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Top 10 Business Clothing Mistakes to Avoid

Posted Monday, November 6th, 2017

Member Submitted

Submitted by: Craig Arthur von Schroeder, Founder & CEO, Commonwealth Proper

At Commonwealth Proper we don’t just make clothes.  Our mission is to make every client look sharp, trim and proper.  That’s the simplest way to avoid business clothing mistakes. When you have to wear business clothes, try these tips from our designers, stylists and tailors.

  1. BUSINESS CASUAL STILL MEANS BUSINESS

The erosion of American sartorial prowess resulted from adopting “ everyday business casual” dress policies. Unfortunately, company policies are often enigmatic.

So here’s our foolproof advice to navigate this policy: stick with white and blue button-down shirts. Pair them with solid grey or navy pants. Wear black or brown leather shoes. No shorts. No tees. No polos. No sneakers.

It may seem boring. But, you’ll look appropriate every day.

  1. FIT IS IT

Swimming in an over-sized suit or shirt looks sloppy.  Squeezing into tight clothes suggests that you’re trying too hard to be “trendy.” And that’s appropriate in only a few industries.

A proper fit is trim. It flatters your silhouette and body. There’s also enough drape for movement. And there’s enough fabric for a smooth line even when buttoned.

When clothes fit properly, you appear natural, unaffected, and confident.

  1. JACKET & SLEEVE LENGTHS MATTER

Many men wear their jackets too long.  Being blunt, this makes you look old.

Your suit jacket length should be at your thumb’s middle knuckle when hands are at your side. If you’ve got longer arms, make sure the jacket just covers the behind.

And, shirtsleeves look best at the break of the wrist with jacket sleeves a little shorter.  You do want them to peek out 1/4-1/2” past the jacket sleeve.

  1. SUIT PANTS AREN’T JEANS

Wear pants higher than your jeans. For a trim fit, suit pants sit up on your hip bones. When your suit pants fit properly on the waist you won’t need a belt. Although, you can use one for styling purposes. Try side tabs instead of belt loops.

  1. NO PLEATS, PLEASE

In theory, pleats provide more room in the hip area when sitting or walking. But, they add extra bulk at your waist.  Who wants that? Well-fitted flat-front pants can be just as roomy and comfortable. If you insist on a pleat, limit it to one. That’s all you need.

  1. BUTTONING UP: ALWAY, SOMETIMES, NEVER

Always button the top button of a two-button suit jacket when standing, and unbutton when sitting.

If you’re still wearing a three-button suit, keep the middle button closed and sometimes you can button the top button too.

But never button the bottom button of any suit or vest.

For shirts, never unbutton more than two buttons.

  1. SOCKS MATCH YOUR PANTS

Clients ask about sock colors regularly.

Here’s the rule: match sock color to your pant color. Matching them to your shoes makes it look like you are wearing boots. Matching to your pants makes you look taller.

And, keep your socks understated. Yes, fashion-forward guys use an array of sock colors.  Don’t.  In most professional fields you’ll seem garish.

  1. LEATHER SHOES AND LEATHER SOLES

Shoes make the man. Because in business men often get judged on shoes alone.

So we advocate buying good ones. Leather uppers and leather soles are always appropriate. Two-tone shoe can be tempting, but rarely work for professionals. Stick to solid brown or black. And, keep your shoes looking new or risk looking like a loser. Polish them regularly and invest in cedar shoetrees to keep them in shape.

  1. BEWARE THE POCKET SQUARE

Like brightly coloredsocks, pocket squares can be taboo in many professions. If you want that extra flourish, use a white cotton or silk pocket square. Fold it into a square and tuck discretely into your breast pocket behind your lapel with ½” peeking out.

  1. CARE FOR YOUR CLOTHES

Wool garments need to be dry-cleaned. But, not too often.

Dry-cleaning shortens the lifespan of wool. We suggest gently brushing your suits and jackets after wearing them. Rotate them to let the suit “rest” between wears.  They will last longer. If needed, steam wool to remove wrinkles. Never ever iron a suit.

On the other hand, always iron your shirts. Wash and wear “no iron” shirts look worn before they’re worn. A crisp shirt telegraphs that you’re on your game.

In conclusion, the stakes are highest when dressing for your profession, so its best to avoid common mistakes at all costs.  Need more advice? We’re here 24/7 at service@commonwealthproper.com.

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