The 6 must-haves if you’re a serious businessman/woman.
There’s a sad tendency spreading throughout many (especially) western companies – even some of the really big ones.
I’ve seen people wearing shorts and flip flops to the office, t-shirts in external meetings, and carrying their business articles in a gym bag. I’m here to tell you – STOP! Don’t embarrass yourself or the company you work for. Just because your colleagues or superiors might have lost it, doesn’t mean you have to follow and jump on the train to nowhere. You have a personal brand to protect as well. Now I’m not saying you have to go full monty and spend a fortune, not at all, but you need to set a decent base level for yourself.
1 – Suit up
Before we continue! There are a few things even some of most the well-dressed people tend to forget. Your pen, notebook, bag / briefcase etc. are all an extension of your character. Like it or not – that’s just the way it is. Entering a business meeting fully suited up, and placing your classic BIC pen on the table, is almost like wearing a pair of Crocs with an Armani suit. It just looks cheap and stupid.
Ohh, so you thought people didn’t notice?
Well they do – many of them anyways. So suck it up, and go do something about it. These items are minor costs compared to the huge personal ROI, and they will last for many years (a lifetime in some cases).
2 – pens
For me, personally, I like to stay under the radar, so I usually go with classic nice items, that don’t scream “show-off”. My primary pen is the legendary Pilot Murex fountain pen, which I’m going to keep until the day I die, or (God forbid) the day the Murex dies. Though they stopped producing them in the beginning of the 80’s, there are still a lot available in mint condition in original packaging, but you’ll most likely have to source them directly from Japan. Mine is a fine-nibbed from 1977, and it’s one of the best purchases I have ever made. It cost me roughly €250 and it’s amazing! Sometimes I just write random stuff, because it provides an incredibly pleasing writing experience 🤣 If you’re not into fountain pens, I would advise you to go for a high quality rollerball pen instead. Mont Blanc, Faber-Castell and Parker all make great products, so you won’t go wrong there.
4 – Bag(s)
One of the most important items, but sadly not one of the cheapest. You need a high quality bag, but not just any bag. If you choose the right one in high quality materials, you’ll have a trusted companion for decades – maybe even for the remainder of your career! It’s of course nice to have a few, to mix it up with different outfits or needs, but if you never really had a proper bag, start out with something classic and versatile.
Obviously the main function is to carry your stuff around, but how much stuff do you actually need? Most people carry way too much crap around, and you look messy and unstructured, when you’re spending +10 seconds to search your bag for the stuff you need. In my bag there are a maximum of 8 different types of items:
– 2 Pens
– Computer or Ipad
– Documents (in a sleeve – and only if they are necessary for the day / meetings)
– 5-10 Business cards
If you need to carry product samples or private stuff around, bring an extra bag ttat day. Your business bag is for business articles only.
My old bag (which currently acts as my backup) is a sleek Porsche Design Messenger bag in black leather, which has served me well. Today I’m carrying around a personalised Louis Vuitton Porte-Documents Jour, which was a fantastic gift from Elo a little more than a year ago. I absolutely love this piece! The size is perfect and it’s very elegant, while still being super sturdy.
5 – Belt
6 – Watch
Final words regarding the outfit.
Though I didn’t mention shoes, socks and shirts separately, they’re of course an important part of the total look as well. However, as long as you keep your shoes clean and polished, just go with a nice classic pair from a decent brand. €200 will get you far – you don’t have to spend a fortune. They won’t damage your looks, but of course won’t elevate your style to a higher level either – but you can wait a bit before upgrading your shoes, and pick some of the other items on the list first.
For women it’s a bit different though, since we would argue the shoes are a more important part of your personal brand, than for the majority of men. It’s maybe a bit unfair, but hey – now you can relax and justify spending that extra cash without having a guilty conscience 😄
Regarding shirts you might have guessed by now, that my wardrobe is dominated by white, blue and simple striped ones. I love the classics, and every business man or woman needs to own at least a handful of these as well. If you’re the kind of person, who can actually show up in a pink shirt at a board meeting, by all means go for it – but it requires quite a character. Either way, you’ll still need a few classic shirts that go with everything, so make sure to stock up – and if you can afford it, buy bespoke shirts. I promise you, you won’t regret it!
Last tip for men: always use over-the-calf socks when wearing a suit. Your socks will always stay in place and look flawless. We recently did an article about the world’s best socks – go check it out, if you haven’t done so already.
When you feel and look great, people around you notice.
Until next time, I hope you enjoyed reading this little post, and that it has sparked your interest regarding this topic. If I’m able to inspire and help out just a few people out there, it’s been all worth it!
Let me know if you have any comments!
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