A Different Slant on the Oscars

 

The Oscars are over once again fasionistas have written columns about the most beautiful gowns and the fashion disasters. I thought I would take a slightly different approach and look at the men.henry-cavill_muvq

Black tie has always been defined as a black tux with classic tux shirt, a black bow tie and cummerbund. I don’t ever recall seeing a man dressed in a properly fitting tux and traditional black tie that was not at his most handsome. There is just something about that simple elegance that turns any man into Prince Charming.ryan-seacrest-4cc608bf-57d0-4fd1-bd25-a1bc95250f95

This year, the men at the Academy Awards garnered much attention by trying to be peacocks. I’m not sure it was all good! Ryan Seacrest was sporting his version of an updated tux in a gray tweed-like jacket with a black shawl collar. Hmmm. When did tweed ever step into the formal category?   Tweed is more conducive to hunting. Smooth fabrics are much more formal. Add some shine and it becomes even more so. Therefore, a tux in a smooth black wool offers a durable garment while the shiny lapel and stripe on the trouser leg transform it into handsome formal wear. Ryan’s sleeves appear to be too short. The cuff exposed on the right hand is just right but his large watch blocks the left cuff from falling correctly.   Tip: If one wears a large watch, the shirt cuff must allow room to cover the watch. Jacket sleeves eddie-redmayne-9336b4b1-8528-4a21-b513-46d7978500e5should hang without wrinkles.

Eddie Redmayne’s velvet tux was a little over the top. Velvet is a fragile fabric but sitting is not allowed! The marks from sitting are permanent so this is really impractical. Michael Strahan’s blue business suit version is better left for business.   michael-strahan-f66d4bf9-7eae-4a7f-ade8-c7da47bf8d3eChange out the satin trim to wool and you have a winner. And, yes, designers may be a little creative by using a contrasting color for lapels. The look won’t work in a conservative setting but would be great fun for a social occasion or worn in a more artsy setting.

kevin-hart-853f3f19-ead6-48b1-8c46-c07acd55e0b6Beading detail on Kevin Hart’s tux reminds me of a design student’s first project using “creativity”.   I would give a “C” for effort. Then there is Orlando Jones’s shiny leaf/cammo jacket. One just asks., “Why?” His slacks should be properly hemmed allowing them to fall straight showing a nice crease.Cammo look

Henry Cavill, first picture,  looks fabulous in his classic tux. It is an all-around winner!

Peacocks went out with Louis XV. Perfect fit and good taste always reign whether at the Oscars or the palace!

 

 

Your appearance is more important than your résumé in an interview!

Three great looks.
Three great looks.

Before the last graduation congratulations have faded from the airwaves, finding a job becomes a reality! Where to start? How to be selected?   If these questions are spinning in your mind, here are 5 keys to making a great first impression.

You only have about seven seconds to make a first impression. Of course the interviewer has your résumé but you have to look the part. Every year business journals feature companies recounting horror stories of job applicants coming to an interview in flip-flops, torn jeans, or T-shirts. You want to stand out from your competition starting with the moment your interviewer greets you.

Great fitting suit with blue shirt.
Great fitting suit with blue shirt.
  1. Posture is the first thing an employer notices. One who carries his/her shoulders squared and has a confident walk convey alertness and competence. It goes without saying that grooming must be impeccable; nails trimmed, hair well groomed and facial hair only if you are sure that the culture of the company finds this acceptable.   Long hair pulled back for ladies appears more professional and allows your face to be the focus.
  2. A touch of color.
    A touch of color.

    A jacket is a wise addition to most interviewing attire. Knowing the culture of the company is your best guide. My son works in a software development company where the mode of dress is khakis and polo shirts. However, he saw one of his very competent former colleagues be rejected because he failed to wear a dress shirt and tie to the interview. It is always better to dress the next level above the job you are applying for than to under dress.   A dress shirt with crisp, pointed collar frames the face and communicates, “I’m ready.”   The diagonal lines of the collar signify action. A jacket adds the finishing touch to complete your look.

    Professional woman's look.
    Professional woman’s look.
  3. Suits are a must in more conservative work environment: traditionally, the legal field, finance or banking, and accounting. Choose the suit with the best fit and don’t hesitate to have alterations done if needed. A suit that is too tight indicates stinginess or trying to appear sexy if you are a lady, while a too large fit looks sloppy. Both are images that will turn off a prospective employer.
  4. Charcoal, navy or gray are the best suit colors. A blue shirt or blouse is an excellent choice. It is not only flattering to most skin tones, but blue is the most universally liked color and conveys honesty.   A button down shirt is considered more casual so reserve these for a sport jacket. Ladies can choose a crisp blouse or shell in a flattering color. Jewelry and fragrance should be understated and minimal. Ties can be in red, shades of blue or grays and could be solid, striped or a subtle pattern.
  5. Polished leather shoes and matching belt complete the image. I prefer brown shoes for men, even with gray suits. Although slip-ons work for slacks and sport jacket, laced business shoes present a more professional look with a suit. A classic pump is a good choice for ladies. It could be a sling back but definitely not sandals. Socks should match trousers and ladies look more professional with hose.
Eye contact and firm handshake.
Eye contact and firm handshake.

Don’t forget making eye contact and a firm handshake. Your outstanding first impression will allow you to focus the interview on your competence!

 

This is reposted from April, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is a Turtleneck the Answer?

 

Where's his neck?
Where’s his neck?

In response to the sub-zero Atlanta temperatures, I did what most everyone else is doing – pulled out the turtleneck. As I surveyed how I looked before going out the door, I was shocked to realized that a turtleneck sweater is no longer a good style for me. When did that happen? I have a long neck and had always thought that a turtleneck worked. But, as I took time to objectively assess my look, I realized that my jaw area is not as firm as it once was (commonly known as having jowls) and the collar of a turtleneck seems to exaggerate that fact.

Casually flattering.
Casually flattering.

Although many people choose a turtleneck to keep warm or to camouflage wrinkles, turtleneck sweaters are not particularly flattering for many people. We only need to look at a few examples to Notice how the neckline of the gentleman in the orange sweater appears not to have a neck.

Truly a "turtle" neck.Notice how different the man in the black sweater looks by having just a small opening at the neck. You can see his neck but this would still be flattering for someone who has a short neck, is noticeable overweight or has significant signs of aging. The opening is narrow enough to hide the flaws while offering warmth and a fashionable look.

This grey sweater looks warm and toasty but completely hides its wearer’s neck. The red sweater has a very similar neckline but what a visual difference! Its larger cowl neckline allows you to see the model’s neck and serves as a frame, to draw attention up to her face.

Warm and flattering.
Warm and flattering.
Let the collar be a frame.
Let the collar be a frame.

The magenta sweater with this buttoned opening also draws your attention to the wearer’s face. Notice how the collar frames the lower part of the face and opens up the neck area.

As you study these pictures, which do you find more esthetically pleasing? Which ones make the model look his or her best?

Let Me Count The Ways . . . .

 

images-2A navy blue blazer is one of the most versatile fashion items ever. The navy jacket has advanced far beyond the classic prep school image to being a wardrobe staple.

Navy is my favorite neutral.  It is a combination of black and blue: blue represents honesty, success, and spirituality while black lends strength and power.  Navy can be paired with both warm and cool colors, making it a great choice for both cool and warm toned people.

Once you find your favorite style, make sure it fits well.   European cuts are excellent for the man with wide shoulders who is trim through the waist area.  If you are more a rectangle build or carry a little extra weight through the waist area, choose a classic cut that does not pull or wrinkle.  Some manufacturers cut the arms larger than most people need in order to accommodate the guy who works out all the time.   A good tailor will spot these problem areas and be able to make the adjustments.  Remember, it is always easier to take in than to let out.images-3

The double-breasted jacket should be worn buttoned so always looks more formal.  Think Pierce Bronson.  Double-breasted is an excellent way to visually slim a thicker mid-area.  Notice how this double-breasted jacket has been stylized to give a classy casual air.   If your style is elegant, this is a great way to go casual and stay true to your personal style.

imgres-3These two men wear their navy blazers very differently while staying true to their own style.  The man on the left is definitely sporty–casual.  Crumpled jeans, sport shirt and blazer topped by slightly tousled hair are perfect for his look.  The man on the right, however, is a bit heavy set and a traditional dresser.  His choice of dress shirt and tie with slacks not only looks appropriate for his image but give a much slimmer appearance.

Then there is the man who wears his blazer with creative flair.  This man adds a driving cap and a sweater.  Notice the slim-legged jeans turned up.  imgres-2This creative dresser would be so out of character if he were required to wear his blazer in a traditional fashion.   He knows his style and rocks it!  This man would not be comfortable in a job that required traditional dress but he could pull his look a little more mainstream by wearing slacks and removing the hat.  I would rather see him working in an environment that allowed him to be authentic.

Navy blazers are a great staple in the lady’s wardrobe as well.  You can use your version of these men’s looks just as effectively.

Flowers for Men??

If you’re not planning a trip to Hawaii or Tahiti, don’t worry.  Flowers are in right here in the United States!  Designers will be bringing flowers in full force in the spring but clothiers will be introducing more and more flowers into fall collections.

Flowered shirts and swimwear don’t seem to be unusual in warm or tropical settings.  After all, you are surrounded with vibrantly colored flowers and greenery.  In fact, a conservative navy or gray suit would look out of place.  However, northern cities are replete with black, gray and navy business suits so the man wearing a bright floral shirt with his suit is going to attract a lot of attention.  Not necessarily positive!

I am sure this trend is going to be much more popular in cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix, or Miami but if you want to just dip your toe into flowerdy waters, there are some more conservative options.

The new “Aloha” shirts have a slimmer cut with a smaller collar for an updated look.  Some of the patterns look more camouflage than a florist shop.   These updated shirts would look cool with denim, good chinos or white pants.   Dockers or white Converse could complete the look.  You could even throw on an unstructured linen blazer.

If this is a little too bold for your style, but you would like to do flowers, New Balance has come out with sneakers with a subtle flowered lining.  How safe is that?  You will also find simple solid T-shirts with a floral design on the pocket.  Of course, flowered socks would be a natural way to subtly incorporate a flower or two into your business style.   Ties will be adding many floral options.

On the extreme side, you will be seeing floral trousers, jackets and even suits.  I’m thinking these may never make the stores in more conservative cities, which is a good thing!

If your style is more like Tom Hanks, you may want to pass on this trend; but if your style is on the creative side like Johnny Depp, you may have fun throwing in a few flowers.  No matter where you are on the men’s fashion scale, flowers are coming and you can choose how you want to brighten your closet . . . . or , maybe not!

Are You Ready for Spezzato?

Spezzato, which literally means broken in two, is the Italian name for mismatching jacket and trousers masterfully.  Where but Italy would men push the envelope with combinations considered so daring?  One would hardly find green trousers with a checked jacket in a window on Seville Row!  Nor would the traditional American navy blazer with khakis or jeans really qualify as spezzato.  No, Italian men seem to know just how to push the envelope and not look ridiculous.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Brunello Cucinelli stated, “Men are comfortable mixing fabrics and patterns in Italy, and they embrace this style in both casual and formal situations.”  Mr. Cucinelli often displays unstructured jacket with casual trousers in his own window displays.  To quote the article, Mr. Cucinelli “favors lighter, subtler tones; even the bold colors in his latest collection are speckled with beige or gray for what he describes a ‘dusty’ effect….We believe in wearing one bright color at a time, and complementing it with more neutral pieces.”  Alan See of the Armoury, a men’s shop in Hong Kong asserts that the suit is not necessarily needed in the modern workplace, opening up many possibilities with separates.

Gioanni Bianchi, product manager for another Italian men’s wear label, states that one should start with a well tailored jacket of fine quality fabric even though jackets used for the spezzato look are deconstructed, without the full lining and shoulder pads of traditional suits.  The article cautioned that it is preferable to let the jacket be the stabilizing element in this look, using brightly contrasting trousers to add the punch.

As you can see from the pictures, this look takes some finesse in choosing combinations that work together harmoniously.  The bad news is that It may take a year in Italy to learn how to “Spezzato” effectively.   Hmmm.  Not a bad idea.

Pleats – They’re Back

Just when we have become accustomed to men appearing sleek and trim in their body fitting flat front trousers, designers are introducing pleated-front slacks in their fall 2012 collections.

I love the look of flat-front trousers – on the right person.  These slacks appear trim and clean cut on the right body.   However, they don’t work for everyone.   In fact, I don’t think they work for the majority of men.

Flat-front slacks are excellent on the slender man with a flat tummy, trim legs and a smaller derriere.  Not so much the man with a protruding tummy, larger legs or a fuller derriere.  That’s where pleats can make a difference.

I recently worked with a man who had the athletic build of a runner.  He was very trim through the upper part of his body but had muscular thighs and a larger derriere.  He had trouble finding well-fitting trousers.  Pleats would allow more room for this kind of a build while still hanging smoothly from the waist.

Men with large tummies look best wearing slacks with suspenders holding them up at the natural waist.  Some pleating on the trousers is generally preferable.  Without suspenders, the pant slips down under the tummy creating an unattractive fold in the rise.

Pleated trousers look best with cuffs to give a grounded look at the bottom while flat-front pants are generally better without a cuff.  Whether pleats or flat font, men should avoid wallets and car keys being visible in their pockets.   Maybe introducing  men’s purses would be a more practical fashion innovation!  (My husband, for one, would look with disdain on that option but has no problem with placing glasses, keys and other items in MY purse.)

All pleats are not created equal.  I notice most mainstream designers are using just one small pleat.  However, Dior Homme for example, introduced two, deep pleats in their Fall 2012 line.  Most men would be swimming in this look.   I’m sure this is but the beginning of the return to pleats.

How I wish designers would offer options to work with different body builds each season instead of limiting us to “the look” of that season.  If pleats in men’s trousers are  coming back, can women’s be far behind?

Dress the Candidate

The primaries are in full swing and so is scrutiny of the candidates.  A few days ago I read an article criticizing candidates wearing blue jeans on the campaign trail.   The author asserted that no one over fifty should wear jeans.   It is a good thing that my daddy is no longer with us.  He was a cattle rancher and, although he was handsome in his suit and tie, jeans were his favorite attire until his death at age 93.

Not just jeans, but the article went on to assert that a dress shirt should never be worn without a tie!  I’m not sure what planet this author has been living on, but it certainly isn’t the planet I know.  What would Dmitry Medvedev and Tony Blair say about that?  They wore jeans, dress shirts with open collars and navy blazers to the White House.  I suggest this look for an upscale casual.

Ron Paul seems to be one candidate who adheres to the author’s criteria.   I’m sure a suit and tie has been Dr. Paul’s mode of dress all of his adult life; first in his medical practice followed by many years of serving in congress.

Rick Santorum seems to prefer wearing casual Dockers style trousers; a much more flattering style for him than jeans would be.  Now I would like to weigh in on the sweater vests that he is so fond of wearing.  If I were his image consultant, I would burn every one of them!   (Unfortunately, I have not heard my phone ringing on that front.)

Mitt Romney often wears jeans with dress shirts open at the neck.  The plaid and checked shirts he chooses are casual while giving a professional casual look.  I would prefer to see dark blue, pressed jeans but he can wear this look well.

Fortunately, Newt Gingrich has not been campaigning in casual attire.  With his girth, it would not be a pretty site!  He has wisely chosen dark suits with tie, which draws attention to his face and what he is saying rather than his waistline.

Even President Obama, who is always impeccably dressed, is often seen wearing a dress shirt without a tie when traveling across the country.

When a final candidate is chosen and the presidential race begins in earnest, image consultants will be hired and candidates will be packaged to project the proper image.  Although my choice will be guided by what the candidate stand for and how they will run the country, I will be among the first to comment on what they are wearing!

 

 

ALOHA!

My husband bought his first Hawaiian shirt shortly after we were married 26 years ago.  These are his go-to shirts for hot summer days.    Just mention pool party or bar-b-q and out comes the flowered shirt.

I have always puzzled at where this style originated and why it has endured for as long as I can remember.  The Hawaiian shirt or “Aloha” shirt, as they were known in Hawaii, were introduced to the United States when men brought them back from the Pacific islands and Asia at the end of World War II.   The postwar South Seas island craze remained until Hawaii took the spotlight as a new state in 1959.   Hawaii became the vacation destination of choice and, naturally, what better souvenir than a Hawaiian  “flowerdy” shirt.  (to quote Ray Stevens)

My husband, who is the quintessential traditional dresser, refusing to wear anything too trendy or fashion-forward, takes delight in his exotic flowers.  (He reminded me that he doesn’t go for bright but chooses softer colors.)

Now, famous designers have gotten into the act featuring a wide range of Hawaiian print shirts.  Instead of the traditional rayon, they have chosen cotton or linen which has a softer appearance.  The slimmer cuts of these new shirts appeal to a more youthful crowd.  Dolce and Gabbana, Givenchy, and Prada are among the top designer who featured this updated shirt on their spring runways.

Tyler Thoreson, of Gilt Man and Park & Bond, warns that the tropical shirt is not appropriate for the office if one works in a conservative environment.   But he does suggest that in a more relaxed work environment, it can be a great look paired with linen trousers or a cotton and linen summer suit.  Suede loafers, worn with no socks give the perfect finishing touch.  So there you have it!  The shirt thought in the past to be for older, slightly over weight men, is now young and hip.

Special workshop!  In conjunction with the City Club of Buckhead, we are offering two Style Workshops at the special price of $20.  Dates are Tuesday, July 24, 7:30PM – 9:30PM and Saturday, August 4, 2:00PM -4:00PM.   Space is limited so call or email today to make your reservation.   Beryl@StyleWithAplomb.com or 404-428-2527.

 

Warm Up to Brown

The last time we saw brown featured as a proper business color was when Al Gore’s handlers attempted to project him as the “Alpha Male” by dressing him in brown.  Prior to that, we fondly remember President Regan, wearing his brown suits whenever he visited the Midwest in order to connect better with the agricultural community.  Since then, brown has not been a part of the fashionable color list.  Women are less dictated to by these trends but the principles still apply.

Allen Flusser, the men’s style expert of long standing, stated that he thought it was the British who transformed brown from an important business wear color to a country look.  It has been said that the British are some of the best-dressed men in the world but there is a distinct difference between their city business attire and their country wear.  Thinking of the royal family vacationing in Scotland conjures up pictures tweeds, heavy knits, plaids and heathers.

If you love brown, there’s good news!  Last weekend, there was an article in The Wall Street Journal touting the resurgence of brown.   Let’s look at how you might be able to incorporate some brown into your wardrobe.

Brown generally falls into the warm category, making it the perfect basic color for the warm-toned person.  As you may know from reading previous blogs, each of us falls into a cool or warm category.  The hair, eye and skin color determine if one is cool or warm which simply means whether warm-toned or cool-toned colors will best complement your natural coloring.  A warm-toned person has a peach undertone in their skin while a cool-toned person has a pink undertone.   If the shade of brown is a more deep, rich chocolate color, it will be more cool and will complement the cool-toned person.

Brown is approachable.  If you work in any profession where you want to draw people to you, being approachable is important.   If your profession demands an appearance of authority and aloofness, this is not your color.   I know a tax attorney who often wears brown suits conveying his professionalism and competence without being intimidating.

You can accent with a warm or cool toned shirt and tie or blouse in order to best complement your coloring and beautifully accent brown.  Brown is never formal but a woman can make it dressier with the addition of black.  Designers don’t use the combination often but I have seen some beautiful designs combining the two.

So if you are thinking brown, this is the time to head to the stores.

 

Is your organization looking for a speaker?   Let’s talk and see if something on style, color or wardrobe might be just what you are looking for.   Beryl@StyleWithAplomb.com or 404-428-2527.