We have all been there: today you have to be in three different places, for three different reasons, and you to interact with people from all walks of life… how do you go about it? Business casual alone won’t save your day and formal will make you look wildly overdressed among your friends at the Red Lion Pub.
Also, you can’t simply go out in the morning and then come back to your place later and change your outfit from casual into formal, it’s mental: besides, there’s not enough time and you’re not the apostle Paul, you don’t have the patience and grace required to spend the whole day driving through the devilish rush hours of Christmas time (Christmas is pure evil). Neither you can attend your business meeting dressed as if you were ready to gulp some Tom Collins down or vice-versa. Most importantly: you can’t strike a balance and make a compromise between formal and casual, because… well, “overdressed/underdressed” anyone? That would spell disaster, you would be a failure in the morning, an average guy during the day and a miserable one at night.
That’s why you need this blog post. Actually, that’s why you need me. Let’s start with the move #1: you need a nice suit, possibly in charcoal (do I have to remind you that black is only for funerals?), or dark gray and try to avoid chalk stripes because it’s difficult to dress them down. Also, you don’t want your suit to be in light colors given the fact that these sorts of colors aren’t formal enough. Another thing, try to avoid the classic Blue Navy suit because, well, it’s too classic to be dressed down. Ok, move#2 get two watches, one for the day and one for the night. Wear a nice, simple dress watch during the business meeting: avoid Chrono watches as well as any other kind of wristwatch with complications and don’t, for the sake of all that is holy: 1) wear a watch with a black (or dark) dial during the day 2) wear your wristwatch on the right wrist (get a destro watch if you’re left handed).
And now, ready for move#3? This is where I’ll make a compromise and ask you to be bold. You could wear sneakers at the business meeting, provided the meeting isn’t too important. This is THE DEAL. I know, some of you out there might be skeptical about this, but there are two good reasons why I’m suggesting the move: 1) nowadays sneakers have become more and more accepted even during formal meetings 2) a pair of simple, white sneakers are super cool. In this shooting you see me wearing a classic, white, fresh pair of Adidas Neo Cloudfoam. These sneakers are surprisingly light, breathable and comfortable, apart from being virtually inexpensive. They are also versatile: Personally, I also wear a pair of Neo at the gym.
Alternatively, and just in case the morning meeting is too formal for sneakers, you can wear a classic pair of black Oxfords and take the sneakers with you in the car.
In this example, you see me wearing my beloved, off-the-rack three buttons Armani charcoal suit in lana, with notch lapels and jet pockets (tailored by my friend Marian Vitel), a Pignatelli cotton off-white/pinkish shirt with classic Italian collar, a limited edition seven folds regimental silk necktie in Burgundy – striped with light and dark Slate Blue stripes – as well as a pin dotted silk pocket square in Bordeaux Red. Both the necktie and the pocket square are, of course, from the Tie Shop Rome. You’ll notice also I’m wearing the proverbial tie bar, the way it should be worn: transversally (never use a tie bar horizontally, nothing should cross your body horizontally…)
This would be the morning outfit, it’s 90% elegant, 10% sporty, provided you opted for the sneakers. With the Oxfords on, it would be almost as formal as it gets, with the exception of Tuxedos and the likes. There’s also a White Fedora hat, of course, and the white rose… I suggest you don’t wear this at the business meeting, but the rose is there to show that details are important: take the boutonniere in or out of the equation and see for yourself! It’s only a little flower, but it makes a huge difference.
As per the afternoon, I have envisioned a slightly less formal meeting, perhaps that could be a follow-up to the morning business meeting but without the big shots and in a more friendly environment; let’s say with your colleagues at the office, for a Power Point presentation. In this case, you have gotten rid of the jacket – this will allow you to sport a magnificent pair of suspenders in Bordeaux Red, with white dots. Let’s be frank, who doesn’t love a nice pair of suspenders? Did you know this is virtually the only piece of wardrobe that really doesn’t need to be matched to any other element of your outfit? That’s because a gentleman could own just one good pair of suspenders and that’s enough. In this case, however, is so happens that the suspenders actually match the pocket square, but it’s just a coincidence. Notice how the simple gesture of taking the jacket off removes so much formality from the outfit! This will allow you to be perceived as a friend and to look less aloof during the presentation because the last thing you want is for your colleagues to look at you as if you were standing on a pedestal in these circumstances: you need them to team up with you, no to hate you.
Now, let’s go for the last outfit: this one is for the Red Lion Pub, remember? Your friends are waiting for you and, most importantly, the Tom Collins is waiting as well. Put the jacket back on, but get rid of all the trappings, there’s no use for them where you are going. Also, don’t forget to put the sneakers on (if you didn’t before)! This will definitively make you feel much more comfortable. Also, get rid of the Fedora hat and wear a nice beanie, instead. In this case, you see me wearing a hat that I got in NYC, the city I love the most. There is another nice move you could play: switch the dressy watch with the white dial for a much more casual one: as long as it has a black dial, it’s ok. My dress watch was a vintage Longines “Flagship” from the 1950s, the casual watch is a Lorenz “Acquastar”, also vintage, but from the 1970s. Notice anything else? Yes, correct: the shirt has been tucked out. In theory, that’s wrong, because we are dealing with a dressy shirt, but – hey! it’s all about compromises. This little detail alone, in my humble advice, makes ALL the difference.
This is how you switch from formal into casual in 3 (more or less) brilliant moves. Now you can face your terrible day with a smile on your face. Even though is Christmas, the most depressing period of the year.