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Dress for Success… a guide for men

IN 1975, John T. Molloy published “Dress for Success,” a manual for male office attire. The book proved to be a best-seller. I’m not sure his advice would pass muster today…

  • Sooner or later, most of my clients ask if it is ever appropriate to wear sports jackets to the office. Some indicate that other men in their firm do. The answer is no.
  • I would suggest that the average man pay no less than $10.00 and no more than $20.00 for a mass-produced shirt.
  • If your principal business associates are over 45 years old, if you must deal frequently with people from the lower-middle class (say you are a banker or a lawyer), never wear pink or pale lavender shirts.
  • In general, I have found that people believe that a man in a bow tie will steal.
  • People do not trust or believe men in goatees; perhaps it’s the devil image.
  • Small men should wear attention-getting devices, including even those that I do not recommend for anyone else. A handkerchief showing from the breast pocket of the suit jacket, a diamond stickpin in this age when no one else wears them.
  • Do not carry an umbrella! It’s a death knell for the small man. It turns him into a Wally Cox pipsqueak figure, ineffective but nice.
  • If you are not a Southerner but you’re selling in the South, never wear a polka-dot tie.
  • The only time a pinstripe will give you trouble is when it is orange, rust or purple.
  • With the exceptions of bankers’ conferences and Wall Street offices, solid beige is probably the best single suit in any part of the country.
  • Never wear green.
  • The only item a man should wear around his neck is a tie—no beads, chains or medallions, regardless of their connotation or meaning.
  • You will never, ever, as long as you live, wear a short sleeve shirt for any business purpose, no matter whether you’re the office boy or the president of the company.
  • In the most ultra-sophisticated cities, shoes with tassels, or shoes with Mr. Gucci’s rather chic initials are perhaps—just possibly—acceptable for some men. Elsewhere they should be studiously avoided.
  • Of the Iron Curtain countries, Yugoslavia is the only one that makes and exports fashionable items to any extent.
  • Under no circumstances should a man use a cheap pen or pencil in the presence of other men, although a lot do.
  • You can, if you are already very rich and very successful (in which case why are you reading this book), or if you desire to have an affair with an Italian contessa, wear silk shirts.
  • The response to facial hair is almost always negative in corporate situations, and the only men who should wear it are those men who must compensate for some other weakness in their appearance or personality.

One Comment

  1. interesting article…, thanks for the sending! Greetings from Py

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