Ever heard the saying ‘dress for the job you want, not the job you have’? It may be a cliché but it couldn’t be truer. If you think you are going to get that promotion, dream job or pay rise, wearing cheap nylon pants and a creased T-shirt, think again buster! No matter how impressive your CV, or how good you are at your job, turn up looking like you slept in your shirt just isn’t going to cut the mustard. First impressions really do count and what you wear speaks volumes about your personality type and work ethic. If you dress like you can’t be bothered to make the effort for the job interview, they are going to think that you won’t make the effort doing the job.
In this issue of Life Hacks, I’m going to teach you how to dress like a ‘BOSS!’. Literally and metaphorically speaking. Follow this guide and you’ll be sitting in your corner office with city views in no time.
Suits – Yes, I’m talking the TV show and the actual suit. Our sharp as a tack protagonist Harvey Spectre has raised the bar in the style stakes. We can take a lot of styling tips from Mr Spectre when it comes to the suiting department. Tailoring is cool again and looking dapper will make you stand out from the crowd. I always recommend you wear a suit for a job interview, even for creative industries, or an entry level position. Suiting doesn’t have to be boring just make it personal to you. In an interview, presenting the best version of yourself is key and a suit goes a long way to do that. You don’t have to buy tailor made, you can buy quality suiting off the rack and get it fitted to you. Look for natural fabrics such as wool and cashmere mixes with silk or cotton linings and quality finishes. Steer away from man-made fibres. Try on a few different styles, fabrics and colour palettes to find what really suits you. If a suit is double-breasted fasten all the buttons and if it’s single-breasted with three-buttons, fasten the top two, leaving the last button undone.
Shirt – Buy quality shirts rather than quantity. You can’t beat the quality of brands such as Charles Tyrwhitt and Thomas Pink, but try a few different styles and labels until you find one that fits you perfectly. Aim to have five really good work shirts, so you are organised for the week. Make sure your shirts fit and are neatly ironed. Using good old-fashion spray on starch is a good tip, to keep your shirts sharp (available in the household sections of Coles and Woolies). If you are like me (and most men), you are allergic to ironing you can get shirts laundered and pressed at your local dry cleaners relatively cheaply. Most dry cleaners do specials for 3 or more shirts.
When it comes to colour, I’m not a fan of dark shirts for business. A common style rule is that you should never wear a shirt darker than your tie. Now in the evenings you can wear whatever colour you like, but the workplace is not a nightclub, so don’t look like you’re going to one.
I’ve mentioned this before, but it is so important to make sure your shirts are a good fit. You should be able to fit two fingers between the collar of your shirt and neck. The sleeve cuff should end at your thumb dimple, just above the start of your thumb and below your wrist. And if you raise your arm, you shouldn’t be able to pinch more than 2-4 inches of fabric in the body of the shirt, for a tidy fit.
Tie & Tie bar – A tie will take you from casual to smart in an instant. A great tie is like an exclamation point for your suit, it can really complete an outfit. You don’t have to spend a fortune, you can get great looking ties relatively inexpensively. Select silk or silk blend, medium width ties. The knot is also important, choose carefully, Windsor or Cross knots can look really powerful, but master the basics first. The knot should fill the gap between the collar. When tying your tie, make sure it is not too short or too long. You also shouldn’t be able to see the tail (narrow end of the tie) by tucking it into the label. The tie should not tuck into your belt buckle but should merely just touch it. If you don’t know how to tie a tie properly there are some great step by step tutorials on YouTube, that will guide you through tying the perfect knot. Ties to avoid like the plague, are cartoon, superhero or any novelty tie, neon or crazy patterns, really skinny ties or leather (if you own a leather tie and you’re not a rock star, bin it immediately!) The safest options are dark colours and fine patterns rather than bold. You can accessorise with a tie bar, as this can really complete the look, but steer away from tie chains, as they can look quite dated.
Cuff links – These much-underrated men’s accessories don’t get the credit they deserve. Cuff Links look dapper and really finish off a look. Wear with a French cuff shirt for a stylish and elegant look. Cufflinks are a great way to express your personality and ‘Joie de vivre’ in a subtle, understated and classic way.
Shoes – I’ve seen many men ruin a really put together outfit with bad shoes. They are not an afterthought. Wear proper neat and polished shoes. Stick to the classics, brogues, oxfords or stylish loafers. One of the basic rules of men’s dressing is to, in the same colour palette, match your shoes to your belt. Stick to that advice and you shouldn’t go too wrong (well as long as you don’t wear an orange high vis belt!). Shoes are one of the first things that women look at and you can bet your potential employer or boss will too. There is no point in spending money on a fantastic wardrobe and ruining it with bad shoes. Match your socks to your trousers or black business socks are a safe bet. As with the novelty ties, ban the kitsch socks and never, ever wear white sock and black shoes!
Pocket square – I am a big fan of the pocket square, they have an air of sophistication about them and complete the look. Choose a pocket square that complements your tie rather than matches it. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, as long as it works together. If it is all too overwhelming, choose a crisp white or cream, as that always looks sharp. Fold the square neatly and have it just poking out of the top of your pocket.
Bag or briefcase – If you need a bag or briefcase, make sure it is a quality one. Carrying your stuff in a supermarket plastic bag is not cool and will kill your style. The bag options for men are now endless. Go for a stylish Messenger, Folio or Carryall in a good quality leather or leather look. I am not a fan of the backpack for work, but there are stylish and grown up designer versions around that look great.
Tattoo – Today tattoos are everywhere with members of the police force, doctors, and even university professors sporting the odd inking. As a result, the stigma surrounding body art is waning. But in the work place and especially in a job interview tattoos can be the kiss of death. As bad as it is to say it, many potential employers will make a snap and likely negative decision based on big visible tattoos. So, when you are going for a job interview or starting out with a big firm, it is probably best to cover up your tattoos.
Not a suit kind of job! – Just because your occupation isn’t corporate doesn’t mean you can’t dress like a boss. Remember you’re going to work, not the local pub. Even in more casual working environments such as creative industries if you look around the office, you will notice the managers and directors dress differently to the entry level employees. On the first day at a new office with a ‘smart casual’ dress code, err on the side of caution, it is better to be overdressed than too casual. You can always tone it down as you settle into the role and get to know what is acceptable attire in the office.
The dress code ‘smart casual’ is probably one of the hardest for men to define, but if you stick to a few basics you can still look sharp without looking out of place. A blazer is a great way to smarten up your office wardrobe without looking too formal. Wearing a neatly pressed shirt rather than a t-shirt and a blazer can look great with a pair of jeans and (clean) converse in more relaxed offices. A good quality fine knit or cardigan can look smart in plain rather than crazy patterns. Worn with a shirt, slim fit chinos and a pair of loafers you’ll make smart casual a breeze. Stick to neutral and darker colour palettes such as brown, grey’s, navy and black, or try dark green or burgundy to spice it up. On casual Fridays steer clear of hoodies, tracksuit pants (you’re not on the sofa watching Game of Thrones now!) as well as boardies or combat pants, but I don’t need to say that, right?
Grooming – Once you have your outfit sorted, don’t forget the grooming too. Your wardrobe is important, but don’t spoil a sharp new look, with 5 o’clock shadow and dirty fingernails. Visit the barbers a few days before a big job interview and at work keep it short and neat. If you have long hair, don’t wear it down, tie it back and keep it tidy. Make sure you’re clean shaven, or your beard is neat, not wild. Clean nails and hands.
For more BOSS style inspiration check out Pinterest and Instagram for styling ideas. Look at dapper bosses such as Don Draper, Harvey Spectre, and of course Stephen Handisides 😉 Instagram @shandisides Twitter @shandisides and http://www.modernmalemindset.com/
Stephen Handisides is an international TV presenter, model, journalist and expert on Aesthetic Beauty and Male Grooming. Stephen is the host of the TV show ‘Modern Face of Beauty’ on http://www.filmon.com/tv/my-face-my-body or www.myfacemybody.com/modernfaceofbeauty. He is a regular expert commentator in the UK on ITV’s This Morning, GMTV, Lorraine, OK! TV, Five, Sky News, and BBC radio. Stephen writes for over twenty major newspapers, trade and consumer magazines, with five regular columns focusing on the trends in lifestyle aesthetics and male grooming. He also hosts and produces Sky TV’s MyFaceMyBody and is the brains behind the Global Aesthetic Awards, held in London, LA and Sydney.
Picture credits PerfectlyAttired.co.uk