poniedziałek, 5 października 2009

Working Wardrobes

There are probably three stages of evolution for a professional wardrobe. I think of them as Starting Out, Mid-Career and I've Made It. and they apply to everyone that works in large organizations (there's a completely different track for men whose career depends on standing out, as exemplified by the photograph of English writer Nick Foulkes).

When someone is starting out, dressing for the position he wants instead of the position he has can be an important part of a career strategy. But it’s not simple dressing for success because it's disastrous to overdo it. Trying too hard is counterproductive -it does little good to be well dressed with a back full of arrows from alienated co-workers.

You'd think that dressing for the next level up would be unproductive but it works because surprisingly few people actually do it. Starting Out is when people need to start investing in a sound clothing foundation that will serve them for at least half of the rest of their lives (quality clothing lasts a surprisingly long time). Acquire tried and true basics that don't call attention to themselves so they can be worn repeatedly without anyone thinking "It must be Tuesday. Will's got that cream linen jacket on again." The strategy may sound boring but it's possible to be both well and appropriately dressed in many organizations while wearing nothing more than shirts, trousers and sweaters. It doesn't cost a fortune either.

Mid Career is just more of the same on a bigger playing field. In mid-career, people begin dealing with people from outside their organizations and their wardrobes need to accommodate meetings with people in different environments that may include bankers in London and factory managers in Shanghai as well as the folks they began their career with. This is the time when a man needs a wardrobe full of the equivalent of a gray pick and pick suit, blue end on end shirt, dark brown oxfords, a black grenadine necktie and a white linen handkerchief for his jacket's breast pocket.

Only when a man gets to I've Made It may he be free to really express himself with his dress where he earns a living. That may just mean he wears khakis and polos every day because it's what's appropriate when he's making artisanal goat cheese. It could mean he's the one guy in the company that comes in wearing a Savile Row suit and a bow tie. Whatever his style, it's unlikely that his tweeds are as brightly patterned as those of Mr. Foulkes.
Working Wardrobes

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