• WisBusiness

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fashion Forward: Dressing for success in the recession


By Mitch Bram
People are changing their mindset on how to dress in the workplace with the current economic situation. After all, these are interesting times and interesting times call for interesting measures ... or something like that.

I wanted to start off by sharing a few tid-bits from a recent article: ''Worried Lawyers Embrace Gordon Gekko's Wardrobe."

Fear of layoffs has more lawyers giving up business casual and returning to business suits and tasteful accessories, according to at least one consultant quoted in the story.

"Power clothes" are back in fashion, and worried lawyers are among those embracing the style, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Communications consultant Gretchen Neels told the newspaper the bad economy is spurring the change at law firms she advises. "In our economic times, you really want to have your game on," she said. "You can't be too formal."

At men's retailer Paul Fredrick, 1980s-style clothing featured in the movie Wall Street is back in style, the story says. Big sellers include white-collared, colored dress shirts and yellow power ties.

But at Bickel & Brewer, power clothes were never out of style, according to the story. Even mailroom clerks wear suits at the firm. Managing partner Bill Brewer explains his sartorial philosophy. "I think people expect high-powered lawyers to look like high-powered lawyers," he told the Wall Street Journal. "Anything else is sending the wrong signal."

I am not advising that our friends at UPS and FedEx should start shopping with me, and I know that my reading audience is not all comprised of high-powered attorneys near New York either. However, I do feel that by dressing "better" we can promote higher levels of self image, client / business confidence, and poise ourselves for successes everyday.

For all of those readers out there who aren't quite at the top of the pecking order yet, dressing up can help you to cement your position as a professional who takes your prospective position with the company seriously in these uncertain times. It may seem shallow, but looking and feeling the part is sometimes the only difference between who gets fired, and who can afford to pay the mortgage for a few more months.

Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is the very definition of insanity. If we want to see positive results in our lives, then we all have to make a decision right now to do something different. It could be wearing a nicer pair of slacks to the office with a tucked in shirt for some. While others may want to wear a sport coat or suit more often.

And if you are the type that has questions as to what to wear in general and you are looking for some advice ... just pick up the phone and give me a call. Be certain in these uncertain times.

-- Mitch Bram is the director of sartorial splendor with Tom James Clothing in Madison. He'll be working toward building a more Fashion Forward Wisconsin by sharing his advice and expertise on the subject of proper dress.

E-mail your fashion questions to info@wisbusiness.com or call Mitch directly at 608-278-0391 or 608-712-6499.

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