For some of us, wearing a suit is a daily occurrence that needs no special occasion. It is however, always a sign of courtesy and respect to dress-up for noteworthy events regardless of the theme.
I still get asked if I ever wear something else besides a suit. The name “Suitable Man” should give you a hint as to the answer. Although suits and accompanying accessories are a part of my lifestyle, I do take an opportunity to ‘dress-down’ where required to honour the theme of an event I’m invited to.
Now let’s look at a few occasions I’ve experienced and the accompanying dress codes:
I embrace the sartorial lifestyle completely, I have however learnt through my journey that, one can sometimes be too formal in certain situations. I remember going for an interview for a top golf position at one of Mzansi’s premium golf clubs. I was all suited and booted in a navy single breasted notch lapel three-piece suit and brown oxford brogues, dressed to the hilt. My shirt, tie and all accompanying accessories were very well integrated. I felt confident, especially considering that other candidates were simply dressed like they were going for a round of golf. The interview panel were all dressed casually, whilst I was cloaked in a suit. Sadly, the effort made did not count much as I was perceived to be dressed “a little too flashy” for the position in question.
Just like when drafting a resume; one may have multiple qualifications which if not relevant for the role applied for, should rather not be added. The same applies with what you’ll be wearing for that important day. What is however of importance is to look neat and presentable without looking like you’re the one conducting the interview.
A former colleague tied the knot and for someone I spent most of my days with, I thought I would be on the guest list. A couple of months later, I bumped into him and I was dressed in a light blue, peak lapel double breasted suit paired with tan double monk straps. That’s when he opened up to me about why he overlooked my name when sending out invitations to his big day, he said I was going to outshine him on his special day.
So here’s the thing, if it’s someone else’s big day; you being on the guest list means your presence is appreciated regardless of your sense of style. Respect them and follow the theme without going overboard. It’s their big day, allow them to be the centre of attraction.
When looking at how golfers used to dress back in the day, one would think golf is a “FORMAL SPORT”. This hasn’t changed much but being too formal is frowned upon. I was once reprimanded for wearing a suit at work. It was initially recorded as a verbal warning and later escalated to a dismissal for wearing a sports jacket over a polo shirt one cold morning. “Your fancy dress sense brings too much attention to you”, said my superiors.
There are scientists and engineers out there that also love the suit lifestyle but wear their functional attires during office hours. So in hindsight I can say, don’t stop wearing your dapper suits but if they’re not part of your office attire, rather wear them outside office hours.
These days there are numerous events, big and small, that come with a theme on the invitation. Needless to say, a lot of people overlook such dress-code requirements without realising that such little things make a huge difference. It goes without saying that there is often a reason behind an event’s theme and whilst you may not know all of them, respecting your host’s wishes is always of good taste.
Although I do occasionally dress down, I am most comfortable in a suit. I know my name has been overlooked a couple of times when guestlists were made due to my dress sense. I didn’t let that bother me, they just assumed I’d come dressed in a dandy suit at a “beach party”. It doesn’t have to be a top brand or expensive, as long as it complements the party’s colours and style theme.
Through all my past experiences, I’ve learnt that looking sartorially elegant comes in different guises. However, the formality of a suit, as powerful as it can look, is not always suitable for every occasion. Share your experiences regarding this topic in the comment box below, good or bad. We would love to learn a thing or two from our readers.
Until next time…