You have to do it well without overdoing it. Just like your words, your style must convey control, ease, simplicity but without arrogance or superficiality.
Being clearly less well dressed than the person in front of you is a mistake. As is being much better dressed. You have to play it equal. You’ve got to look like him.
In a classic business environment the natural choice is a plain weave suit in grey or navy with no frills. Add a sky blue or stripy white shirt (a plain white shirt is too formal) and a dark tie (navy if your suit is grey, grey if your suit is navy).
Avoid cufflinks, pocket squares, gold watches and any other stockbroker accessories if possible. You’re not the boss yet, even though you undoubtedly will be.
In the meantime carefully polish your shoes. It’s said that recruiters are very attentive to applicants’ shoes. And we think that’s probably true.
First days in the office
Look around you. Observe the customs and the suits of the company. Who’s wearing the tie? The boss, the executives, everyone? Who’s wearing jeans ? Nobody? Your new work colleagues will be observing you too and won’t hesitate to point out any sartorial mishaps.
Learn the codes and put them into practise. But don’t trip into any prevailing bad tastes. Do most of your colleagues wear a black suit? A black suit is not a work suit, don’t go there.
Some of them like matching tie, shirt and even a pocket square? You’re worth more than that. Lots of them wear their tie casually loose trying to look cool? You don’t need to give yourself any airs.
You are cool. Your sky blue or pinstripe or checked shirts are cool. Your silk knitted ties are cool. Your jeans, perfectly cut and wholly correct with a textured jacket in flannel or tweed, are cool. Your beige or navy chinos are cool, for the summer.
And once the preliminaries are over, everyone will have noticed.
It’s not going to be easy changing in the office toilets just before going out to lunch. So in the morning between throwing back your coffee and hunting for your phone (have you looked under the sofa cushions?) take care how you dress.
And ask yourself the right questions. Where are you eating? In a café, an upscale restaurant, that trendy new bistro? And more importantly who are you eating with? A woman, a man? A client that needs to be seduced? Or a supplier whose prices you want to lower? If you want to seduce, pull out all the stops. Show them that business is good. After all they only lend to the rich… A suit with two buttons, white shirt, silk tie, cufflinks, pocket square. Seriously, go for it. However if you want prices lowered then do the opposite, go minimal. Zero accessories, even forget the tie. If the suit is creased that’s even better. For once. Take that heavy watch off your wrist. And make sure your tan lines don’t give the game away…
Lunch at the club
Unlike a business lunch, lunch at the club is a moment of down-time between colleagues. Take the same attitude with your attire. Enjoy. Relax.
The simplest option is taking off your tie, losing the jacket and rolling up your shirt sleeves. But it’s not impossible either to think of your day’s outfit in relation to this lunch. Especially if it’s on a Friday.
Move away from the suit and, during winter months, slip on a textured jacket in flannel or tweed, and wear it with a well-cut pair of jeans. A round-neck sweater and Oxford shirt underneath will do nicely if it’s really cold. The shoes could be in suede.
For summer put on a deconstructed and unlined jacket in cotton and wear it with a pair of beige or navy chinos. Or white jeans if you dare. Complete the look with a polo or chambray shirt. Slide your sunglasses into the breast pocket of your jacket… You won’t be back at your desk before 4pm, that’s for sure.