Monday, March 16, 2009

Finding function in menswear

I learn a lot from customers who seek items specifically suited for their destinations. For instance, one gentleman last week was trying on navy blazers that were a wool/polyester blend, which resists wrinkling. He also wanted a raincoat that would protect him in the mountains of Peru, and found one that suited his needs. It was a matter of fit and confidence in the product that would determine his decision to purchase both.

The first blazer he tried on was clearly too big. I suggested he go one size down, and that one fit him like a glove.

Now back to the coat. The man wanted an assurance that it's waterproof. I suggested a Barbour coat, but he already had that particular brand and we agreed it would be too heavy to hike in.

Realistically, no garment can keep out water forever, but the information on the coat was fairly thorough. If it was not up to his satisfaction, I said, bring it back with the receipt for a refund.

He bought both items and walked out with what he wanted.

This is one of many stories I hear from customers who are focused on purchasing clothes for travel around the world. So I looked at my wardrobe and wondered what I can weed out because it lacks a functional purpose.

These days, I don't wear leather-soled shoes as often because I'm on my feet on the selling floor, and leather soles are less and less comfortable over time. I have in the past donated shoes to charity for that reason. Similarly, I've purged T shirts that pile up because I wear dress shirts more often. (I would not give up my denim, though, despite not being allowed at my workplace to wear jeans while selling clothes.)

In a recessionary economy, it's important to think about what kind of use you expect to get out of your clothes. It's less about just looking nice and more about bang for buck. Maximize Style Points, yes -- and put your clothes to work for you as well.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

In recession, 'business casual' a serious look

The economic downturn has generated a bit of musical chairs over what to wear these days.

Job seekers dress to the nines to make the best first impression possible, as they should when in interview mode. Suit yourself, as it were.

When you get hired, however, what should your wardrobe mix look like?

Well, it's usually best to "do as the Romans do," navigate your work environment and dress accordingly. Dressing comfortably is the goal. If you go into work wearing a tie, you might be able to loosen it over the course of the day and still look presentable, or just remove it altogether.

If there's an upper limit, it would be no shorts, and khakis are a more flexible option than denim.

Dressing like the common man ain't so bad, but that should not be synonymous with unkempt. Dress codes may have relaxed over the last several years, but they're not flabby. There's still a standard of looking crisp, even in casual wear.