A Man’s Guide to Building a Business Wardrobe

by Rachel Yeomans | January 27th, 2010   
By Grant Harris

Congratulations, you’ve landed your first job or the promotion you’ve been wanting the last five years. Now it’s on to the first day on the job or your new corner office on the 44th floor. So what do you wear your favorite game day t-shirt from your college days? Or do you order your first custom suit to match your new title? The following wardrobe principles will help a man start his career off on the right foot or make sure he’s next in line when the Board is voting for a new CEO.

Dress for the Next Level

A man’s wardrobe is highly influenced by his professional and business environment.  Blue collar or white collar.  Business professional or business casual.  Casual Friday or no casual Friday.  So many options and choices.  To create a positive impression a man should dress one level above the standard dress code for his environment.  Blue collar rarely wear a suit and tie to work.  But they can tuck in their shirt on the job site when others may not or upgrade their utility work wear. On the other hand a white collar man who wears a tie routinely can add a pocket square or tie bar to his ensemble and immediately place himself in a different class than his peers.  Small details say big things about how a man cares for his personal appearance – these minuscule differences send the signal that you pay attention and understand the importance of the small things.

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Be Prepared

Like the Boy Scout motto, always be prepared for the unexpected.  You never know when you’ll get called into your first presentation to brief the team, or when the Board of Directors will want to discuss the shareholder report over drinks.  A man should keep a few staples of clothing at the office in case of these events.  A clean, crisp, button-down or straight collar white dress shirt is a must. It coordinates with anything and looks just as good with a tie as without.  Be sure it fits well and try a slim cut if it compliments your body type.  Also have on hand a slim solid or regimental stripe tie, a clean pair of under garments, and a blue blazer for happy hour on Fridays.  Keeping these wardrobe essentials on hand when you don’t need them will leave you with a sigh of relief when you do.
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Plain and Simple -

The office is not the place to make a fashion statement.  This is where you make a name for yourself or you live up to that title on your office door.  Avoid colors, patterns, and fabrics that draw undue attention to yourself.  People should pay attention to you and not your clothes. Wear suits in navy blue, khaki, gray, and black.  Keep patterns like pinstripes and checks muted.  Dress shirts should be a combination of solids, stripes, and patterns in white, blue and other primary colors such as green or red on occasion.  Ties should be solid, striped, or pin-dot, and should be a compliment to your ensemble and not the focal point.  Shoes should be 100% leather, slim and well-fitting.  Stick with brown or black in varying shades and keep them cleaned and polished.  Wear a wingtip or an oxford. Avoid pointed or squared toe shoes and opt for a classic round toe.  A man makes a statement in his wardrobe with his accessories.  Try a slim leather watch, double-sided cufflinks, or colorful socks. Feel free to experiment with accessories but be sure they match your personality and environment.
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Major in Minors

No matter how large and put together a man’s wardrobe is, in the end being well dressed is only the tip of the iceberg.  A man should follow-up with a warm smile, a firm handshake, show respect to his co-workers and superiors, and put 100% into everything he does do. No matter if you’re college grad or you report to the CEO, the man who applies these simple strategies will not be forgotten when bonus time comes around.

Grant Harris, MBA is Owner & Chief Style Consultant at Image Granted, LLC a Washington, DC based Image Management company dedicated to solving the complex image, style & fashion issues of individuals, groups, & organizations of men. Mr. Harris provides private & corporate wardrobe consultations, closet organization, personal shopping & other value-based services for men in need of practical & affordable style advice.  At Image Granted, LLC we dress men for the life they want!




@theworkwardrobe Thanks for posting this! Looking forward to working with you more often


@theworkwardrobe Thanks for posting this! Looking forward to working with you more often