Q: My son is a student and will be interviewing for jobs in civil engineering this month. He's young (23), a body builder, and has long, unstyled straight hair. He doesn't own a suit or sport coat.
What clothing would you suggest he purchase for interviews and, subsequently, for work? Are some brands or cuts designed for the muscular build? What color, style and fabric is best for a RTC first suit purchase? Also, please comment on the selection of appropriate shirt, tie, belt and shoes and, if possible, hair style.
A: The psychologists say we leave till last the one question that most concerns us. So, I'll begin with the hair.
The business establishment usually makes certain requirements, and neat, relatively trim hair is high on the list. In today's difficult job market, your son must demonstrate that he is less concerned with making a personal physical statement and more interested in contributing to the company's welfare. Corporations want team players.
Of course, my advice is to forgo his unruly locks and get a good haircut. If your son finds this too painful,
the next best thing -- but in my opinion not a satisfactory substitute -- is to comb his hair into a neat ponytail. Not only is long hair a problem at this first meeting between your son and "personnel," but sometimes even a beard can eliminate him as a candidate in some interviewers' eyes.
Professional dress has many variations as I have outlined in past columns. For engineers -- unlike financial business people -- suits are not always critical. A good navy blazer that fits him well can be used for interviews as well as future presentations. A safe choice is an all-wool (or mostly wool) medium-dark gray single-breasted suit. Cuts made for athletic builds include Gladiator, Racquet Club and Cricketeer. Even Brooks Brothers now sells suit jackets and pants in separate sizes. Solid white, blue or striped button-down shirts, relatively conservative ties, dark laced shoes or simple loafers, and matching leather belt are the accepted job-hunting uniform.
Send your questions or comments to Lois Fenton, Today in Style, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Ms. Fenton welcomes questions about men's dress or grooming for use in this column but regrets she cannot answer mail personally.
Ms. Fenton, the author of "Dress for Excellence" (Rawson Associates, $19.95), conducts wardrobe seminars for Fortune 500 companies around the country.