Today, I read Mark's newsletter where he recommended against wearing brown to an interview.

I recently interviewed for an executive position and wore a brown jacket with a subdued pattern, dark brown slacks, cordovan dress shoes, a crisp white dress shirt, and a muted green tie with some slight brown and blue in the pattern.

It actually came up during the interview and the VP of HR said that brown in an interview was unusual and that it must indicate a high level of self confidence and self assuredness on my part, to which I agreed.

I think that your interview attire should depend on the culture of the organization that you find during your research. This was a pretty casual organization.

I got the job and will be losing the tie when I start!


Jrlz's picture

Hello Jim,

Congradulations on landing the job!  I would recommend against wearing a brown suit also, however your case points out that there is an exception to every rule.  My personal feeling is that by wearing a dark blue or nice black suit you pose no risk of having your dress work against you.  I want my interview to be remarkable, not my attire.  Brown has the possibility of working for you, as it did in your case.  But it can also work against you.   Congrads again on the job and not having to wear a tie to work everyday.

mdave's picture

Call it female naiveity, but what is the big deal with brown? Is it a general professional attire issue or a guy thing? Thanks for the insight.

P.S. There may be an actionable item in this as my husband is in the market for a jacket...

gearhead86's picture
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Stick with the navy or dark grey recommendation from the "what to wear" podcasts.   Great looking suits that are timeless.

I seem to recall that brown was an off limits color from "Dress for Success" and they were much more forgiving than M&M.   My memory may be faulty.  I read the book when I left the military in the early 90s.


finnallred's picture
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 Mark often says that Manager Tools guidance is generally for 90% of the people, 90% of the time.

Most people are not adept enough at fashion or reading culture of an organization through research to make a good call on their own. If Mark was coaching you personally, knew your competence, confidence, job applying for, person interviewing with, etc,  he may have given 'ok' for your chosen attire. As his guidance is for most people, most of the time, I think it's still entirely valid.


There are always exceptions, which don't invalidate good advice.

90% of the people 90% of the time......


And, congrats on the job.. if you pulled it off, good for you!

crowejim's picture

Let's not forget that Ronald Reagan loved his brown suits.

Also, I think black guys always look good in a brown suit.

Thanks everyone for the congrats.


crowejim's picture

I think it's a power thing. Even women who dress in black come across as more powerful. 

tviemont's picture

To me, it would depend on the audience.  If I were interviewing with HR or Marketing, I'd consider it.  With Finance or IT, I'd dress more conservatively.  For instance, I usually wear a navy or grey pinstripe suit in front of clients.  If I'm meeting with female management, I usually wear glasses and brown shoes.  For meetings with Finance or in more rural areas, I'll wear black shoes with the same suit.  This is more a rule of thumb than anything else.