Capsule

Simon Crompton Says: Dress For Your Job

March 20, 2014 BY PERMANENT STYLE

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There is an old saying that you should ‘dress not for the job you have, but the job you want’. This is a lovely sentiment, but rarely sensible in practice.

I have worked in an international publishing company for the past 11 years and lost count of the number of young salesmen who turn up in (what they think are) extremely spiffy suits, with the aim of reflecting ambition and enthusiasm. There are two problems here: a) they don’t have much money, so the suits are pretty cheap, and b) if they do look good, it is often seen as presumptuous.

It’s even worse in banks. In a recent post on Permanent Style, several bankers commented that wearing a Savile Row suit to a first job in a bank would be highly presumptuous, no matter how plain its design. Anything fancy – peak lapels, club ties, tie clips, contrast collars, double-breasted – would suggest the wearer had ideas above his station.

As a writer who encourages men to care about their clothes in an age when few do, this is depressing. But all the same, I would encourage men to dress for their job, rather than for the one they want. They will be more comfortable, and make others around them more comfortable.