Fernando Beteta (left) tries a tie with the help of sales associate Michael Andersen of the Hugo Boss store in Chicago.

Fernando Beteta (left) tries a tie with the help of sales associate Michael Andersen of the Hugo Boss store in Chicago. Courtesy of MCT

One of my favorite jokes of all time is career fair day on campus. Hundreds of male students jaunt around campus in suits they look like they were poured into and forgot to say, “when.”

These job fairs and networking opportunities open up the Pandora’s box of misguided style and failed attempts at professionalism. The calamities that escape the box run amok across campus in the form of mismatched suit separates, sizing problems or pretentious accessories. If you follow the mythological metaphor, the only thing left in Pandora’s box is hope. Let me offer you that now.

One of the least flattering things about wearing a suit is looking like you’re a 10-year-old playing dress up in your father’s clothes. If you’re one of the many students about to graduate and be thrust yourself into the merciless job market, I’d suggest dressing yourself properly so your mirror doesn’t reflect something similar to a pre-pubescent child with excess suiting like the festering wound it is on your first impression.

You can get a decent suit anywhere. Decent is the keyword. These will suffice until you land a well-paying gig. Then it’s time to step up your game. But for now, here are some recommendations on pulling off what you can afford.

Let’s start with the last step. They’re called tailors. They help to make your suit fit like a glove so you can look your best. If you don’t get your suit tailored, you’re doing it wrong.

Jacket. Fitted and tailored. Know your measurements. It’s that simple. And remember, never pop the collar on your jacket, unless you want to feel the collective hate of humanity.

I hate pants, but they’re key. They should at no time pile on top of your shoes. If your pants are too long, you’ve ruined the entirety of the suit. Always keep this in mind, if you wear dress pants too low, a litter of kittens dies. Seriously, kittens are adorable so spare the felicide and never sag in the slightest. The same applies for baggy dress pants, too. Generally speaking with pleated pants, you want them like you want a shiv to the kidney.

Also, Don’t wear pants with cuffs. No one does this anymore because it looks like your pant hem is perpetually puking on your ankles and it visually shortens the leg.

There is something called a vest. It’s like Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility except instead of bending light around you its magic is to clean you up drastically. If you’re looking to buy a suit that offers the vest, spend the extra cash and make it a three piece. Seriously. You’re welcome. Actually, only buy a suit that has a matching vest.

You have to break in your dress shoes. If you are waddling around like a penguin with vertigo, it doesn’t matter how fancy your suit is. To represent yourself well at a job fair or interview you must have the ability to get there looking like a human being who has mastered the art of using his lower extremities to put one foot in front of the other and traverse ground. Practice walking.

Speaking of shoes, make sure your belt matches your shoes. Black goes with everything. Brown doesn’t. White is fine if you’re auditioning for the lead in Miami Vice. Remember, the cow says, “moo;” the white belt says, “I’m a tool.”

Finally, the tie. The only thing a clip-on tie is good for is strangling the potential out of your professional endeavors. Even then, they’re shorter and can be difficult wield. You’ve evolved prehensile paws for a reason. Learn how to tie a tie. I’d suggest YouTube.

Since we’re on the topic, let’s address the bowtie. Here’s a list of people under 60 who look good in a bowtie: no one. Science proved that. There’s a correlation between clowns wearing bowties and being laughed at. Bowties are the visual representation of a bad joke, and you’re the punch line.

Unfortunately, I can’t teach you how to dress yourself within the confines of these columns. So, here are a few closing notes. A navy sports coat with khaki pants makes you look like a game-show host or the captain of a yacht club. If you can afford to get a suit tailor made, do it, but don’t be a complete dick about it. And cuff links were invented for Russian oligarchs – avoid them like whatever they avoided before the cliché of the plague.

I hope you consider this advice as you haplessly fall into the unwelcoming lap of the job market. Never forget, finding a job is all about being the best-suited candidate. Nailed it.