Business Dress – Building Your Wardrobe
One of the most rewarding experiences for a professional clothing person is to help a young man develop his first business wardrobe. Through the years, Norton Ditto has assisted thousands of young professionals.
Clothing is an extension of an individual and it communicates images, perceptions, attitudes, and personalities. In other words, your clothing serves as your personal billboard. An old saying states that ” clothing makes the man”. We do not believe clothing alone guarantees success, however, after 90+ years of dressing Houston’s leading businessmen, we know it is an important tool.
Building a business wardrobe is not always the challenge of college graduates but often the task of business and professional veterans.
The purpose of this pamphlet is to assist you in building an attractive, affordable, and flexible wardrobe. To do this there are some ideas that must be considered.
1. What is the nature of the business where you are employed? Finance, law, sales, medical, creative, engineering, construction, or e-commerce?
Each area of business requires consideration regarding an individual’s clothing attire. Obviously businesses such as construction have a varied set of job descriptions. Careers in advertising, architecture, writing, e-commerce and communications can possibly offer environments that lend to a more contemporary atmosphere. However, even within those fields it depends on one’s job description and responsibilities.
Generally people who deal with another person’s money find it advantageous to dress in a manner that promotes seriousness and sincerity.
The same goes for lawyers who might be playing a key role in someone’s affairs. (By the way, dressing seriously does not mean one must look drab.)
On the other hand, it is understood that architects might be more fashion conscious. Therefore it is widely accepted that their attire might reflect some of the latest trends. However, a point to remember is that maintaining good taste is always appropriate and important.
2. In the beginning, with who will you be interfacing? Employees on your same level, senior management, or clients?
The first question is, what kind of job do you have? What type of business will you join? Will you be inside or outside most of the time in the beginning? Will you be in contact with clients or fellow employees? If fellow employees, what level? Does your job require travel? How much?
Whether you need to build a business wardrobe as a recent college grad or a working veteran, there are certain basic rules to follow.
Rule # 1: Flexibility… The vast majority of your clothing purchases should be ” Year Around” and “Day or Night” merchandise.
Year-round: To qualify for that status, the clothing must be lightweight enough to wear 12 months a year. In Houston ask for a garment that is 100% light weight wool.
Wool is a natural fiber and it breathes. Wool is weighted according to ounces, therefore make sure the wool weighs between 8 – 9 1/2 ounces.
In addition to the weight of the suit, to qualify for “Year Around” status, the garment must be a color that can be worn throughout the year. Darker, dressier colors can be worn year around. Lighter colors are restricted to spring and summer. Certain autumn or earth tone shades are limited to the fall season.
Day or Night: Regarding suits and sport coats, it is important that you be able to wear the garments to most day and evening events. To meet this criteria, consideration must be given to the garments’ colors and patterns.
Subtle: Initially, the garments and shirts you purchase need to be reasonably subtle. A suit may be handsome and in good taste but because of the fabric or the pattern it is very distinguishable. Therefore if you wear it on Tuesday and again on Thursday…. everyone will remember.
The first two items to be purchased for a business wardrobe are a solid navy suit and a solid navy blazer, then build your outfits around these two items.
“Clothing is an extension of an individual and it communicates images, perceptions, attitudes, and personalities. In other words, your clothing serves as your personal billboard.”