February 28, 2008

Bias Cut (2-28-08)

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Among the many concerned, curse-filled questions you might be asking yourself as you ponder work-life after graduation or an internship indoors, one of them is probably: “What the (heck) am I going to wear?!”.

The idea of the world after rolling out of bed in your sweatpants at 10:43 for class may not be your favorite topic as spring approaches, but we are here to learn and prepare ourselves for that world, and I am here to do my part in that preparation.

One habit to get used to before your dirty/worn suit pants pile up in the corner of your overpriced Lower East Side apartment: Dry Clean Your Freaking Clothes. Although the snow and rain are relentless this week, and dry cleaners are inconveniently far from the Collegetown residences (and maybe not that good), we need to remember to properly maintain our attire.

Glad that is settled. OK so, generally, let’s lean towards the future Fortune 500 business men and women look and avoid looking like everyone’s favorite weather man. Although the beloved Ron Burgundy’s look might be amusing in a movie, it is certainly a disaster in interviews and business events. (File under: “Will Ferrell should not be imitated in real life” / See also: “Don’t try streaking at home.”)

Let me first note that the classic and famous Armani suit is not the only ticket to looking good. Do not get discouraged right now if you don’t look like a character from the movie Wall Street but, instead, listen. The first step is to kick off those Timberlands and slip on a pair of driving mocs.

Next is walking in those loafers or mocs, whichever you prefer and heading to the nearest Banana Republic or Brooks Brothers to get yourself some new gear (that’s street slang for clothes). Now, when I say KISS (keep it simple stupid, thanks Prof. Kwortnik) again, I mean it. An interview, business seminar, or formal gathering should not be the time to play around with prints and trends. In the book Basic Black by Cathie Black, one of her most important tips is knowing where you are going, and knowing how to dress for such an occasion.

Rules for men: If you are going business casual — it’s slacks, a collared button down and tie optional. Side note: slacks never equal jeans. Absolutely never. Pants should be hemmed or paired with shoes that do not cause the pant to bunch up and look baggy. We aren’t trying to look like Vanilla Ice, and even Adam Sandler in Big Daddy knew that (with the help of his BFF Barney’s). Also, don’t wear a black suit to an interview — it is typically too formal. Stick with a grey or blue suit if only purchasing one.

Appropriate foot attire for suits include loafers and wing tips. And note: use little accessories as possible. Although I think I am one of the few who pile on bangles, they aren’t appropriate for such events. Men with style and with the ambition to look dapper: vests can be a good addition. But consult first. A great book for all you boys to go out and pick up is the The Men’s Style Manual by DETAILS magazine.

For the ladies out there: First, you girls can wear black as well as the traditional grey and navy, lucky you. Wear an oxford or blouse with your suit and tuck it in. Minimize the accessories, wear a simple, solid-color leathered bag and don’t wear heals that have platforms. Simple pumps or flats with minimal decoration. Like the men, minimize on jewelry. Diamond studs or pearls work but no chandelier earrings that have too much character. Maybe one bracelet or so, but leave the men’s sized watch, leather charm bracelets and Nicole Ritchie inspired jewels to be admired on your bed stand.

So good luck on your interviews and make me proud. Your chances to impress me: When the Palestinian Ambassador speaks next Tuesday at Goldwin Smith or Ellis Hanson’s Fashion Victim Day lecture (although spice it up a little for his class).
So remember, ditch the ’80s excess and dress for success. And under no circumstances allow your employers to become the fashion police.