Ivy Notes S2 E1

The Amazing Tom turned me on to this article at Forbes. It is on what to wear to an interview, which came up in the comments on another post the other day.   One of the things that drives me crazy is when my local news station says to dress warmly on cold days and to stay hydrated on warm ones.  From this article:

When hiring managers see you for the first time, they carefully assess how you present yourself. They immediately notice your clothes. They think, “Would you be a good representative of our company? Will you quickly be respected and listened to during a presentation, or will your outfit hurt your credibility?” “What will leadership think of this person? How will your appearance be viewed by a client or customer?”

If you have to be told that your interviewer will be assessing whether you would be a good representative for their company, perhaps there are… bigger problems.

It did lead me to think though about The Red Sneaker Effect.  For those not familiar, it is the idea that one small piece of nonconformity communicates status and competence at work   You can read the abstract about it here (Harvard Business School).  I like this concept, because it speaks to both individuality and a boundary.

And Ivy.  Because as the rules have changed, our repp ties and OCBD’s are a small piece of nonconformity.  Our traditional has now become a teeny bit eccentric, and THAT DOES convey status and competence.  There is a link in the abstract to the 20 page piece, it is worth our while.   If you are going to, I can save you a step.

It is an interesting idea, adding one piece of nonconformity to distinguish yourself. I do that with glasses I think – I prefer round yellow ones. Also, most times, I carry a fountain pen in my shirt pocket that I don’t wind up using.

The trick is to find the fulcrum. Too much movement away from tradition and… you are a clown. A bro vest can be an eccentricity. I am not a bro vest wearer, but I know some. It doesn’t make me as nuts as it does others, but The Wall Street Journal makes my point about fulcrum. (paywall, sometimes, I dunno)

That’s not a bro vest. It’s not even a vest. It’s what happens when a sheep gets hit by a couch from the ’90s and then a passerby drops a bucket hat on it.



24 Comments on "Ivy Notes S2 E1"

  1. I don’t get the point or relevance of the sentence about the weather in the first paragraph. Am I stupid?

    • He was comparing advice about the weather to advice about dressing to impress for an interview. Both are “duh!”.

    • You’re not stupid at all. I probably should fill that out a bit. What I mean is when people spend media time telling us 3rd grade common sense things. Does anyone really need to be told to dress warmly if it is cold outside? “Oh, I was going to wear my shorts and mukluks but just now the weather guy told me to wear pants.” Sorry about that!

  2. What are the odds of landing a job, when you clearly and easily present a standard to which senior executives, and much less their hired-help management class, can neither fathom nor attain? Doesn’t this threaten their superiority, or their complacency, if even only on a subconscious level? Hence the ugly blue interview suit. Imagine showing up to an interview wearing a mid-grey, Harrison’s of Edinburg 12 oz. 100% wool, 3/2 sack suit, steam pressed WOCBD, ancient madder necktie, and polished burgundy longwings with matching belt. This would instill fear.

    • Dressing for the job you want has certainly become a lot more complicated…

    • It took me a few interviews to figure out that I was dressing better than the management teams. I was under the naïve impression that everyone dressed well. Unfortunately I felt it was necessary to drop the tie and blazer. (I didn’t really want those other jobs anyways)

  3. It’s right up there with the drug company ads that always include ” Do not use this product if you are allergic to it. ( Do gun manufacturers worn you not to shoot yourself in the head?)

  4. These days, you also have to present an image with your casual clothes, and the lack of guardrails can make it trickier. Unless you’re a fellow Texan or Ralph Lauren, you might think I’ve gone past the eccentric boundary when I’m dressed in a Donegal tweed, denim pearl snap western shirt, khakis, and roper cowboy boots in the winter. Today, the high will be in mid-90s, so I’m in a linen guayabera shirt, khaki shorts, and deck shoes. I suppose my clothes are as mixed up as I am.

  5. A question on an unrelated topic: Does anyone know what’s up with the available sizes on J.Press’s corduroy trousers? Are they *already* so picked over that there are just a few odd sizes left?!

    • My guess is it’s a supply chain question. I’ve noticed this with J. Press in recent seasons. Some brand-new stuff is listed online with scant sizes or even a “sold out” tag, but stock fills in at some point. That’s my (uninformed) guess, anyway.

  6. Maybe it’s the constant churn to crank out content and fill column inches that leads to Captain Obvious paragraphs like the one quoted from Forbes.
    I, for one, am allergic to any article of clothing with “bro” in its name. But here in the Pacific Northwest, “bro-vests” are often just worn as functional mid-layers by bros and non-bros alike. (A lot of folks here dress as though they’ll be called upon to go hiking or camping at a moment’s notice.)

  7. “Our traditional has now become a teeny bit eccentric, and THAT DOES convey status and competence…” – JB

    JB, this piece of yours is among my favorites so far. it’s wee in size but dense in significance, sir. I would invite some (of your own) elaboration, since (I think) it gets to the heart of this style’s present and future. I predict that, decades from now, this look will retain the charm of other fogey-yet-fun endeavors, including but not limited to varieties of eccentric collecting (fountain pens, pipes, old tennis racquets, etc.) and démodé avocations like, say, badminton and chess. For every hundred guys who shuns The Way of Squeeze (T.W.S.) because it tends toward the fuddy-duddy or the reactionary, perhaps one or two will embrace the Trad.

    If the world’s tasteful betters are are slowly but surely tiring of bloated, bloviating machismo (they are, let’s hope), kitsch, and bourgeois vulgarities galore, then there’s reason to guess that the markets for the old fashioned-but-not-obsolete will grow and expand. Consider the gent who’s searching furiously for more Elgar on vinyl and better Toad In The Hole recipes — he’s the one who’ll boast of his Magee-for-J. Press Donegal Mist tweed jackets. Irish Poplin ties, and beefy oxford button downs.

    The future of this style if Fogey, but it can (and will) be sporting, jaunty, and politely provocative. Eccentrics of the world, unite and take over.

    Well done, JB.

  8. ‘is’ Fogey…, rather.

  9. I’ve always been better dressed that the interviewer. Maybe that’s why I been an entrepreneur most of my life.

  10. Craig
    That’s the interviewer problem not yours. If he he or she has no class what type of impression would he make to the CEO

  11. Dude in the bro vest looks like he has a zipper all the way thru his chin

  12. “Tradition” can be nebulous. What gets defined as tradition and when does something become traditional?
    As for the red sneaker effect, isn’t that veering dangerously close to what the hipsters of the aughts were all about? Doing something unique or out of step with the masses purely to stand out and be considered cool?

  13. “That’s not a bro vest. It’s not even a vest. It’s what happens when a sheep gets hit by a couch from the ’90s and then a passerby drops a bucket hat on it.”

    Pure gold. I laughed out loud.

  14. Charlottesville | September 15, 2022 at 5:02 pm |

    The last time I interviewed for a position was in 2009, and I wore a grey pinstripe J. Press 3/2 sack suit, crisply pressed white OCBD, a repp stripe tie, and “Color 8” shell cordovan tassel loafers. By coincidence I am wearing the same suit with tassel loafers, a crisp white OCBD, and a repp stripe tie today, although I chose a different stripe and black calf rather than cordovan shoes. I imagine I would wear the same thing or something similar if I were to interview now, but I have no idea whether that would fly outside of the legal field or perhaps on Capitol Hill.

    When I interview prospective applicants today, usually lawyers, some wear a suit and tie for in-person interviews, but rarely do I see a tie on a Zoom interviewee. For me, a suit and tie or comparable professional dress on a woman make a favorable impression, but would never be the deciding factor. As for other people I work with, ties are very rare and I don’t think I have seen a suit in the office in two-and-a-half years.

    Is there any field in which coat and tie is still the norm? Trial lawyers, I suppose. Certainly not most doctors or architects. My stock broker wears bow ties and custom made sport coats, but he is an exception to the rule. Even salesmen in traditional clothing stores do not really dress up very often these days. Surely some men are still dressing up, or J. Press would not be carrying the beautiful merchandise shown in their fall brochure.

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