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Marketing Yourself – Business Fashion is Important!

I could rant (and often do) for hours about the garbage fashion decisions that many professional people make on a daily basis. But, you say, clothes aren’t important, right? People should judge me based on my work.

If you believe that then you also believe that all cars should look like plain white boxes and that customers will make the correct decision based on the performance and reliability of the vehicle.

You and I are plroducts that we are selling every day. To maximize our value we must therefore focus some time and attention on our marketing, i.e. our clothing. That being said, I will offer 4 simple tips that will significantly improve any wardrobe and position your personal brand higher than before.

1. Fit is Everything

The best possible advice I can offer is to go out and find an excellent tailor. Cheap Moores suits can look stellar if cut right, whereas I’ve seen $1500 Zegna suits that hang off shoulders and look like hand-me-downs. Keep in mind, I’m not (and would never) advocate that anyone wear a Moores suit, even as a bathrobe. Find a tailor who knows what he’s doing, have a chat about likes and dislikes, then take him everything you own. You’ll see in the following tips just how cheaply quality clothing can become your fashion staples with the help of a good tailor.

Alfani Suit - $300 at Macy's

Ralph Lauren - $1000+

2. Buy Quality
Quality suits that fit your six specific measurements can be tailored, and tailored again to match your body type specifically. With the knowledge of those measurements in your back pocket, a whole world of inexpensive possibilities opens up. The six to know (in order of importance) are: Shoulder width, chest width, neck size, arm length, waist size, and inseam. Of course, if any of those are significantly irregular for you, then it would jump to the top of your list.

A shirt, pants, blazer or suit that matches your measurements can often be had for a significant price reduction at blowout sales, consignment shops, and especially online. All of the measurements are a bit flexible and can be adjusted down except for the shoulder width. The shoulder measurement is absolutely non-negotiable. Anything else can be cut down, hemmed or taken in but the width is the width of the shoulders. The chest is tough to take in too, but it can be done.

For me, I am a 42r suit with 19″ shoulders. I can buy a suit that has a waist two inches too big, an inseam that is infinitely too long, or sleeves that hang down just a bit, but if it’s a 20″ shoulder I don’t even think twice.

Here’s a perfect example. There’s something just not right about this model. Most people with little suit experience will pick out that he doesn’t look great, but can’t say why. Have a look at his shoulders. The padding extends beyond his natural break, and the rest of the suit falls off of him the same way.


3. Buy Used
There is absolutely nothing wrong with used dress clothing. No one has worn it to bed, it has usually barely been worn at all, and the prices are often 75-90% off retail. Just recently I picked up a Burberry suit off of a forum for $125 that retails at roughly $1500. After a $70 trip to my tailor, it is now one of my two favorite suits. Some of the best places to look are eBay (seriously), local consignment shops like Turnabout on Broadway, and http://www.stlyeforum.net (my personal favorite).

4. Finally, Know Your Colour Spectrum

Matching shirts to suits and ties to shirts is all about colour spectrums and once you get the basics down, you’ll never commit a tragedy such as this:

I’m optimistic that none of us on here would ever imagine rocking a pink and red tie with a yellow-beige shirt, so look at this poor slob as a cautionary tale.

Don’t be afraid of solids. Solid colour ties are easily the most under-used pattern out there. They’re classic, bold and unpretentious. They’re also very easy to work with.

As a general rule, the shirt should always be lighter than the tie. Given that, 2 closely related colours can work together. They can, but I find most incarnations of navy on soft blue, or kelly green on pale green to be a cop out. If in doubt, wear a white shirt. Otherwise, refer to the chart below. Colours that work together are directly across from each other; blue with red, yellow with lavender, etc.

For more on fashion do’s and dont’s, check back or find the fashion forums at style forum (linked above). Always remember though, sometimes the best dressed people are the ones who break all of the rules, and so are the worst.

Rules are For Pussies

  1. January 14, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Men everywhere need to give some serious thought into what makes a well dressed man stand out from the crowd… fit, style, size, quality =soooo important and women, peers etc will notice.

    Another great article to check out is http://www.gq.com/how-to/rest-of-your-life/201001/how-to-become-a-better-man#slide=8

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