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Grooming & Style Tips For Executives

Impressions and how you present yourself are very important for an executive. In a world where first impressions are made in the first 3 to 6 seconds and 70% of that first impression is made with the eyes, the importance of being self assured and looking good has never been so vital. It indicates professionalism and how serious you regard what you do. I see too many executives who will just put on whatever they have with no serious thought on what image they present to their colleagues, superiors and clients. Some might argue that its the performance of the executive that counts. Yes, sure that is true, but business is also about branding and how you represent your company. That is why certain companies will always give a senior executive a certain type of executive car when they reach a certain level - its not really a perk, its there to ensure that this RM20,000 a month executive does not drive to work in a Proton Iswara - there are a host of issues to consider. Of course if you are an entrepreneur and is worth millions, no one will care how you dress, hence you don't need to care.

1) Bespoke / Tailor made vs Off the rack - Always the former. I know many will think they can just grab a shirt of the rack and they fit - really??? They only kinda fit, trust me. How the shirt hangs on your shoulders is critical, just 1 inch off and it will be noticeable. Everybody's arm's length are different, many of us have one which is slightly longer than the other. How the shirt feels around the chest or how the shirt looks when you raise your arms are the defining reasons why you need them to be tailor made. Neck size is critical as well and I always see some struggling to tie their ties as it may be too tight or too loose. One more important aspect is the collar, is it a flared collar or a closed off collar - how a collar shapes in the end determine how much of your tie knot is showing in the end. Many people make the mistake of wearing shirts with a wide V thus making even a good tie look bad. Make your shirts with a narrow V, it makes all ties look much better, trust me. You don't have to invest in dozens of shirts - at the end of the day, just 7-10 good shirts will do. If budget is a problem, promise yourself a very good tailor made shirt every 3 months (RM300-RM500 pp), by the end of one year you would have 4 good shirts, by the second year you will have a good closet. Keep doing that and its not a very expensive way to dress properly for an executive. A final reason for having bespoke shirts is the material quality. It is very bad to see executives wearing shirts with the thinnest fabrics, the ones you can see the guy's nipples, guys cannot get away with that unless you are girls.

2) Sweat stains / odour - Almost self explanatory. Guys who sweats a lot, you should know what to do, get a good spray deodorant. Then at least don't try to wear shirts where their colours will show sweat stains very clearly (e.g. light blue and sweat stains contrast beautifully and clearly). The other thing is when clothes smells of odour because its not properly dry enough or has not been dried in the sun - that defeats everything, you might as well come to work in a Pagoda white singlet cause that has the same effect. Make sure your clothes are properly dry, preferably in the sun, inside and out. Another tip is to put in boxes of dehumidifiers in your closet, they will soak up moisture from your clothes. If one box is not enough, put in two for better effect - oh yeah, never put mothballs in the closet, you don't want your clothes to smell like that.

3) Ties - Learn how to tie ties well. There are basically two ways, half knot or full knot. Depending on the fabric, usually you do not tie the full knot as the thing will look like a bunched up cauliflower, unless its a thinner fabric. A half knot is good enough, and learn to create a dimpled middle in your tie for better effect. Have at least 3 or 4 good solid colour ties. Solid colours mean all black, all grey, all blue, etc... Its increasingly difficult to carry off fancy designs. Solid colour ties makes it clean and sharp to match with striped shirts. Never try to matched striped shirts with ties that are heavily patterned. Stick to solid colours or the classic striped ties. These never go out of style and it gives an air of conservatism and coolness. Fancy multi patterned ties always shouts and basically tries too hard. How long you tie your ties is a dead giveaway to your sense of style and decorum. Ties should always just cover your belt buckle. Never, never wear ties that does not reach your trousers' top.

4) Double-cuffs - Its now more acceptable and trendy to wear double-cuff shirts. Just beware of the cuffs you are using. Double-cuffs used to be for tuxedos wear, but now its a lot more common. Hence many of those cuff links that are very classic, are usually larger and more boring, square or round in solid colours. Executive wear for double cuff links should be slightly smaller. Cuff links are an accessory, use it well.

5) Shoes - Thankfully, guys do not need 20 pairs of shoes. If you think about it seriously, you only need 2 very very good pairs of executive shoes, and they will last for sometime. If you keep buying those RM100-150 pp, they will look bad very quickly and you will have to replace them more often. Guys have the habit of doing everything well but neglecting their shoes. A good pair of black leather executive shoes should cost at least RM600-1,500pp. I can tell you a secret, that girls put a lot of importance in the shoes that guys wear. Slip ons or those with laces, I would always side with laces for executive wear. Never brown, always black, and always take care of your leather shoes with proper polish.

6) Trousers - Always wear pants with a nice conservative belt, hopefully black with a simple buckle. Not brown or light brown belts. Never wear pants without a belt to work, even if the pants fit - its bad style.

p/s photos: Fala Chen


stormillionaire said…
I guess if you're earning 20k a month, there's no excuse to not dress as if you're pulling in 20k a month.

And I agree about the shirt point. There is a world of a difference between a shirt that fits and a shirt that fits well.

Practical post.
farulg said…
Just related to points 1 and 2, I will always wear an undershirt no matter how hot it is outside. It makes a big difference to me, and yes I sweat a lot :D

Good post. Keep it up.
HollyS said…
And dont forget that a bad breath is the worst of all no matter what shirt or shoe ones wear.
Chowpiao said…
i tot u were talking abt me hahahahha but ur points all relating to men right???
clk said…
When I meet another gentleman for whatever purpose for the 1st time, i always zoom onto the shoes. It's a dead giveaway.

9/10 probably don't shine/clean their shoes regularly. I myself now only buy better made shoes as the cheap ones become a crocodile's mouth within 2-3 mths.

Then there is the issue of matching shoes with belt.
Soo Beng said…
Of course, if you live in Bangkok, then you can get bespoke shirts made for RM 100 upwards rather than the RM 300 that you mentioned! Another reason why I love Thailand! :)
Desmond said…
i have tendency to look at one's teeth. plaque or anything between the two front teeth just puts me off.
JunK said…
At my current grade, company wants us to wear uniform, blue shirt and blue pants, OMG...

Not bad also, no need to think what shirt to wear everyday, like girls.
Gopi said…
Great advise on grooming. But more importantly, where are the good tailors in KL!!?? I have tried about 5 of them, and none up to mark. Been thinking of making the trip to Bangkok for that purpose and again, am not too sure about where to go :(
ccdev said…
soo beng,

yeah, can get cheaper and good stuff in Thailand. when i was backpacking there, met an expat in bangkok who was operating some kind 'stock, bolier room' thing. and he said he loved Thailand cause he said he could go for lunch, get a cheapie blowjob and go back to work. He couldnt do that in England.
Soo Beng said…
@Gopi - I can recommend a place called "Sarto di moda" down on Sukumvit 22 opposite imperial queens park. I get my stuff done by them. The owner, Prem is a perfectionist and not one of those guys who will make your shirts over night but with poor quality. Good luck with your shirts!
@ccdev - I'm sure one could do that, but its not within the everyday thai's budget :) . Other things that make it such a great place is the free valet parking at all department stores, ridiculously cheap booze (compared to malaysia) and no entry fee clubs, except for those targetted at european tourists!
Andrew said…
You don't have to earn 20k a month to dress well lah. There is a good and affordable bespoke tailor in kuala lumpur which carries some good imported fabrics and does 1st class tailoring. This tailor is very cost effective. Can even get a full suit less than RM1,000. Shirts only RM150. Quality stuff. Serious.

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