A tie is a powerful visual cue that says that you are respectful, serious, and that you mean business.
At my house, we have a moratorium on bad economic news. No CNN. No CNBC. No Fox News. Am I suffering from a major case of avoidance? No, quite the contrary. We are aggressively pursuing growth and initiatives in our company that will position us better for the time when the good news slowly begins to outweigh the bad. Just like you are. We are blessed to have clients who continue to love and need us, and job one is to show them how much we appreciate them.
Meanwhile, your Style Ambassador is here with some advice on how to weather the current financial news cycle with composure and success.
It’s time to go back to basics. When times get tough, frivolous, fashion-forward clothing just isn’t appropriate for men. The last thing you want to be doing is projecting an image that says wasteful. At David August, our experience shows that no matter what the business or social climate, well-built, well-worn outfits project an air of power, competence, and leadership-all great characteristics to have on your side when people are in search for the way forward. The point here is that for now, we need to err on the conservative side to be in synch with the general tenor of society.
What are the basics? I’m talking about a smaller, coordinated group of high-quality clothing. That means investing a little to make sure the outfits you’re relying heavily on fit you well. Stick with solid colors. To begin, make sure you have a black, navy, and gray suit. Look for Italian wools that can transition from season to season and that have the potential to wear well. Sound too boring for you, Fashion Forward Thinkers? Well, great plaids and stripes may stand out and look sharp, but they’re also easy to remember. That’s especially important when you’re encountering the same associates multiple times and you need to NOT have them think, “Didn’t he wear that paisley purple coat last time I saw him?”
Start with those three suits, and then make sure you have at least four or five tailored dress shirts for each. You’ll need white, of course, several shades of blue, and even a couple of dark options like navy, black, and gray will be helpful. I’ve talked before about how details combine to create a truly great impression with men’s clothing. That’s especially true about shirts. A fantastically fitting, crisp shirt ups the impact of any outfit. Likewise, the one that you wore to prom and “kinda” still fits has the opposite effect.
Some recent research showed that only about 6 percent of working men in America still wear a tie every day. I argue that more men should, even if it’s not a formal part of the corporate uniform where you work. A tie is a powerful visual cue that says that you are respectful, serious, and that you mean business. In keeping with our back-to-basics theme, I suggest that you acquire medium-width, solid color ties that bracket the general color of your suits and shirts on either side of light and dark. Try to shoot for a dozen. If you like patterns, keep them smaller, tighter, and tasteful please.
Once you have established your arsenal of high quality, great fitting clothes, maintain them. The way a coat hangs and its condition should be carefully considered. Puckering, fabric pulls, and-heaven forbid-spills need to be avoided at all costs. This means that before you walk out the door, if you’ve picked out a suit or sport coat for that day, put it ON, stand in front of the mirror (with the light on preferably) and check yourself out. If you wear glasses, put them on too. Consider the overall image you portray and pay attention to the small details. And if doesn’t pass muster, change it out. Remember this: In business, 80 percent of the impression we leave is how we look, not what we say.
Practice creative combinations. Do you find yourself wearing the same five outfits over and over again? You, my friend, are not alone. I call this “getting-dressed-before-I’ve-had-my-coffee” syndro-me. You get up early, stumble to the shower, try to not forget your personal hygiene routine and then hit the closet. You’re not even dry yet; you’re in no shape to think anything through. Instinctively, you grab for the outfit that the girl in Starbucks complimented you on more than two years ago-a sure winner. That’s how we men think. I suggest you shake things up a bit.
Let me start by saying that many men are really bad at this. At David August, we long ago developed the concept of a wardrobe book for each of our clients. We assign each element a number: suits, shirts, ties, and even shoes. Then we build a matrix that makes it easy to look sharp even if you haven’t had your coffee yet. You can see that Suit No. 3, the black, can work with Shirt Nos. 6, 9, 13, and 27. That combination, in turn is perfectly complemented by Tie Nos. 1, 7, 13, and 42. It’s so easy. Our clients tell us repeatedly that they feel like they have three times as many clothes as they actually do, because they are constantly creating new combinations.
Now there’s some great news. Three times the clothing for the same price!
If you have questions you’d like to see addressed in future issues, e-mail me at [email protected]
3140 Airway Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626