Sunday, November 15, 2009

Menswear for the coming year

Guys, I know I say it every time, but I've been neglecting you again. It's just so easy to do sometimes because let's be honest:

1.) I'm a woman
2.) Womenswear is SO much easier to write about because there is SO much out there

But despite these two key factors, I'm going to give it my all for all the gentlemen out there. Because let's be honest again: there is nothing finer than a well-dressed man.

I've been thinking about the economic crisis of the last year and how it has effected our style. Historically, times of economic distress usually coincide with a more conservative approach to clothing. For example, the Roaring 20's brought about lots of super short hemlines- women in that era dared to bare their knees and sometimes even an inch or two above. Sounds like nothing to us today, but in that time it was huge. See the difference in these patterns:

The necklines on the top pattern are low cut and the hems are high. The 2nd pattern has a dramatically longer hemline as well as a more conservative neckline. In terms of menswear, suits went from the more flashy "zoot suit" style to conservative cuts and more sturdy fabrics. In this day and age, the differences aren't quite as noticeable, but they are there. However, I want to encourage all the men out there to dress for what they hope for themselves for the future. Rather than tone down your attire to reflect the down economy, focus instead on dressing for your future success. If you want to be a top executive at your company, dress like you own the place. If you're looking to get out of the corporate environment and into a field more laid-back and relaxed, lose the 3-piece suit and pocket silks. The economy may have forced you out of a job, and in turn made you look at the other skills you can bring to the table. Dressing for your new career path will not only help you present yourself better at interviews, but will also help you get into the right frame of mind. It's like an actor who puts on a costume for the first time. Suddenly the character comes to life in a way that they hadn't before the dress rehearsal.

1.) Corporate Cody:

Are you hoping to make partner this year at your law firm? Or gunning for the top PR Exec position? Maybe you're just starting in the corporate world and you want to make an impression. Wear a suit. A nice one. This $365 suit from J. Crew may seem like a splurge, but when it comes to suits, you get what you pay for. A well tailored suit will separate you from the pack in a good way. Plus, a suit is more of an investment, so you should spend a little more on it anyway. It's something you'll wear for years to come, so consider the cost of it spread out over those years- not so pricey anymore, right? Look for classic cuts and fabrics that will stand the test of time and accessorize with power pieces- a strong tie, leather briefcase and shoes, and a classic and classy timepiece.

2.) Arty Arthur

Maybe you've been in the corporate sector for too long and now you're hoping to pursue a more artistic field- music, art, design, etc. Transition easily with the professional-yet-quirky vest look. The above pictured J.Crew vest for $98 seems a bit steep, but shop around and you'll find plenty at bargain prices. Second hand shops are great places to hit for quirky but cool vests. Also, it doesn't have to be a button-front vest- a sweater vest works as well. It also doesn't have to be on top of a button-front shirt- a long sleeve graphic tee or henley under the open vest can take the look in a more casual direction. Just make sure the vest is well tailored and fits you perfectly. Tie or no tie, this look exudes confidence and style while still looking perfectly professional. Also, it works with jeans or a pair of trousers. Depending on where you are in your job transition, you can have a lot of fun with accessories- the right ivy or newsboy cap along with a leather cuff and "Beatle" boots- you'll look super cool, and very put together.

3.) Roamin' Roger:

Maybe the downturn in the economy has you moving to a different state or even another country to seek out a new career path. Sweaters will keep you warm on the road, plus they make great layering pieces. This one from J.Crew is actually a decent price- $69.50. Sweaters are like suits- a quality classic will last a lifetime. A henley and a button front underneath this shawl collar plus a quilted "puffy" vest on top will be warm but mobile. Reuters terms these guys the "wanderers:"
"...the Great Recession presents a great opportunity to pull up stakes and hit the open road." They advise men to "begin your adventure with outdoors-y clothing." Good advice.

No matter how the economy has effected your job situation, take the opportunity every day to dress for the future. You won't regret it.

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