Another important component of Casual Power dressing is the blazer or sport coat.
Question: When did “Casual Friday” turn into Casual Monday through Friday? I have always been a proponent of men wearing “occasion appropriate” attire. A suit or some type of sport coat historically has been appropriate attire for business. Yet dressing for business today has reached a point where business casual is a widely accepted alternative to the classic business “suit and tie” look, at least for non-formal and less-serious power meetings. Over the last several years, appropriate casual dress has deteriorated. I want to know who gave the OK to break out a martini glass-patterned sport shirt with a pair of ill-fitting pleated khakis and a pair of beat-up running sneakers? Please, someone tackle that guy! Get him in a headlock, sedate him, and get him off the streets! If you are in a position of leadership or if you want to be, remember that a lot of the perception of power is carried in how you look. In fact, research shows that almost 90 percent of what people take away from a speaker in a business situation is how they look as opposed to what they say. Surprising but true.
When you’re getting dressed, the burning question should always be, “How can my clothing choices add positive value when the light shines on me in a business or social situation?” (Or at the very least not have everyone whispering about your martini glass shirt.) Short of having David August manage your wardrobe, there is a pretty simple formula you can implement on your own to get your business-casual wardrobe up to date and more appropriate.
My advice to clients is that it is better to be the most/best dressed person in the room, as opposed to the least/frumpiest dressed. Always err on the side of classic. Now, classic doesn’t necessarily mean traditional; classic lives in every category of dress. Think of classic as refined simplicity. It is always safer to keep things simple and current, so when picking out what you are going to wear, opt for something that has been added to your wardrobe in the last 18 months. Solids are safer than patterns, and earth-tone slacks in grays, tans, or khakis are great. If you insist on wearing jeans, make sure they are current and have little to no color fading and definitely no holes. Torn jeans are great for today’s youth or for lounging around the house but should not find their way into the business environment. For shirts, white, shades of light blues, pinks, and lavenders are ideal. For a change of pace, throw in a tight mini check or pinstripe. Make sure the collars and cuffs are pressed and crisp; they frame your face and hands, two major focal points that people do notice.
Another important component of Casual Power dressing is the blazer or sport coat. If used correctly, this can-and will-up your game tremendously. A well-fitting classic navy blazer can be coordinated with and complement many jean or slack combinations.
And finally, always remember to dress so that you will be prepared for a last minute meeting or surprise encounter with an important or prospective client.
At David August, our job is to help clients build their personal brands by making them feel like the most powerful person in the room, no matter what room they are in. With Power Casual, you can project confidence and control without feeling like a stuffed shirt.
If you have questions you’d like to see addressed in future issues, e-mail me at
3140 Airway Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626