Event Dressing: The after-work special

Image by Brioni
Above: Models Sam Webb, Maximiliano Patane and Jae Yoo in smart business looks from Brioni SS14.

You have an after-work event that you need to attend. It might be a business-mixer, a networking clinic or even a client event that you’ve been invited to. How should you dress to leave a good impression? Truth is, in Singapore few men wear full suits everyday, most men would view even wearing a tie as dressy, unless it’s part of the uniform. So dressing in the style above, which will get you through most things, wouldn’t fly here. In which case, what will?

  1. Work with what you have.
Image by Uniqlo.
Men’s blue cotton oxford shirt by Uniqlo.

Chances are you are already in a shirt and pair of trousers and that works (unless the work you do involves being in water or doesn’t require you to wear clothes. In which case, the after-work event in question is probably not one that will require you to turn up in anything more than full-on lycra, or less.). Opt for tones that suit you. Stay away from black. A pair of black trousers is severe, whilst a black shirt is best avoided if you are prone to perspiring (salt stains from profuse sweating show up like snail trails on black cotton). A combination of a full black top and matching trousers makes you look like the waiter.

Blue and white checked shirt by Suit Supply
Blue and white checked shirt by Suit Supply.
Image by Canali.
Pastel blue dress shirt by Canali.

Failsafe shirt colours: Mid-blue in patterns like stripes and checks as well as solids like pastel blue and plain whites in a medium-weight fabric (so the white isn’t too translucent).

Image by Zara Men.
White cotton long-sleeved shirt by Zara.

Failsafe trouser options: Dark grey and navy. Khaki is another option, although it is more casual so bear that in mind if your business event veers towards the formal.

  1. Fit is king.

At a pinch, you can get away without a full suit at a formal business events if:

a) You are wearing a long-sleeved shirt and a well-made silk tie. Always keep a tie in your officer drawer and have it stored rolled-up in a tie box for such occasions. A textured navy in heavy silk usually goes with everything.

Image by Hermès.
Silk tie by Hermès.
Image by Ermenegildo Zegna.
Silk tie by Ermenegildo Zegna.

2) Your clothes fit you well. That means your shirt sleeves aren’t too long or too short and there isn’t bulges or excess fabric along your trouser seat or around the tucked-in portion of your shirt (and yes your shirt should always be tucked in) around your waist.

Neither should your clothing be too tight or fitted. This isn’t a body-con competition. Leave yourself some room to breathe.

  1. Details, details.
Image by Lanvin.
Black leather business belt by Lanvin.

Accessories matter. Keep it simple but smart. All you need is a nice timepiece, preferable in a leather strap that matches your shoes and belt, or a plain steel bracelet that can go with both. A plain leather belt in both a deep brown and black and a nice pair of leather lace-ups, one in brown and one in black should also be part of your regular wardrobe as it is a simple way of doubling its versatility.

Image by ed et al.
Antique brown leather Temasek II lace-ups by ed et al.

Always match the leather on you to one colour family. So if you have a brown pair of shoes on, your belt should be brown and so should your watch-strap if it’s a leather strap. Vice versa if it is a black pair of shoes you have on.

NEVER pair a black belt with brown shoes or a brown belt with black shoes. Trust me on this.

  1. Suit yourself.
Image by Zara.
Navy tailored-fit suit by Zara.

If you wear a suit to work, wear your suit to the event. We have become an island of such casual dressers that even putting on a blazer is seen as formalwear. But things are changing. You want to look smart and you should use the tools in your arsenal, clothes included. A well-fitting suit and a crisp white shirt will make you look smart. Period.

Image by Zara.
Light grey business suit in tailored-fit by Zara.

Two Suits for All Occasions: Navy is especially flattering for all skin tones. Grey works, though choose your shade according to your skin tone. Fair skin works well with mid to dark-grey whilst a more tanned exterior can carry off a lighter grey. When choosing your grey suit, a solid grey can look kinda monotonous so opt for a subtle pattern like herringbone or checks to give it just that little bit of oopmh.

  1. Check mate, or mates.
Image by Ermenegildo Zegna.
Jamie Dornan for Ermenegildo Zegna’s SS14 Campaign.

Before you head out the office and grab a cab to the next function. Check the invite and see if there is a specific dresscode. If in doubt, check what your co-workers or colleagues who are heading to the same event are wearing. A safe bet is to wear something just a tad more formal than them. So if no one is wearing a jacket, throw on your jacket but lose the tie and unbutton your collar button. If the majority is in a shirt and tie, wear your jacket and tie. A little touch goes a long way and it’s a small difference that might, in the end, make that subtle yet vital impression on clients, colleagues and future bosses. And possibly even that hot co-worker you’ve been wanting to ask out.

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