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How much do your surroundings affect your dress?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by dk_ace, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. dk_ace

    dk_ace Active Member

    Messages:
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    Feb 16, 2011
    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
     
  2. Working Stiff

    Working Stiff Senior member

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    Toronto
    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.
     
  3. csoukoulis

    csoukoulis Senior member

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    Discovery Bay, CA
    If you are thinking about wearing these things, you should first be sure that that's a message you want to send.

    Meaning?
     
  4. harryx2

    harryx2 Senior member

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    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.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. tacobender

    tacobender Senior member

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    Scottsdale / Las Vegas
    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.
     
  6. JLibourel

    JLibourel Senior member

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    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.
     
  7. J. Cogburn

    J. Cogburn Senior member

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  8. phxlawstudent

    phxlawstudent Senior member

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    When it is 120 degrees outside, you can bet your ass the environment dictates my style.
     
  9. deadly7

    deadly7 Senior member

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    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.
     
  10. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    the less you worry about it, the less they will.
     
  11. twistoffat

    twistoffat Senior member

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    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

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Mr. White

    Mr. White Senior member

    Messages:
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    Jul 9, 2009
    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?
     
  13. MikeDT

    MikeDT Senior member

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    China, Mongolia and UK
    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.
     
  14. epa

    epa Senior member

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    Location:
    Madrid
    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.
     
  15. J. Cogburn

    J. Cogburn Senior member

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    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.
     
  16. The Tall Englishman

    The Tall Englishman Active Member

    Messages:
    27
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2011
    +1.

    I sometimes put a hankerchief into by breast pocket, but no fancy folds. And even so I get comments. I.



    I often put a pocket square in my jacket pockets and no one gives a damn! Still, I enyoy doing it.

    tTE
     
  17. mic

    mic Senior member

    Messages:
    346
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    Aug 4, 2010
    Location:
    New Dork City
    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.

    Very well said.

    There is often a difference in the way we wish to be perceived and the way we actually are perceived. I would take it slow and ask yourself whether a given wadrobe addition will draw negative attention.

    Bowties, suspendered pants, double-breasted suits are going to raise eyebrows. I might work in a bow tie on a special occasion, for example. On the other hand, buttoning your suit (!), wearing a white pocket square in a TV-fold, or working in a nice pair of shoes will probably go (mostly) unnoticed. (No one needs to know your shoes cost $600, and anyway, sharing that information would be crass.)

    Keep in mind that truly dressing well generally means not drawing attention to one's appearance. We reserve that for the females of the species.
     
  18. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I personally care very little if somebody thinks negatively about me based on my clothes. If they do, why do I want to associate myself with that kind of person anyway? Granted, I wear suits 7 days a week and don't look like a slob I still am overdressed in a lot of situations. Overdressing has its negatives in some contexts, but I don't care, it is what I like. I would say that if you are talking about a purple mohawk it is different, but dressing better can only get rid of riff raff and attract more like-minded, useful people. ...or panhandlers and charity volunteers.
     
  19. Master-Classter

    Master-Classter Senior member

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    also keep in mind that what's shown here on this forum is a collection of people/opinions from various environments and lifestyles. It's probably USA centric with a little italian and asian influence... but I see guys rocking gunboat wingtips, seersucker, sack 3R2 suits and bowties and it's a perfect look but completely inappropriate for me, my environment, and my position. What seems to be the accepted norm or even expected 'correct' form of dress on this board is actually a variety of looks, often praised not because they seemlessly blend in but specifically because they stand out. I've bought things that were forum-approved like brightly colored pants or pocket squares but it's totally inappropriate for me and most important, I'M not comfortable. here's a little point from a book on etiquette - the purpose of 'the rules' is to ensure that everyone knows what's expected and they won't find themselves in a position where they're unsure and end up being off the mark. The purpose is to make everyone comfortable because they know what they need to do/wear. Not to say that you should play to the lowest or even common denominator, but dressing up is about self respect and respect for the environment and others that work there. Dressing for what's appropriate in one person's environment (eg the forum standard or the environment of some of the posters) might get you dressing completely inappriopriately for your own environment, and making yourself and others uncomfortable. my advice is to try push your bounds a little (eg wintips) but you might do irreprable damage if you push too far. Suddenly you're the guy with green pants, not the guy who dresses nicely and does good work.
     
  20. w.o.e.is.me.

    w.o.e.is.me. Senior member

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    Suddenly you're the guy with green pants, not the guy who dresses nicely and does good work.

    ...i'm wearing green pants today.[​IMG]
     

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