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MBA Style magazine's
Tips on Buying Interview Suits
Tips on Buying an Interview Suit
The suit is the vehicle by which you create a first impression, says Norman Fryman, former CEO of The Grief Companies and current consultant to Bidermann, manufacturers of tailored men's clothing. He goes on to explain that a suit's silhouette, drape, and color provoke a conscious thought in the mind of the recruiter of what you are all about.
Let's face it, a recruiter not only judges your resume and communication skills, but will be influenced by the visual image projected by your suit. The recruiter wants your clothes to say, "I am productive, I know the rules, I can fit in." For this reason, you must think seriously about its selection and purchase.
This easy checklist should help you in your selection.
Your Shopping Checklist
First, decide what type of job you're interviewing for. What's the industry? Advertising jobs allow greater apparel flair than do investment banking jobs. Sales and traders can be more expressive than those in corporate finance; commercial bankers are more staid than investment bankers; and Silicon Valley jobs allow even greater variations in dress.
Second, allocate a day from your busy schedule to shopping. Focus your thoughts on the purchase of your suit. When shopping, men should wear shoes, trousers, and a dress shirt with a collar. If you try on a suit in a t-shirt and high-top sneakers, neither you nor your tailor will get a true picture of the fit. Women should wear a bodysuit under their blouse if they plan to try on blouse and jacket ensembles. A bodysuit will also eliminate the tuck-in problem during interviews.
Third, go to a store. Try on a variety of colors, patterns, sizes, styles, and cuts. Tell a knowledgeable sales associate that you need an interview suit for your specific industry. Try on an expensive suit, just to get an idea about its fit, the drape of its fabric, and the comfort of the suit and the fabric's finish.
Fourth, men should choose a wool suit. There are four major types of wool: Worsted, Tropical, Flannel and Tweed. Forget tweed, especially if you have a wide body. Concentrate on worsteds, flannels, and tropicals and their weights. Wool blends are blends among wools and other natural fibers or synthetics (synthetics are not natural, they are made from chemicals). Hartmarx, Fezza, and Hugo Boss use soft flannels. Read the tag on the suit's sleeve to discover the fiber content. MBA Style magazine recommends that men stick with a 100% wool suit for the interview suit. Women can choose wool, wool blends, linen, and a variety of natural and synthetic blends that mimic wool. Linens do not travel as well as wools, tweeds, and synthetics -- meaning they wrinkle quickly, so if you'll be getting callbacks that involve travel, you may wish to avoid linen.
Fifth, have a price range in mind, but try on suits with lower and higher price points.
Sixth, try on the suit. If it doesn't fit, don't buy it, even if it's on sale. Never sacrifice fit for color, fabric, or price. Don't get caught up in an embarrassment over the sizes. Sure, I'd like to be a 40 Long. But I am not. I am a 42-Long. Okay maybe even a 43. Same goes for women. Although a model, like Pamela Anderson, is a size 6, the average American woman is a size 10-12. As a matter of fact, the average American woman is 5 feet-4 inches tall, brown-haired, 143 pounds, with size 7.5-B shoes. Therefore, just forget about what size the tag says, and find a garment that fits right and projects the proper image.
Seventh, you can change a suit's fit, but not its design. Meaning, you can alter the sleeves and hems, but shoulders and lapels should not be changed. By the way, any alterations should be measured by the 1/4 inch, at least.
Eighth, look in a three-way mirror, no matter how painful it might be to see your big nose in profile, your butt, your bald spot, or the cellulite on your calves. Now, Men should check the suit from top to bottom in relation to the checklist below. Women can skip the part on trousers and sizes.
Your Quality Checklist
Men's Suit Sizes There are over 21 sizes for man's jacket, from 36 to 48 inches, from extra short to extra long. Try on a few jackets to find your right size and length.
Men's Fabrics and Patterns As noted above, choose wool. Worsted wools are lightweight for spring and summer. Gabardine wools are heavier for fall. Wool Crepes are lightweight with softer finishes. Flannel wools are heaviest.
Patterns for interview suits are limited to solids, stripes(pinstripe, chalkstripe, beaded-stripe, multistripe), Glen plaids, and checks (hounds-tooth, windowpane, and herringbone). If you're buying a patterned suit, check whether the stripes match up to each other at the suit's seams. Although they don't have to, it's better if they do.
The Collar The suit should hug the back of your neck without buckling or pulling. No more than one half inch of you dress shirt should be exposed under the suit's collar.
Arms and Sleeves High armholes let your suit drape well, but your armholes should not feel tight or binding. The bottom of the armhole should not be digging into and irritating your armpits. Your sleeves should end about 1/2 inch above the point where your hands meet your wrist. In other word, the sleeve should end at the midpoint of your wrist bone. This will expose your shirt cuff, and even your cuff links, for the extra 1/2 inch.
Men's Lapels Lapel styles come in high or low notches. Button your suit. The lapels should lie flat, clinging to you chest. They should not buckle or bunch up. Take your thumb and first finger, and rub the inside and the outside of the lapel together. The inside and outside lapel panels should move independently. If they don't, your lapels have probably not been sewn, but heat-fused with glue. Hand stitched lapels usually have 14 stitches per inch, while machine stitched one have 8 per inch. The more stitching, the better.
Shoulders The suit should lie flat against your shoulder blades, with some room for growth. If a concave, river valley forms between your two shoulder blades, the back of your suit is too wide. The jacket should flow down from your shoulders, draping along your lower back, and break over your hips and seat (your butt). Your suit should entirely cover your seat.
Your Waist Can you button the suit without the buttons popping? If not, your waist is too wide for the cut of your suit. Full cut suits, like sack suits, have waists that are not tapered. European cut suits taper as the suit drops from your shoulders to your seat.
The Drop The Drop is a technical term that defines the difference between a man's suit size and his waist. If a suit has the current average of a six-inch drop, it means that a 40 Regular suit will come with a pair of 34 inch waist trousers. Athletic fit suits will usually be cut with 8 inch drops (32" waist with 40" jacket).
The Gorge The Gorge is a technical term that defines the distance between the shoulders of the suit and the first button. Gorges change from season to season, and are just a function of personal and designer style. A high gorge means the first button is placed high on the suit.
Check your Buttons Tug at your buttons before you buy the suit. Make sure they're sewn on well, and none of them are dangling. The jacket will either have two or three buttons, depending of the suit's cut. Although the fashions from Milan and Paris are pushing the three button jacket, the two button jacket will remain the style for this Fall's job interview schedules. Button stances is the term used to define whether the jacket buttons are sewn high on