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I’ve got an interview for a creative job – what should I wear?

The question

What am I supposed to wear to a "creative-class" job interview? Tie or no tie? What kind of shoes?

The answer

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I took your question to an advertising exec and he said a tie was still useful, even when applying for a creative position. "Keep it skinny, though," he said, "and nothing jokey or ironic." I was surprised by this as I don't see ties worn much in any of the media offices I am occasionally forced to visit: I see a lot of plaid shirts.

Last week I visited a lawyer who wasn't wearing a tie in his office: When the law offices relinquish them, ties have few remaining allies. I guess advertising, with its connections to corporations, still requires the ability to present as money-friendly yet fashionable.

Here's my tip on creative ties: wool ties, whether woven or knit, are cool right now. They will permit you to look both respectable and whimsical.

The shoes, however, are the more important issue. Shoes are always the most important part of your outfit. You must have good ones: that is, leather, not running shoes (no matter how original or rare or funky your Nikes are). They must have solid soles and not be scuffed or dirty. Boots are okay too. Shoes must be lace-up, and may be brogued or plain. Try brown shoes instead of black to show your sensitivity. Boots may be slip-on (known as Chelsea boots) or lace-up. Do not tuck your trousers into your boots, however: You are not putting any item of clothing on display.

Novelist Russell Smith's memoir,  Blindsided, is available as a Kobo e-book. Have a style question? E-mail

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