Blue Blazer With Gold Buttons
March 26, 2006 6:03 PM   Subscribe

Okay, I have to "look nice" for an interview and I was told that a pair of khakis and a blue blazer would be perfect. The only "blue blazer" I have is the traditional blazer with gold buttons. Some say the gold buttons are timeless and is always "in", others say they are "out" and replace the buttons. What do MeFites think? Is it iffy enough to worry about? I did an AskMe search and didn't find anything addressing this blazer/button issue. Help?
posted by Gerard Sorme to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (34 answers total)
Umm. Hard to say without actually seeing the blazer and khakis in question. Gold and all things metallic are actually making a rather big comeback...But what the gold buttons actually do is then "dress down" your khakis and make them too informal. I would actually try to find a pair of dark dress pants. It might be more "nice" than the company is looking for, but hey, at least it isn't too informal.
posted by typewriter at 6:06 PM on March 26, 2006

If you get turned down for this job for wearing a blazer with gold buttons, you didn't want to work there anyway.
posted by beagle at 6:06 PM on March 26, 2006

To me gold buttons are tacky unless you are an aging paterfamlias. But I've no idea how representative I am.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:08 PM on March 26, 2006

What kind of position is the interview for? If the job environment is really casual, a button-up shirt and slacks might be enough, and a navy blazer would dress it up a bit.

Yes, gold buttons are 'classic' for a navy blazer. And I doubt your interviewers will have the sartorial acuity to notice if your blazer has gold buttons or not, so I wouldn't really worry about it.

The safest bet for an interview is probably a charcoal or navy suit, no pinstripes.
posted by driveler at 6:09 PM on March 26, 2006

Gold buttons are fine. I doubt anyone will even notice.
posted by caddis at 6:16 PM on March 26, 2006

Keep the gold buttons. And if the khakis are hemmed (and it's a good cut on you), keep 'em. If you'd like to err on one side or the other, the blazer with fitted/dress pants is safest; khakis and a button-up shirt is the most informal (in this context).
posted by Yeomans at 6:19 PM on March 26, 2006

If this is for a "real job" you need to wear a nice suit. Conservative. No khakis and blazers, no gold buttons (yikes), no docksider shoes, no ascots etc.

What you wear after you get the job may be an entirely different matter, but you've got to get the job first.

Good luck.
posted by bim at 6:26 PM on March 26, 2006

I agree with driveler and bim - and I hire people - wear a true suit. But it depends on the position - if you're interviewing to be a waiter, it's drastically different than if you're interviewing to be an associate at a law firm.
posted by MeetMegan at 6:29 PM on March 26, 2006

Are you interviewing to be a ship captain? When I think khakis + nazy blazer with big shiny gold buttons, I think yacht club. Just me. I think matching pants and suit coat, even if it's not technically a suit, would be better. If you still have relatively chilly weather, you might do dress pants, a long sleeve dress shirt, tie, and a sweater vest.
posted by attercoppe at 6:30 PM on March 26, 2006

If it's okay to wear a blazer and khakis, then it's okay to have the buttons. I find that this sort of preppy look is more traditional on the East coast and sometimes all but ridiculed on the West coast if you're worried abotu fitting in or being regionally appropriate. I think your main question should be "Is this the sort of interview that I need to wear a suit to?" and move forward from there.
posted by jessamyn at 6:46 PM on March 26, 2006

The gold buttons will never go out of style.

I'd recommend light grey wool slacks instead of khakis, though. That's something that never will go out of style, it's practically a uniform for young upper-class men.

A lot of folks above have expressed that no one will notice. The people who don't consciously notice these class signifiers are the ones most likely to make decisions based on them, in my experience.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:49 PM on March 26, 2006

hmmmmm. See? This is what I have heard from others in the "real world." It seems that half say it's fine and others seem like it's something really bad. Those who say it matters what the interview is for are right. Sorry, I should have said in the OP. It's a creative job. A person I am acquainted with inside the firm say nobody wears suits, it's not a part of the culture. That's when the "blue blazer and khakis would be perfect," thing came in. I'm just hung up on the buttons.

As for the post saying, "If they didn't hire you because of gold buttons, you didn't want to work there anyway." Well, I appreciate the feedback, but that's becoming one of those, "When will somebody post ____" kind of responses.

It's just a matter of wanting to put the best foot forward and not wanting to pull off a fashion faux paux. But, with the mixed feedback, it sounds like I could do worse than the blue blazer as it is. Actually, I think jessamyn is probably close to the truth with the regional thing. Thanks to all for the thoughts!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 6:49 PM on March 26, 2006

No one wearing suits on a daily basis is different from no one wearing suits to interviews.

My law firm is one of the most casual law firms in Chicago - but had I shown up for my interview in business casual attire, there's no way I would have gotten my job. I have been told (jokingly, of course) that if I wear a suit to work, the presumption will be that I'm interviewing for a new job (or going to court). Our lawyers wear jeans on a daily basis.

That said, there is a bit of a double-standard. No matter how casual our interviewees know our workplace to be, we still expect them to respect THEMSELVES and our firm enough to honor both by showing up in a suit. A first impression can never be redone - it's better, at least in my profession, to err on the side of conservative, dressy attire, rather than risk a too-casual appearance (and then risk the assumption that your attitude and work ethic are as casual as your dress).
posted by MeetMegan at 6:57 PM on March 26, 2006

If part of your qualifications for the position in question involve your sense of aesthetics, fashion, art, or personal style, please consider my above comment completely retracted.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:07 PM on March 26, 2006

Without seeing the outfit itself, or knowing your field, age, ethnicity, experience, demeanor, personal style, hairline, and finger count, all I can echo is the above - it's completely dependent on everything.

I would have received less offers my last time around if I had worn suits instead of a nice shirt and subtle dress jeans, but that's MY field (not helpdesk-type IT, FWIW). Then again, my company would probably have pet monkeys appear on Take Your Pet To Work day.

If you're under 50 and style has any chance of mattering whatsoever, do yourself a favor and ditch the first communion look. Gold buttons, navy blazer, and khakis - to me - screams "I haven't updated my formal wear in 20 years and this is it". You'd probably be better off with something more stylish even if it's not a suit if so, if that's your thing and the position allows for it.
posted by kcm at 7:13 PM on March 26, 2006

No matter how casual our interviewees know our workplace to be, we still expect them to respect THEMSELVES and our firm enough to honor both by showing up in a suit.

I wore a suit to my first interview at the place I'm working now. Not a single other person in the building was wearing anything fancy. The guy interviewing me was in blue jeans and a polo, even.

So when I was called back for the interview...I wore the suit again. My now-boss insisted I could have showed up in jeans too, but I'm convinced it made a much better impression.

Of course, now that I work there, I wear jeans.
posted by CrayDrygu at 7:14 PM on March 26, 2006

Oh, and to actually contribute to the OP's question — you say it's a creative job, right? So, be creative in your dress. Pair up the khakis with something like a bright blue button-down dress shirt, and a yellow tie with blue highlights to tie it in.

I say this because I have that exact shirt/tie combo, and it looks very professional while still standing out. Go into almost any clothing store, and they'll probably have shirts and ties laid out in color combinations you might not have thought of.

If it's a job where your creative skills will be used, I can't imagine that showing some creativity in your dress would be a bad thing.
posted by CrayDrygu at 7:17 PM on March 26, 2006

An addition - if you do go with your outfit, and it's not a dealbreaker to be honest, dress it the hell up and superprep it with a light blue shirt and bold, nice, appropriate tie. See any young male oriented magazine like Details for examples of such an outfit. It'd almost be like making it a fashion statement over simply wearing what you had, y'know?
posted by kcm at 7:18 PM on March 26, 2006

This person who told you that a blue blazer and khakis would be perfect...that's kind of strange advice. Well, outdated, anyway. Is this a guy from whom you would normally ask fashion advice?

Anyway, he's not the one interviewing you. Wear a suit, or nice slacks and a blazer of any normal color. If your nicest blazer is your blue one with gold buttons, it would look better with gray slacks.

Also, what MeetMegan said.
posted by desuetude at 7:20 PM on March 26, 2006

Do not be "creative" in your dress. You are not applying to be a fashion designer, are you? If not, people generally don't get metaphors.

Wear a suit. If you don't have one, keep the blazer, wear gray slacks (not khakis), and go for a blue shirt. If you know that everyone in the office is going to be in a t-shirt and jeans, you can ditch the tie, but keep the button-down shirt.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:25 PM on March 26, 2006

To follow up - and this goes for anon's question a few rows down on how to "ace" the interview as well - nobody ever gets the job because of how they dress. People lose the job because of how they dress. Keep that in mind. If half the people are saying "sure, it's fine," and half are saying "dear god, don't do that," err on the side of don't do that.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 7:27 PM on March 26, 2006

Check out the pictures here. Tons of examples, none of them matching your outfit. :) You certainly don't need to dress as cutting edge as this, but it certainly gives you an idea of styles and outfits you could wear to an interview.
posted by kcm at 7:33 PM on March 26, 2006

Do not be "creative" in your dress.

Granted I'm not in a "creative" field, but I'm confused about this. Because if I were hiring someone who I needed to be creative, and they showed up in a done-to-death blazer and khakis, my first thought would probably be "he doesn't look very creative."
posted by CrayDrygu at 7:37 PM on March 26, 2006

No problem with the blazer, so long as it's in good repair and nicely pressed. I'm a little ambivalent about the khakis because that's more of a summer look and it is only March after all. I would think gray wool slacks until (strictly speaking) Memorial Day but at least until the weather is warm.

But if you were told khakis are ok, then you're probably fine.
posted by La Cieca at 7:49 PM on March 26, 2006

Banana Republic's online shop has their men's "work" section divided into three types: corporate, casual, and creative (I linked to "creative"). You could approximate any one of these looks that you feel suits your personal style and the office atmosphere.
posted by xo at 8:08 PM on March 26, 2006

Thanks, everyone. I will sleep on all this and decide by Thursday morning. Thanks again!
posted by Gerard Sorme at 8:16 PM on March 26, 2006

dear god, don't do that
posted by nomad at 8:57 PM on March 26, 2006

Don't judge what you wear to the interview by what people normally wear to the office. I'm going into a universally business-casual profession, and I showed up to interview in a three-button charcoal grey suit, crisp white shirt and power tie. Nailed the interview, got a job offer in two days. Dress more for the interview than you expect to for the job, if anything.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:20 PM on March 26, 2006

At the gig I'm currently at, there was a dude interviewing before me who wore a suit. He looked like he'd stepped off the spaceship into the room, so out of place it was ridiculous.

If anyone else is encountering this kind of thing in the future, here's what I do: ask the person who I'm interviewing with when we set up the interview what I should wear. It's crazy, I know... but it works.
posted by ph00dz at 5:09 AM on March 27, 2006

Sorry, I should have said in the OP. It's a creative job. A person I am acquainted with inside the firm say nobody wears suits, it's not a part of the culture. That's when the "blue blazer and khakis would be perfect," thing came in. I'm just hung up on the buttons.

Good god, man -- do NOT wear the blazer if you are on the West coast (I can't speak for the East) - especially if it is a "creative" type of job, where people expect that you are or will be in tune with the contemporary aesthetics of the culture in which you will be working. Don't be "creative" in your dress, be clean and at least vaguely in mode. You want to dress in a way that they are going to take you seriously -- depending on where you are interviewing, gold buttons can do a lot of damage in that regard. Probably not, but you don't want to take that chance.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:35 AM on March 27, 2006

People! This is simple. The classic blue blazer has metal buttons. The guy was told that a blazer and khakis would be fine. Ergo, the metal, in this case gold, buttons are fine. Nothing to worry about.

Personally, I'd go with a suit, but if the guy was told that khakis and a blazer were "perfect," who are we to collectively say no?

And I say "Suck it, haters" to those of you maligning the good old blazer. "Tacky"? What horrible fashion-forward universe are you living in? Next thing you'll be telling the poor fellow to wear those "stretch" "wool" "pants" from Banana Republic. Ecch. Remember, people, they're owned by the Gap.
posted by lackutrol at 7:44 AM on March 27, 2006

If you show up looking like the people in kcm's link you probably won't get the job because you will look like a fop. Looking hip or unhip generally doesn't make much difference in getting job (except in some industries like fashion, etc.). However, not looking serious, such as looking like some fashion dandy, or in contrast like a slob, will hold you back. If you were told to wear a blue blazer and khakis to the interview I wouldn't second guess them by showing up in anything else. Who cares about the buttons one way or the other? Do you really think they will fixate on the buttons? If you are wearing a blue blazer and khakis, gold buttons are anything but a fashion faux pas.
posted by caddis at 9:26 AM on March 27, 2006

I didn't tell him to go dress like a Manhattan socialite, I suggested it for an illustration of cutting-edge (east coast) style that he could use for inspiration. That's how fashion works - adapt what's available as appropriate to your own style and circumstances.

And yes, they certainly could take his dress as a negative. It all depends on the situation, which he hasn't clarified. If it's for a cutting-edge, young, "new media" type position, he wouldn't fit in, and isn't that the point of interviews? Generally, in my experience, we pick 2N on-site candidates for N positions because all 2N+ are qualified technically but only N may "fit" best. This includes things such as personality, which may unconsciously extend to style.

Like everyone has said, though, generally you should be just fine as long as everything is clean, in good shape, and fits properly.
posted by kcm at 10:13 AM on March 27, 2006

Personally, I'd go with a suit, but if the guy was told that khakis and a blazer were "perfect," who are we to collectively say no?

I repeat, unless the guy who told you this is the one interviewing you, it's not necessarily particularly good advice.

Um, listen to strangers on the internets instead?
posted by desuetude at 10:14 AM on March 27, 2006

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