Attire 101: Business
It is important to remember in the world of business (and life in general) is that you get treated the way you look. If you look like a power business man then you will get treated like one. If you look like an average blue collar worker, you will get treated like one. Guess what, if you look like an idiot then you will get treated like one. This Attire 101 article will focus on how to get your business look right, and how we believe a man should go about making his decisions on what to wear for business purposes.
Warning: this is a long ass article, but I’ve written it because people have asked. So please check it out if you are looking for an informative answer based upon opinion and experience.
Yes, it was only a matter of time until I posted something about men’s fashion. How could we have a blog for men without tackling this issue? I wanted to post about this later, but I’ve received two e-mails requesting us here at MANTV to tackle this issue and give our opinion on how to dress for business.
So before we do this we need to figure out, what kind of body do you have?
Ch0sing the Cut:
There is a general trend in the world of suits that leads people into their choices. It’s sad but it’s true. The bigger you are, the lesser chance of getting a tight fit suit. The Italian suit makers are notorious for their style and their ability to make suits that are stylish in cuts. Boggi Milano suits for example (as well as Zegna and many other Italian suit makers) are very good at this.
Unfortunately, if you do not have a well shaped body or skinny body type, it makes buying these kinds of suits very difficult. You’ll also spend a lot of time at the 7aya6 (tailor) getting the suit custom fitted (if you want it to look great). If you’re skinny or have a well shaped body (athletic or average body) it will be a lot easier (less time at the tailor) and most of the time not need to be tailored.
If you have a larger body type then I recommend you go to the German suit makers. Roy Robson make great suits that fit comfortable. The quality in my opinion is extremely high and they offer a wider selection of loose fit suits than the Italian suit makers.
I’ve recently put on quite a bit of weight since I stopped gym and I’ve found my Italian suits such as Zegna and Boggi Milano hanging up collecting dust because they’ve become too tight fitted and uncomfortable. The ones that aren’t just don’t look like they used to. However, my German suits such as my Roy Robson suits still fit great although they are essentially sized the same as the Italian suits but it’s the cut that makes the difference. Both suits have been tailored to my body but the actual cut remains different.
I’m not saying Germans are better than Italians when it comes to suits. I’m just recommending you try both when considering your body and see what you feel most comfortable with. This is because the cuts between the two are not that distinctive until you try them on and feel them out. You need to try both and see which one you feel more comfortable with.
If you’re a dishdasha guy, that’s perfectly fine but I can’t offer advice on the dishdashs because I honestly don’t know much about them. So sorry for you dishdasha lovers who came in here hoping for advice on how to dress for business in a dishdasha. I assume most of you who wear them daily know this information already.
It’s a general rule, unless it’s “casual Thursday” to wear an outfit in which the jacket and pants match in colour. I’ve actually seen it many times that some people come in with black pants and a white jacket – which is great if it’s Casual Thursday. However, during the week and important meetings you need to look the role so opt for a single colour scheme between the pants and jackets. It’s important to remember you need to have the ironed creests (spelling?) in the pants as some manufacturers are opting not to have these lines in the pants (you know, the lines that stay on the pants forever that look like they’ve permanently been ironed in).
It is never acceptable to opt in for the Jeans/Suit jacket on a formal day. This shows disrespect to the office. I am even a strong believer that you should never wear jeans to the office, even on Casual Thursdays because it’s just not professional.
Pinstripe suits are always great but make sure the colour scheme for the pinstripes are okay. Don’t opt for a yellow stripe on a black jacket. You’ll look like a bee, especially if the pinstripes are thick. My general rule is keep the actual pinstripes thinner as it looks more professional. You don’t want to look like you’re suit is a “professional juventus jersey”. You laugh now but I’ve seen it…
I would recommend that no matter how well the suit fits, goto a tailor and just make sure that you’re 120% happy with the fitting. sometimes the suit looks great but after a while that little extra in the back seems to flap out. The more caution you take with the suit, the longer you’ll be happy with it.
For business, another general rule is don’t go for very bright coloured suits. You’ll look like a clown, and if you look like a clown you’ll get treated like a clown.
ALWAYS ALWAYS OPT FOR A BUTTON SHIRT! I cannot stress this point enough. Some people, even on Casual Thursdays will come in wearing a nice polo. This is fine, but outside of a business setting. Maybe a dinner with an old friend but not for the office. If it’s Casual Thursday, drop the tie and play around with the colours (such as black pants and a white jacket).
Button shirts need to be chosen carefully as well. Every fashion manufacturer and designer have different cuts for shirts. I personally am a fan of Italian shirts. They are stylish and cut very nicely for my body. However, like I said make sure you try them on several times because with weight gain/loss they will look completely different and with different suit cuts, they will look different.
Each piece of clothing is not meant to be a seperate article. The whole look of the suit depends on how you mix and match the whole suit.
When chosing the colours of the shirt and style of the shirt remember to contrast but keep true to the matching. For example if you’re wearing a black suit. The most logical choice would be that of white shirt. However, here you can have your fun. You can opt for any colour really as long as you can create the contrasting look. I am personally a fan of the dark suit, light shirt scheme. However, if you’re wearing a Navy Blue suit, you’ve limited your colour options for the shirt. Also, the style of shirt may be dependent upon the tie and suit you chose. I generally like to use the rule of pinstrip suit, pain shirt. Or plain suit, pinstripe shirt. I just find that contrast creates a fashionable look whlist keeping it professional.
If you have a shirt that requires cufflinks, then wear them. Don’t roll your sleeves up as it wrinkles the shirt. If you have a meeting later on and roll your sleeves down then you’ll look like you don’t care, thus people will treat you like you don’t care.
There are so many options for ties out there and no general rules to apply. Therefore, I will be giving you a rule of thumb. If you’re ever confused about the style of tie just make sure it’s not too thin and a plain colour. The colour matching of course relies upon what combination of suit and shirt you’re wearing. However, if you’re ever in doubt of what style – opt for the above rule of thumb. Plain coloured ties are always professional as long as they’re not like the 80s/90s thickness (They were too thin back then, today a thick tie represents a thick wallet. Don’t ask me why, it’s some weird psychology thing).
Colour schemes are difficult to assess but I’d recommend you match atleast one colour of the suit/shirt combination on your tie. If you’re wearing a black suit and a white shirt. Opt for a tie that may have a black design on it such as (black and red stripes). Maybe you opted for a pinstripe shirt, I’d say go for a plain coloured tie that matches the jacket. Back to the concept of creating contrast.
Remember, you don’t wear the suit jacket all the time. You take it off to avoid wrinkling the jacket when you sit down and generally end up leaving the jacket off unless you’re going somewhere. Therefore, you need to remember that the tie will usually have to be predominantly a match of the suit rather than the shirt. However, the colour scheme and the style of the shirt will greatly affect the tie choice. So be very careful.
You could opt for a tie colour that is completely out of the colour scheme. However, this usually works out best when the shirt worn with the suit is white and/or plain and the tie is chosen accordingly to match the suit colour as a shirt would be. So for example, charcoal grey suit, white shirt, and a plain blood red tie. This may sound weird as text, but if you actually put it together, it looks very professional and effective.
The Shoes and The Belt:
Personally, I opt for two brands of shoes. This is because I have found my comfort and style zone in them. I love the styling of Kennth Cole shoes. Especially, the old school look. Sharp and long toed, slightly heeled at the back (this is normal for dress shoes) and simple/thin lacing. I find that leather is the most professional option. Croc skin in my opinion is never professional unless styled correctly. Though its difficult to find that these days, although more and more well styled croc skin shoes are coming out in the market.
I wear Clarks for comfort. Both brands look professional. However, I opt for my Kenneth Cole shoes when I am aware of having several meetings with big clients, and I wear Clarks when I know it’s going to be a quiet day at the office because I feel Clarks are unrivaled when it comes to comfortable dress shoes.
The rule of thumb when it comes to shoes is don’t go over the top with design. Remember, simple and clean looking shoes are quite effective with the attire plan I’ve set out here for you guys.
Never walk into a meeting with sand/dust on your shoes. Always carry a shoe cleaner with you. There are some nice pocket sized ones which do the job. I have one at home, the office and laying in my car. That way I’m never going to meet someone with my shoes dirty (and because of Kuwait, it’s really hard to keep the dust and sand off the shoes).
Shoes are (surprisingly) one of the most things people pay attention to in someones attire. This could be because the lack in confidence in people is rising so they’re body language tends to have them look down alot. It could also be because shoes are becoming more and more of a fashion item that “counts” for people so the obsession if becoming greater these days (for men as well as women).
A tip for men: WOMEN ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SHOES!
The belt should match the shoe colour and fit with the whole suit scheme. Don’t go for big belt buckles, leave that for the old western movies and cowboys. A simple leather belt, with a very simple yet shiny/clean buckle would be more than sufficient.
Are We Done?
Almost… The attire is very important but there are several other issues that come with the attire. First your body language. Your clothing is only as good as you wear it. If you want to look the role so bad but portray body language that you’re just not that powerful business man, then you will not look the role. Stand up straight, smell good (buy good cologne – you can refer to my earlier post about Baldessarini), have strong eye contact, firm handshake, and facial expressions.
I’ll be posting in the near future regarding body language, but until then read up on professional/corporate body language. How to improve your body language in the corporate world.
In order to smell good, you need to make sure you have an appropriate business cologne, you’ve showered and are in touch with your hygienic side. Keep them nails short, facial hair/hair groomed, and clothes clean. Ironing and dry cleaning are a big role in this. So make sure your suits and shirts are pressed, ironed and steamed (regarding the article of clothing you’re dealing with).
Accessories are important as well. No business man should be without a watch. A watch tells people that time is important. These days people use their phones to tell time. By having a watch, it implies that you are time conscious – this with punctuality will generate a great impression. Sure many people wear watches as fashion but it also gives off a punctual impression. Also the quality of the watch makes a huge impact on the way people look at you. Someone wearing a tag heuer is not quite the same as someone wearing a rolex. Rolex screams success, which is what it’s whole image/marketing is based upon.
If you’re insecure, or unsure people will notice it. Therefore, be knowledgeable and don’t be scared to talk. If you have speech problems, then take some classes regarding improving your speech. Annunciate your words and make sure you know what you’re talking about. If you don’t know what you’re talking about be sure you know how to bullshit without being caught. It’s also important that you don’t give too much information. A business man that is successful knows what to say, how to say it, and when to say it if needed to be said at all.
No one said it was going to be cheap or easy to really give off that successful business man vibe. This is because to do so you need to be it! The first step is looking like one. The next step is being one. Work hard, and keep trying to better yourself and the results will be endless. First impressions count, which is why we decided to work on how to get the look.
Remember, dress the role, play the role and you will be the role.
Until next time…