Interview Dress Shirts:
- The gold standard for interview dress shirts is white or blue. You can’t go wrong with either of these colors regardless of the color of suit you’re wearing. If you venture from one of these two colors you must ensure that the color of the shirt does not clash with either the tie or the suit. Dress shirts worn for interviews should have few to no patterns and should error on the side of simplicity. Just because a dress shirt is “nice” or “expensive” does not make it appropriate for an interview. Colors should be simple and patterns avoided if possible.
- After doing research into dress shirt collars, I was astounded by the variations that existed in the collar world. Luckily,
however, most department stores and online merchants only offer the most common collar types which are almost all acceptable for an interview. The only commonly offered collar-types that should be avoided for interviews are wingtips and button-downs — wingtips are too formal (i.e., they are typically worn with tuxedos) and button downs are too informal. Did you know that button downs were originally buttoned down so that athletes (mostly polo players) could keep their collars in place? While button downs are acceptable if they are the only option, they are typically shirts worn by themselves and free of a blazer, suit, or tie. This “suggestion,” however, is so often ignored that most people don’t know this looks out of place/style.
- The wider the opening in the collar, the larger the knot should be on the tie. If you’re looking for a visual here, think Michael Irvin on NFL pre-games! He has some of the largest tie knots on TV.
- If the shirt allows for collar stays I would strongly recommend keeping and using these. Collar stays are the small pieces of plastic that slide into the tips of your collar and help them to lay flat. Also, you may consider splurging on dry cleaning prior to an interview so your shirt is crisp and starched, if you can stand it.
Much like collars, there are many cuff types (many of which you’ve probably never seen or even heard of.) The standard cuffs that are offered on the majority of dress shirts available are all appropriate for interviews. French cuffs with cuff links should be worn with caution depending on the position and industry. These could be viewed as flashy and pretentious, and actually may hurt your job chances if flashy doesn’t match the company culture. The only thing to really keep in mind with regards to cuffs is the length. Make sure the cuff falls to the wrist when arms are slack and to your side. Roughly 1/2″ to 3/4″ of the dress shirt cuff should show past the suit cuff when the arms are resting at the side.
- Similar to suits, the appropriate sizing of a shirt is far more important than the cost. You can have a dress shirt tailored just the same as a suit. If a dress shirt is too baggy around the torso, consider seeing if it can be tailored in. The collar should fit snuggly around the neck, while remaining comfortable. While a loose collar may feel more comfortable, if it is too loose it will “cinch” up when a tie is worn (envision a belt cinched around a baggy pants waist.) The cuffs should fit snugly but comfortably, and fall naturally at the wrist. The shirt length should be long enough to tuck into the dress pants and provide a little slack for the slight un-tuck that will naturally occur when sitting. The shirt around the chest should be tight enough that it does not bunch up when the suit jacket is buttoned closed.
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