Ties hanging in a closet
To Tie or (K)not to Tie

Inspired by our Annual Professional Presentation Week (February 12 – February 16, 2024), the CSE Team has created a blog series to highlight important topics related to the various aspects of professional presentation. These will be published throughout the month of February (because one week just isn’t enough!), so stay tuned for more awesome Professional Presentation Content.

In this blog post, Frank Fessenden, Executive Director of Corporate Relations, tackles the questions of when to wear a tie in your professional journey.

About Professional Presentation Week: Featuring several events and challenges related to various aspects of professional presentation, including: Professional Attire, Body Language, Interview Preparation, Online Presence, Networking Tips, The Video Interview, Small Talk Challenge, Personal Branding, and more!

Where, When and Why, Should I Wear a Tie?

Until just a few years ago traditional US business attire for men meant a suit and tie in most business settings. Not so anymore. From job interviews to the workplace it is actually more the exception rather than the rule to wear a tie, and it varies considerably by industry and setting.

Different companies and industries have varying dress codes. Dressing too casually may give the impression that you lack seriousness and professionalism, especially in fields like finance. But going overboard with the formality can also create a disconnect. So, what’s the sweet spot? Research the company culture and industry norms. Aim for an attire, with or without a tie as appropriate, that matches the setting, making you feel both confident and comfortable.

Let’s look at some scenarios that Brandeis International Business School students are likely to encounter, and consider how a student should think about wearing tie.

Networking event/informational interviews

  • Industry standards: Varies – could be business casual or business formal
  • Pros of wearing a tie: Shows professionalism, makes a good first impression
  • Cons of wearing a tie: Might feel overdressed if others are casual
  • Recommendation: Wear what makes you feel most comfortable and confident. Ties should be fine unless you are told otherwise. If you’re not sure, ask your Career Coach and observe others attending the event and adjust accordingly

Company information sessions


  • Industry standards: Lean towards business formal attire
  • Pros of wearing a tie: Shows effort and interest, aligns with traditional finance image.
  • Cons of wearing a tie: Can feel unnecessary, especially if the information session is large
  • Recommendation: Opt for a tie if unsure, but observe others’ attire and adjust accordingly

Other fields including consulting, marketing, and technology:

  • Industry standards: Business casual – these fields, especially technology,  are more relaxed than finance
  • Pros of wearing a tie: Shows seriousness and interest
  • Cons of wearing a tie: Probably not necessary and may be seen as overdressed 
  • Recommendation: Research the company/ies culture and arrive with a neat, professional appearance. A sportcoat and no tie should be fine in most cases. Prioritize comfort and fitting in

Job or internship interviews

Finance interviews:

  • Industry standards: Business formal professional attire, including a tie, is essential for job interviews 
  • Pros of wearing a tie: Exudes confidence, shows respect for the opportunity
  • Cons of wearing a tie: None in this finance setting. Finance is one of the most formal fields
  • Recommendation: Absolutely wear a suit and tie for all finance job/internship interviews, even virtual interviews. A tie in finance interviews conveys a polished image and aligns with industry culture

Other fields including consulting, marketing, and technology:

  • Industry standards: Business professional in consulting, business casual in technology
  • Pros of wearing a tie: Shows confidence and respect for the opportunity
  • Cons of wearing a tie: For technology job interviews a tie might be overdressed
  • Recommendation: In general one cannot go wrong wearing a tie to any job or internship interview. Wear a suit and tie, or simply a jacket and tie. The only possible exception would be for certain technology companies with casual cultures, so research firm culture first

On the Job

Wearing a tie in the US business setting has become increasingly optional. Research your company’s policy and culture, and observe colleagues to gauge the expected level of formality. 

Conservative industries like finance may still lean towards ties, but even there, the trend is shifting. Consulting firms, creative industries and tech companies are generally more casual, with ties rarely seen. For important meetings or client presentations, a tie can still project professionalism and seriousness, even if not mandatory. Check and research ahead of time

Selecting a tie

When choosing a tie, consider both industry norms and your personal style. For finance and consulting interviews, stick to conservative, classic ties. Solid colors or muted patterns in navy, dark gray, burgundy, or deep green are always safe bets. Avoid overly flashy patterns or bright colors. Technology interviews offer more flexibility. You can experiment with subtle patterns and textures, but keep colors professional.

Remember, comfort and confidence are key. Ultimately, research the company culture and industry norms, as well as the event context to make an informed decision about how to dress, including whether to wear a tie!

Check out What Every Business School Student Should Have in Their Closet: How to Build and Style a Professional Wardrobe to understand more about different standards for attire.

By Frank Fessenden
Frank Fessenden Executive Director