It’s Tuesday. Another Tuesday. But wait, a phone call? An event tonight? You’ll be there. Surprises like these don’t need to send you into a tailspin. With these tips, you can be ready. Even if your events are already etched into your calendar, read on to learn what has worked for us.
“You can never be overdressed or overeducated.” Oscar Wilde’s words couldn’t be any more fitting. Your attire is your introduction, your first impression. Before you say a word, your outfit has already spoken for you and made a statement.
The process for picking the right ensemble is two-fold: preparation and presentation.
The Backup Plan: One key in business is expecting the unexpected. This means you should be ready to shift gears, change course, or take action at any given moment. Keep a versatile suit jacket and tie on deck somewhere near your office, cubicle, or desk. If the tie and jacket match, that’s all the better. This way, no matter what you wear in the morning, you can just use that outfit as a backdrop for a clean and complementary look.
Even if your day job has a casual or business casual environment, you never know when “corporate” will pop up for surprise reviews or when the opportunity of a lifetime will present itself. If you think you know what your schedule will consist of, think again. The grind can certainly make things seem routine, but being prepared for and open to networking will often set things in motion. If you look the part, conversations start. It could be that a friend of a friend gets last minute tickets to a ball game, or even to a gala. If you’re reliable and presentable, you’ll get that call.
Do Your Research: Know where you’re going and what’s expected. Getting the right information is a matter of knowing what to ask. If the invitation doesn’t say so, ask whether an event is event casual, semi-casual, business, semi-formal, or formal. Whatever the category of dress, presentation is the next step.
Casual: This is less likely for a networking event, but possible for company picnics, barbecues, ball games, and the like. Wear whatever you want. The only caution here is to steer clear of muscle tees unless there is an officially sanctioned athletic activity at the event.
Semi-Casual/Business Casual: No denim or shorts, but all else is fair game. You can throw on a blazer, and even a tie, but all you really need are pants with a good fit and a long-sleeved collared shirt of your choosing.
Business: Think interview. For events in this category, put your best foot forward with a full suit and tie but proceed with caution on loud colors and accessories. These events are less about expressing yourself and more about representing the company or organization’s image.
Semi-Formal/Cocktail: This category gives the gentleman the most freedom as far as fabrics, colors, and accessories go. Dark suits and light shirts are the default, but you tastefully can be as bold as you wish.
Formal: Tuxedos are not in every man’s closet, but rock it if you have it. If not, a dark suit and silk tie will do.
We believe a gentleman should know the standards for each event, but always feel free to exceed expectations. These guidelines are just the baseline. Go as far above and beyond as you see fit. Remember that you want to be remembered, but not for the wrong reasons. Networking events are full of first and lasting impressions, so dress how you want to be addressed.