Menswear - Putting Together A Business Wardrobe

Dianne Daniels

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We're going to discuss some specific aspects of Men’s business dressing, which has different rules than women’s. Ladies, if you have a husband, son, brother, good friend or other relative that could use this information, please feel free to pass it along. Enjoy this segment, and come back for the others!

Whether you are a new college graduate, just joining the working world, changing jobs due to a merger, acquisition or “dot-bomb” or just feel the need to update your professional look, putting together a business wardrobe can be a scary prospect.

In the next installments of this article, we’ll discuss the components of a great classic wardrobe that will have you well dressed for years, and will prove to be wise investments.

Let’s start with the potentially most expensive, yet most important part of your business wardrobe – your suits. Rather than buy the latest cutting-edge, designer look of the moment that will be dated and obsolete next year, select 3 – 4 classically tailored suits in year-round fabrics and conservative colors.

If you've seen my articles about Color and it’s effect on you, you'll know that men also fall into the color “Seasons”, and there are suggestions for colors in those articles. I’ll also include some hints and tips in this article regarding colors for men’s suits.

A popular choice of fabric in men’s suits is 120’s merino wool in a bengaline weave, which tends to resist wrinkling and provides a natural stretch for increased comfort. What’s 120’s merino wool? Well, Merino Wool is a specific designation for the wool grown and sheared from Merino sheep. It’s very silky and soft, and the fiber diameter further distinguishes the various grades of Merino Wool.

There are three major classifications: Super 100 (wool fibers slightly thicker than 18 microns), Super 100s (wool fibers less than 18 microns thick), and Super 120’s (wool fibers sheared only from the neck and shoulders of the sheep, under 16 microns thick).

The higher the grade number of the wool, the finer and more luxurious the fabric will be that is created from it and correspondingly, the higher the price for the garment! A suit made of a Super 120’s wool will cost more, however, that same suit will last years instead of months. It is well worth the investment in yourself and your professional appearance.

Popular choices for men’s suit colors include navy and charcoal grey, in a plain or pinstripe pattern, and make for a polished look. This is a terrific suggestion for men whose coloring is cool or blue-based. Winters and Summers are included in this color range. Additional popular colors for cooler-toned men are midnight navy, black, and gray navy.

Men who are warmer in their coloring could choose a bright navy, warm taupe or camel as a basic suit color, remembering that dark navy or black will wash out the coloring on these men and may make them look pale or unhealthy. Not exactly the impression we want to give, now is it?

Classic looks are ensured with a two or three button jacket, and current trends are favoring the 3-button style. More trendy looks have been seen with over 4 buttons on a single-breasted jacket, but these looks are best kept for evening activities and not for a business look.

Double-breasted suits can be problematic if your physique is not suited for them, and the difficulty of sitting in an always-buttoned jacket can cause extra wear and tear on your investment.

Business pants with a double-reverse pleat are a classic that will endure. You should be sure to have them tailored to fit your physique, as pulled-out pleats from an abundant abdomen or rear are sure to make you look even bigger, not business-like. An adept tailor is invaluable to a businessman, and the recommendations of friends and associates will help you find a good one.

Many suit retailers offer tailoring with a purchase, which can be a good way to start. Always test a new or unfamiliar tailor with one suit, so that if he / she doesn’t work to your liking; they haven’t affected your entire wardrobe!

Once you have your 3 or 4 basic suits, you can slowly add other suits to round out your business and entertaining wardrobe. Remember to keep your suit colors classic, and use what you know about your personal coloring (cool or warm) to choose shades and variations that will suit you best.

The best rule of thumb for Menswear: wear what is comfortable for you, remembering that classic tailoring and the right colors for you will best stand the test of time.

About the Author: Dianne M. Daniels is an Image & Color Coach, Consultant and Professional Speaker, and the author/publisher of “Polish & Presence: 31 Days to a New Image". She has helped individuals refine and define their personal and professional image, along with corporations and organizations. Learn how to create your Personal Climate for Personal and Professional Success at


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