A Wardrobe To Take to the Bank

It’s true: college is mostly fun and games, but there comes a time in every Colgater’s life when he needs to hand over Mommy and Daddy’s credit card and get a job. I know, for most of us “job” is a dirty word, but unfortunately it’s a reality that we have to face. The big house, the summer cottage and the jazzy German car all depend on your job. How are you going to land this six figure-a-year career? By dressing fantastically of course. Sure the grades and the extracurriculars might count for something, but the real way to snag that job with the investment firm or the advertising agency is by showing up at your interview and proving that you have stellar style.

Go ahead, send in your recommendations from top CEOs and network all you want, but if you walk into that interview and you’re not dressed to impress, you might as well just send your resume straight to the shredder. Forget your 4.0 GPA and kiss your connections goodbye because, while these things might help you land an interview with your dream company, they won’t get you hired; it’s all about first impressions. While it helps to have some type of conversation skills and to know at least something about the company that’s interviewing you, your outfit will do about 50 percent of the talking.

Boys, I know you love the chilled-out relaxed look that so reflects your Colgate lifestyle, but I promise the execs at Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs won’t be as impressed as love-struck first-year girls. I’d hope this would be obvious to someone looking to enter into the professional world, but jeans are never okay. It doesn’t matter if they’re Sevens, Diesels or even Dolce and Gabbanas. If you wear jeans to an interview, you are a joke. Polo shirts are on about the same level as denim and, while a preppy popped collar with a cabled sweater is fine for the golf course or the country club, it doesn’t really say, “I’m a sharp kid who’s ready for the real world; hire me!” Same goes for sport coats and khakis. It’s definitely a nice look, guys, but save it for causal Friday.

Everybody loves a man in a suit, especially the recruiter that’s going to be interviewing you. A suit is safe and the best bet for an interview because it conveys professionalism and gives you a put-together look. Stick to darker colors like navy, charcoal or black. Subtle pinstripes are fine but avoid the Mafioso look with bold white lines on a dark suit. Stand out with your personality, not your pinstripes.

I know you Colgate boys love your pastel button-downs, but you’re going to have to put them in the closet for the few hours you’re talking to the recruiter. White is the most conservative choice, but plain blues are also acceptable. Avoid patterning and stripes on the shirt because if your button-down is too busy, your interviewer is going to be too dizzy to focus on your qualifications.

So now it’s time to accessorize your corporate look (I know, you’re shocked. You didn’t know boys could accessorize). The tie is probably your most important accent piece. Your lobster print lime green or pale pink Vineyard Vines tie is not appropriate for this occasion. You’re not going to a clambake on Nantucket, you’re going to an interview. Dress like it. Darker colors like dull metallic grey, red and navy blue are a good choice, and keep the patterns to a minimum. Basic black dress shoes are surely what should be on your feet, and it’s always a good idea to wear a nice watch. If the watch is leather, make sure the strap isn’t too thin and don’t even think about sporting one of those rubber and plastic digital numbers. Silver, platinum and stainless steel are great, but gold is far too flashy. Conservative cufflinks are also a nice touch, but not necessary.

Last, but not least, make sure you’re put together. Just because a suit is expensive doesn’t mean it will make you look professional. Shaving’s always a good idea unless you’re interviewing for a position as a lumberjack. Press your suit, iron your shirt and for God sake stand up straight. Dress well and study hard, boys, because next week, your female classmates are going to find out how to look just as business savvy as you do. With all the suiting taking place on the runway this season, they are going to be stiff competitors for any position!