Art of Manliness Suit School - Basic Colors for an Interview Suit

So, you nailed that resume and you were called in for the interview.

Now, what to wear to the interview?

Naturally, a suit is the answer! But what color?

You have two choices.

What are my choices?

1) Navy or 2) Charcoal.

That's it. Easy rule to remember.

Other Rules

No black. Black suits are for funerals and mob members. And although a little bit of your soul might die every time you're faced with another interview, you're not dead yet. If you're in the mob, you don't have to interview anyway.

No pinstripes
. I love pinstripes when done well, but they connote power. You are not powerful, yet. Save them for when you're hiring new recruits and can call the shots. Leave contrast collared shirts at home. You are not Gordon Gekko.

No 3 pieces. No double-breasted suits
See "No Pinstripes."

No more than 3 buttons on your suit
. You are not a football player or a rapper.

No plaids. Unless your suit is a very-very subtle glen plaid in charcoal or navy.

Did I say no black?

The goal of an interview suit is to keep it simple and show that you can look presentable. If the interviewing attorney goes back to the office and cracks some jokes about what you were wearing, it's not a bonus for your employment prospects.

Once you get the job you want, wear that crazy red zoot suit you're dying to break out. Or better yet, don't. Set it on fire to keep you warm during the cold winder months!

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Tags: School, Suit


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Comment by Wayne W. on December 27, 2010 at 12:17am

For those uninitiated:

RTW = ready to wear

MtM = made to measure


'Another great blog you've gotten me into Stanley.'


Great post Leo.  Thank you!

Comment by J.N.D. on February 15, 2010 at 1:23am
Ah, ok, I understand what you mean. The store where I was going to have it made has a lot of RTW suits as well, so I'll check those out.

Thanks very much for your help. Looks like charcoal is the way to go.
Comment by Leo Doom Occulta on February 15, 2010 at 12:43am
I have a few brown suits and enjoy them thoroughly.

JND, if this is your first real foray into suiting, RTW is superior; this is mainly because there's substantially less room for error. Once you have a few staples, then MtM becomes a good option as you learn your measurements and fill in your wardrobe.

MtM is only superior if you get your measurements 100% correct. If not, it can quickly become a disaster.

If you want a suit with a waistcoat, get a charcoal grey flannel. It will be appropriate for every occasion.
Comment by J.N.D. on February 15, 2010 at 12:39am
Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I'm not sure why I have my heart set on a brown suit, but I guess I should probably find something more versatile.

Brett, was it a 3 piece? Dark, chocolate type brown? Do you have a picture of it?

Leo, why do you suggest I get a ready-made instead of made to measure? I thought made to measure was supposed to be superior?
Comment by Brett McKay on February 13, 2010 at 8:00pm
I wore a brown suit at my wedding. I still wear it to church and nice parties and such. But yeah, I wouldn't wear it to funerals and interviews. But it's still a nice suit to have your closet.
Comment by Leo Doom Occulta on February 13, 2010 at 3:00pm
I would not get a brown three piece for a wedding.

Brown is rather less formal than navy or charcoal.

If I were you, I would try and find a RTW three piece and get it tailored. Less room for error.
Comment by J.N.D. on February 13, 2010 at 2:56pm
Question for you:

I'm getting married in a couple of months and want to go have a suit made (made to measure, not full bespoke). I'm in a bit of a dilemma, though... I would really like to make a brown 3 piece suit for the wedding, but I'm worried that it won't be a very versatile suit for other occasions. I have a navy suit already, though it's an off the rack cheapie and I don't much like it.

Do you think it's alright to wear a brown suit (maybe minus the vest) to job interviews or funerals? Should I go for charcoal instead?
Comment by Leo Doom Occulta on August 30, 2009 at 1:55pm
Brogues and Longwings are great, but the are generally considered less formal than a cap-toe oxford or a wholecut.
Comment by Mark Cannon on August 30, 2009 at 1:53pm
Shoes: I do not think anything says it like a well shined pair of Florsheim Wing tips. That might be a little old school for some, but I think they are the timeless classic dress shoe. I love wing tips.
Comment by James Joyner on August 23, 2009 at 7:02am
I would add:

Any shirt color is fine, so long as it's white. And, unless it's the norm in the industry, I'd advise staying away from French cuffs and stick with barrel (button) cuffs.

Wear a very modest tie, preferably a subtle rep stripe or a dark solid.

No tie tacks or clips, collar bars, lapel pins, or pocket squares.

Black or cordovan cap-toe shoes, well shined.

Solid socks matching the suit.

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