The world of Suits & Ties

30 Aug
Is it (still) me?

Is it (still) me?

I was playing with the idea already a long time: Should I ‘grow up’ and buy a suit – for all those occasions of dressing up, without it being carnival all the same (weddings & funerals). When in Poland, 200% supported by my good friend & life coach, who’s living and loving the business world, I did make the jump into this very new world of Suits & Ties, learning all the unwritten rules & revelations. The result (pics below) does look oh-so-cool on me (they say ;-). The cost of this initiation: 300€.

I would never dare to go into a Suit shop on my own. I would feel like a man rummaging around a female lingerie-store. I would have a red blush on my cheek and play hide and seek with the sales person. But when I went visiting my best pal in Poland, who himself seems to be born in a business suit (having a very successful consulting company), we took this crazy transgressional idea a step further. We dove into an outlet village and came out 5 hours later with a suit, belt, shirt and even 2 ties.

The unwritten rules of Suits & Ties

Intercultural Suit Shopping

Intercultural Suit Shopping

If you thought that dressing smart is about getting seen, forget it. In the business world (one of the potential purposes of the suit) suits are to merge into the mass of other penguins and fit in, rather than stick out. Quite a Copernican experience for me (did you know Copernicus was from Poland?), so Warsaw was THE place to accept that the Sun doesn’t revolve around me, but that my little planet should conform to the Suit universe… (sigh)

A suit is not just a suit

What I dreaded when having my first timid explorations of the Suit & Tie world in Brussels, came true. They do have different sizes in Poland! Forget size 48 for the jacket and 46 for the trousers. Here I have a size 176-96-82 (which was by the way the smallest size in jacket – so either I am loosing weight – or the Polish businessmen are very -ahum- voluminous…)

Me and my Polish suit coach

Me and my Polish suit coach

I can’t recall in how many Suit shops we’ve been, but more than I have fingers on my hands. Most of the shops are quite sleep-inducing (and make my wallet alarm bell ringing, when seeing the prices) but the Sunset Suit shop caught my eye – already the name alone: I love sunsets. Prices were reasonable and they had this lovely semi-shiny black suit which looked as if it had been cut for my body.

So it took me only the spur of the moment to get it, and a ‘futile’ 800 Zloty (200€) – a bargain (ahum – still expensive for me). And then it took the saleswoman another half an hour to cut open all the pockets, button holes and take off all the labels. I’m sure I would have ruined the suit if I would have done it myself. And it was a nice Polish souvenir, as it was 100% made in Poland.

Never ending shirt & tie challenges

Never too many stripes...

Never too many stripes...

Now the ‘only’ thing to get was a shirt and a tie. Easier said than done. Lethal pastel blue seems to be the passe-partout colour for shirts. If you want to be safe (and boring) you go for blue. All the shirts with creative or colourful motives are for farmers’ weddings, according to my style coach. How sad ;-( – maybe I should just get married in the Polish countryside…) I compromised and opted to live on the wild (and cheap) side and got a fancy but formal red-striped shirt on sale.

And then the problems started…

Don't I look hyper-creative like this...

Don't I look hyper-creative like this...

What tie to get with the suit & shirt? Shirts without ties are only acceptable for ‘dressed down’ occasions in the evenings after your business meetings – or when you are a pop-star or designer. So a tie is a must – just like Madonna in a gay’s music collection. I’m completely hopeless when it comes to colours and motives – so I was buying more the enthusiasm of the sales clerk and of my friend, rather than the piece of textile to hang myself with.

And the winner was: a fiery red & white tie, “oozing with creativity” as I was made belief. For those killer sales situations (as if I’d ever) I got a red, brown, silver neck-tie as a present from my business-friend.

  • PS and of course there’s now the fountain pen that I need to buy for the special pen pocket in the inside of the suit, and a cufflink or flower for the button hole, and a leather briefcase going with it – but I’ll take it in different phases…

The 10 Suit & Tie commandments

Like this nobody can refuse me a sales-deal - of course

Like this nobody can refuse me a sales-deal - of course

  1. Shoes should never be lighter than the suit and the socks never lighter than the shoes – having a black suit – that makes the rest quite easy (black it is)
  2. Always get dressed in the following order: shirt (& cufflinks) > trousers > tie (then fold down the collar) > socks & shoes > jacket…
  3. Always leave one button of your jacket open…
  4. Never wear a suit without a belt
  5. Always take off your jacket when sitting down in a car and fold it inside out…
  6. A suit can only be transported in one of those special foldable bags (there goes another 10€ and transported as hand luggage (one has to sacrifice to look undercover)
  7. A tie should never be folded (only at the middle) but rolled up
  8. The tie should be at belt length
  9. The remainder (small end) of your tie should be put trough the little loophole at the back of your tie and not tucked in your shirt – as people do at farmer’s wedding (as I was told)
  10. It is cool to have a narrow rounded bulb just under the knot of your tie

I wonder what the punishment is for not complying. Maybe you would end up in Suit hell, or business police would take away all your contracts, or your fellow suitsmen would find it soo funny that they laugh at you?   It’s a funny parallel world…

  • But at leased I learned to tie a tie…



2 Responses to “The world of Suits & Ties”

  1. chris 3 September 2009 at 17:11 #

    my god my god my god!!!! u need a life coach? that, i have never imagined!

    not bad, the suit and tie stuff, but still it doesn’t conceal all of ur childlike spirit on your face :)

  2. Xiang 24 September 2009 at 12:30 #

    It’s a nice change! Aren’t you getting bored of wearing tight pink T-shirts?
    A big hi from SHANGHAI…

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