Brash Jobs: Dressing for the Interview (Part 4)…With a Surprise Guest!

Hey Friends!

I told you last week to keep a lookout for this upcoming post, remember? This week is geared towards the men, but any ladies that want their man looking sharp can read on as well!

As I’ve been writing these articles and answering questions for people, I write about the questions I get most often – why answer the same question 40 times when I can put it on here and answer the whole world at once? Way easier for me, way faster response time for you. This week, I’m answering one of those questions: What do I wear for the interview?

Part One helped you start your strategy, Part Two demonstrated how to research your interviewer, and Part Three delivered the top 50 interview questions. This week, we’re discussing one of THE most important parts of the interview: The interview outfit.

It’s not about what I wear, it’s about me and my skills!


It sort of is…and sort of isn’t. Yes, you can probably speak clearly and concisely, but your outfit speaks for you before you even get a word out. The Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology released a study back in April that over 30% of hires are decided in the first 5 minutes; several managers and executives admit to making a decision in the first 90 seconds. That being said, you’d better have an outfit that says ,”Hey! You should hire me”. Don’t be that kid who shows up in cargo pants and wonders why he didn’t get the job.

In the current professional world, millennials are having a very hard time finding jobs. Over-qualified for this, under-qualified for that, entry level jobs with the “Experience Required” Catch-22, baby boomers who just won’t retire…the chips are stacked against us. It’s important to save every penny, especially when it comes to interview outfits. If you’re applying for just a page/book shelver position, you’ll probably want a pair of chinos, dress shirt and tie. For just about any other position, you’re going to need a suit. Of course, you’ll want something that’s versatile and makes a good first impression, but most importantly – affordable. Without the affordable bit, the whole thing comes apart.

Okay, suit. Got it. I’m set, right?

You might know generally what to wear, but I know from experience that the endless applications and stress from an impending interview can have you second-guessing yourself. Is there a certain style of suit I should get? What color suit should I get? Is there a “wrong” color to get? How do I even figure out my suit size?

What happens to you then? Your parents might tell you one thing, your friends might tell you another. After you read several bland “wear this, not that!” cookie cutter articles that aren’t very much help, information overload has you in retreat.

homer hiding1

How I feel when information overload happens.

Enter Combatant Gentlemen, your one-stop shopping for high quality AND affordable work clothes. Never heard of them? Check out this video.

These are the people who can step up your interview outfit game. I first heard about them in 2012 when they were first starting out, and they’ve only gotten better. As low as $140, they’ll beat out other brands.

combat gent 3

Whoa. Sooo…which suit should I get?

tony stark question

Like I said before, you’ll want something that’s versatile. Chances are good you’ll need a suit for other events in your life – weddings, parties, or just a night out. Every industry professional from Fortune 500 companies to that one guy you know on LinkedIn can agree on one thing: Darker colors are perceived as more powerful and confident. Dark grey, dark blue, these are the kind of colors you should be going for.

Charcoal and Navy

Meet Charcoal and Navy. Charcoal’s having way too much fun.

You might be thinking black, but that can be a little TOO powerful and honestly not as versatile. While it’s decent for weddings, a night out, Men in Black, mobsters and funerals, something like charcoal or navy will give you more bang for your buck.

What about pinstripes? Are those okay?


Subtle, but adds that extra something.

Sure! Pinstripes and solid colors are my favorites. If you can pull off  patterns like the windowpane or plaid style, I tip my cap to you. Pinstripe also has the advantage of making you look thinner and taller. (Vertical stripes are your friend.)

Hmm, most of their suits seem to be “slim fit”…I’m not a “slim fit” guy.

Not a problem, amigo. Most of their suits come in either slim fit or modern fit.

Modern fit

They’re even conveniently next to each other on the website.

Can’t decide? You can mix and match with a Modern jacket and Slim pants, or vice versa. If you want to really up the “wow” factor, many of their suits have a matching vest available. While I find vests are too dressy for interviews, I recommend them for everything else because of their style. For $20, your suit can go from “interview” to “dapper gentleman spy” in a flat second.


See what I mean?

Hmmm, I’ll think about it. What about a shirt?

For the interview? White, end of discussion. Let me explain why.

Libraries are liberal hubs of information, but can be rather conservative when it comes to fashion. White is by far the safest color – not only is it the easiest color to match with, but also the most trustworthy. IBM was famous for conducting studies back in the 50’s and 60’s on colors and styles that made their people look the most confident and trustworthy. Here’s a snippet on from Donald Egolf’s book The Nonverbal Factor:

ibm1ibm3You can read more about the study here.

If you want the biggest bang for your buck, I recommend their versatile Day to Night Shirt. The name pretty much explains itself, but I’ll go a step further and personally vouch for it. (It fits like a glove, by the way!)

Pick up this bad boy here.

Pick up this bad boy here.

Once you actually have the job, feel free to wear other colors.

Oh! I also need a tie.

Ah, I’m glad you brought that up. Again, librarians – reserved, traditional, you know how it is by now. I’ll make this one quick:

  • DON’T do ties that are completely solid with no pattern. This is more reserved for black tie events, cocktail parties, weddings, prom, the mafia, and Magic Mike 3.

Not today! Wear it to the party after.

  • Stripes and patterns are good, but keep it simple. If you go with some crazy obnoxious pattern, they will spend the entire time staring at your tie instead of you.
  • If you want to go bold, studies show red is seen as powerful and confident. If you want to go more reserved, similar studies agree that blue is the safest color.
  • There’s many options out there: slim ties, wide ties, knit ties….I usually stick with a regular tie; Wider ties feel very 70’s to me and I personally save slim ties for more casual occasions, but it’s really up to you. Whatever your style may be, you can find a sweet tie right here.
I think this would be my top choice.

I think this would be my top choice.

Okay, got my stuff picked out. What about after the interview?

If you recall that video from above, Combatant Gentlemen also deals in:

Bottom line, you have day-to-day clothes available for after you get the job.

Traveling far for your interview? They’ve also just unveiled The Weekender, a leather garment bag/duffel bag hybrid. It lets you pack like a regular duffel bag, but packs your suit like a traditional suit bag so it stays looking good. It’s not available until January, you can learn more about it (or pre-order it) here.

Why do I care where you shop? Because where you shop cares about you.

When I first started writing this article, I reached out to Sharan Keswani, Director of Marketing and Creative Content for Combatant Gentleman. I explained to her who I am, what I write about, and asked for her permission to write about CG and use some of their photos for my article; I told her that I’m a huge fan of their professional wear and that I wanted to make them the go-to clothing for library professionals. Not only did Sharan give me her blessing, but she even gave me a special offer for all of you: 15% of your entire order by entering the code “BRASH15” at checkout. Let me repeat that, because it sounds vaguely important:

15% off your entire order, just by entering “BRASH15” at checkout.

In other words, Sharan wants to make Combatant Gentlemen the gold standard for young men in the library industry, and she’s investing 15% in your success. And look at that…just in time for the holidays.



I finally got stuff! Now what?

That’s great! Now a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way:

Suit up, then suit down.

After you wear your suit, IMMEDIATELY take it off when you get home. The longer you’re in that suit, the more wrinkles and stains that can happen. It seems pretty common sense, but some people are all hopped up on that post-interview adrenaline high and forget they’re sweating into their suit. If you’re job hunting and on a tight budget, you’ll want this thing to last as long as possible between dry cleanings.

Get yourself some vodka.

This is a little trick I learned in theater…stage companies, rather than wash all the (often delicate) costumes of the entire cast, will hose them down with a spray bottle filled with vodka and water, then leave them overnight. The alcohol will kill any odor-causing bacteria! Aim for about 1/2 or 3/4 vodka in your bottle, turn your jacket inside out, spritz it, turn it back out and hang it up.

Skype interview? Wear the whole suit.

I’m serious. Belt, shoes, the works…EVEN the cologne, guys.

Even the cologne? You’re kidding, Justin. They can’t even smell me!

You’re right, they can’t smell it – but you can. If you want to nail that interview, you need to look confident, sound confident, smell confident…take every advantage possible to get that job. If you’re suited up from top to bottom, you feel in control. Don’t forget the practical part: it’s going to look bad if you need to stand up or adjust something and they see you’re just wearing a suit jacket, shirt, tie and pajamas.

See that guy? Don't do that.

See, kids? Don’t do that.

Bottom line, the more things you can do to feel confident, the more you will be confident.

Keep a lint roller around.

I’m pretty sure this speaks for itself. It’s like $1.50 at Target, there’s no reason to skimp on it.

That’s all for this weekend, gentlemen! Before you go, make sure to follow CG on Facebook, Twitter, PinterestInstagram and their YouTube channel. If you have any questions, ask! The live support on their website is top notch and they usually answer questions on Facebook within the hour, if not within minutes. (I know because I’ve used both.)

Now take your 15% discount and invest in yourself this holiday season!


Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian


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2 Responses to Brash Jobs: Dressing for the Interview (Part 4)…With a Surprise Guest!

  1. Hmmmm, Justin you must have left your self logged in at my terminal.

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