For most of us, the winding pathway of life often leads to a sort of river crossing, where the only way to move forward is to dive right in and swim across. These are the defining moments when we have to take what we deserve, sometimes with a bit of force. You may need to close your first major sale or challenge a colleague for a promotion. Nevertheless, the image you project must leave zero room for doubt. It's these times when something as seemingly mundane as choosing the right navy suit and tie can mean difference between failure and making a powerful impression.
Sometimes saying as little as possible makes the most authoritative statement. Insecurity is not something that any elegant gentleman has ever been accused of. When everything is on the line and your reputation is at stake, there’s no reason to give anyone ammunition to question your authority. Three piece check suits, showy lapels or bright pocket squares – while they certainly have their place – need not apply here. If a few details are nailed, a strong message can be sent: you don’t need to worry about bold accessories and pricey watches because you have nothing to prove. It can be difficult to exercise restraint at times, especially for those just starting their style journey, but in this case less is more.
Nailing down the suit is what builds the foundation for this minimalist ensemble, and if you get it right then 90% of the work is complete. A beautifully tailored navy blue suit may be the ideal battle armor for the challenge. If the goal is to energize the look with some flair, consider a brighter vibrant shade of blue to distinguish yourself from the sea of navy and black, as well as amplify any subtle texture or pattern in the suit cloth. As for styling, a two button, notch lapel, double vent suit with flap pockets is the ideal choice; nothing really stands out. Let the details like the luxurious cloth and canvas construction do the talking.
The next big decision is the shirt, which separates the men from the boys. A simple white or light blue shirt keeps attention focused on the suit by taking a back seat. Personally, for a timeless appeal, I typically prefer a rather traditional British style semi-spread collar that is wide enough so the tips slide under the suit lapels. Pair this with a dark, well made silk tie, perhaps with a delicate pattern and you're almost ready to go.
No matter how exquisite your suit is, a bad pair of unkept shoes will decimate the entire look, while a quality pair may elevate your style to new heights. Obviously not just any shoe is up for the challenge, and there is nothing quite as sophisticated as the venerable wholecut oxford. In a room full of black, square-toed, rubber-soled clunkers, the minimal but timeless lace-up will sing next to the blue fabric (my favorite move from the Italian playbook). While brown is not just the best colour – in my opinion – to pair with blue, it's just a little less fussy than black, and shows you have the courage to defy convention.
As for a pocket square, a simple white or monochromatic cloth folded to a neat edge is a classy nod to Don Draper, and a safe bet to draw just enough attention to your chest.
With this formula, you can easily out dress the boss and go for the kill. Not with showiness and overt attention seeking, but with mastery of fit, appreciation of quality, and proficiency in balancing colour and patterns. And don’t forget about the shoes!