Tools Of The Trade
August 6th, 2007
Alas, you stopped carrying a Scooby-Doo lunch box at one point in your life you have stopped, haven’t you?, and now it’s time to abandon the knapsack in favor of a briefcase. Infinitely more stylish and far more grow-up, a briefcase is a sign that you are ready to be serious about your career. Choose one in black or brow leather and make sure there’s enough room to grow but not bulge. Be sure there is reinforced stitching on stress points, not too many pockets , and a light interior color easier to spot lost objects.
THE WRITE STUFF
Seeing as how mighty the pen is it makes sense to carry one with some impact. You never know when you’ll be called on to hand it over to someone more senior or sign something important in public. Get yourself a nice metal pen with a hard point as opposed to a felt tip and be quick on the draw when someone in authority asks for one.
Want something lighter than a wallet? Consider a money clip made of brass or silver. Assuming you don’t cram every receipt, photo, and credit card you own in there and now is the time to De junk it’s a streamlined way to go.
WHAT’S ON YOUR AGENDA
A smart businessman keeps his appointments and is always on time. The first step to doing that is maintaining an agenda. Whether it’s a small leather notebook with and addresses or a high-tech PDA, a well-maintained agenda will bail you out time and again.
Anything that someone in the workplace might see affects your appearance and that includes your wallet. After all, you might have to pay for a business lunch some day and you can’t be pulling out that old Velcro number from seventh grade. So, as with belts and briefcases, stay with black or brown leather. Also, try keeping your wallet in your jacket’s breast pocket it doesn’t get bent out of shape.
CLOSET WORK WARDROBE
Your refrigerator is probably stocked, but is your closet? Take a moment to consider what you need, and whether what you have is meeting your career goals. Below is a checklist for the first year on the job and the fifth. It’s just a guideline, but if you follow it, you should be set for years to come. Your goals: To create a flexible work wardrobe so that:
1. Your never have to wear the same outfit twice in one week, and
2. You will look appropriate in any work environment.
2 or 3 suits
1 or 2 sport jackets
7-10 dress shirts
3 or 4 pairs of pants
2 pairs of shoes
FIVE YEARS AND COUNTING
4 or 5 sport jackets
6-8 pairs of shoes
5 pairs of shoes
Your closet should now be filled with all of the clothes you need to get ahead in the workplace: Enough suits, shirts, ties, pants, shoes, and a few power accessories to get you through each season, all types of weather, and every occasion. And, because you purchased wisely, many of these clothes will last you for years to come.
WHAT SUIT YOU?
Dear jeff and Kim,
I was just promoted to VP of my division, and travel a lot between Seattle and LA. I bought a black suits, but I’m not sure what to wear with it. I have a gray shirt and dark tie but I feel my lace-up oxfords aren’t right. I sometimes think I look like I’m going to a funeral.
-Paint It Black
Dear Paint It Black,
Once fashion-forward, the black suit has become mainstream a new classic. If you don’t feel right in your lace-ups then get a good pair of loafers. A black suit looks great with a French blue shirt and a dark tie, pattern or solid. A good suit is also great for after-work events with an open dress shirt, as well as occasions that are black tie optional. Translation: Don’t wear a tux unless you are the waiter. A black suit, white shirt, and a silver or dark tie create an evening outfit without the hoopla of a tuxedo.
-jeff and Kim
It was in Wall Street that Michael Douglas, as Gordon Gekko, got to rave “Greed works! Greed will save the USA!” it is safe to say that the character had a firm grasp on power as many know it. And he had the clothes to prove it. What is it that gives clothes an aura of power? Part of it is the cultural association to things such as movies some of it is the ability to afford from the taste and ability to dress in a timeless style that speaks of the individual. You may wear what you see in the movies, or a shirt a boss wears, or a suit of a business leader, but if it isn’t you, then you’re only wearing a costume doing business in drag. The key is to slowly learn what makes you feel good and confident. With that you begin to create a wardrobe of personal style. Your uniform of self.
DRESSING TO GET AHEAD
After several years on the job, you have like been moving up or else you’re ready to move out. If you’ve been racking up promotions, your wardrobe of the last few years needs to be improved on. It’s not that it’s no longer appropriate for work look at all the successful junior people in the office, they’re dressing like you now, aren’t they? It’s just that you now need to dress with authority. You need to have a wardrobe with some power.
To get where you want to go takes a lot of hard work, and your wardrobe has been a part of your climb up the ladder. Now, more than ever, as you seek a better position , this aphorism is essential: Dress for the job you want to have, not for the one you already have. In other words, if you’re still dressing like a bit player, no one will ever see you as the leading man.
Of course, the mailroom clerk who dresses like a managing director will never get the job he seeks simply because he wears the right jacket and tie, but it might cause someone to think he’s capable of that job some day. By the same token, if you’re the managing director who dresses like a mailroom clerk, you are, perhaps, building a glass ceiling over your head.
Keep in mind, however, that you should dress one level above don’t try skipping three or four. Dressing for the next job only works if you don’t upstage your superiors. They don’t want you dressing better than they do.
CONSISTENCY-AVOIDING MIXED SIGNALS
Your employees look to you for guidance. If you dress commandingly every day, you will appear confident and secure, like the kind of man who has everything under control. Then, if you dress down on Fridays, you may be sending the message that everyone can relax a bit on that day.
Similarly, if you aspire to rising in the ranks, be aware that your big break could come at any moment, so dress accordingly.
LOOKING LIKE A MILLION-WITHOUT MAKING A MILLION
One of the many perks of climbing the ladder is greater financial security. And as you earn money, you will find that you will likely spend more. Improving certain aspects of like a better car, a new house, nicer vacations is one of the many rewards of success. So, too, must you make a new investment in your wardrobe.
Becoming more successful, however, doesn’t require that you wear $2,000 suits unless of course if you can afford them and appreciate them but it doesn’t really allow for $200 suit anymore, either. What you need to learn now is how to invest in quality.
POCKET SQUARES VS. HANDKERCHIEFS
The pocket square a piece of colored silk kept in your jacket breast pocket comes in and out style and is, at best tricky. Never match your tie color, but keep it the same hue.
A fine linen handkerchief folded or stuffed in your pocket is much safer. Below are two simple methods of handkerchief control.
THE TRAIANGLE FOLD
1. Fold the linen in quarters.
2. Fold the sides into the center.
3. Bend the bottom half backward and fold in half.
4. Place in pocket.
The Puffed Fold. Grab the center of the handkerchief and let it fall upside down, smooth with the hand, gathering most of the material like a flower. Fold the center end under, and stuff neatly into pocket.
A double cuff that turns back and is usually fastened with a cuff link, the French cuff makes an elegant statement at the wrist. If you purchase a shirt with a contrasting collar and cuffs, the cuffs should always be French cuffs.