Dress to Access: How to get ahead in corporate fashion

In the Spotlight

16 May 2016, Emma Rydell

Dress to Access: How to get ahead in corporate fashion

In today’s world, one’s personal brand often seem more important than it ever has before. We post what we eat on Instagram, we show our colleagues who we identify with on Twitter and we quote our role models in the office lift - all to build on brand ME.

The aesthete Oscar Wilde once said: “A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life” and an important part of our personal brand today is definitely our appearance and clothing style. To conform to the visible, and sometimes more invisible dresscodes and etiquette rules is also essential to get access to many settings - both business and social. Thus, the saying that it’s the inside that matters is today only partly true. Haven’t we all owned an outfit that really gives us a boost, makes us feel sharp, on point and ready to take on the world? Properly kitted out, nothing can defeat you. However, it’s easy to get lost in the jumble of rules and dress codes - and sometimes it can feel like you have no inspiration at all.

But today, dress codes do not have to mean being afraid to experiment and play with your attire. At least not according to Erika Nilsson-Humprey, Entrepreneur and Founder of SCC Member Dappad, a very popular online personal shopping service for men.

“Being personal with your office clothing can be done subtly with the choice of socks or shoes. What colour is your suit? There are many ways to express yourself but still stick to the dress code”.

For young expats working in UK offices, dress codes are traditionally stricter than at home in Sweden, making it even more important to actively think about one’s appearance.

 

 

The High street edit
Nilsson-Humphrey agrees that the UK is more conservative and have more rules when it comes to business fashion than Scandinavia. With a background in Finance and Equity Derivatives, she knows how important it is to follow office codes.

“No matter the dress code, it is important that you look well-groomed and well put together - even if you are in a suit you can look scruffy if the suit doesn’t fit or is of a bad quality”, she tells The LINK.

For those with little time on their hands, Dappad makes it easier to stay updated on the latest trends. The service enables you to type in your specific dress code and sizing online and a stylist from Dappad will then select the most stylish and ‘on trend’ options according to your preferences. They will cater for your suits, shirts, shoes and accessories and also your casual Friday if appropriate. And if this wasn’t enough: the clothes cost the same as in store and shipping is free.

“We are in the business of saving time and making men look good in today’s society - time is our most precious asset and the way we look is our business card”, Nilsson Humprey adds.

LINK readers with the need to update their spring wardrobe should take heed as Nilsson-Humphrey reveals a few tips about the office fashion trends of this season:

“Slim fit suits and the acceptance of brown shoes and boots in the office. A brown shoe can look great with a blue suit and a slim fit suit with a black Chelsea
boot looks awesome! Also please - no baggy shirts”, says Nilsson-Humphrey.

 

“I always prefer to over-dress as it suggests that I take my job seriously. The smarter the clothing, the less one stands-out: I would always rather that people focused on what I said during a meeting, rather than fixated on some ghastly novelty shirt or statement shoes”, Benjamin Webb, sartorial savant and PR pro. 

 

Bespoke beauty
Richard Thompson, a renowned bespoke tailor based in London, says that the UK is a country where stricter office dress codes is key.

“We know London has set the mark as the home of sharp tailoring hence why Saville Row is the go-to place for classic suits rooted in British Heritage. If you walk down the square mile it is full of well-dressed men heading to and from the office”.

However, Thompson also thinks that over the years this trend has spread further afield to Wall Street and places like Zurich, which is a growing market for men who like to invest in sharp tailored suits for the office. Thompson loves to dress well for any occasion. His signature style is classic and overall he thinks it is important for the modern man to dress accordingly in the office whether he likes to follow fashion trends or not:

“An executive can make a statement just from his attire, making his clients feel at ease knowing they are in the company of someone who looks competent and takes pride in himself.”

“My clients - many of them professionals and at the top of their game - come to me so they can walk into a room with confidence and with a suit that is well cut and fits the way it is meant to”.

Thompson says that a common mistake among men is wearing suits that do nothing for them. On the other hand a man can walk down the street in a well cut suit with a nice fitted shirt, nice shoes and tie in the right colour combination and a pocket square to finish it off and he will undoubtedly be noticed whereever he goes.

“It is my job to make sure they feel as good as they can in a suit”, Thompson says.

Styles of today
Trends today vary, some choose to stay super smart, going for suits a bit more daring than your standard navy blue and grey. They might opt for something just a little more colourful - like a brighter blue, or a tie with a bit of edge - a quirky print and not just plain. But even here in London some choose to go causal smart, as some work places are a bit more relaxed. This might entail a nice dark pair of jeans with a well fitted shirt and a sports jacket and nice shoes.

Dressing for an ego boost
Thompson shares a story about one of his clients who had to give a very important talk at a conference to 200 partners, and his words were “I wore one of the new suits you just made for me and I just felt great standing in front of all those people, it makes a lot of difference wearing a really good suit and I got a lot of compliments”.

Another one of his clients told him: “I had a very important meeting with the IMF last week and wore one of your suits. It gave me so much confidence walking into the boardroom. I felt like a million dollars”.

“I guess that says it all, “ Thompson told The LINK.

For the sartorially challenged, who feel that they could do with a helping hand, Thompson advises booking an appointment.

“I will make sure they will look and feel the part - because that is what I do. It all starts with wearing the right clothing for your working environment. Whatever makes you feel confident and will make you stand out but not for the wrong reasons”.

 

 

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