Business Fashion

Take the greatest chefs from any city in the world…Venice, New York, London, Paris…They all know the same thing.  They may create the most exquisite delicacies the world has ever tasted.  The feelings their guests experience will never be able to be expressed in words.  Yet, they know that even if they create a culinary masterpiece, their work will not truly be appreciated if the dish isn’t presented properly.  Garnishes, placing, sauces, and even the extreme cleanliness of the plate itself, all prepare the guest to experience a delectable delicacy.  Now if the world’s greatest chefs concern themselves with details such as these, though their creations have no equal, then shouldn’t we be just as keen to present ourselves in the best we can?

The most important theme to maintain in dress is that you are capable, clean, and up to date.  Just like the culinary artists, you want your appearance to be inviting and enticing.  Your appearance will spark interest and anticipation, and you will really dazzle them with what lies beneath the surface.  Each of us has a brand, and we are marketing our brands to prospective companies and their clients.  Branding is a multibillion dollar industry for a reason, how will you be remembered?  What is your brand?  These interviewers will be asking themselves and their colleagues, “Would we feel comfortable having this person represent us and our company to our clients and to the public?”

I do not believe that it is a man’s place to teach a woman how to be a woman.  The topic of success, however, is not gender specific and these principles have worked for millions of women as well as millions of men.  That being said, it is important to dress for the audience we are speaking with, for the role we want, and for the culture of the company that we are interviewing with.  The first thing someone notices when we walk through the door is whether we take ourselves seriously.  We communicate this by the clothes that we wear and how well we care for ourselves.  Dress is directly tied to confidence; the better we dress the more confidence we exhibit and the more confident others will be in us.  A well dressed person exudes confidence, feels better, stands taller, and says with their appearance, “I’m here.  I belong here. Feel free to ask me why.”

Today, dressing for success is not as simple as it once was.  Details in fashion are very important.  A well-tailored one hundred dollar suit will look far more impressive than a four thousand dollar suit that has not been fit.  The only advice I have for women, which is true for men also, is to remember that people should be more focused on what you’re saying than what you’re wearing.  Choose the styles you would like to wear from what people in your target industry are wearing.  The more conservative look is going to be good for more traditional industries.  A suit is a great choice for the majority of interviews, however, a pair of slacks, button up shirt, and dress shoes can be acceptable as well.  Remember that we are dressing to the culture of the company that we want to enter.

When stepping up your fashion repertoire, it is a good idea for men to begin their professional wardrobe with a dark navy suit.  This, as opposed to black, is more versatile.  The traditional black suit is typically more formal.  Visit a clothing store for your measurements and be sure to find a salesperson with experience and knowledge.  The general rule when building a quality wardrobe is to buy half as many items, but spend twice as much on each.  Now in the beginning of your career if you require a larger wardrobe fast, it may be necessary to buy twice as many for half the price.  I recommend doing extensive research into the items you are looking to purchase, and once you’ve built a satisfactory wardrobe, begin to upgrade piece by piece.  Caring for your clothes properly will ensure that each piece will maintain a high quality for many years.  Closely follow all instructions for washing your clothes properly.

Shoes are very important for both men and women.  (However, most women already know this.)  Most often the first things people look at on a man are his shoes and his watch.  Remember the “half as many, twice as expensive,” rule when purchasing shoes.  If properly cared for, a good pair of shoes can last decades, sometimes a lifetime.  With regular polish, cedar shoe trees, and the occasional resoling, you can be sure you will be placing your best foot forward time and time again.  The polish will maintain the high quality and look of the leather.  Shoe trees will pull the moisture after wearing and allow the shoe to maintain its shape and structure.  Taking a pair of shoes to the cobbler every few years for a resoling will ensure that the leather stays tight and the sole is always strong and dry.  Multiple pairs of shoes will also preserve the quality of each.

The rule with shoes and suits is that a person shouldn’t wear the same suit or pair of shoes two days in a row, because these pieces need to air out and dry.  After each wear, our suits should be hung neatly and shoe trees should be inserted.  Our suits will need dry cleaning periodically.  One timeless rule is that a suit coat should never be worn while driving.  Most cars have a hook for clothes hangers on the ceiling next to the door.  We can also hang our jackets on the back of our seats while we drive.  Another rule of suiting up is that a man should never button the bottom button of his jacket. When men of the past carried swords as their weapon of choice, they had to be able to grab them quickly; this is why it is customary to leave the bottom button open on your jacket.

Be sure to buy high quality slacks as these will endure much activity throughout their lives.  It is important to know how these slacks need to be washed.  Also they should be neatly pressed and hung when not being worn.  Socks should usually match the color of the pant leg or be basic black, but you can always spice up an outfit with a bright pair of socks.  There are other basic guidelines for dressing when it comes to colors, patterns, and textures. These guidelines can be found by visiting your local clothier or by researching fashion articles online.

I would also recommend that you take this opportunity to explore casual attire as well.  If your prospective employer were to see you out of his or her office after an interview, would they still remember you the same?  Would your brand still be clean, capable, and up to date?  You never know when you will meet the recruiting executive for your dream job or the CEO of an exciting start-up.  I encourage you to take these concepts into your everyday life and begin to refine your everyday wardrobe as well.