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How much do your surroundings affect your dress?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I found this site as I had decided to start dressing better. A few google searches later, here I am. I've learned a great deal, and just in the few weeks I've been reading here my standard of dress has dramatically improved. As I'm starting to define my own style though, I'm struggling with how to incorporate my surroundings into the mix. I'm hoping to hear some discussion and throughts from you all to help me sort that out.

Allow me to explain a bit more. I work in the corporate side of the banking industry. Suits are optional for many of us, but roughly 40% of my colleagues regularly wear them. I plan to wear at least a blazer or sportcoat everyday and suits on the days where it's appropriate (meetings, interviews, etc). I'm nearing that mark already. All the higher-ups wear suits or at least jackets at all times so that's why I'm trying to.

While suits are common here, the following are completely unheard of: pocket squares, wingtips, buttoning the jacket, DB suits, nice shoes (meaning quality ones such as Lobb, Church's, Aldens...), bowties, light colored trousers or jackets (even though it gets incredibly hot in NE Texas and SE Oklahoma where we typically do business), linen suits, cotton suites, etc. These are items typically featured and discussed on this site yet I don't see them in my surroundings at all.

I've found that I love wingtips. I have one pair of old J&M Italian wingtips that I rescued from a thrift and restored. Rather anyone else wears them or not, I'm wearing them because I like them a lot. I also button my jacket, which no one else does. My shoes are in good repair and shined which is something no one else seems to do anymore either. Those things get noticed, but they don't stand out too much. A pocket square would stand out, and I'm not sure that it would be in a good way so I've yet to buy or wear one. Same story with bowties, light colors, etc.

So how do things like this affect your choices or do they at all? If you are around many people who wear suits but no one wears a pocket square, would you wear one?

This will ultimately come down to what really works for me, but I'm curious how others approach these things as I'm certain there are plenty of others here in similar surroundings.

Thanks,
D
post #2 of 26
Clothes are a means of communicating with the people around you. There's nothing wrong with wearing a bowtie, or being the only guy wearing a pocket square, but it does send a message. If you are thinking about wearing these things, you should first be sure that that's a message you want to send.
post #3 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Working Stiff View Post
If you are thinking about wearing these things, you should first be sure that that's a message you want to send.

Meaning?
post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Working Stiff View Post
Clothes are a means of communicating with the people around you. There's nothing wrong with wearing a bowtie, or being the only guy wearing a pocket square, but it does send a message. If you are thinking about wearing these things, you should first be sure that that's a message you want to send.

post #5 of 26
It depends on your environment, how much you want to stand out, how much you need to stand out, and if you care about anything inbetween. I sell mens designer clothing for a living, and probably could dress more casually, or certainly tone my look down 2 or 3 notches and still do well. Having said that I really enjoy putting each days outfit together and now can't imagine going back to a boring work field like IT which is what I used to do. Most of the people in your work don't think twice about the way they look. Meaning they are busy with family, careers and what not. You will stand out if you dress a notch, or several above them. I myself have no problem with that. I don't have any interest in owning a 60inch tv or new car, so I can spend much more of my income to my clothing. Your co-workers probably arn't going to start spending even a modest amount (say 300 dollars) on items like pocket squares, cuff links, ties, etc... Dress nicely because it is the thing to do, and take an interest in it as a hobby. If you are late to work everyday, expect to be fired - your bow tie / pocket square isn't going to save you. Your personality or other on the job performance might. Likewise, don't expect an instant promotion based upon appearance either. At the end of the day, you have to be prepared for both the positives and negatives that come with your newly improved appearance.
post #6 of 26
It is quite amazing to me that in any American business office where coat and tie, much less suits, were customarily worn that wingtips would be "unheard of." In past decades they were practically the "standard" shoe of American business dress.

My sense is that the financial industry wants to present a staid, solid, low-key image, so opportunities for dandification may be circumscribed. However, the opportunities for subtle, understated, conservative elegance should be unlimited.

As to the matter of pocket squares, a flamboyant, colorful silken poof on your left breast might be a tad too much for your corporate culture, but an unobtrusively folded linen or cotton square should probably be fine.

Just my $.02.
post #7 of 26
As usual, Will Boehlke answers your question best.
post #8 of 26
When it is 120 degrees outside, you can bet your ass the environment dictates my style.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by dk_ace View Post
buttoning the jacket
As a small aside, but I prefer an unbuttoned jacket. Most of the time I'm sitting down and it keeps the suit from bulging up.
post #10 of 26
the less you worry about it, the less they will.
post #11 of 26
like the others have said it does depend on the message you want to send or what you are trying to achieve with your dresscode

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by tacobender View Post
It depends on your environment, how much you want to stand out, how much you need to stand out, and if you care about anything inbetween.

I sell mens designer clothing for a living, and probably could dress more casually, or certainly tone my look down 2 or 3 notches and still do well. Having said that I really enjoy putting each days outfit together and now can't imagine going back to a boring work field like IT which is what I used to do.

Most of the people in your work don't think twice about the way they look. Meaning they are busy with family, careers and what not. You will stand out if you dress a notch, or several above them. I myself have no problem with that. I don't have any interest in owning a 60inch tv or new car, so I can spend much more of my income to my clothing. Your co-workers probably arn't going to start spending even a modest amount (say 300 dollars) on items like pocket squares, cuff links, ties, etc...

Dress nicely because it is the thing to do, and take an interest in it as a hobby. If you are late to work everyday, expect to be fired - your bow tie / pocket square isn't going to save you. Your personality or other on the job performance might. Likewise, don't expect an instant promotion based upon appearance either.

At the end of the day, you have to be prepared for both the positives and negatives that come with your newly improved appearance.

+1. I'll be damned if I "tone it down" to help the clueless and malicious coworkers feel better about being slobs. OTOH, a couple guys cranked it up a notch. Wonder if someone else doing it finally allowed them to do it too?
post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by dk_ace View Post
While suits are common here, the following are completely unheard of: pocket squares, wingtips, buttoning the jacket, DB suits, nice shoes (meaning quality ones such as Lobb, Church's, Aldens...),
Those are very expensive shoes(probably £500-£1000 GBP a pair). I seriously doubt they'd be common anywhere, except maybe Beverly Hills, Los Angeles or Mayfair, London. The style of a suit is very much a fashion thing. In the '80s and '90s DB suits where extremely common, and they'll most likely be common again in another 10-20 years. The only people who appear to wear suits around here are with the Communist Party of China, or they work in a bank. Mao suits are still fairly popular though with the older generation. Sufficed to say, I don't wear a suit of either type.
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Working Stiff View Post
Clothes are a means of communicating with the people around you. There's nothing wrong with wearing a bowtie, or being the only guy wearing a pocket square, but it does send a message. If you are thinking about wearing these things, you should first be sure that that's a message you want to send.

+1.

A bowtie certainly sends a message. I see a guy with a bowtie and I think that either it is a dandy, or he has no idea, depends on who it is and the rest of the outfit.

And when it is about your job, you have to be careful about sending messages.

I sometimes put a hankerchief into by breast pocket, but no fancy folds. And even so I get comments. I am in a senior position and have a good relation to boss and co-workers, so I feel OK doing it, but I would not do it the first day on my new job, especially not if being more towards the junior end. I would move carefully.
post #15 of 26
Since I've stepped up my game a couple of years ago, it HAS been noticed - even though I work in a suited environment. While a subject of some good natured kidding, I've noticed that about a half-dozen colleagues have taken my lead and similarly stepped-up their game as well with better fitting suits, pocket squares, and more sophisticated shirt-tie-suit combos. One good dresser can have a lot of impact by showing others not only how it's done but that it can be done without becoming a social outcast. And most importantly, I've shown that the uber-boss will appreciate a staffer who can dress well - an important cue for many.
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