is usual, but a vest without a jacket seems like the order of operations has gotten jumbled.

But if you do end up going for a vest and no jacket, why not throw in a monocle and pocket watch with a chain while you're at it.

Dec 4, 23 12:26 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn

Best word of advice?

Find out who your bosses are. Cyberstalk them down and try to find a picture of them. Wear what they wear to the interview.

Aug 7, 10 3:54 pm  · 
drums please, Fab?

once you go black you NEVER go back !!

i'd copy pierre de meuron and bernard tschumi - simple, dark jacket with a light grey shirt and no tie. i can't tell from the photo but i HOPE they're wearing pants (do NOT forget the pants, please. you will not get the job trust me).

Aug 7, 10 4:14 pm  · 

kangol tilted to the side

Aug 7, 10 5:04 pm  · 
Cherith Cutestory

Parad0xx86 that image almost makes me wish I wasn't an architect.

Aug 7, 10 5:52 pm  · 

Ladies are often told to keep it simple and low key and professional (keep accessories simple, etc), but being in the creative field, I wonder if it's okay to use unique accessories which you feel gives them a hint of your style and individuality. I would understand how formal business suits would work well for the jobs in the legal or banking sector, but given that architecture and ID is creative and a lot the work involves "subjective" factors, style, creativity - - I wonder if it's okay to to be professional yet individualistic and stylish at the same time.

Aug 7, 10 5:57 pm  · 

just wear a suit. you should be able to buy a nice one for a few hundred bucks.

i have a few suits to talk to bankers and for lectures and such but spend as much on my shirts to be honest. and shoes. gotta have nice shoes. clients notice that sort of thing. employers? no idea. but really you will never be wrong, just overdressed if you wear a suit and your boss doesn't. the opposite is kinda embarrassing, unless you are confident enough that it doesn't matter. you can decide that yourself.

and just to show the black is bullshit...

toyo ito

Aug 7, 10 7:22 pm  · 

look professional. i can't imagine that can't be done for under $100. a nice shirt from the the back racks of banana republic or gap is sufficient. target isn't even bad. open collar seems fine these days, if you wear a sports coat. reasonable pants. shine your shoes.

folks, no-one's craning their necks to look down your collar for the prada tag. lighten up.

please, god, though, lay off the cologne. i've almost turned people around and walked them back out of the door just because i didn't want to be closed in a room with them.

Aug 7, 10 8:37 pm  · 

OR you could go with a subtle, sweet smelling cologne like givenchy...

Aug 7, 10 9:34 pm  · 

I never really dress up. I cant remember if I even own a suit. I mean Ive got decent shirts and pants, nice jacket and tie when I need it.

Even for interviews Im rockin the old shoes. I live, my shoes live with me. If you cant see the value in that then I dont really want to work for you.

Aug 7, 10 9:35 pm  · 

do not wear black, it a symbol of enslavement.

Aug 7, 10 11:24 pm  · 

hit up Nordstrom Rack, Loehman's, or similar, and Steven's right, $100 should do it. Maybe $150 if you decide to invest in really good shoes.

In terms of the black vs. color thing, wear what is comfortable to you! At this stage, don't buy a single thing that you would not want to be a part of your wardrobe once you start working. 'Conservative' should really only ensure that you cover everything that needs to be covered and you don't have logos or silly swirly graphics printed on anything. Beyond that, be yourself.

To Caryatid's question, I would say that professional yet individual is not only ok, it's the ideal.

Aug 8, 10 3:35 am  · 

I believe I fit with Ban's all around style. Wish I could see his shoe selection at the time of photo.

Also love the subtle maroon Ito is wearing.

Guess I'm headed to Japan.

Aug 8, 10 3:55 am  · 

you proly wouldn't like the hours, 5 percent.

you know i guess i been here too long, i think $100 for a shirt is cheap, $150 is cheap is a bit expensive, apparently ;-)

best rule i ever got in pro practice was to dress slightly better than your clients. not a lot better, just a bit. it works.

i get you oe, and i probably wouldn't care so much as long as you can do the job, but for myself i never go to site or talk to client without dressing properly. it makes a difference between getting respect and not when dealing with issues on site and otherwise. i simply don't let them see me looking anything other than professional. not always a suit, but always dressed well shoes polished, etc. anything else is inviting problems.

but that is nothing to do with interviews.

apparently ito started dressing better when his daughter went to fashion school ;-) makes sense. my theory is that architects wear black out of fear of getting it wrong when they try color ;-)

Aug 8, 10 8:34 am  · 

Yea its a thing but Im not a stickler or anything. I mean I own nice shoes for weddings and if were meeting bigwigs or something, but if Im just representing myself its feels right to be honest about who I am. Especially on site I guess. I dont know, Dads a GC, I want to be able to talk to the guys without them looking at me like "who the fuck does this guy think he is?"

Aug 8, 10 11:12 am  · 

Anything other than fake eyelashes...they might unglue during the interview ;D

Aug 8, 10 6:44 pm  · 

I want to second jump's comment that you really can never go wrong being over-dressed. If nothing else it shows you take the interview seriously. Being underdressed can leave the opposite impression.

If you show up in a suit and everyone else is wearing T-shirts and Vans, joke about it in a way that makes fun of yourself not them, like saying trust me, I don't wear a suit to the pool.

Clean, pressed, nice shoes, you'll be fine. (I like men to wear an undershirt under a dress shirt, but I'm an old lady who loves handkerchiefs, too.)

Aug 8, 10 7:02 pm  · 

No Khakis or jeans on interview. stick to grays, dark blues or brown. You should definatly own a nice jacket. I think ties are old school and will make you look like an old kid. I think sporting a suit without the tie is a good move, stick to a dark gray suit, white button down.

Aug 8, 10 8:22 pm  · 

but I still dont have a job... forget my post

Aug 8, 10 8:23 pm  · 

yup i get ya oe. i used to believe the same and would show up to site wearing jeans and boots, which is frankly what i am most comfortable in. totally backfired. no respect. now i dress like an architect. the workers can think whatever they want because i am the fucking architect and i been doing this prolly as long or longer than a lot of the folks on the site. i treat everyone with respect but that doesn't mean i want to be one of the boys. not during business hours. after that is fine by me, but at work anything less than professional doesn't work. well, at least not for me. i am sure there are lots of ways to make it work though. there always are alternatives...

Aug 8, 10 8:33 pm  · 

Youre also in tokyo though eh? That makes a huge difference I think. If I was in new york Id definitely be stepping up my game. Saw my buddy after he got back from an interview in a fucking stylin blue suit and malcolm x glasses and I wont deny my envy. I guess I kind of feel like everyone in new england has gone jeans and polo fleece anyway so who cares about my old browns haha

Aug 8, 10 8:58 pm  · 

It doesn't matter HOW people dress at arch. firms when you interview with them -- that is their own culture that you are not yet a part of. The expectations no matter WHERE you interview is that you dress professionally -- no exception. you don't even necessarily have to wear a tie -- just make an effort to look very near and professional.

We've had people (out of college) come to our firm dress pretty ridiculoiusly -- at my last firm this brat from some snobby mid-west school was brought in for an interview because of alumni connections was given this kind of "red carpet treatment" -- I was thinking the POPE was coming in for an interview. Several of the coworkers at this firm knew the kid and this is why he was brought in. Instead it was some scruby looking bum out of college who was sporting a Rage Against the Machine t-shirt, a flight jacket, and sagging slacks!!!!

I was eventually introduced to him and was asked to give him a tour of the office to which I vehemently refused. Instead, I asked the kid if he went to all of his interviews dressed like that. He gave me a wise ass remark. He was not hired.

It was insulting to see this as it was onlytwo years earlier I was interviewing for the same job dressed extremely professionally.

Aug 9, 10 11:00 am  · 

Also another thing is that once I interviewed at a "Starchitect" office in New York. I was dressed very professionally! The actual starchitect and two other associates came in looking almost like BUMS. All I wore was a black blazer, a nice white button-up shirt (from Target), some very nice fitted black slacks, black shoes, and a neatly trimmed haircut. No tie.

They really appreciated my "professionalism" and wished all of their potential hires came in looking professional. And then they went on to say how their culture is very relaxed and cassual. Which is true ONCE you get hired there.

Aug 9, 10 11:09 am  · 

If you do choose to wear a tie -- choose wisely too! I would say either a plain color one, or one with either diagonal or horizontal stripes. Nothing too crazy or loud...

Aug 9, 10 11:12 am  · 

There's something else to add besides all the "dress professionally"-remarks. I mean, that's all too true, of course. But also stay close to your personality and own style. If you are a real t-shirt and jeans kind of person, and you wear a suit and tie for the first time in your life for an interview, it shows. It shows you are not comfortable, and you are acting a role. So choose something closer to yourself: goodlooking slacks, good shoes and a button-down shirt might make you feel way more comfortable than a suit and tie. And that shows, too.

Aug 9, 10 1:39 pm  · 

then wear a suit with a t-shirt !

at some point you have to look the part. starchitects can dress as they like at the office but when they are meeting clients i doubt they dress like bums. so anyway if you aren't used to wearing a suit or think it is morally wrong to dress nicely well thats fine but don't expect fantastic responses from the people who have the money (which is what this is all leading to isn't it).

when i was young and angry and in undergrad i had shoulder length hair, a completely wild beard that covered most of my face (think grizzly adams but not handsome) and wore jeans and grunge shirts. it was comfortable but i noticed when i shaved all the hair off and bought better clothes even my grades went up! hah. what a lesson that was. humans are social animals. peacock displays matter. as long as you know how and when and what rules you are breaking, or ignoring, it is all cool, but if you want certain kinds of results then you gotta strut. its just how it is.

oe, yeah totally true. tokyo has crazy high standards when it comes to fashion. one of the builders we work with fairly regularly has more expensive shoes than i do. its kind of embarrassing.

Aug 9, 10 7:52 pm  · 

^"humans are social animals. peacock displays matter. as long as you know how and when and what rules you are breaking, or ignoring, it is all cool, but if you want certain kinds of results then you gotta strut. its just how it is."

As a young architect, I'm still chewing on this one. And don't get me wrong, jump is absolutely right. But as someone who's still trying/wants to be defined by my abilities, and not my showmanship, I'm just not ready to swallow this so easily. Showmanship is the easy way out. It's manipulative. It's not honest. It's used car salesmanship. And anyone can do it.

Perhaps when I get more confidence in my abilities, I will take this in stride, and utilize it a bit of integrity to back it up. But for now this aspect of humanity makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

I'm going to make the jump here (no pun intended), and relate this to my undergraduate experience as well. It wasn't always (ever?) the substantive projects that get the good grades and the attention. Fuck, what did we actually know, anyway? That said, it was he who had the most flash and smoke and mirrors in his presentation that got the recognition. And if I were a washed up professor, saw hundreds of presentations, wouldn't that be something I would gravitate to, out of sheer boredom? But that's another story...

I still feel it's whoring. And maybe all industries, when you get high enough, come down to whoring to get the job/contract. But it unfortunately feels that architecture is especially so.

Aug 9, 10 9:03 pm  · 
1  · 

pickfirst, if you are doing something that you feel is "whoring", it will show. Like usernametaken said, you need to be true to yourself or the interviewers will know you are blowing smoke up their asses.

That said, there are cultural norms and etiquette that we all must adhere to, or must adhere to in proportion to what our goals are. If a Brooks Brothers suit and loafers isn't your style - and as an architect I sincerely doubt that it is - then a different look is fine, but it needs to be neat, clean, etc. And you honestly can't go wrong wearing either a suit of trousers and a jacket that work together with a collared shirt.

If you want to go the tie route, I suggest something designey like Cyberoptix. Women get the chance to use cool accessories like jewelry, men basically get ties. These ties are awesome - silk, hand silkscreened by a small Detroit artist, and incredibly affordable.

If for no other reason: dress nicely, even slightly more nicely than you are accustomed to, simply because it's polite. The interviewers are offering, at minimum, their time - the least you can do is look like you respect them enough to dress nicely.

Aug 9, 10 9:33 pm  · 
1  · 

That should be suit or trousers/jacket.

Aug 9, 10 9:34 pm  · 

Donna, I need to clarify: I definitely have/had a larger chip on my shoulder than rebelling against what the norms are for what to where to an interview. I fully agree with the narrow scope you provided to the op, which is of course is adequate to the question asked.

It's rather the general idea that the only way you get noticed is with flash and presentation.

Let's also put it this way: his question to us is on his appearances. Did he also post a thread on his resume, or his portfolio? Or how to spin his experience, or *gasp* how well he thinks he fits a job description? Aren't/shouldn't those be more important?

Seriously, I'd like to hear people's responses on what percentages they think the employer will grade the interviewee:

how closely his attributes align with the job description.

Go ahead. Dress well. But I feel we're focusing on the flash and not the substance.

Aug 9, 10 9:57 pm  · 

Case in point: always proofread your work! wear, not where. I just turned myself off with that one.

Aug 9, 10 9:58 pm  · 

And I'm currently dressed in a suit.

Aug 9, 10 9:58 pm  · 
Distant Unicorn

This is my interview get up!

Aug 9, 10 10:28 pm  · 
 ·  1

You're Hired, Young Man! A Young Man so smartly dressed certainly must have some skill(s) we can use at this firm!

Aug 9, 10 10:38 pm  · 
Cherith Cutestory

Well an easy way to avoid the whole "this is the first time I have worn a/this suit" is to wear it at least once before the interview. Not only does this give you time to figure out what to wear without the stress of the interview the same day, you will be amazed at the reaction you get. I've had to go to a few interviews lately that required travel so I had to wear the suit on the plane, etc. Everywhere I went people treated me with so much more respect (even offering to grab my luggage off the carousel for me) because I appeared to be someone professional (and apparently important).

I've read that even for phone interviews it is highly recommended that you dress as if you were meeting them in person. As pickfirst mentioned, the simple act of dressing better tends to make you feel and act more professional.

There are plenty of places to shop to find affordable clothing for an interview, especially in NYC that cater to a younger professional (i.e. no baggy/boxy banker suits). I think it's worth the time and investment to find something that is professional but also isn't stuffy. It's a sad but true fact that you will be judged on what you are wearing.

Aug 10, 10 12:07 am  · 

I just bought an identical vertical striped white button up from Bibles for Missions for $1.

Aug 10, 10 6:59 am  · 

But you know even rock stars have to dress up to get people to listen to them. It's not just the clothes but the confidence in your skin that does the trick. Kurt cobain dressed in a uniform as much as any banker but he owned his look.

Maybe that is the important thing?

Anyway of course all the other stuff is important but being good at communicating is essential to architecture. That means the whole gamut. Drafting and design may be personal if you dint build anything but once things go up to the level of construction and clients the rendering the talking and the way you use your voice are all important. Dress is just another tool. Given a choice I think is better to master all of this things. It makes life easier and really if it gets you to a place where you get to build doesn't that mean you are the one in charge and not just a whore in the system?

Aug 10, 10 7:17 am  · 

pcikfirst, it's impossible to say how much weight each aspect carries in an interview. I think a lot of it has to do with the specific needs of a firm at that moment.

I was once hired specifically to do cabinet drawings because I had a lot of previous cabinet drawings in my portfolio and the office needed someone who could do that. I was also wearing a suit, and was relaxed and pleasant through the whole interview, which were both pros in my favor (these are things they told me after I'd been working there over a year and had become friendly with the partners).

The awesome murky emotional charcoal renderings of my thesis were nice interesting to the interviewers, as was the reputation of my grad school, but not why I was hired. If they had been looking for someone to do atmospheric renderings, I might have gotten the job on different merits - someone sitting in a corner doing renderings doesn't necessarily need to play well with others, but someone on a construction doc team for a large project does.

Aug 10, 10 7:46 am  · 

I think concern over what to wear to a job interview is hardly a symptom of architecture's "style over substance" reputation as a profession. What you choose to wear to an interview is important, but even the slickest outfit is not going to convince your potential employer that you have skills which aren't represented in your resume, experience, etc. What you wear isn't going to pull the wool over anyone's eyes, but it is going to strongly influence people's
receptivity to the content of your application. Your appearance and bearing at an interview convey a great deal of information, even before the first question is asked. Neat, professional clothing says
that you take their firm, their time, and yourself seriously. A sloppy or unkempt personal appearance will most likely send the message that you don't care about how you are perceived by your potential
employers, and by extension, you don't care about getting the job. Dressing well for an interview is a traditional gesture of accommodation and respect, not all that dissimilar from a handshake. While it may not be a reflection of how you'll dress every day at the office, it shows you value your employer's time and interest enough to make a small extra effort, and it also shows them how well you may represent the office in future presentations to clients and the public. I definitely agree with earlier comments that it's important to wear something you feel comfortable and confident in, but I've found that the old advice about wearing something appropriate to the most formal occasion your new job is likely to entail (client meeting, public presentation, etc.) is a pretty good rule of thumb.

For my current job, I interviewed in a black shirtdress, tan belt, and tan flats. I didn't go too crazy with jewelry or makeup, just a nice pair of earrings and hair worn up. My previous job, I wore a vintage wool
blazer (gray herringbone), black blouse, black dress pants, black shoes, and a chunky green necklace. I tried to take into account what I knew about the office, both in terms of their work and their culture, the age of the person interviewing me, and how I planned
to get there. If you're walking or taking public transportation, try to make sure you wear something appropriate to the weather, and make sure you can walk a decent distance in your shoes without suffering. When I want to wear dressier shoes to an interview, I bring them in my purse and change just before arriving.

I think being inflexible about dressing well for interviews is a bit silly and short-sighted. You might as well refuse on principle to spell-check your cover letter or use a legible font in your portfolio. You're not "whoring" yourself, you're presenting yourself and your work in the best possible light and demonstrating that you value the time and attention (which, btw, do cost your potential employers' money) being paid to you.

Aug 10, 10 11:38 am  · 

If you're in New York, Macy's on 34th St. has suits from INC for about $100. Great fit. That's what I wear to my interviews.

Aug 11, 10 11:05 am  · 
prairie school drop out

how about if it's going to be 90+ degrees and humid? i was going to wear my suit (appropriate for place of interview), but i think i might melt or, more likely, faint.

Aug 12, 10 11:18 am  · 
jon ammer

'how about if it's going to be 90+ degrees and humid? i was going to wear my suit (appropriate for place of interview), but i think i might melt or, more likely, faint.'

the heat didnt trouble Don Johnson in Miami Vice . Go with a pastel blue linen suit but hold the socks so that your feet wont smell. Permatan and Bouffant hair completes the look and a liberal dose of Old Spice will help disguise perspiration as you sweat under questioning about your contract management abilities. For maximum effect hire a yellow Lamborghini for the big day (outright purchase may be a stetch for an undergraduate Architect).

This approach should work particularly well if the position is in Interior Design.

Aug 12, 10 1:36 pm  · 

I had that happen once, it was near 90, wore a dress shirt and tie, no sportcoat. The air conditioning in my car was broke, and it was about a 30 min drive on the interstate.

Needless to say, I looked terrible when I arrived, though luckily I wasn't that interested in the company anyway.

Aug 12, 10 2:00 pm  · 

I would caution against wearing a suit for any interview. Firms that see themselves as 'cool' might not see you as fitting in if you go too formal - my former firm in NY where people wore jeans and converse even to important meetings with celebrity clients would make fun of people who'd wear suits to interviews (and would not hire them). I'd aim for looking pulled together and no more than a step or two up from the everyday formality of the firm. I think the advice about finding photos of people who work there, preferably on the firm's own website, and modeling their attire is pretty sound.

Aug 12, 10 5:58 pm  · 

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