Fashion Friday: For the MEN

Posted on October 23rd, 2009 by

Having to build a man’s work wardrobe is both a blessing and a curse.  The bad news is that it can be deceptively simple – you still need to pay attention to the details or it can go awry.  On the bright side, once you nail down the basics, you are impervious to fashion pitfalls – Nearly all of a guy’s wardrobe is timeless, so you can wear these pieces until they fall apart and you’ll look great all the while!
When you accept your internship or job offer check your closet, you probably already have several of these items.  However, you still might want to upgrade if the fit is made more for a high schooler than a professional.
Here are your 10 essential work items:

1) A White Button-down Shirt.  Yes, this one needs to be white.  Make sure it fits you correctly in the shoulders and is a good length for tucking in.  The easiest way to make sure the fit is dead on is to go to a nice store, try it on and ask the employee working the fitting rooms whether it looks right or not.  They are (or should be) well trained to spot imperfections in size you might gloss over.  (Side note: I was just buying a suit with my husband and a sales person had him try a size two smaller than what we were about to purchase – It was SO much better, and we had liked the first version.  They know their stuff!)

2) Khakis.  They should be a straight-leg, non-distressed pair.  And absolutely no pleats!  You’ll wear these constantly – Khakis can easily travel from a early morning meeting over coffee to a late night happy hour.

3) V-Neck Sweater.  The V-neck makes this much more polished and put-together than its crewneck counterpart.  Layer the white button-down underneath, or just a crewneck tee depending on the formality of your job.  A light v-neck sweater can also look fantastic under a suit for a fresher look.

4) A Nice Watch.  The only accessory you will need!  I love watch shopping, there are so many great options out there.  Buy one with a silver band and a solid face – the shape and style are up to you.  Avoid “novelty” watches (calculator watch anyone?) or ones with an old-school canvas band.  You will easily find one that will go from the office to the weekend. 

5) A Pea Coat or Trench.  Put away the North Face fleece and invest in a stream-lined winter coat.  This is often the hardest one for guys, but it must be done eventually.  There are lots of “manly,” cool pea coats or trenches out there, just start looking.  Think of how much better you will feel when you are wearing your nicest dress pants, button-down, and tie and don’t have to reach for a bulky nylon parka – You’re an adult now!

6) Black Loafers.  A more rounded toe and a leather sole will dress the shoe down enough that you can wear it after hours.  While you’re at it, buy a black belt too!  The shoes and belt MUST match.


7) Dark-Colored Suit.  The sales person really comes in handy here.  I strongly suggest starting out at a Banana Republic, J. Crew or similar store and trying on one of their suits.  Ask the sales person to help you find one that fits you best, and to describe to you why it works.  The sales people know how to dress a twenty-something and you will know what looks good as you continue shopping.  There is a definitive “A-Ha!” moment when you finally step into a correctly fitting suit – You will no longer feel like you’re getting ready for a choir concert or Homecoming dance, but like you are set to take on the world!  Trust me, you’ll just know it.

8) Sold Silk Tie.  Simple, classic and you can’t mess it up.  Avoid patterns until you get your workplace bearings, and even then you might prefer a solid tie – I do.

9) French Cuff Shirt.  These are fun, and add some punch to your basic pants and dress shirt wardrobe.  The sleeves should be longer than a regular button-down.  The best part though? ….

10) Cuff Links.  Yay!  Monogrammed one are always a mainstay, but there are plenty of other choices: Sailor knots, barbells, etc.  This small piece can bring out your personality.

Whew!  In the end, make sure everything is stream-lined, fits you well, and that there are no pleats in sight – You can’t go too wrong 🙂


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