My grandfather, “Pop pop”, on my mothers side, Voshell J. Smith, use to always say, “Dress like you’re somebody“. My grandfather wasn’t corporate, he didn’t work in an office, he worked in construction and whenever he went out with my grandmother on the weekends, he was sharp. Suit, shoes, belt, watch, shirt, handkerchief…sharp! I would watch him clean his gold the night before he went out…it was funny. Taking pride in what he wore was something I definitely inherited from him.
My grandmother on my fathers side told me, my father would stand on the bed so when he put on his pants they wouldn’t touch the floor. I had never witnessed my father stand on the bed because he died when I was about 2 or 3 years old. When she told me this it blew my mind because I did the same thing!
What I’m saying is take pride in what you wear. Living in DC has taught me to be more conservative in my attire but I always keep my Philly swagger. Working in corporate America I learned that what you wear influenced what people thought about you.
Side note: You should not care about what people think about you but if you’re climbing the corporate ladder or networking making connections you SHOULD care about what people think about you. You develop a reputation and that should be important to you. I’ll blog about this later.
I decided to run a test on the people at the facility where I worked. The facility was huge, on any given day I would see random people. I would sometimes see the same people but not often. My test was simple; I had to pay attention to how people responded to me. For the first week, I dressed casual, and when I say casual I mean jeans or khakis, polo shirt, casual shoes. For the second week, I dressed business attire, dress shoes slacks and shirt. My watch was even conservative, nothing bulky huge or big with my dress attire, it just didn’t fit.
The first week when I dressed casual…when I walked the halls, all the janitors and facility personnel spoke to me. All the managers and people in suits didn’t speak to me. Not all of the business attire but most “managerial like” personnel, kinda looked down their noses at me. I guess I looked like the common folk, lol. It didn’t bother me because, well, it just didn’t bother me.
The second week I dressed up…when I walked the halls all the janitors and facility personnel didn’t speak to me. We didn’t even really meet eye contact…almost to the point where they avoided looking at me, like I didn’t relate to them. Inversely when all the managerial people in suits saw me in the hall…they spoke, or nodded their head in some form of a greet. It was peculiar but it made me feel good…like I was somebody, like my Pop pop said. LOL Then I thought back to the “common folk” and realized that there is a reason why they didn’t look at me or avoided me. I didn’t like that feeling but I couldn’t shake it. It’s like I remind them of what decisions they made or what they could have been. That sounds really arrogant but just because I dress at the level doesn’t make me better than anyone. I can’t help what they feel or understand it but it definitely happened and I can’t explain it. Maybe I don’t want to explain it now.
To go further…the facility personnel and janitors had very prominent tattoos on their arms and neck, baggy attire, boots…basically a non-conformist attire. They dressed real hip-hop which I thought was cool but not appropriate for the corporate office or even the hallway. I don’t have anything against this attire but when it’s out a place, it annoys me. If you own a business and you’re the boss, you can dress to your audience. You have the luxury of dressing the way you want.
The suited individuals had very conservative appearance, hair cut, shaved, even the posture was straight.
I asked one of the custodians what they paid on a part time basis and he shared the full and part time salaries. The max income the custodial staff made was about $65,000, where the corporate salaries were maxed at about $140,000. There was close to a $100,000 difference in what the corporate managers earned. The point I’m making is the income bracket difference of the custodial staff versus the managerial corporate staff was staggering. The funny thing is that I dressed like the custodial staff on the weekends. I put my Tims on and wore baggy pants, but Monday – Friday 9- 6pm I put on my corporate “uniform”.
I saw a post on the Eric Roberson Music website and it listed twenty five basic pieces of basic fashion knowledge. Check it here:
1. Unbutton the bottom button of your jacket. It’s not intended to be buttoned.
2. Same goes for your vest.
3. Remove the tags on the sleeves of your jacket before you wear it.
4. Jackets sometimes come with white basting thread on their shoulders or holding closed their vents. Remove this thread before wearing the jacket.
5. Jacket pockets are intended to be opened. Use a small scissor or seam ripper.
6. More than three jacket buttons is never appropriate for anything.
7. On a three-button coat, buttoning the top button is optional, and some lapels are rolled so as to make the top button ornamental. In other words: if buttoning the top button seems wrong, it is.
8. Brown shoes, brown belt. Black shoes, black belt.
9. Belt or suspenders. Never belt and suspenders.
10. Your jacket sleeve should be short enough to show some shirt cuff – about half an inch.
11. Your pants should end at your shoes without puddling. A slight or half break means that there is one modest inflection point in the front crease. If your pants break both front and back or if they break on the sides, they’re too long.
12. Your coat should follow and flatter the lines of your upper body, not pool around them. You should be able to slip a hand in to get to your inside breast pocket, but if the jacket’s closed and you can pound your heart with your fist, it’s too big.
13. When you buy a suit or sportcoat, it should be altered to fit by a tailor. This will cost between $25 and $100.
14. Your tie should reach your belt line – it shouldn’t end above your belt or below it.
15. Your tie knot should have a dimple.
16. Only wear a tie if you’re also wearing a suit or sportcoat (or, very casually, a sweater). Shirt, tie and no jacket is the wedding uniform of a nine-year-old.
17. The only men who should wear black suits during the day are priests, undertakers, secret agents, funerals attendees and yokels.
18. Cell phone holsters are horrible.
19. So are square-toed shoes.
20. Never wear visible socks with shorts.
21. Or any socks with sandals.
22. If your shirt is tucked in, you should be wearing a belt (or suspenders, if you’re wearing a jacket as well, or your trousers should have side adjusters and no belt loops).
23. Flip flops are great for the pool and the beach and not great for anything else. (Some say this is a matter of taste. We agree. If you have any taste, you will only wear flip-flops at the beach or pool.)
24. Long ties are not appropriate with a tuxedo.
25. Never wear polyester outside of the gym or theme parties.
Two things to consider:
I’d rather be over dressed than underdressed.
- The Unauthorized Rules Of How To Dress At Goldman Sachs (businessinsider.com)
- Tips for Communicating with Confidence & Dressing “Right” for the Occasion (truthstoinspire.com)
- 10 Tips To Dress More Elegantly (noblestrogue.com)
- A Gentleman’s Guide To Business Casual (businessinsider.com)
- Basics: Men’s Fashion Tips You Should Know (dapsongent.com)