The Summer Image of a Man – Crisp Hot-Weather Business Attire makes Men Look Cooool!
The old song “It’s summer time and the living is easy” doesn’t hold true when it comes to what’s appropriate business attire for men during those hot, sultry days at the office.
No matter what, it’s to everyone’s benefit – the company and employees alike from the executive suite to support staff are adhering to a certain level of professionalism. Impressions of a company are formed in part by the way its employees present themselves.
Rupert Duchesne, president and CEO of global marketing company Aimia, which owns Aeroplan, describes a modern corollary. His hypothesis references three significant recessions since the late 1980s for proof.
“As the markets got tougher and business got tougher, people became more formal again,” he observed. “Taking the casual attitude to dress when dealing with costs and compromises just didn’t seem right.”
The last 15 to 20 years have been particularly tumultuous for business attire. The philanthropic Casual Friday trend of the 1990s gained traction with the tec boom later that decade, resulting in rampart casualness that was at best a defiance of conventional business stricture and at worst a style – and workplace – disaster. Happily today’s young workforce seems to be formulating a more elegant approach to business dress.
For Andrew Bailey, chairman of advertising and marketing agency Proximity North America, the very tangible influence on formability in the office has been the television show Mad Men. “People went back to the traditional suits and ties and proper shoes,” he says – “which looked great.” But there’s an important difference. The fashion of the 1950s may not be a la mode, but the attitude sure is. It’s dressing for success all over again, coming from a different angle.
At Premiere Image International, we are seeing a definite move toward a more formal dress code in general. Companies continue to hire us to assist their employees understand the power of appropriate attire and manners. However, in some corporate cultures dress down or business casual hasn’t left the scene entirely. That doesn’t mean “dress down sloppy”.
Unfortunately some men just don’t seem to get it. First impressions do count. In 30 seconds, the way a man dresses impacts their capability, credibility and confidence. My clients tell me that creating a balance between professionalism and comfort at work is a huge challenge and it’s more difficult than it appears.
Dressing appropriately for business casual takes a bit of savvy and it’s simply all about “appropriateness.”
To appear cooool, calm and in control this summer, here are some “general” tips for hot weather dressing that shouldn’t get thrown out the window:
A man should pay strict attention to his number one accessory: Grooming – that means “squeaky-clean” from head to toe.
A few years ago, I was contracted by Wilkinson Sword to be the spokesperson for a cross country promotion to introduce one of its latest shaving products.
Studies prove that sporting a beard is a barrier to communication. Be aware of this and act accordingly. If you prefer to wear a beard, ensure that it is very well maintained and clipped close to the face.
Remember, the cleaner shaven a gentleman is the more trustworthy, honest and approachable he appears.
Don’t be fooled, the two-day beard is not going to cut it in the corporate world.
No chest hair showing above the collar please! That doesn’t mean that a man should wax his chest, just shave a bit lower down the next below the collar line.
Choose Footwear carefully. Do wear soft-soled shoes with socks (preferably above the knee).
Do change your socks daily.
Don’t wear sandals, clogs, flip-flops, hiking boots, cowboy boots or running shoes of any kind in business, they are inappropriate. Sandals should never be worn with socks even on vacation.
Do choose your clothes colours and patterns carefully.
Men today have a wonderful array of colours to choose from when it comes to clothing. Play with colour. Wear colours toward your face that compliment your skin, hair and eye colour.
Colour co-ordinate your attire by choosing two core colours and adding accent colours in shirts and accessories.
Monochromatic colour schemes – shades of the same colour tone from head to toe appear more sophisticated and usually work best i.e. various tones of brown – a beige shirt, brown pants, brown belt and shoes.
Don’t mix and match if you don’t have a great colour sense.
Do choose crisp, striped/single colour or discreet patterned long sleeved shirts if your office is more formal; plain or patterned, made of cotton or cotton blend fabrics. They can be worn with tie or slightly open at the neck. Only one button opened though.
For a more relaxed office environment choose short sleeved, knit shirts in a medium gauge knit. Styles can vary from crew necks, mock-necks or polo.
Don’t wear T-shirts with logos or sayings, sweat tops, gym clothes, cropped or tank tops, Hawaiian, loud prints or chest-baring necklines.
Don’t wear a shirt more than one day. It absorbs too much perspiration and body odor.
Do change your shirt daily.
Do wear classic sport jackets in light weight wools, wool/cotton/silk blends if you are more conservative and want to play it safe.
For a more relaxed look choose textured or pattered style jackets that are linen, silk/cotton blends in styles that are more interesting look. They appear less formal.
To play is safe; you can never go wrong with a single breasted navy blue blazer. It’s a classic you’ll wear for years, is easy to coordinate, is acceptable attire for many occasions, and can even be worn with jeans.
Don’t wear winter weight clothes for summer or business gatherings.
Don’t mix a heavy wool jacket with cotton pants or corduroy pants with a cotton jacket. You’ll look totally out of place.
Be adventuresome choose business trousers which are tailored suit-style in micro fiber, cotton/ linen blends, light wool or wool blends. Trouser styles now tend to be flat-fronted (no pleats) cuffed or not cuffed. Trousers should be well presses and show a center crease.
Don’t wear trousers that are too short, too tight, faded, in odd colours or pants with pockets on the legs, or a draw string waist.
Do wear neatly pressed, clean clothes. Change your shirt, socks and underwear daily.
Don’t wear old ragged shorts, sweat pants of any kind, torn jeans or leather to work – all are totally unprofessional in most industries.
Do make sure your clothes are current, in style and well maintained.
Take the time to review your closet regularly…discard, re style, green bag it…. give clothes away… then replenish. Become an educated consumer and buy a fashion magazine, window shop… be a little daring and try a new colour, try new styles…anything…but get in the groove.
Don’t wear clothes that are pilled, puckered, stained, torn, wrinkled or out of date.
A last word about head gear
The Panama hat has returned in a new up dated version. The best are still woven from the Ecuadorian straw and made in the same way for generations. It’s the iconic summer hat, smaller rimmed this time around and finished with an old-fashioned, colourful grosgrain hat band.
The panama is meant to be worn at a rather jaunty angle too.
Remember – hats or caps of any kind are meant to be worn outside… unless you are on the tennis court or golf course…
It is rude and inconsiderate to wear hats inside, at a restaurant, at home, etc …indoors – tre passé….
These are some basic rules to developing a business summer wardrobe and to creating your own personal style – one that is unique to you alone. It isn’t about spending a lot of money and it isn’t about being a carbon copy of someone else. However, it is about paying close attention to detail and defining your individuality within the codes of dress for your particular industry. .
According to a UCLA study, 85 per cent of all decisions are made with our eyes.
It’s critical to your future success that close attention be paid to appropriate dress and grooming. You’ll be seen and treated like a professional and your chances for advancement will soar.
Remember that the clothes should not wear you, you should be wearing them.
Last but not least…remember what Shakespeare quoted: “The apparel oft proclaims the man.”