Selecting the best wardrobe for a networking event might be an afterthought or add an extra layer of stress if you're already nervous. The correct outfit is one part message, one part comfort and can vary based on the venue and purpose. So even if business casual is de rigueur is your line of work, it's important to consider the following tips:
Examples arranged from dressy to casual. Captions viewable on tablet & PC.
Where are you going? A tech conference invites a different level of formality that would be out of place at a financial convention.
Are you attending as a presenter, sponsor, or guest? Are you hosting other attendees? Where are you sitting?
'Dress to Impress' is a great tip, but you don't want to put a wall between you and your audience.
Remember you'll probably be sitting a good bit, so you'll want to wear clothing that has a little bit of give to keep you comfortable and focused on the speaker. Conference rooms often run cold so a blazer or dressy V-neck sweater will keep you warm and help you look great. Lastly, don't forget to pick good shoes that are comfortable for lots of walking without appearing too orthotic or casual.
If you feel comfortable, you'll look and sound comfortable ultimately reinforcing your confidence. Happy networking!
Club Monaco Key Case ($29.50) Capital Eyewear Morgan Sunglasses ($145) Hermès Silk Tie Scarf ($230) Rancourt & Co. Espresso Shell Cordovan Belt ($205) Saddleback Leather Briefcase ($568) Gant Rugger Wool Herringbone Trousers ($295) Jack Spade Grady Oxford Shirt ($128) Kiton Navy Blazer ($6,495) Edward Green Oundle Shell Cordovan Monkstraps ($MTO) Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Automatic ($14,500) Barbour International Waxed Cotton Jacket ($449)
As many of you know, I'm very anti-ironing because of what it does to your clothes (click here to find out). But if you're still wanting to iron because, maybe, you're stuck in a discount hotel room without a steamer, here is a great video from GQ on how to make ironing as painless as possible.
Now go forth and buy a steamer:
Videos like this remind us that, unfortunately, appearances can make all the difference.
Joshua Davis is a full time image and lifestyle coach helping clients take control of their image as a tool for good communication.
Clients and blog readers alike will be familiar with my propensity to spend a little more on something that I know will last a long time like the $650 shell cordovan shoes that last 50 years. In terms of cost-per-wear, that's a heck of a payoff. But like anything that stands the test of time, shoes need some maintenance to get your money's worth.
The job of polish is twofold: (1) it covers blemishes on the shoe and makes it shine and (2) it lubricates the leather. In the same way you have to treat and care for your leather seats, your shoes need some TLC to prevent them from drying out over time.
Cedar Shoe Trees
Shoe trees are amazingly important in caring for your shoes. The wood absorbs excess moisture that can rot the stitching or cause fungal/bacterial odors. The cedar smell also serves as a deterrent to would-be bugs and pests.
You're going to want a genuine horsehair brush to remove the polish and heat up the leather. A good lint-free cloth is also an asset, especially when applying Rénovateur and cordovan care cream.
Hands down one of the industry's best leather treatments, this pigment-free renovation cream is made from a mink oil and beeswax base that is great for moisturizing and repairing even the most difficult pull-up leathers like chromexcel.
How to Strip Polish Off Leather
In the event that you get a little too carried away with your polishing, isopropyl rubbing alcohol is a great tool for removing everything down to the bare leather. I had to do this after applying too much cordovan care cream and it took me a couple hours. Take every precaution to go slowly as the last thing you want to do is damage the leather.
Heel and Sole
As you walk you may notice the edges of the sole will get scuffed by curbs and debris. Allen Edmonds Heel & Sole is a great solution to re-dying the rim back to a factory finish.
Shell cordovan is one of the easiest materials to maintain and can really take a beating, but it's still important to take care of heirloom quality goods. Cordovan shoes don't really need to be polished like calf skin shoes, but when they get scuffed you'll want to spot treat them with some cordovan care cream. You'll also want to make a habit of brushing the shoes about once a week--the heat build up will release the oils of this naturally lubricating leather.
Joshua Davis is a full time image and lifestyle coach helping clients take control of their image as a tool for good communication.
A few years ago I was traveling in Ukraine and pressing a dress shirt in my host's house as she turned the corner. She watched me for a moment and then thrust her open hands my direction, insisting with thick Russian accent, "Give to me; I do for you."
Apparently I am terribly slow at ironing, which is laughable considering my profession. I learned how to iron in the Young Marines when our uniforms had to be pressed for inspection and I guess I never lost the attention to detail. But when I got fed up spending 10 minutes to press a single shirt I went in search of a better way.
I started with a cheap Homedics steamer purely as a way to save time but I eventually stumbled across an article from Jiffy that completely changed the reason I steam. Just read what they have to say:
Your clothes are an investment. Don't you want to apply the safest, gentlest method for removing wrinkles?
To determine which method of removing wrinkles is the better option for fabric care, steaming and ironing were put to the test.
Two identical 6" x 6" squares of black wool were purchased from a local fabric store.
We steamed sample "A" for 1 minute with a Model J-2000 Jiffy ® Steamer.
Sample "B" was ironed for 1 minute, on the proper heat setting, with a top-of-the-line residential iron.
We then bagged, labeled, and submitted both samples to MVA Scientific Consultants in Norcross, Georgia for detailed magnification.
The Scanned Electron Microscope (SEM) images show any damage that may have occurred.
The fibers in sample "A" are in near perfect condition due to the gentle nature of steam. However, the fibers in sample "B" are clearly distorted. You can easily recognize the damaged fibers caused by just one application of the iron's hot sole plate.
Unlike ironing, steam actually relaxes the fibers rather than crushing them.
The article certainly appealed to me. My clothes are an investment and my clients' clothes are an investment. Not only do steamers save time, they are actually better for your clothes. Here are a couple I particularly recommend:
- Rowenta IS6200 - The price on this one averages around $99 with free shipping. It has a 60 second start time, which is just long enough to turn it on with an easy foot pedal, pick out your shirt, and turn back around to steam it. It also comes with a handy attachment that allows you to put a crease down your pant leg or flatten a button placket.
- Jiffy J-2000 or J-4000 - Jiffy is the industry leader for commercial steamers. The 2000 is enough for most home use with a two minute boot up and a run time of at least an hour and a half. The 4000 is something I usually only see in high-end boutiques and department stores and gives you an extra thirty minutes of steam. They are both a little more spendy but also more durable if you have kids or pets in the house.
Joshua Davis is a full time image and lifestyle coach helping clients take control of their image as a tool for good communication.
I'm sure you've seen videos of super hydrophobic surfaces making their rounds on social media, most notably NeverWet from Rustoleum, whose video wowed me into hunting down a couple of cans and giving it a go. I image you've experience the frustration of spilling food or maybe a glass of wine on your favorite shirt only to find that no dry cleaner in the world can remove the stain. I've killed Burberry shirts and Galliano pants and even a pair of blue suede shoes so I was pretty eager to curb my destructive ways.
I hopped online and ordered the mystical spray. It arrived as a two can set--a base layer and a top coat, with some pretty exacting directions for application. I liked the standing water demo in their video so I grabbed a piece of cardboard and followed their directions, meticulously. I waited the requisite drying time and was amazed to see water cascade off my tester. Now armed with confidence, I grabbed a couple different garments (like the video) and began applying the base coat to a pair of Fisk shoes, my Senz Umbrella and an Armani Jeans jacket I liked to wear when the weather was bad.
I applied the base coat and was immediately apprehensive--it looked like there was a milky white layer over the khaki shoes, red umbrella, and black jacket. I thought it may be an issue of drying time, or that the top coat would react and render the solution clear, but man was I wrong.
I didn't notice in the video, until I re-watched it later, that they only ever applied their product to white garments. In the bit where the guy sprays mustard on himself, he is wearing a white t-shirt, white pants and white shoes! I initially thought that was to illustrate the contrast of the bright yellow mustard--but I've since realized it's because the NeverWet turns everything white. Rewind to the cardboard demo and you'll even see what looks like white frosting around the edges. I thought nothing of it at the time.
So now I have a milky whitish pair of shoes, a light red umbrella, and a dingy Armani jacket. And the worst part--aside from how the clothes feel with the solution applied--is that the solution doesn't really work. I was meticulous about applying both coats evenly and from the correct distance but when I drip water on the surface, the liquid finds any gap in the protection, seeps into the fabric and then spreads underneath the NeverWet solution effectively discoloring the product.
While I usually promote items on this blog I wanted to offer a word of warning--don't buy NeverWet for your clothes. And for the price, don't buy it for your cardboard boxes either...just go buy a cooler.
Notes: Home Depot provided a full refund for the product. This guy had more luck applying NeverWet, though still on white shoes, and gets the credit for the thumbnail photo.
I was walking through Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris a few years ago when my carry-on bag split down the middle dumping the entire contents on the terminal floor. For onlookers it was surely a comedic mishap...how does a bag split right down the middle?
The TSA may still be the bane of your travels but here are some bags that can stand up to the punishment of a guy on the go. A good bag should (1) last you a long time #lifetime (2) look good and (3) be realistic for your own travels.
Rimowa - Founded in 1898 they certainly have been around a long time. They were one of the first to launch a waterproof aluminum case in the 60s and in 2000 they debuted the industry's first polycarbonate luggage. I can attest from personal experience and expert reviews that polycarbonate is the holy grail of indestructible luggage. This will last you a long time and is nondescript enough to avoid attention in an airport yet classy enough to roll in any hotel. Plus it will stand up to baggage handlers and bellhops alike.
Tumi - A very popular brand in modern travel, Tumi has successfully aligned themselves with the frequent flyer. They are the entry luggage for people that want durability and style. And with a broad range of leather and polycarbonate they can meet almost any need from daily carry messenger bags to train cases that match your private jet decor.
Saddleback - If your path isn't always paved, you may require something a little more rugged like a handcrafted bag from Saddleback Leather. I've mentioned these guys before in Blog: The Basics of Leather. Their bags are unique because they focus on using as few individual pieces as possible, which leaves less room for weak points in seams and closures. In addition to their meticulous design, they only use full grain leather so you'll have a bag that can go pretty much everywhere. While these bags aren't necessarily as convenient as the wheeled versions from Tumi and Rimowa, they do come with a 100 year warranty so you'll only have to buy it once.
Those are my top three picks for quality luggage. There are a few other brands that, while nice, don't meet all 3 criteria (longevity, aesthetics, and realistic). They are listed below:
- Titan - A real competitor to RIMOWA in the polycarbonate hardshell luggage but increasingly difficult to find as their USA division recently closed and is no longer honoring their warranties. You can still find these in Germany from the original manufacturer.
- Hermès - We all know the Birkin and the Kelly but Hermès also makes some very attractive luggage for both men and women. Unfortunately it fails the 'realistic' test at $10,000 per bag.
- Hartmann - I used to love Hartmann and saw them as every bit the competitor to Tumi, but they were recently acquired by Samsonite and now I'm holding my breath to see how that will affect the brand. I do have one of their older pieces and love it.
- Ghurka - These bags are beautiful in their own right but were displaced on my list by Saddleback. The quality level of Ghurka is probably comparable but their higher price point and lackluster warranty demoted them to this lesser list.
- Bosca - I admit that I don't have much hands-on time with Bosca and I included them on this list solely because of their overwhelming popularity in the marketplace. From my limited exposure I've always found the brand to feel cheap and overpriced, especially when compared to some of the other options in this post. My advise--if you're looking for bags and you're looking at Bosca, keep looking. You may find something else you like a whole lot more.
The most detrimental issue for the majority of men is poor fit. Their clothes sag off of them like hand-me-downs and create the perception that they are insignificant. While nothing is further from the truth, the problems with your clothes are almost always seen as problems with you--your clothes may be too big, but you'll look too small.
When you're out shopping for a new shirt or blazer, the first areas to check for good fit are the shoulders (yoke) and chest. On a man's garment, many things can be altered by a skilled tailor but the yoke and the chest shape the item and usually can't be changed. There is often an in-house ratio for the neck size to yoke and varies by brand. Be sure you can button the collar and still be able to slip two finger flush between your neck and the band.
For a shirt, good fit finds the seam attaching the sleeve to the body atop the outer point of your Acromion (see diagram). Likewise, a good check for blazers is to have a friend place their hands flat on the outside of your biceps and then move their hands up toward your shoulders. If, in this process, the shoulder padding of the blazer is lifted by their hands' motion, the coat is likely too big. In some modern ready-to-wear brands men are coaxed into buying clothes too small. If there is a noticeable dimple between the top of your bicep and the edge of the shoulder padding, the coat is probably too small.
Another feature of good fit is a raised or higher arm hole. This refers to the size of the opening at the attachment of the sleeve to the body and shapes the size of the rest of the arm as well as the mobility of the jacket. Possibly contrary to intuition, a higher arm hole is more comfortable for most guys because it mirrors the body's natural shape and allows for a freedom of movement that does not require the rest of the coat to bend and contort whenever you move your arms.
Contour is an increasingly popular element in men's formalwear as Italian style shapes American fashion. A great coat helps you look fit...even when it's not exactly true. The contour at the natural waist line is part of the visual effect that helps you appear tall and strong. I also prefer a double vent on both my blazers and suits--this type of opening creates good contour from the front and side profiles that is maintained while walking and sitting whether the coat is worn open or buttoned.
Waist and rise of the pants should coordinate with the cut of the coat. If the blazer is slim, choosing baggy pants will make your torso look awkwardly small and vice-versa. The coat is, by far, the harder garment to fit. Once you find someone (preferably us) that can help you get into a good jacket, the pants really are a simple addition.
While there are many, many more details that factor into a good suit, these are some of the basics that will help you begin to see fit in a whole new light and hopefully prompt you to pay a little more attention in selecting your next suit.
Congratulations to Jonathan M. for winning the Free Closet Edit Giveaway!
Contestants that did not win are eligible for a 10% discount on all services through the month of May!
Get ready for the warm weather with a free giveaway! Enter to win a Closet Edit worth $300!
We will send a personal stylist to your home who will help you sort through your clothes and give style tips on what to wear. All you have to do is sit back and enter the contest!
We've talked a little bit in previous articles that skin-colored undershirts, though not ground breaking for fashion, are relatively new to men's wear and a huge asset to the business wardrobe. Normal t-shirts are uncomfortable under well tailored dress shirts and cause unsightly shadows under white buttons-up around the collar and bicep. To our salvation emerged Mr. Davis (no relation to me) and Sloane Men undershirts. We reached out to both companies and have tested their shirts extensively over the past few months so I present to you our findings. Both companies provided free samples in each size and color for an even analysis.
Mr. Davis - I'm a big fan of bamboo and viscose in general because the fabric is breathable, soft and long-lasting. In terms of cost-per-wear bamboo goes the distance and is a great investment. When I first put this shirt on I was very excited about the look and fit...my issues began after I was fully dressed and had left my house (and my ability to ditch the shirt). The biggest problem is the raglan sleeve construction. Note how the Mr. Davis shirt does not have a shoulder seam but rather has an extended portion of the sleeve that attaches near the collar, running the length of the shoulder and the down the arm. Initially I was pretty exceited about it as I expected it to look smoother under my dress shirt...while in reality it caused the undershirt sleeve to perpetually slide up and into by armpit. I felt like I was fighting with the shirt all day long. No matter how much I pulled the sleeves down they inevitably encroached on my comfort and I happily removed the shirt at the end of the day. This was not an isolated incident--I tried wearing the shirt on many occasions and in a couple different sizes with same result.
Sloane Men - I've long been a proponent of modal fabric for undergarments of all kinds. It is softer and lighter than viscose and a magical experience in comfort. The only problem with modal is its longevity; I've yet to see a modal shirt that retains its visual integrity regardless of the manufacturer past 4 or 5 washes. Moving beyond the fabric choice this is the single most comfortable shirt I own. The construction opposes the Mr. Davis with a "set in" sleeve, which is the construction you are most familiar with in your standard shoulder seam shirt. The sleeves are intentionally long enough to prevent them from riding up and the hem is long enough to stay tucked in. I also enjoy having three color options for me and my clients. Being blessed with pasty white Russian/Irish skin I have to wear the "sand" color to fully utilize the invisible benefits...the "scotch" shows a little too much.
Analysis - I highly prefer the Sloane Men over the Mr. Davis undershirt. In terms of comfort and actually being "invisible" under a white dress shirt, Sloane Men seals the deal. I almost always disagree with one-size-fits-all type products and I certainly think Mr. Davis is underserving a large portion of their clientele, namely their black or African-Amerian buyer. However, in term of quality and longevity I think Mr. Davis is spot on with their use of bamboo. The modal alternative is luxurious but a bit of indulgence if you're counting your dollars.
It's almost time to start packing away your winter clothes until the next snowpocalypse. If you have a section in your closet for winter wear, use this guide to hang your sweaters and avoid the dreaded shoulder bumps that just make you look ridiculous.
Because you've probably been doing it wrong your entire life Terry Moore is here to teach you how to tie your shoes. His knot is stronger and looks better. It's a simple lifehack that will leave you wondering why you didn't learn this sooner.
Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions. -Coco Chanel
If your coat is too long, people will think you are too short. Your clothes are at fault, but you'll always get the blame.
First, the easy part:
You basically have two sections to clothe...your legs and torso. A few other things will factor in like hair and shoes but we'll get to those in a moment. If your legs look too long then your torso may look oddly short or you'll look very lanky. The reverse is also true where a long torso will shorten your legs, forcing you to look squatty and top heavy.
So that's the basic idea: find an even 50/50 ratio between your legs and torso so that you'll look balanced and taller. Since most other men are so poorly dressed not only will you look generally better, your proportioned outfit will correlatively add that much more to your stature.
Where it can go wrong:
1. Hair - Your clothes build a shape and the hair finishes it off. If you look unkempt above the collar it doesn't much matter what you wear, people aren't going to be thinking about your clothes. But more than that--the shape of your hair can counterbalance an overly round face and add symmetry to your presentation. Don't discount the importance of a good hair dresser who can make valuable recommendations about your hairstyle that don't rely on the latest fad.
2. Collar - There are two basic kinds of collars: point and spread. Use these shapes beneath your face to add symmetry (just like your hair on top). If you have the round pizza face, consider using a point collar to add some length and, conversely, a long face will benefit from the spread collar to open up your presentation.
3. Tie & Lapels - Proportions are horizontal as well as vertical. It seems like most ties out there are too wide for the men who wear them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not an advocate of the ultra skinny tie or the bolo, but I do think that the size of the tie should be proportional to the size of the man. If a slim guy wears the normal 3.5"-4" tie it looks like a long bib. Try to find even proportions between the width of your lapel and the width of your tie. That way there will be some evenness side to side (Lapel-Shirt-Tie-Shirt-Lapel) and just avoid items very slim or very big.
4. Sleeves - Length is key. You don't want your sleeves bunching around your wrist (where you'll be perceived too short) and neither do you want your wrists to show (where you'll be perceived too lanky). Remember what I said earlier about your clothes being at fault but you bearing the blame? This is a great example about people perceiving you a certain way even though it may not be true. If you're wearing a blazer, aim for 1/4"-1/2" of cuff to show. Less is conservative and more is fashion forward.
5. Pant rise - Simply stated, this is how high you wear your pants. Dad jeans that encroach on the navel aren't bad just by association--they give you a long abdominal pannus that unnecessarily cuts your body in half with a very short torso. And they make your butt look flat.
6. Pants break - When you go to the tailor or buy a new pair of pants and they ask you what kind of "break" you want you'll now be empowered to make that decision confidently. You want a slight break. What does this mean? The break is the amount of fabric bunched up at your ankles. If there is a lot of fabric, you'll look like you're wearing your dad's pants and you'll look hopelessly short. On the other hand, if you ask for no break you'll get a very clean line that looks great!...until you walk around and your pants start riding up your legs like you're scared of the nearest puddle. A slight break (or quarter break) is literally a small break in the ironed crease down the front of your trousers that enables you to live in a 3-dimensional world with pants that look like they actually fit. Oh...and no cuffs. That's only for the tall guys.
7. Shoes - Throw away any shoes in the closet that have a flat toe. You've worked so hard getting to this moment: you've fixed your hair, bought a suit with the right length, picked out a tie of appropriate width and argued with the tailor who thinks you need need a full break, cuffed pant. Don't throw all that away on shoes that aggressively punctuate the end of your silhouette. Shoes should have a round toe that help you taper off and yet again extend your height. The shoes don't have to have a European elf-point flair, they just need to be round enough to be a seamless end to the bottom of your well appointed stature.
Love thy neighbor - and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier. -Mae West
Men want to be taller. You can read the statistics in the previous post where we talked about three ways to make up the inches: Color, Proportions, and Fit. There is a lot of crossover between the three but color is certainly one of the easiest to master...just wear black.
I'm sort of kidding; I don't want you to go all Johnny Cash on us but there are some strategic advantages to darker colors. When you want to brighten up a room and make it look more spacious, you paint it a light color. Most people don't want to make their midsection look more spacious so wearing a darker color is going to minimize the overall impact of the area you're looking to hide. But how does this make you look taller?
Because darker areas look slimmer they also elongate. Take a look at this optical illusion. Does the figure appear taller on the left or the right?
Yes, I know it's an easy one but the image does a great job illustrating how effective darker colors can be.
Dark colors draw long lines on your body that the eye perceives to be longer than an equal line of a lighter color. So while this picture shows how a dress might make a woman taller, the same is true for men if they wear darker jeans instead of lighter ones. Couple that with a darker shirt or jacket and you look that much taller.
The longer the line is, the better. This is why people always warn about wearing horizontal stripes. Not only do they draw lines across your body, letting us know just how wide you are, they also create contrast against your height making you look that much shorter.
For more optical illusions that can enable your wardrobe, head over to Bridgette Raes' site for a more in-depth read or to the BBC to understand the "Helmholtz Irradiation Illusion" that provides the scientific backing for the 'black is slimming' theory.
Great leaders loom larger than life and women love taller men...Tall, Dark and Handsome as the saying goes.
The top 50 CEOs average just over 6 feet and 71% of women in a recent survey say their ideal partner could be as tall as 6' 6" while the average man still hovers around 5' 10". So how to make up the difference?
There are 3 main ways to look taller. I will outline them in this post and plunge into detail over the next several days.
Color is one of the easiest ways to change the way you look. Solid colors, especially monochromatic colors like gray and black, can help you extend long visual lines. If there is a drastic color change between your shirt and pants it can unnaturally segment your body causing you to look shorter.
No one really wants to look top heavy or lanky. Creating a balance between torso and legs, together with complimenting colors, can serve to give you a taller silhouette particularly during first impressions. This can include everything from where you wear your pants to the placement of buttons on your blazer.
The most detrimental issue for the majority of men is poor fit. Their clothes sag off of them like hand-me-downs and create the perception they are insignificant. While nothing is further from the truth, the problems with your clothes are almost always seen as problems with you--your clothes aren't too big, rather you're too small.
Whether you're buying a leather couch or a leather bag, read this quick tutorial and know what you're getting.
4 Basic Kinds of Leather
This is the best of the best. Taken from the strongest part of the hide where the fibers are tightly interlocked. There will be visible exterior scaring adding to its character.
Split from the top layer of the hide to mask external blemishes, it sacrifices some strength in favor of aesthetic texture. Beautiful but not as strong.
The third tier of leather, this is the leftover portion with horizontal fibers that can separate more easily. Best used as a lining where no real stress will occur.
This is the pressboard of leather, where the leftover scraps from shavings are glued together in a process similar to vinyl production. Cheap and to be avoided.
I was annoyed learning that "genuine" leather was so far down the totem pole, and more pissed off that "Made with Genuine Leather" could simply mean vinyl with a leather trim. That's why it's important to do your research and know your vendor. Companies like Saddleback Leather only use the best full grain leather and they are damn proud. Their bags are also expensive and rightly so - if it means I only have to buy it once in a lifetime. It's important to invest in things you'll enjoy owning and will stand the test of time.