I remember it clearly: during a 1L career center presentation, our presenter told us that "black or navy suits" were the appropriate choice for job interviews. Being the broke student that I was, I raised my hand to inquire about charcoal, as the only suit in my close was a recent Goodwill acquisition: a charcoal, two button, single-breasted ensemble.
"Charcoal is a bit edgy," I remember him saying, "But it'll do in a pinch."
A year later, after I gained the freshman/1L fifteen, I bought a black suit. Oddly enough, that was right around the same time my job prospects started to dwindle. Some might say economic collapse, I say "black suit." In fact, the history of my law school, including the recent precipitous drop in the rankings due, in large part, to job numbers, could be traced back to that one, single piece of advice: "black or navy suit."
Because apparently, black suits are for funerals, parties, and Johnny Cash. Who knew?
Seriously Though: Mixed Advice
Seeking to verify or dispel this belated nugget of wisdom, I turned to the source of all of humanity's knowledge: Google.
AskMen.com says that for "conservative jobs," such as in the financial sector (and presumably the legal sector as well), "black, charcoal, or dark blue" is appropriate. What the heck, AskMen? Those "experts" also advice spicing up your outfit with a bold tie and wearing a "power suit," contrary to every other source of information on the Internet.
Dianne Gottsman, a fashion expert writing for the Huffington Post doesn't rule out black suits, but advises against them because "it may come across as harsh on certain skin tones." That'd be me -- a guy whose skin tone resembles the vampire Edward from Twilight.
Business Insider has a veritable rainbow of colors (orange is creative, but best for happy hours. Navy is confident, and the best color for interviews.)
Monster advises you to wear "the navy suit for a first interview and the deep gray for a second interview. An important note: Even though a black suit and a tan suit are two great additions to a man's wardrobe, neither is interview-appropriate unless you're seeking a job in TV or some other glamour industry."
And then there's Duke Law: "Your suit should be a dark, neutral color, with or without a faint pinstripe; gray and navy are preferable." Preferable, not mandatory.
Of course, I'm an idiot for turning to the wider Internet -- our own in-house fashion consultant, the fabulous Gabriella Khorasanee, told us just last year that "men should stick to navy or grey."
Takeway: It Wasn't the Suit
It was 2009. There were layoffs, law firm closures, state budget cuts, and economic Armageddon. It wasn't the suit -- it was the world, the lost generation of law graduates, etc.
But, we'd still advise sticking to a blue or charcoal suit -- just in case.
Editor's Note, July 19, 2016: This post was first published in July, 2014. It has since been updated.
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