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Ask Belle: Interview Attire for Men

Hi Belle,

I’ve have a quick question that I was wondering if you could answer for me. I have an interview for an internship for a congressional office on Capitol Hill next Tuesday and wasn’t sure whether a suit jacket was necessary. I’d rather forgo the suit jacket, in my opinion. Is a suit jacket a must, or could I get away with trousers and a nice shirt and tie? What about if I substituted the suit jacket for a cardigan and tie? This would help a lot.

Thanks, JR

A cardigan and a tie?  Oh little interns, they’re so cute and naive.  

Yes, a suit jacket is absolutely necessary for an interview.  In fact, if you have the full suit, I would wear that.  But if all you have is a sport coat that will be fine too.

It’s one thing to wear the cardigan and tie to work once you get the internship, but it is entirely unacceptable to wear it to the interview.  Especially when every other male candidate (and most of the women too) will be wearing a jacket.


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  1. Danielle says:

    I can’t believe someone actually asked that question….

    April 9, 2010/Reply
  2. jr says:

    what would you say about a pair of creased khaki pants and a blue sports coat? Or gray trousers and a black sports coat?

    April 9, 2010/Reply
  3. Belle says:

    Those are both perfectly acceptable. In fact, khakis and a navy blazer are like the signature intern uniform.

    April 9, 2010/Reply
  4. jr says:

    great. What about shoes? black? I have a brilliant pair of navy blue thin dress shoes but they are kind of “fashionable”. Do you think those would work?

    April 10, 2010/Reply
  5. Belle says:

    I don’t want to limit your sense of style, because it sounds like you have a good grasp of fashion. But for an interview, be boring with the clothes and let the resume and the enthusiasm shine through. Then go big or go home when you get the internship.

    April 10, 2010/Reply
  6. jr says:


    April 10, 2010/Reply