Looking the Part

How do you prepare for big days?

I remember, as a boy, my dad taught me to take special care of my shoes. As a young man in the professional world, when I wore shoes to work every day, I polished them at least once a week. Now that I am able to wear sneakers and loafers on some days, I polish my hard bottoms less frequently but I still pay attention to their shine.

This post isn’t about shoes. It’s about being intentional in every aspect of your presentation. Press your shirts and trousers. Be able to select the appropriate socks. Have pen and paper that say, “I believe that what I am writing ought to be written with class.” Go into a meeting knowing you can not only meet with kings but also connect with them.

Life is too short not to be able to present yourself in a manner that commands respect. I’m not saying you always have to be in a full suit and tie but at least know how to do it and look comfortable and confident when you do.

 

Make looking the part a priority.

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The Creative’s Dress Game

Do I wear a flannel and cut up jeans or a fly suit with a lapel flower? Should I be in hip chinos with a pocket watch and a vintage polo or shorts, a v-neck, and chucks? What are the rules for how a "creative" ought to dress?

There are no rules. There is only one rule and it is to not be stiff.

Being creative is all about being comfortable and intentional. If you can look at peace and stylish in a suit, go for it. If overalls and a tank top are your thing, you've got it. No matter what you're in, be inspired. Certain mornings, some framed glasses, a v-neck and jeans are what I'm in the mood to wear (the way my M-F is set up these day, I am required that I trade in those jeans for chinos but that's cool because the bills must be paid). Other days (especially soon after a haircut), I like to sport a suit or some slacks and a tie. It's all about what makes you feel like this may end up being one of the best days of your life.

Whatever your look, let it be inspired and let it inspire. We're all here to make one another better. Borrow a part of someone else's style and help someone else when they're trying to borrow an aspect of yours. Push the envelope (sometimes slowly, but push it, nonetheless).

 

Make inspiration a priority.

Figuring Out Dress Codes

It’s 2017. Stop going into places with defined dress codes dressed inappropriately.

Today, I had lunch at a country club. The invitation stated that the dress code was club casual. Though I had a good idea of what that meant, do you know what I did? I Googled “Club casual” to make sure my understanding of that term was correct. Additionally, I went to the country club’s website to add a level of certainty to my decision for the day (different dress codes mean different things in different regions).

With all of the resources available to you, stop making yourself and those you represent look bad when, with a quick search, you could firm up your understanding of what is and isn’t appropriate in a given setting.
Make professional development a priority.

The Ins and Outs of Dress

During my undergraduate years, chances were you’d find me with a collared shirt on 3 out of 5 days a week, a tie 2 out of those 3, and a full suit once. I was looking to break into corporate America and the corporate America I wanted to be a part of required that every day. My goals have since changed.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy putting on an impeccably tailored suit, some well-polished shoes, and picking up my attaché briefcase from time to time. I choose to do it a few times a month. But it’s just not necessary to always put on such cumbersome clothing in my current setting, so I don’t.

The culture of the American workplace is changing. It is relaxing more and more. Lines that were once drawn in the sand have been eroded by the wind and water of the beach we all hope to live on one day.

Structure has its place. When I meet with a donor whose background is corporate, I put on my best navy or charcoal suit, a crisp shirt, and a tie that conveys the message I’m looking to relay. But why burden myself on a day that I’m not in the mood to have a tight piece of silk knotted on my neck when I’m just going to be punching away at a keyboard, not meeting with anyone who doesn’t see me every day?

In addition, it is unnecessarily expensive to get senselessly dressed every single day. Dress shirts, when cleaned properly, take extra time and resources to maintain. Suits require dry cleaning. Shoes must be resoled once they’ve made it enough miles.

There is a time and place for suits and ties, just as there is a time and place for chinos and polos. Shoot, even jeans are appropriate in many settings but that’s a discussion for you and your higher ups.

Work shouldn’t feel stressful. It should feel like you’re making your life better in every way. Let’s start thinking and acting differently.

 

 

Make professional development a priority.

Finding the Right Fit — Shirts

The older I’ve gotten, the more my style has matured and, with that, I’ve fallen in love with tailored clothes.  I love it when my blothes feel like they were cut for my body and my body alone.  The problem is, I don’t have the money to have my clothes made for me.  So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting on to find the perfect fit on everything from office attire to workout clothes.

As a teen, I only bought classic/traditional cut shirts because, at the time, men’s clothing options were few and far between.  But, as men’s fashion has become more and more specialized, more options have been made available to us.  And, with more brands catering to men, I can say that almost everyone has an option that can fit their body and their budget.  There are are a few things you need to know first though before buying your shirts.

1 – Get sized.  Forget cut.  That’s secondary.  You will never look good in a dress shirt that is the wrong size.  Any menswear store that sells professional clothes ought to be able to properly measure your neck size and sleeve length (the two components that go into dress shirt sizing).  I am partial to Nordstrom because I worked there and I know that everyone who works in the mens suits and furnishings department is properly trained on sizing but, as I said, anywhere from Men’s Wearhouse to Macy’s should be able to do this for you at no cost to you.

2 – Find the right cut.  Looking at the picture above, figure out what cut would look best on you (while allowing you to be comfortable.  If you are a slim/athletic guy, what you don’t want is an extremely blousy shirt.  Sure, when you wear a suit jacket or blazer, no one will be able to tell but, what about the days you decide that slacks and a shirt are enough?

3 – Find the right brand.  Lacoste’s “Trim Fit” is not the same as Nordstrom’s.  And Hugo Boss has a cut called “Sharp Fit” (which I love but will not buy unless it’s on sale).  Every brand is not for everyone and it’s not always about budget.  I’ve seen folks who don’t need to buy a Sharp Fit put it on just because they want a $150 Boss shirt.  Don’t be that person.

4 – Look at reviews.  What you don’t want is a shirt that is going to fall apart on you or look like it was cheaply made.  I buy all of my clothes on sale because I like to make sure that I’m wearing brands that will hold up. When it comes to shirts, you can find some great prices on Nordstrom brand shirts (my brand of choice) of all cuts at Norstrom Rack.  And, if you don’t get the wear you think you should out of it, they stand behind their product and will replace it.

Whether walking into an interview or handing in your letter of resignation, your wardobe should leave a lasting impression and, being that a man’s shirt is the foundation of each professional outfit, it’s integrity should never be compromised.  So don’t compromise it.

 

Make professional development a priority.

The Proper Way to Hold Your Pants Up

Ok, so we all know you need to wear a belt.  If there are belt loops on your waistband, you should have on a belt.  Point, blank, period.  But, depending on where you are, you have some wiggle room as far as what kind of belt you choose to wear.   This infographic goes into detail on how you should be holding your pants up as a young professional.   (By the way, suspenders are also acceptable.  But only if you’re NOT wearing a belt.  Both should never be worn at once.  NEVER.)

Belt Infographic

Business Attire for the Ladies

Ladies, I rarely make Well-Dressed Wednesdays for you. And it is not because I don’t care about you all. Lord knows women are one of my favorite topics of discussion. I just don’t know that much about what you all need to be successful. So it requires a bit more effort for me to find out what information to pass on to you. But today I said I was going to find something for the ladies and betchabygollywow I did it. Below is a graphic depiction of some successful business professional outfits for ladies. Of course it’s not all inclusive but it’s a step in the right direction.

By the way, another reason I don’t post for you all is because I don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. So comment and let me know flaws that you see commonly in other women’s professional appearance or even questions you yourself have and I’ll find the answers and post them on Well-Dressed Wednesdays. Even though business may have once been a male-driven field, I want to make sure I’m serving you all equally as well. Have a great day and please share.

Example - Women's Contemporary Business Casual.  A great start!  I would probably switch out the pencil skirts for A-line but it's a good reference.

Source: Pinterest

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