Accepted: The right formula for your meeting
Words: Nhlanhla Masemola | Images: Ian Engelbrecht
What you decide to wear to work depends largely on where you work. In an investment bank or law firm, you’ll likely be expected to wear a suit and tie. At a multinational corporation, chinos and a button-down shirt. At a creative agency, you can probably get away with a T-shirt and jeans. Working from your couch? You may not even need to get dressed up at all. Whatever the office dress code, making an effort can only work in your favour. Colleagues will respect it and clients will appreciate it. To help you smarten up your act, we have assembled three looks with some universally useful dressing tips for that meeting request that you can’t decline.
You’re going to need to show that you are still the right man for the job. In a sea of formal grey and navy single-breasted suits, it’s easy to stand out for the wrong reasons (and potentially hinder your progress up the professional ladder). Button up your fitted jacket to look a little bit smarter. Alter your trousers so they fit properly around your waist, without relying on a belt, and let the hem sit neatly on polished leather shoes. Your jacket sleeves should reveal just a hint of your shirt cuff. Add a watch for extra flair – a man’s choice of watch is telling. As relaxed attire becomes the norm in a growing number of workplaces, the symbolic power of a blazer and tailored trousers is more than before. When trying to win business, it pays off to look like you mean it. There’s no denying that people will take you more seriously if you look the part.
TIP: If you’re in and out of the office at client-facing meetings, don’t underestimate the effect of a strong jacket.
The standard office uniform for professional men can leave a lot of wearers looking like clones. All the more reason to be the one to spice things up, when the occasion allows. Deciding what to wear for a function outside of work? Keep your look polished and accessible. The basics of business attire stay more or less the same, just add some interesting variations such as a printed button-down shirt and replace chinos with jeans. The most important factor, as always, is fit. Your shirt should not billow with excess fabric (signs that it’s too big) nor pull uncomfortably at the buttons (signs that it’s too small). Choose straight-leg trousers and make sure they finish on or just above your shoes. Add a knitted tie if you’d like to turn up the sophistication and a soft-shouldered, unstructured jacket in a tonal colour palette. You can remove one or both of them if you feel too formal.
TIP: It’s always better to be slightly overdressed than severely underdressed.
It’s a less formal meeting, naturally, so jeans are your best bet. They can even have a wash on them. When it comes to dressing for a laid-back meeting, your look should be filled with enough personality to make a subtle statement, but professional enough not to come across as disrespectful. Throw on a pair of lace-up shoes, a bold to toned-down shirt and you're good to go. Comfort is key, but don’t take it too far. Start with a shirt and you have the professional-but-casual box ticked from the get-go. A mandarin collar will add interest to your look and keep you looking dapper. Untuck or tuck according to personal taste and desired levels of suave. Opt for smart sneakers in classic white or navy to finish off your look, to perfection.
TIP: Ditch the sweatpants at home, you are not in your living room.