Peer to peer: Why the cover of the book matters

QUESTION | How do I dress for success in the business world?

Alysa Kanani - Founder and editor, Brix & Bows

Dressing for work can be a stress-inducing experience, especially when you’re interacting with different clients in a variety of industries throughout your workweek or in a new work environment.

When it comes to dressing for the workplace, fit is the main thing to focus on. Dressing for your body type is more important than what’s on-trend for the season, and always leaves you looking the part.

Being under- or overdressed can be a concern when you don’t know the situation or the formality of the event or meeting. When it comes to meetings with clients or executives, err on the side of caution and dress up. A quick tip to prevent missing the mark: keep a neutral blazer and a change of shoes under your desk to make sure you’re prepared for any unscheduled formal meetings.

Try not to focus on what’s on-trend. Instead, build a capsule wardrobe that will carry you through the seasons. Staple garments are neutral and versatile, have great fit or structure and can be mixed and matched easily.

Once you have a great collection of go-to pieces, you can add a few stylish items each season to keep the staples looking fresh. This way you won’t have to refresh your whole wardrobe each season, which will help keep your costs down.

JJ Wilson - founder, Kit and Ace

To me, dressing for success depends on how you define success. I have a lot going on – teaching classes at Ride Cycle Club and heading up the brand team at Kit and Ace – so a successful day involves being very productive.

As a result, I don’t have time for fussy clothing – getting dressed needs to be the easiest part of my day.

I’ve worked in other industries where a suit and tie are standard, and while it looked great, it wasn’t really me. That’s part of what led Shannon Wilson and me to found Kit and Ace – we wanted comfortable, technical clothing that was luxurious but still lasted all day.

I want to get dressed after my morning workout and know that when I reach dinner with friends in the evening, my pants won’t be wrinkled and my shirt won’t have bagged out at the elbows.

I’m also constantly on the road, visiting Kit and Ace locations around the world, and looking for new ones. When packing, there just isn’t room for clothing that’s not multi-functional – everything I take with me has to be suited to more than one activity.

I’ve grown up in the fashion industry and I know it well, so I love learning about new brands and trying them out. But day to day, I stand by a tried-and-true uniform: crewneck T-shirt, Kit and Ace joggers or a pair of jeans, a tailored jacket and my Common Projects.

Tom Kearnan - Director of apparel development and merchandising, Indochino

Your appearance matters because going to work is like stepping onto a stage. You can influence how people perceive you by presenting yourself well – a polished and put-together appearance will make you feel confident and inspire confidence in others. 

I’ve worked in men’s fashion for 30 years. To me, there is no better recipe for success than a great suit, crisp shirt and well-co-ordinated tie. Trends come and go, but the suit is the timeless uniform of the successful (and stylish) gentleman. 

Make sure your clothes fit well. The greatest suit in the world won’t look great if it doesn’t fit, so make sure it is well tailored to your body.

Build a smart work wardrobe. This is particularly true if you dress up every day. Start with a couple of well-tailored suits in versatile colours, half a dozen dress shirts and accessories that you can mix and match for multiple outfits. This doesn’t mean spending a fortune – choose quality tailoring over expensive labels.

Be your best self – don’t try to be someone else. Think about your entire look from head to toe. Make sure you’re well groomed, that your shoes are polished and your tie is perfectly knotted.

If you’re unsure where to start, seek help. Don’t be afraid to ask your retailer for advice.