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Dressing to your income level

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
So, here's a question: you're a new employee at some business (make one up), paid $60k a year. Everyone knows you're new, and will have a good idea of what your income level is. However, for one reason or another, you already have a closet of ultra-high-quality suits - Oxxford, Kiton, whatever. Maybe you had a lot of free income in college, maybe you have a trust fund, whatever. Would you wear those suits to work, despite the fact that they're normally out of reach for someone of your income level? Risk being seen as a spendthrift, or a peacock, or so on? I wouldn't - I think it'd project the wrong image, in almost any business environment. You can dress well, and appropriately, in less beautiful clothing. What do you think?
post #2 of 41
On the one hand, I think you're right about the image you'll project. On the other hand, you'll have a closet full of great clothing that you can't wear until you make partner. (What are you going to do: put on the Kiton suit to go bowling on the weekends?) I think I'd try to slowly adjust my wardrobe over time after I'd started, working in better and better stuff as I became more firmly entrenched and people got to know (and, hopefully, like) me better. By the time I'd "confessed" that I'm "a bit of a dandy," my coworkers ought to be able to deal with it. Then again, if my boss wears a Brooks Bros. sack suit, he might never get over seeing me in my Oxxford. So, I suppose one would want to play it by ear.
post #3 of 41
I think the bottom line is to dress appropriately. Not necessarily to your income level, but to the office environment. It came up in another thread, but not everyone can tell an Oxxford from a $200 house label special - though I'm sure everyone can tell quality, you may be just labelled as a "fashionista". To pull off a look, you have to have the right attitude, and if that makes you a pretentious peacock... yeah, I'd say it's inappropriate. Also depends on the level of politics in your office... if these little things are going to lead to bigger things, better dress down, or at least go in with your eyes open. (Of course, I don't specifically mean "you" by you... Case in point: I know a few badly dressed peacocks out there. Years ago I worked in an entry level position at a large management consulting firm. The dress was "business casual" (as were most companies at the time) and one of my colleagues started out wearing clothes that would have made Payne Stewart (or Jesper Parnevik) cringe. Not that they were cheap, or even super expensive (though I do remember designer labels being flaunted) but this individual was definitely a "peacock", and naturally, did not last long at the job
post #4 of 41
As a new employee, you are trying to impress on your co-workers and superiors that you are hard-working, intelligent, and diligent. Wearing your Brioni suits will impress none of these things. The critical distinction between wearing a respectable, serviciable suit and wearing a Brioni (or the equivalent, or a Schonberger jacket) is that the latter is clearly not part of "doing the job" at hand. It shows that you are thinking of something other than work, at work - never a good thing to tip your boss off about. Apart from the negative connotations associated with male vanity, your interest in high-end clothing is an indulgence - a hobby - and belongs in your private life, not at work. (And yes, I might wear that Kiton suit to the bowling alley, and look quite stylish doing so). If you are established in your career or work in an unconventional setting such as academia, your foibles might be tolerated (I'm wearing blue tinted, angular glasses today, but I'm certainly not going to wear them for the job talk I have to give next week.)
post #5 of 41
Very few people in the real world will see a difference between a Kiton suit (a name they never have heard of) and another maker; a grey suit is a grey suit is a grey suit. It is different if the items shout "designer" from the rooftops. Schonberger or Miyake are probably inappropriate, so will be (in a different way) Versace. By all means, wear your Kiton and Brioni suits, nobody will notice them as something special (shame) but wear them in a nonchalant way, don't accessorize them to fussily, color-coordinated down to the tiniest detail.
post #6 of 41
this is a great question, look forward to seeing the different opinions on this topic. actually, i am in this very boat....i buy all of my clothes at extreme discounts, and choose to spend my money on the best furnishings in the business. so, my closet is full of brioni, kiton, dunhill, borrelli, marinella neckties, etc. however, i do not earn NEARLY the income to buy these things at retail prices. however, on this subject, i think the two things to remember are: 1. the lux tailoring houses make these clothes so that others notice YOU, not the clothing. it makes you look professional and polished, not to mention others won't know the make and model of your clothing unless you work in the clothing business. 2. as i've read in so many books on menswear, you dress for the job you're headed towards, not the job you are in. my 2 cents
post #7 of 41
I suppose if one works in an enviroment of arts, and high culture, the style of dressing wouldn't matter that much. For example if one worked at say, Christies, the Kiton, Oxxford, and such wouldn't be too inapporpriate. Also maybe an art gallery in Soho or another high end street. It all depends on the working enviroment.
post #8 of 41
I work at a large aerospace corp. where business casual has been taken to the extreme. Golf shirts and worn out Dockers are the norm. I wear either dress shirts and ties or suits with no tie. To these people a suit, is a suit, is a suit. Everyday I get two or three compliments on my clothes, but I also hear "How come you're so dressed up"? I agree with one of the previous posts, start out slow and work the quality clothes into your work attire.
post #9 of 41
I feel the Foxx made the best point about wearing high-end suits. Most people don't even know that it is possible to spend +3k on a suit. They've never even heard of Kiton, Brioni, let alone Zegna or Canali. When wearing a Kiton level suit, it won't scream out how expensive it is, while wearing Burberry plaid or Gucci print might. The suit will only make you look more polished, not wealty or pretentious, certainly not a peacock. However, people will notice you look really nice and well put together, but won't be able to put their finger on why. Their last guess will be that your wearing a 2 or $3k hand tailored suit. And, chances are if people do notice you are wearing a $3k Kiton, if they know about, they will be the ones who will appreciate it; just as no one on this board would think your foolish for spending money on the finest tailored goods money can buy.
post #10 of 41
Being noticed at work for personal presentation is a sure way to the top! If you dress well on the worst of days and hold yourself well you will always succeed, if you dress like a dag you wont... IMO - I dress like every day is my last, to the 9's. So beyond what would be expected its not funny. Dress with what you have, the richer you look the more respect you get.
post #11 of 41
If you own them, wear them.

Its only politicians who buy cheaper garments to fool people into thinking that they are 'ordinary'.

Just be yourself.
post #12 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe View Post
Very few people in the real world will see a difference between a Kiton suit (a name they never have heard of) and another maker; a grey suit is a grey suit is a grey suit. It is different if the items shout "designer" from the rooftops. Schonberger or Miyake are probably inappropriate, so will be (in a different way) Versace.

By all means, wear your Kiton and Brioni suits, nobody will notice them as something special (shame) but wear them in a nonchalant way, don't accessorize them to fussily, color-coordinated down to the tiniest detail.

I agree...most members of this forum would not be able to tell the difference much less your average manager in corporate America.
post #13 of 41
This takes the prize for the deepest necro I've seen. Eight and a half years.... dang.
post #14 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by random-adam View Post
This takes the prize for the deepest necro I've seen. Eight and a half years.... dang.

Good refutation that the level of this forum 'only recently' sank. I mean, look at it.
post #15 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by bengal-stripe View Post
Very few people in the real world will see a difference between a Kiton suit (a name they never have heard of) and another maker; a grey suit is a grey suit is a grey suit. It is different if the items shout "designer" from the rooftops. Schonberger or Miyake are probably inappropriate, so will be (in a different way) Versace.

By all means, wear your Kiton and Brioni suits, nobody will notice them as something special (shame) but wear them in a nonchalant way, don't accessorize them to fussily, color-coordinated down to the tiniest detail.

+1
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