Man Up: Upgrading Your Wardrobe For A Professional Situation

January 17, 2014

buisnessman in suit and tieSo, you’re having coffee with an attorney who has your dream job. Or, maybe you’re starting a promising clerkship or associate position soon.

Now, you’re on your own when it comes to your resume and appropriate water-cooler topics. As for what you should wear, though, we’ve got you covered.

  • When in doubt, go conservative: Hey, big guy. That flashy teal sateen shirt is – well, it’s a bit much. Even if you don’t consider yourself trendy, it probably can’t hurt to tone it all down just a little bit. You want to stand out because of your work, not your wardrobe. When you’re trying to project a professional image, keep suits navy or black and shirts white or pale blue. Yeah, it isn’t very creative, but look at it this way – when you’re a partner, your clothes can rock the boat all you want. Until then, “subdued” should be your watchword.
    • If it’s a warm-weather month and you’re comfortable sticking your neck out just a little, you could go for a very pale pink shirt (Hint: if it looks like candy, it isn’t pale enough) or a khaki suit. With either of these options, go for a solid tie, or one with a very conservative print. Anything too loud will be overwhelming.
  • Yes, you need those finishing touches: Keep what we just said about being conservative in mind, but do be aware that to finish off a professional look, you’re going to need two things: a tie bar and a pocket square. These are easier to work with than you might think. For the tie bar, go for a solid, unadorned metallic color – silver is always nice. As for the pocket square, keep it tame and don’t even think about going all origami. Instead, opt for a simple rectangle or triangle.
    • What about cufflinks? Most shirts don’t actually need them, but some guys like wearing them anyway. If you give them a shot, just don’t go too chunky or bejeweled.
  • Spend on the tailor, not the suit: These days you can get a decent suit for a student-friendly price somewhere like H&M, Express or Target (yes, Target). What you can’t do, though, is expect a suit like that to fit perfectly. For that, you’ll need to go to a tailor. Buying an inexpensive suit and then having it altered to fit you will make you look sharp and won’t require you to take out even more student loans.
  • Rules of Thumb: Lastly, here’s a lightning round of tips to consider:
    • Most shades of blue go with most shades of brown. It’s pretty hard to go wrong mixing these two colors.
    • Your belt should complement your shoes.
    • Nobody ever looks bad in a crisp white shirt. Nobody.
    • Blanket statement: Man Jewelry is just kind of a bad idea.
    • It’s fine if your shoes aren’t expensive. It’s not fine if they’re scuffed or the laces are ratty. And yes, people will notice.

Since GQ refuses to hire Will Ashenmacher, he works as a Social Media Marketer for the Large and Medium Law Segment, where he Tweets under LargeMidLaw and maintains the Legal Solutions – Large Law Firms blog.