One of the better-known perks of startup life is the dress code (or lack thereof). After all, why get all buttoned up for a day at the coding terminal when you could just as easily throw on a hoodie and some old jeans? If it’s good enough for Mark Zuckerberg, it must certainly be good enough for the rest of us.
Unfortunately, the rest of the business world has yet to catch up, which means that your hoodie-inspired fashion statements won’t yet have the universal acclaim they probably deserve. There are still plenty of situations where a little formality is still important, and even necessary, to make a strong first impression. If you’re buying a suit for the first time, you may discover that you have a lot of options to choose from and rules to follow. Here are some of the more important things to know:
Colors and Patterns
Business Insider’s Breton Fischetti says that the absolute last thing a suit should do is stand out, particularly your first suit. “Think of a first suit as a springboard, giving the wearer the necessary look to shine in an interview, without making an impression on its own,” he says. “There’s a difference between buying a first suit for interviews and a whole wardrobe of suits once the job has started.”
So, stick to the medium-to-dark grey or charcoal range for now, and stay away from straight black unless you’re going to a funeral. As for patterns, Fischetti recommends saving the pinstripes for another time: “Once you’re wearing a suit regularly, they’re fine, but for the first suit, basic is best.
One of the most important aspects of any suit is how it fits. If it’s too tight, you’ll run the risk of busting open a seam at a critical moment. If it’s too loose, you’ll come off as disheveled and sloppy. This infographic does a good of showing what proper fit looks like.
Lifehacker also recommends finding a good tailor. Your tailor will adjust your suit based on your body measurements, making the difference between “okay” and “sharp” way more noticeable.
To Accessorize or Not to Accessorize?
This one is a little more contentious. Fischetti socks are the only accessories you really need for a first-time suit, but even then you can’t be too careful. On the other hand, Lifehacker says that a few well-placed accessories – shoes, belts, cufflinks – can work for just about any situation. It all comes down to a matter of personal style.
This is one area where most experts agree. For your first suit, $500 is a solid price point, though it can easily go higher if you’re not careful. There also plenty of retailers that offer sales and specials throughout the year, so a little research and good timing won’t hurt here. What you want to be weary of are the deals that appear too good to be true, because they probably are. You want your suit to last a reasonably long time, especially if you’ll be wearing it a lot.
Photo Credit: Tymtoi via Flickr