A man is made by his suit, his professional attire. Now this doesn't mean that you have to spend thousands to look good. You have to consider especially in an economy that is shifting and mercurial,. you need to be on your A game. Every man should own two suits. One black and one blue or dark grey. If you have a Blackberry, an Iphone or a Wii and no suits, you're not ready for the social challenges of life that men, males who have graduated into manhood are prepared for.
- Job interviews
- Dinner dates
- College interviews
- To make be a good impression (no one has ever been told they were too classy looking)
*Needs and Why?
It is better to show up overdressed and be able to take off your tie and fold it into a pocket square of color (a trick I use when I see I'm in a situation that doesn't call for absolute formality.) I would submit that Black and Latino males, the horrible number of 70% to 80% of them being brought up by single parents, mothers, don't learn this. Men teach boys (and other men) how to become men, even down to having half a dozen plain white or black t-shirts and drawers. Now yes, some women are able to bring up their boys to do so but there is a point where men show each other that you should have 1 pair of plain black and brown shoes. You need at least 5 dress shirts in white and blue. After that you can go Jay-Z (notice he shows up differently in business and casual situations) hippity hoppity as you wanna be. You can rock all kinds of sparkling drag and boho, hobo, hipster, emo style you want. But like Superman you need a dark tie, a nice red and/or blue one.
*Cleverly, the bolded words above are your shopping list.
This is what some males use as a a barrier to the truth that in the world you'll need to have this basic wardrobe section as a man. You can pull it together for $100 or start with a Brioni suit at $10,000. But a cell phone is about all your set up wardrobe should cost.
- 1-2 suits--You can get them at K&G, KMart, Men's Warehouse for $200 to $400.
- 2 to 5 shirts (I suggest going cotton always) should cost you about $25 to $75 a piece.
- 3 ties, you can get a basic tie for about $10 a piece.
- A pack of t-shirts, drawers and three pack of black socks. $20 to $40 bucks.
- Dress shoes can be $30 for basic black/brown Payless or up to $100 for sturdy get bys.
- 1-2 suits--You can get them at K&G, KMart, Men's Warehouse for $400 to $1000. Same stores, other racks.
- 2 to 5 shirts (I suggest going cotton always) should cost you about $100 to $275 a piece. Over $150 is generally tailor made shirts at stores like Pink or Brooks Brothers. Quality costs more, but looks better and lasts longer when you take good care of it.
- 3 ties, you can get a basic tie for about $50 a piece.
- A pack of t-shirts, drawers and three pairs of black socks. $100 to $200 bucks.
- Dress shoes can be $100 for basic black/brown up to $400 for well made, full leather good shoes.
Cute Budget (with Tips and Tricks):
- 1-2 suits--$400.for an Emporio Armani off of EBay. After undergrad that was how I bought my first Armani. Saks Armanis start at about $2500 per suit That's entrance price to Emporio (there are Armani levels). A truly great Emporio will start at $10,000. But with EBay and Alibaba, if you regularly scour, you can find several new ones at a half or a third of the retail price.
- 2 to 5 shirts: $125 to $200 a piece; pay more for shirts and plan buying 1 or two every few months, soon you'll have a killer wardrobe. Suggestion: buy white, blue and pink first; never go for trendy styles as your foundation---remember the bright neon dress shirts with striped colors and cuffs? (I bought one on a dare. I wear it to signal low flying airplanes.)
- French cuff/Cufflinks. Once you have your foundation, you can start to vary quality with french cuff shirts. Then you get into cufflinks--I suggest a couple standard $20 ones simple metal squares or oblongs then start to play with it with gold, silver, platinum, school crests, Booker T. Washington faces. But if you get fashion fun remember the rest of the jacket and outfit must be so tight that the joie de vive you're showing with Daffy Duck cufflinks is seen as clever and fun, not childish.
- 3 ties can be as much as $100 a piece. I have some nice Armani ones. These are generally silk and then you might need a tie clip or tie pin---again follow cufflink rules (most places that sell one will sell the other that complements)
- T-shirts, drawers and socks. $20 to $50 bucks for each. A great suit can apply the wild cufflink rule to socks.
- Dress shoes $300 for basic black/brown and you want to go classic wingtip or oxford and then get fun. Same neon striped shirt applies to shoes---trendy huge foot, elongated toes, zippy and visible from two blocks away need to be counterbalanced powerfully by everything else. Also with good shoes you want to have your backup mediums or even lows. Sometimes, while teaching I spend a lot of time on my feet so there's less focus on me as being fashionable. I wear slip ons of some medium shoes with a full suit. My Ferragamos and Guccis at $400 and up a pair, I save for presentations, interviews, dinners, meeting new associations, etc..
Based on your budget you should have a 1 minute tip sheet to follow but the final addition to this is to get an atelier---it's French for a personal tailor. When you buy, even off the rack, no size is perfect, therefore no item fits right. If you spend another $20 taking it to your dry cleaner and investing some tailoring fixes, a suit you want to hold onto a decade or longer, will always fit you perfectly. If you're just starting out get the jacket a little bigger, which might increase the slacks size, but think about if you'll wear a sweater, a vest or just gain weight as you age. You can always take in and let out alterations. Saks and Men's Warehouse have in-house ateliers who will measure you right there and help you out.
Most African American and Latino men are smart, capable and hardworking, and with a tweak or two, some training, and a chance, they can succeed but too many of them can't even get onto the field because they haven't been taught since middle school about etiquette and menswear.
Thank you for reading,
Thanks and enjoy! You can Like Us on FaceBook or Follow Us on Twitter! Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon) and the Thursday/Friday 12am/midnight simulcast onhttp://kylephoenix.com/
Why practice etiquette? Two reasons: one impeccable manners are not only to allow you to easily move through many settings (job interview can now involve (your boss, professional associations, etc.) taking you and the department out---I was once part of a work team and upon my insistence for meeting achievement goals was that the VP would take us to a nice lunch at Morton's Steakhouse here in NYC. Scarily enough, men and women older than me would corner me beforehand and ask questions about what to do and not do. Watch the most experienced person at the table and mirror them and never ever have alcoholic beverages with your co-workers. Someone, sometimes your drunken boss, is watching how you operate in the world.); nothing is a bigger turn off on a date than your company eating with their mouth full, treating the maitre'd, the host, the waiters, the servers badly, not knowing what glass to use, what fork, etc.. And secondly, your level of manners is not to only make you fit in, it's to make others feel comfortable. I corrected a student that class is not acting a certain way, it's having such impeccable manners that if someone makes an error, you don't treat them any differently. You notice it, but you don't castigate them.
One of the delights of life is going out to dinner by yourself, on a date, with family, with friends. What isn't pleasant is going out with someone who doesn't understand how to operate at a dinner table. I try to take each one of my students, particularly the males, to a fine dining experience on their birthdays so that I can gently but firmly see and correct any gaps they might have in proper table etiquette. Here's an image of what a full, 4 to 8 course, dinner setting would look like on a handy dandy practice sheet.
- After dinner drinks (alcoholic or coffee/tea)
There might be the addition of a seafood course and a specific salad course or a soup course or even a consomme (a vegetable or meat broth introduced between courses to clean the palette.) One of the things my students often ask is why the portions are so small. They're so small because there will be more in quantity from so many courses and in fine dining it's about quality of food and presentation, not quantity.
How did I learn? My grandmother came from a very proper patrician family and my parents preferred to dine out rather than cook so I went out to restaurants a lot as a child. And as an only child, the option normally didn't include Chuck E. Cheese. In order to participate in these great places and have fantastic meals I had to absorb and perform good manners by a young age. Sometimes the rules seemed cumbersome and a lot but years later on dates and at professional meetings/meals, I was prepared for it. Often the reasons why we're rejected have more to do with manners and appearances before the depth or lack of our character. Stack the deck in your favor.
I didn't drink liquor until I was 25. Never really had a huge desire for it and my family is ripe with bad drinking issues so I took my time and really learned how to manage alcohol. When I got back from undergraduate college I started going out with friends and co-workers and I didn't have a drink. I tried Long Island Iced Teas, Cosmopolitans, Electric Lemonades (which I promptly threw up in a movie theater in Forest Hills), Tequila Sunrises, straight Rum, Hennessy, Courvoisier and finally I saw a Manhattan in a movie and settled on that or a Bacardi 151 and coke. You have to test a few to see if you like sharp tastes, sweet tastes, no tastes, beers,wines, etc.. Take your time and experiment.
Know Your Limit
Once I settled on a drink a coworker said we had to find my limit. He was right and we discovered that upon Manhattan number 13, reality and I parted ways. I generally don't go beyond 3 now of any drink. One time at dinner at the Four Seasons I had a Gibson Martini. It was the most amazing singular drink I've ever had. They were nice enough to top off dinner with a bottle of champagne so I was really happy. (Etiquette Rule: I sent a thank you note to the Captain and to his boss for such amazing service and I have a standing reservation for the same table that Martha Stewart uses there! I saw Ted Kennedy there before he died---amazingly enough I recognized his wife before I did him, he'd lost a lot of weight.)
Never ever ever drink with coworkers --I never have and I never will. I occasionally go to parties with friends or night clubs and that's when I partake. And I stick to my limit and I've always gotten home safely, never lost money or a wallet or a phone. What do you drink when out with coworkers? Get a ginger ale and ask for a stick of fruit in it and a straw---alcoholic drinks tend to have red straws in them so no one will know. Or you can get some kind of juice and throw in a straw. Remember even if it's a sip, we all change with alcohol and even if it's a sip, someone will blame alcohol on your actions if you're drinking.
Alcohol can be fun and you can have fun with it but you have to responsible, know your limits and simply be conscious of the company you drink with.
Thank you for reading,
Thanks and enjoy! You can Like Us on Facebook or Follow Us on Twitter! Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon) and the Thursday/Friday 12am/midnight simulcast on http://kylephoenix.com/
1 Minute Tips: Etiquette: Texting Is Costing You Real Relationships by Kyle Phoenix
When I am in people's company, I very rarely use my cell phone and only look at it from a need for the time or if there's a vibrating alert that it could be some of my ill relatives. Other than that, I'm paying generally my full attention to the person I am with. And you know what I've noticed? How much other people are constantly checking their phones, going mute during conversations to check Facebook---while with people---how sad. I generally limit time with them. It's stupid to be with people and because technology gives you the option to want to shift from someone in front of you to others. Or you disengage just to check on the idiosyncratic thoughts of others online, how insulting. I am present with you.
How often are you truly present with other people?
Thanks and enjoy! You can Like Us on FaceBook or Follow Us on Twitter! Don't forget to watch The Kyle Phoenix Show on Channel 56 (Time Warner), 83 (RCN), 34 (Verizon) and the Thursday/Friday 12am/midnight simulcast on http://kylephoenix.com/