Interview attire advice often focuses on suit colors and cuts for men and whether to wear a skirt or slacks for women and the color of either. Other articles of interview attire are even more important. A case in point is shoes. For both men and women, wearing the right style and type of shoes can often serve as the most important and most visible item of interview attire.
For men there are four types of shoes that are acceptable for interviews. There are from most to least formal: the black oxford shoe, the black brogue shoe, the black tassel loafer and finally the black dress penny loafer. Each of these shoes has a distinct style and message. Regardless of which style of shoe is worn, they should be well maintained – meaning not scuffed or worn at the heel and highly polished.
The black leather oxford shoe. This is the classic tie shoe. It has either a plain to or a non-perforated cap toe. This is the dressiest of men’s shoes and are popular with investment bankers, government officials and other’s who must portray formality and consistency.
The black leather brogue shoe. Often described as the wing tip, this is slightly less formal than the oxford. It may be cap toed or have the wing shaped toe decoration both of which are perforated. Acceptable with suits, the brogue has been a favorite of businessmen for decades although it fell out of favor during the “casual Friday” dress down era of the 1990s.
The black leather tassel loafer. The tassel loafer has been around for decades. Once classified as Ivey League or preppy, it is now a business staple. It is a loafer with stitching around the toe and a pair of leather tassels. The shoe is not as formal as either the oxford or the brogue but is acceptable with business suits in all but the most formal and tradition bound professions.
The black leather penny loafer. This is not a casual loafer with the big “beef roll” and the rough hand stitching around the toe. The penny loafer for dress is more refined in cut and stitching. It looks like and is a dress shoe. The least formal of the business shoe styles, it is sleek and clean and works with suits for all but the most formal occasions.
What kinds of men’s shoes to avoid for interviews? First, the heavy soled and big toed lace and slip-on shoes popular with younger men should be avoided. Even if they say they are dress shoes, they say all the wrong things about one. Secondly, avoid casual shoes such as weekend loafers or other very casual shoes with leather, rubber or plastics soles. Finally, avoid trendy shoes. If attracted to a pair of shoes that would look great on the dance floor at a club or at a wild party, keep them for those events. Do no wear them to an interview. Trendy is not an interview look …