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Fashion Disasters in Corporate America

May 3, 2009


Ah, the business suit: a timeless classic.  At a first glance there isn’t too much here for the average American male to screw up.  Suits generally come in black or blue with the occasional libertine venturing out in brown.  We’re not asking anyone to pair ostrich leather shoes with dyed pink beaver fur; a navy suit, red tie and white shirt will do for 95% of business occassions.  So why do so many of us cock it up?  In the spirit of learning through the humiliation of others, let us go where no Vogue fashion critic has dared to venture since Nixon’s impeachment.  Prepare for the horror of “When Sales People Dress Badly.”

Despite widespread adoption of the automobile and advances in moving airport walkways, salesmen are still expected to “beat the pavements”.  Consequently, their footwear needs are surpassed only by the LA Lakers’ starting lineup.  Luckily there is a whole plethora of scientific innovations to get the salesman safely from his rental car to the hotel lobby: bouncing shoe spring soles, Japanese podiatric air cooling technology and Velcro for a more speedy passage through airport security.  The bottom line: if a sales rep can’t tie his own shoe laces, don’t buy from him.

And socks – how hard is it to pick a pair of socks that match approximately with the color of your slacks.  Unless your personal wealth exceeds the GDP of Guano avoid coordinating your tie and socks.  Pink silk has no place in the sweaty world of telecommunication sales especially when it comes to matching cravats and ankle-wear.  Blue suit = blue socks. Black suit = black socks.  Period. 

Socks and ties are a generally bad place for expressing our creativity.  Contemporary society offers us a whole plethora of outlets for that frustrated corporate type.  Couples sailing, spandex sportswear and BDSM conferences are all fine ways for unleashing our personal sense of individualism at the weekend.  Monday to Friday, customers want to know how much our widgets cost not why the hell we have baby blue sail boat socks peeping out of our loafers.

Accessorizing shouldn’t be that difficult either but hey we’re in sales so let’s make it unnecessarily complicated and take a 3% commission check for everyone’s troubles.  Fortunately our choices are limited to a laptop bag and some contraption for holding up our pants. 

As long as we avoid personalized belts, we’re in safe territory here but who could forget Gavin from outside sales who met every client with a giant, chrome “G” six inches above his crotch. (Initials are generally a bad idea all round – if a man needs monogrammed clothing to remember his name you probably shouldn’t be doing business with him).

Bags on the other hand are a minefield of fashion faux pas.  Rule #1: if you’re going to the gym, take a sports bag; if you heading into a boardroom leave that nylon rucksack from college behind. (Unless you sell Nike’s sporting apparel for a living and then hey kudos to you, your Christmas parties are probably a lot cooler than ours).

Among the jet set members of American Airline’s Admiral’s Club, nothing says success like a beaten Tumi leather case and a set of Million Airmiles bag tags…  they’re also closely associated with expensive divorce proceedings and kids not recognizing their workaholic parents.  It’s a bag; it holds a computer; it shouldn’t cost more than a $100.  (Editor’s Note – it is impossible to look cool with any form of wheeled laptop bag.  If you’re aiming to pick up air stewardesses while flying down to ExpoWorld09 then accept that you’ll have to ditch that wheelie bag no matter how darn smooth it rolls).

And finally the suit itself.  The rules are simple: solid navy or black – it works for Armani and it will work for you.  Get it pressed once a month, if your trousers are starting to shine and your arse could double up as a mirror, it’s time to buy a new one.  Stay away from nylon no matter what the store clerk promises.  And if you wake up with no memory of what happened at last night’s cocktail reception with your left suit sleeve missing, it’s probably time to go home.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. koshersales permalink
    May 11, 2009 12:27 am


    Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog

    I check out yours as well and will contine to follow.

  2. newyorkmark permalink
    May 24, 2009 5:51 am

    Cool post man!

    I also liked this article that you wrote:

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