Dress For Success
You know the drill: with the start of any new year comes the desire for a new and improved you, whether in your personal or professional life. If, like many others, you’ve started the year re-evaluating your current employment situation, you’ll want to ensure you look your best for when those all-important career opportunities crop up.
Whether you’re honing your look for a big interview or want to be sure your boss knows your worth at an annual review, here’s the low down on dressing for professional success in 2015.
The Suit – Your No. 1 Asset
A well-cut suit has long been the choice for men making bold moves in the boardroom, and it’s easy to see why: a good suit works double duty, flattering your physique (broadening your shoulders and nipping you in at the waist) and – provided you get it right – communicating desirable traits, like attention to detail and confidence.
If you’re interviewing for a corporate job in a sector such as finance, you’ll want to make sure you keep your look sleek, polished and, most of all, industry-appropriate. With this in mind, a grey suit makes for a good first port of call.
Hardly surprising, but fit is key. Any old nine-to-fiver can pick up a grey suit on their lunch break, but ensuring your suit fits you perfectly is what will give you the competitive advantage. If you opt for a traditional two-button, single-breasted off-the-peg version, an easy way to see if you’ve secured the right fit is to check that the top button is aligned above your naval.
Another important area to focus on is the jacket sleeves: they should finish where the base of your thumb meets your wrist. If your suit in its current form leaves one or both of these boxes unticked, then you’ll want to hotfoot it to your tailor – these are easy adjustments that don’t cost the earth, but they will make a huge difference to your overall appearance.
It’s also worth considering colour, i.e. the exact shade of grey you go for. While light and pale grey suits have increased in popularity over recent years, mid-grey and charcoal designs are infinitely more timeless and versatile, keeping you occasion-appropriate and adapting to multiple occasions outside of the office.
For a fool-proof outfit, team your suit with a sharp, white button-down shirt and grey tie that’s a few shades lighter/darker for a sleek, tonal appearance. Those wanting to go the extra mile, consider placing a straight fold, simple hand rolled white pocket square into your breast pocket, if you feel it’s appropriate.
Grey Suit Lookbook
Whether you opt for a mid-grey or charcoal design, a grey suit is undeniably classic and can be dressed up in a number of ways, as proven by Suitsupply below:
Recommended Grey Suits
If you’re looking for a great off-the-peg suit that is cut well, designed to last and will make the right impression, here are a few key tailoring brands to consider: Reiss, Suitsupply, Charles Tyrwhitt, Richard James, Hardy Amies, Gieves and Hawkes, J.Crew, Paul Smith, Lanvin, Kilgour and Hackett.
Note: Those craving for more affordable versions should skip to the ‘Boardroom On A Budget’ section below.
- Hackett Mayfair Herringbone Suit
- J. Crew Crosby Suit Jacket In Heathered Italian Wool Flannel
- J. Crew Ludlow Suit Jacket With Double Vent In Italian Worsted Wool
- Gieves & Hawkes Classic Charcoal Birdseye Suit
- Reiss Lance B Melange Weave Suit
- J.crew Grey Ludlow Slim-fit Wool Travel Suit Jacket
- Hackett Chelsea Birdseye Suit
- Suitsupply Sienna Grey Plain
- Suitsupply Lazio Grey Plain
- Richard James Grey Hyde Slim-fit Super 130s Wool Suit
- Paul Smith London Single-breasted Wool Suit
- Richard James Grey Flannel Hyde Suit
The Navy Alternative
Another stylish and contemporary option when dressing for success in 2015 is the navy suit. You only had to tune in to a few minutes of the latest UK series of The Apprentice to see just how integral the navy suit has become when it comes to boardroom attire, and rightfully so.
Avid readers will know we’ve long supported the stylish deep blue hue for tailoring, so there’s no reason why more corporate types can’t swap their traditional grey and black suits for navy styles; both in day-to-day office dressing and interviews alike.
For a modern take on navy, go for a skinny, single-breasted version with notch lapels in a lightweight fabric such as cotton. This will look sharp teamed with a white chambray shirt, a skinny tie and a pair of rich brown brogues.
If, on the other hand, you’d prefer to take a more traditional route, then consider a double-breasted design with peak lapels in a textured fabric such as wool. A double-breasted jacket creates a wide and powerful silhouette that oozes confidence – perfect for closing that big business deal.
As we’ll be heading into the transitional months soon, you might also want to consider investing in a suit crafted from a wool and cotton blend, to avoid overheating. Try teaming this with a textured tie, double cuff shirt, silver cuff links and a pair of double-monk strap shoes in brown.
Navy Suit Lookbook
From deep and rich shades to more subtle matte styles, navy suits are much more varied than you may initially think. Tie colours that work particularly well with this style include yellows/oranges, reds, grey, and tonal shades of blue:
Recommended Navy Suits
- J. Crew Ludlow Suit Jacket With Double Vent In Italian Wool
- Hackett Wool Mohair Suit
- Hackett Mayfair Herringbone Suit
- Suitsupply Sienna Blue Birds Eye
- Suitsupply York Blue Plain
- Suitsupply Washington Blue Plain
- Gieves & Hawkes Classic Navy Jacket
- Richard James Basket-weave Wool Suit
- Reiss Bowles Peak Lapel Textured Suit Navy
- Ink Burlington Birdseye Travel Slim Fit Suit
- Richard James Navy Hyde Slim-cut Wool Suit
- Kilgour Navy Wool Suit
No matter if it’s grey or navy that gets your vote, either of these suits will ensure your potential employer knows you’re confident about your personal style, as well as your ability to ace the role you’re interviewing for.
We can’t guarantee you’ll land the job, but we can guarantee you’d have mastered sharp, sartorial style.
The Power Of Separates
Not all workplaces require suits to be worn, particularly in more creative industries such as architecture, digital marketing and design. Or even if they do, you might have more room to be creative with colours, prints and mix-and-matching. For these kinds of roles, you should take a slightly different approach to your interview attire, in order to avoid coming across stiff, stuffy and stuck for ideas.
Media, advertising and fashion professionals could opt for colour-blocked separates. These pieces needn’t be bright and garish; think tapered mustard trousers with a sky blue blazer and gingham shirt. Or a well-cut polo with an on-trend checked blazer and slim-fit cream trousers:
Re-Imagining The Suit
If you do decide to wear a suit to an interview for a more creative role, try thinking outside the box. For instance, you could still opt for a more conservative navy suit, but why not inject some life and personality into it via a printed shirt? Geometric, camo and subdued floral prints are all excellent options available to you.
Another approach would be to lose the tie – a popular trend in recent times and an easy way to show you’re committed to your work without coming across too square. This look is particularly worth considering if you’re applying for a creative job in a corporate industry:
The Statement Suit
Finally, if you’re feeling especially confident about nailing that annual appraisal or want to show you’re prepared to boldly go where other interview candidates wouldn’t, why not make an entrance in a statement suit?
From summer pastels to rich autumnal shades, a suit in an unconventional colour can’t fail to make a lasting impression. A word of warning, however: always research your new environment/work place beforehand and only make this choice if you’re sure it’s an office that won’t be shocked by head-turning tailoring.
If your boss is more conservative than creative, mix and match a statement blazer with smart trousers and a crisp shirt to tone the look down while demonstrating both confidence and flair:
- Burton 2 Piece Light Blue Pastel Skinny Fit Suit
- Topman Light Camel Ultra Skinny Suit
- Asos Slim Fit Blazer In Cotton
- He By Mango Unstructured Wool Blazer
- Topman Blue Ultra Skinny Suit Trousers
- He By Mango Tailored Cotton-blend Chinos
- Austin Reed Plain Twill Blazer
- M&s Collection Luxury New Wool Blend Tailored Fit Check Jacket With Linen
- River Island Brown Check Blazer
- Reiss Pollock Spotted Shirt Blue
- He By Mango Slim-fit Paisley Print Shirt
- Reiss Sontag B Slim-fit Blazer Burgundy
- Huntsman Cream Slim-fit Cotton-twill Trousers
- J.crew Green Ludlow Regular-fit Wool Suit Trousers
- J.crew Checked Jaspe-cotton Shirt
Boardroom On A Budget
Now, if you’re a recent grad looking to land that first job out of university, we don’t want you to feel alienated. Tailoring can be pricey, particularly when you’re still paying off that student overdraft, so look to brands that do quality professional attire for less.
ASOS, Moss, Next and Austin Reed are great online stores for finding suits on the less expensive end of the pricing spectrum, while mid- to high-end high street brands such as Charles Tyrwhitt, TM Lewin, Marks & Spencer and Reiss can also be a great choice for graduates – particularly if you’re looking when the end of season sales are running or keep your eye out for a timely discount code.
Try not to think of an interview suit as just that; provided you take care to find something that is classic and timeless, you’ll have no problem in tweaking your suit for several other occasions, from weddings to formal daytime parties.
- Next Navy Textured Slim Fit Suit: Jacket
- Asos Slim Fit Suit In 100% Wool
- Asos Slim Fit Suit Jacket In Mid Grey Pindot
- Savile Row Inspired Grey Tailored Fit Suit
- Moss 1851 Tailored Fit Grey Birdseye Suit
- M&s Collection Luxury Navy Regular Fit Suit Including Waistcoat
- Grey Apsley Sharkskin Classic Fit Business Suit Jacket
- Austin Reed Slim Fit Navy Pindot Jacket
- T.m.lewin Page Grey Sharkskin 2-button Slim Fit Suit
- Next Vitale Barberis Slim Fit Suit Jacket
- Reiss Youngs Two Piece Suit Navy
- Reiss Youngs Two Piece Suit Grey
Last but not least, don’t skimp on those all-important finishing touches.
A tie clip is a relatively inexpensive addition that will subtly set you apart, and be sure to strap on a classic watch if you have one (again, it needn’t cost the earth – check out our guide to the best minimal watches under £350).
- Topman Clean Metal Tie Pin
- Austin Reed Nick Hart Tie Clip
- Lanvin Engraved Metal Tie Clip
- C41 Pvd Grey Grey Parisian Alligator
- Daniel Wellington 0107dw Mens Classic Sheffield Rose Gold Pvd Leather Strap Watch Black
- Larsson And Jennings Stainless Steel Chain Metal Watch
Aside from your outfit, you’ll want to ensure your grooming is up to the job, which means a clean and close shave and neat hair (think classic short back and sides). Just don’t overdo it with the gel or wax. As much as high shine styles have been big news on the runways lately, it won’t translate well in a job interview. For more inspiration, read our full breakdown of the key hairstyles for 2015.
If you’re currently repping the beard trend, which is still for the most part going strong, ensure you trim and condition your facial hair before your interview in order to give off the right impression – you should be looking to demonstrate ambition to make it as company president, not office primate.
Yet the most crucial aspect of your look when it comes to an interview or annual review, whether you’re in a corporate or creative industry, is that you exude confidence through both your style and performance. Get this right and the rest comes easily.
You’ve heard from us, now it’s over to you. If you’re looking to take a step forward in your career this year, how are you planning to refresh your wardrobe? Can you think of any points we’ve left out?
Let us know in the comments section below…