In an era when dress conventions for business meetings are becoming more casual, it can be hard to know exactly what to wear for those smarter occasions where you know a more formal approach will be needed. In the first of two guest blogs Susannah Hall from Susannah Hall Tailors, a London based tailoring service, takes a look at what to wear to impress and explodes some of those ‘old school’ fashion myths.

Gentlemen (ladies, your time will come in Susannah’s next blog) of the small and the brave, stand by…your fashion makeover starts here:

The suit…
I would always advise that anyone going for that first, all important business meeting plays it safe. Stay in your safety zone and be very comfortable in what you’re wearing. A well cut suit in navy or grey for example works very well and exudes personality. Avoid black. It can look flat, is not friendly and can be difficult to wear. It’s a great colour, though, for going out in the evening.

The fabric of a suit should balance the size and shape of your body and equally be careful when it comes to the pattern on the suit; the slimmest pin stripe for example, or small checks as opposed to larger window pane style pattern. You should be careful that your suit doesn’t take over.

You can buy a suit off the peg or have one made. In some respects the costs can be comparable. You can easily spend up to £800 for an off the peg suit from the high street or have one made by British tailors for slightly less. You could have the best of both worlds by taking your off the peg suit in for alterations by a good tailor.

The shirt…
Wear your suit with a nice double cuff shirt. Single cuff shirts are a little more casual although I do like them with two buttons on each cuff.

The tie…
A good tie can say it all but you don’t have to necessarily match it with your shirt/suit. A good navy suit with an ice blue shirt and an orange tie for example would look fabulous. It’s the same principle with pocket squares (those handkerchiefs in the top pocket)…they don’t have to match. Other accessories like cuff links can make a statement and even brightly coloured socks can be acceptable.

The shoes…
Remember that old saying never brown (shoes) in town? Forget it. Dark, chocolate brown shoes look great with a grey suit or a royal blue suit. Don’t go for the orangey tan coloured shoes though. Black or brown, your shoes must always be well polished of course.

And something for the weekend sir?
First business meetings often happen at weekends or at more ‘smart casual’ occasions. This presents a more challenging problem to the gentleman who normally feels safer in a suit. It shouldn’t. Blazers are always a good bet but do avoid shiny buttons. A well cut wool blazer in blue with horn buttons in a different colour can look very elegant, or go for a Tweed jacket. Wear it with a polo shirt. I love waist coats as well perhaps in Tweed or wool. They can go well with jeans but make sure the waist coat covers your waist band and there’s no shirt hanging out.


Those fashion myths exploded…

  • Double breasted suits are for Prince Charles only
    Not true. Generally I wouldn’t advise that a shorter, larger gentleman goes double breasted but, and here the cut is imperative, they can look very good. They must always be worn closed though!
  • Turn-ups are very last decade
    Actually they are a fine, classic English look and work well with a single breasted suit.
  • Shirts buttoned to the top (without a tie) is a great look
    No it isn’t, unless you’re Paul Weller (or a Mod…or both!).
  • Buttoned shirt collars are out
    Not necessarily. They work for some, but definitely not with a tie.
  • Match your belt colour with your shoes
    If your trousers fit properly you shouldn’t need a belt at all.
  • Gentlemen of a certain age shouldn’t wear jeans
    Rubbish. That said, if you’re of a certain age, you shouldn’t wear light coloured or faded jeans. Always go for darker jeans and make sure they’re of a good cut.
  • And trainers?
    Yes…they’re for training.


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