A distinction can be made between fashion and style. Fashion is copying a look and keeping up with the trends of the season. Style, however, is not caring about a trend, but subtly expressing your individuality through clothing that is both complementary and appropriate to your age, body and lifestyle.
A market research study was conducted with an all-female class at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and the women were asked to answer a few questions about men’s wear. “You’re at a club or bar and you see a guy dressed in a suit and tie. You think he’s probably…” The top responses were:
- Well-grounded, motivated, goal-oriented and very into appearance
- Wealthy and potentially an arrogant jerk.
- Fashion conscious
- From out of town
- Going out after work
- Smart with a good job and decent salary
- A successful businessman
- Probably in the wrong club
With an interest in presenting a more polished image that inspires confidence, businesses are continuing to realize that a more refined dress code leads to better productivity. In my opinion, there are several good reasons why men should wear suits (or sport coats and slacks).
First, men don’t generally carry handbags in this country, but they do have cell phones, glasses, wallets and keys that can bulk up trouser pockets. Suit coats typically offer a plethora of pockets allowing men to more evenly distribute the necessities of today’s business day.
Second, more than half of American men are overweight. A suit or sport coat helps accentuate the positive while camouflaging problem areas.
Third, “dress” is easy, “casual” can be challenging. Most guys know which ties match each suit in their closets, but what distinguishes “business casual” from “sloppy”?
Fourth, casual slacks don’t “work”. Try sitting in the office or car for a while. Then stand up. Cotton slacks have a tendency to wrinkle in a rather unique manner. While there is a time and place for cottons, the business day is not one of them.
Finally, it is impossible to dress “up” if you have misjudged the appropriate attire for an occasion. It is, however, a simple matter to dress “down”.
Whether right or wrong, first impressions are usually based on appearance. If your goal is to project a “well-grounded, motivated and goal-oriented” image, let me share with you some guidelines for gentlemen’s professional attire.
- Your suit should be stylish and well tailored. Subtle stripes and patterns in a model that enhances your physique are best.
- You can never go wrong with a crisp white shirt, but muted patterns as well as stripes offer an air of confidence (and an infusion of color).
- For a more sincere approach, steer clear of bright colors and loud patterns in your ties.
- A pocket square is a nice touch; linen square or silk puff.
- No jewelry, other than a wedding band, if appropriate.
- Keep your dress watch slim and understated and wear the chunky chronograph on the weekends.
- Simple, elegant leather-soled lace up shoes in black or brown complete today’s professional look.
While these may appear to be simple guidelines, some gentlemen find coordinating the essentials, presenting the image they wish to project and ensuring the clothing fits properly may be beyond their scope of expertise. This is where a professional clothier can help.
Climbing the proverbial "Ladder of Success" can be difficult. Make sure your clothes say you belong. When you choose quality over quantity, you choose to belong. When you choose to invest in yourself and enhance your personal and professional image, you choose to belong. When you choose to put your best foot forward in every situation, you choose to belong. When you dress well, you show respect for those around you, and yourself.
Look your best. Do your best. Be your best - Everyday!