Men's Wool Suits
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
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
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
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 the jacket or
low on the jacket. Men with athletic builds, especially those MBA's
who play rugby, look better with lower button stances. Men with beer
bellies from weekly Happy Hours look better with higher button
stances. The rest of us can rely on average middle stances.
The buttons that appear on your
wrist cuffs are mostly for show. Well made (more expensive) suits
will have real buttons and button holes for your wrist cuffs. These
are called "doctors cuffs," because doctors used to unbutton these
cuffs to roll up their sleeves to deliver babies in the subways. For
those MBA's with a "roll up your sleeves" demeanor, buy a custom
made suit with real buttoned cuffs.
Vents The skirt of a man's jacket
is the area below the waist. This is the domain of your vents. A
suit can have a single vent, which is a vertical slit in the middle
of the back of the skirt. Or it can have two vents, side vents,
which are vertical slits on the left side and the right side of the
suit. Or your suit can be ventless, with no vents. The average
student can wear any type of vent, it's a matter of personal style
and fit. If you have a flat seat, you can wear a ventless jacket.
Fuller seats should go with double, side-vents. Check in a
3-way-mirror to make sure that a big butt doesn't make a side-vented
jacket's flap flip up like a side table. Vents should overlap each
other by about 3/4 of an inch. so your trousers do not show through
Fusing of the Lapels Don't buy a
fused suit for your interviews. Better suits are constructed by
sewing together the front panels of the suit (which the recruiter
sees) and the inside lining (that only your shirt sees) Between the
two panels is a layer of interlining. Sewing will allow the two
panels to move independently, allowing the suit to drape well over
your body. Sewing however costs more, so some manufacturers will
heat fuse the panels together using glue. This makes the suit stiff
and harder to clean and press. After several dry cleanings, fused
suits will begin to bubble up and pucker when the glue dries and
Pockets Your suit should have
flaps over the side pockets.
Vests In 1982, three piece suits
with vests were di rigeur for interviewing. This year, vests will be
hot for casual wear, but not for interviewing. However, if you
decide to wear a vest, leave the bottom button undone, in homage to
Britain's King Edward VII, who initiated that style. Suits today are
cut so that we may button all the buttons, but style dictates that
you leave the bottom one undone.
Men's Trousers When trying on your
trousers, bend your knees and squat. Make sure the crotch is not too
horizontally tight or vertically short. There should not be a
horizontal crease along your lap when you are standing erect. The
trouser's front creases for each leg should cross the middle of your
kneecap, or fall on the inside of your leg.
Trouser Rise The rise is the
vertical area between your waistband and your crotch. If your
waistband is not resting over your hips, you need a higher (longer)
rise. Men who are well endowed by their creator will either
dress-left or dress-right. Most men is the U.S. dress-left, so most
suits have a tad more width on the upper left leg of the trouser,
near the crotch. And while we are on the subject of endowment, full
pleats are especially good for those buyers with fuller abdomens.
Unless you're dressing like M.C. Hammer, your interview suit trouser
leg will have 19 inches of fabric surrounding your knee, and 17 1/2
inches surrounding your ankle (thus you have a tapered trouser leg).
The inseam is the length between a man's crotch and the cuffs of his
pants. The break is where the cuffs of the pants lightly crumble
into the front of the shoe.
Men's Cuffs Originally designed to
protect the hem, cuffs are standard fashion in business. The classic
American suit has a 1.5 inch cuff, while a European suit uses a
1.25" cuff. If your legs are short, choose a 3/4 inch cuff. It will
look better. If you are big footed with a height of over 6 foot - 3
inches, you may wish to have cuffs that are closer to 2 inches. Ask
your tailor. If you admire Brooks Brothers, then you should have a
1.75 inch cuff on a 3 button suit, and 1.5 inches on a 2 button
Men's Belts Your leather belt
color should be coordinated with your footwear - black with black,
brown with brown. (and you socks should be coordinated with your
Women's Cuts If you decide to wear
a matching men's-tailored blazer, skirt and blouse, make sure that
the blazer is cut fully enough to cover your bust. The skirt should
fall at mid-knee.
Women's Skirts Since most of us
interview over the winter months, choose a skirt that is fully lined
with a lining materials that matches that of the skirt. Check the
skirt's waist. If the waist isn't reinforced, the skirt might look
baggy during an interview. Choose a skirt that has an extensive hem
(so it can lowered if styles change). If you decide to use a zipper
on your skirt, make sure it is concealed in the hem and that it's
color matches that of the skirt.
Women's Sleeves Women should
definitely avoid suits and blouses with puff sleeves. According to
several bank recruiters, women should also never wear
Women's Pleats Pleats on short
skirts make them seem longer than they are.
Women's Buttons For your
interview, you should choose classic designs, one that avoid buttons
that don't unbutton. Buttons should be covered, matching, or
concealed by the placket. You should try to avoid contrasting trims.
Pleats on short skirts make them seem longer than they are.