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