"You can leave the suit at home."
January 9, 2014 8:52 AM   Subscribe

I have a round two interview today for a business analyst position in the interactive division of a large international company. I've never been for an interview that included "It's OK to dress down" instructions, and don't want to come off as either stuffy or too laid back. I'm thinking about a v-neck sweater over a dress shirt, with no tie. Would I be wiser wearing a jacket instead? With a tie?
posted by emelenjr to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They actually told you "It's OK to dress down"? Then no jacket, no tie. Go with your v-neck idea.
posted by Etrigan at 8:55 AM on January 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

If you've been to round one, you should know how the other employees dress. You should dress as nicely as the nicest dressed person you met on round one was.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 8:56 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's my understanding that "dressing down" for a man in this context means khaki chinos and a dress shirt, no tie. Your V-neck sweater sounds great.
posted by Andrhia at 8:56 AM on January 9, 2014 [9 favorites]

(...I mean assuming it's not a loudly patterned Christmas sweater or anything, which would be dressing a little too far down.)
posted by Andrhia at 8:57 AM on January 9, 2014

(I should have been more clear. Round one was on the phone.)
posted by emelenjr at 8:57 AM on January 9, 2014

If I was told to dress down I would not wear a tie or jacket. Button-down shirt with a casual sweater and khakis.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:00 AM on January 9, 2014

"Dress down" in an office environment is often khaki and a button up dress shirt, tucked in, with a belt. V-Neck sounds appropriate. No tie, no jacket. No sneakers.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 9:06 AM on January 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I would wear the pants to one of my suits, a dress shirt (with the v-neck or not) and no tie. Depending on the weather where you are, I might bring a nice wool overcoat (as opposed to a ski jacket or something). Have the color of your belt roughly match the color of your shoes. black-black or brown-brown.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:10 AM on January 9, 2014 [6 favorites]

The conservative answer is chinos, dark leather shoes and a button-down, yes with sweater or vest if you like. The slightly riskier more stylish answer is dark jeans, sneakers, a graphic T-shirt and a casual sports jacket, by which I mean a jacket that looks like a suit jacket, but in a more casual fabric like a heavy tweed.

I would lean towards the former if the company is large, old, has a conservative brand, or if the position is more on the business side. I'd lean towards the latter if the company is smaller, younger, has an edgier brand, and if the position has a creative element or is closer to design/creative rather than the business side. Middle ground is jeans, dark leather shoes, button down and jacket, with or without sweater/vest.

If you can look up the people who'll be interviewing you on LinkedIn, I'd take my cue from what they're wearing in their LinkedIn photos.
posted by Susan PG at 9:27 AM on January 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Depends on your geographic area and the specific company, but from working in/with international companies in NYC, khakis would be VERY dressed down. They're equivalent to wearing jeans; if you wouldn't wear jeans, don't wear khakis. That is, the tan color; chinos (the style/fabric) are fine. This look would be ok as would this.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:27 AM on January 9, 2014

Your plan is perfect. Slacks, dress shirt, sweater. Basically like this guy. Wearing a tie and a jacket is exactly the opposite of what they told you to do, so don't do that.
posted by phunniemee at 9:29 AM on January 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

Honestly, "it's ok to dress down" sounds to me like "we aren't gonna think about what you wear." You're overthinking it. Your plan is fine, another plan would probably also be fine. Just go in there and knock 'em dead.
posted by I've a Horse Outside at 9:41 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

A jacket would be fine, but not with a tie. A jacket over a sweater or sweater-vest with a button-down underneath it would be casual yet stylish.
posted by xingcat at 9:51 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another vote for jacket, but no tie. I'd forego the khakis, too, in favor of wool slacks.

In any case, good luck!
posted by Dolley at 10:16 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

For the last 8 years, i've gone on interviews with that dress code. Your sweater/shirt outfit sounds good, you could also go with jeans/blazer.

As someone who works in an environment with that dress code, i can tell you that dressing up or wearing a tie will not help you, and will likely hurt you, because it will show that (a) you don't 'get' the culture, and (b) that you don't listen to instructions.
posted by Kololo at 10:45 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Our analysts dress business casual. Your planned outfit is fine.

As an FYI: Our executives are more businessy - suits are expected for big meetings, but not for a routine day in the office. If you encounter an exec that's dress far more formally, don't assume that you are underdressed. It's probably just that exec day to present at a meeting.
posted by 26.2 at 11:10 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Where you are makes a difference, but in LA, I've interviewed for and gotten offers for similar positions in similar companies dressed in a dress shirt, nice slacks, no tie, nice shoes. I've always been better dressed than the people interviewing me, which is the goal, and never gotten feedback that I was stuffy.

I've also interviewed people for those positions. A really nice suit throws me off, because it makes me think the person in question hasn't been to this rodeo before. I've never turned down a candidate for dressing nicely, but I have turned down candidates for being poor culture fits, and being too dressy might have influenced that judgement.
posted by Pacrand at 11:40 AM on January 9, 2014

I think what you're planning sounds totally fine. It would read as "put together" rather than "dressed up" in my office - and my office is in a traditionally buttoned-up sector.

With your outfit as described, you can always get there a bit early to get a read of the people you see going through the lobby. If you feel overdressed, you can add a bit of casual by ducking out to the mens' room, pushing up the sleeves of the sweater and rolling up the sleeves of the dress shirt to just below your elbow. Or, if you feel underdressed, you could add the matching tie that you brought with you just in case.

You can also modify your look via postural cues. If you sit in a relaxed, open posture you'll appear more casual no matter what you're wearing. If you stiffen your spine a bit and keep your shoulders straight, you'll come off as more formal.
posted by kythuen at 12:10 PM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

It would help to know what the industry is. If it's banking/legal then business casual. Otherwise I'd rock a t-shirt and a jacket over it. Casual and yet formal.
posted by I-baLL at 1:20 PM on January 9, 2014

No do not wear a t-shirt. Look your best, whatever that means. In my industry everyone wears jeans. So jeans and a very nice button down tucked in with or without a blazer over it, in my opinion, is a great option.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:31 PM on January 9, 2014

I would interpret it as no tie and then V-neck or jacket, depending on the weather.
posted by ninebelow at 3:10 AM on January 10, 2014

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