College graduations are on deck around the country, and when it comes to job-hunting, it’s often all about looking the part.
While many first interviews are conducted via Skype these days, eventually, grads will have a face-to-face meeting — and that means looking professional from head to toe.
Even during the dot-com craze of the ’90s, when office-appropriate attire meant a clean T-shirt, jeans and sneakers, human resource insiders recommended a suit, tie and pair of brogues for the initial interview. After the job was secured, candidates could then take their style cues from the rest of the team.
With today’s menswear movement continuing its focus on dressed-up looks, guys can take a page out of Don Draper’s book and ace an interview in a classic two-button slim suit, footnoted by a pair of lace-up shoes on a bolder leather or mini-lug sole. They’re the perfect balance for today’s narrower pant legs. And, with budgets tight, there are a wide range of looks available at under $200.
While brogues are always a safe bet, there are also cleaner looks to complement the season’s lighter suitings.
Look for laceups in basic black or a variety of shades of brown — a color that works with black, navy and gray.
For more adventurous job-seekers, a double monk strap is a throwback look with a contemporary vibe, while a sleek Chelsea boot shows signs of a creative thinker.
According to Ariel Nelson, co-founder of recently launched men’s brand Jack Erwin, which operates Jackerwin.com as well as a store in New York, there are two go-to styles for an interview shoe. “A cap-toe oxford and a loafer, to me, are the two most versatile [styles] that can be dressed up with a suit or dressed down in a more casual setting.” Personally, said Nelson, he’s a fan of brown. “I don’t wear black suits — I wear navy,” he said. “So I love a good brown. Black is a little too stiff.”
Jason Jones, VP of product development for iconic men’s footwear label Johnston & Murphy, also has some suggestions for job seekers. “If you’re interviewing, freshly graduated or not, keep it simple and classic. A round toe with clean lines and understated detail shows that you are ready to jump into the real world,” he said. “Invest in a good pair of calfskin oxfords with a medium luster. While black is a safe bet, a hand-finished tan calfskin can set you apart in a more casual setting.”