April 23, 2014

Practice Tip #12: Dress the Part; Dress like Bond

I’d rather wear my pajamas to work. Who wouldn’t?

Maybe people would take me seriously if I identified myself as a lawyer on my hoodie...but probably not.

It would be more comfortable than the cravat I tie around my neck each day, and I could throw on a hoodie, too,  if it was chilly. Pajamas would be more comfortable.

If only.

Since we live in the real world, though, I wear what my job requires, and it makes a difference. People treat you differently and based on what you wear. Superficial? Maybe, but Twain had it right when he said that

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

It’s true. In in our “society,” people judge us based on what we wear, and what we wear should match what we conclusions we want people to draw about us. If you want people to take you seriously, you shouldn’t show up for work in a hoodie. If you’re a lawyer, that includes client interviews, calls into the partner’s office, and court appearances.

In the legal department I work in, as well as the firms many of my friends and colleagues slave away at, not to mention in court, a hoodie will just will not garner the kind of respect it did when I was a college kid.

So, how should you dress? What if picking out a tie that matches is for you, like it is for me, a daunting proposition? In that case, look to the master. And by master, I mean James Bond.

That’s right. No one knows how to wear a suit like 007.

The look is classic, simple, and maintains its style even today.

Matt Spaiser, creator of the blog The Suits of James Bond (yeah, there’s a whole blog about them, says that:

James Bond has most likely influenced people’s suit-wearing habits more than any other fictional character has. Dr. No (1962, directed by Terence Young) established the classic look for the character for the many films that followed. Throughout Dr. No, Sean Connery wears five unique tailored ensembles. Each outfit is simple, classic and worthy of imitation. The idea was to put Bond in suits that were distinctly British, but keep things simple because a secret agent should never stand out. Yet because of this simplicity, the clothes still look fresh today.

You hear that? “…worthy of imitation.” Which is what you should do. There’s a reason he gets all the girls (though looking like Sean Connery, double 0 status, and a  devil-may-care attitude may not hurt, either).  And there’s a reason that men who want to make a great impression are wearing the style of suits four decades later.

As for ties, that’s a bit more of a practical consideration than just picking out a classic and conservative looking suit. It’s also a choice you’ve got to make more often than a suit. Lifehacker suggests picking ties that match your clothes, not clothes that match your tie. In other words, look [at what clothes you own] before you leap [and buy that fantastic looking tie that ends up matching very little you own].

The point is don’t buy a tie just because it looks great–-buy neckwear that is of the right proportion for your body and is of a color and pattern that works well with your shirts and suits. You want your ties to match your clothing–not look good by themselves.

James Bond Exhibition : Science Museum, London

Image by Craig Grobler via Flickr

Remember, then, these quick tips: wear a classic suit (at least to court when you’ve got to be there), and match the tie to the suit. You’ll be hunting double agents and international criminals in no time, not to mention letting the judge, and your clients, know that you mean business.

APROPOS: If you’ve got the huevos to bust out a bow tie, go for it. It’s guaranteed to add panache to your  repertoire and you won’t have to worry about getting food on it during those expensive business meals.

(Ladies, sorry. I’m not going to even try to suggest what is professional for you.)