A suit is the one piece of clothing guaranteed to elevate you from man to gentleman. The issue, however, is that not all suits are created equal. And whilst it is actually very simple to look good in a suit, many men just need to slightly tweak their current get-ups to achieve the perfect look.
Stop Today to Solve Next Month's Style Emergency
That's right. Even if there's nothing on the agenda. "Always have at least one combination in your closet that you can pull out in a pinch, " says Lauren Solomon, a New York City-based personal-image consultant and author of Image Matters. You'll want a traditional suit (such as a Dolce & Gabbana pinstripe) with a proper new dress shirt and all the requisite accessories. Now you're ready for any last-minute invite. Or funeral.
Show Up at the Right Time to Make Your Lunch a Success
If you're hosting: "Show up 5 to 10 minutes early or, if you don't have a reservation, 15 to 20 minutes early, depending on the popularity of the place, " says Bryan Curtis, coauthor of A Gentleman Entertains. "Your guests have only an hour or so for lunch and don't want to spend 30 minutes waiting for a table."
If you're a guest: "Arrive on time, even if it means driving around the block or taking a short walk, " says Curtis. "Get there early and you'll have to take responsibility for your party, which involves decisions best left to the host. "
Flash Your Dress Watch
When it's time to seal the deal. "Wear a dress watch when important matters are on the table, " says Lloyd Boston, an NBC style correspondent and author of Make Over Your Man. Wearing a watch that rises to the occasion when you're proposing, signing a loan, or shaking the hand of a potential employer will convey that you're a man of taste, and a man on time. Or at least a man with a really cool watch.
Replace Your Briefcase to Celebrate Every Promotion
"You have new responsibilities, " says Amy Wolf, senior director of product design for Samsonite. "Does your bag have all the features you need to look professional and well organized? " If the promotion doesn't come, replace the briefcase every 5 years. "The anchorage points (where the shoulder straps and handle attach) on a good-quality bag shouldn't wear out for at least that long, " says Wolf. But if you haven't gotten a major bump in 5 years, you should probably hit the road. Which is another really good reason to buy a new briefcase.
Dry-Clean Your Suit Within 48 Hours of the Big Spill
"That's true of any garment, " says Steve Boorstein, author of The Ultimate Guide to Shopping and Caring for Clothing. "Otherwise, stains can set. " You need to dry-clean your suit only two or three times a year, which also means it will last longer. "Inspect it for stains, " says Boorstein. "If you've got a stain on your lap or wrinkles in the crotch, have your pants cleaned. The jacket can wait."
Know When to Switch from Your Business Suit to Your Birthday Suit
"When you get home from work, immediately hang your suit in an open area and let it air out for a couple of hours, " says Boorstein. "If you haven't gotten any stains on it, you can then move it to your closet. " Use a wooden or plastic hanger with wide ends to preserve the broad shape of the shoulders.
Button the Jacket Up Tight
It'll keep the jacket secure, straight, and unwrinkled on the hanger. "The only other time to button them all, " says Men's Health fashion director Brian Boye, "is when you're wearing a one-button suit. " If your jacket has more than one button, always leave the bottom one undone. What you do with the rest is entirely your call.
Head for the Shoe-Shine Guy After the First Drop of Rain
It's the opposite of your car-wash mentality: When the rain comes, the polish will fight off the moisture, protect your shoes, and make you look better than the other amphibians out there. If there's not a cloud in sight, have a shine whenever you arrive early for an out-of-office business meeting. "It's an ego balm and time killer wrapped into one, " says Gordon Thompson, executive vice president and creative director of Cole Haan. "And it takes only 15 minutes. " If you have shoes made of exotic materials, like crocodile, be sure to work moisture into the skin at least once a month.
Press Your Dress Shirt When the Iron's Steaming
Or just flick water onto the fabric around the button seams and collar before you iron. "Those are the spots you really need to press, " says Clint Greenleaf, author of A Gentleman's Guide to Appearance. "If they're crisp, flat, and smooth, you'll look good even if the back of your shirt is wrinkled. " If you have a dryer, forget the iron. Dampen a washcloth (one that doesn't make lint), throw it in the dryer with your shirt, and dry on high for 2 minutes.
Wear a Tie When Nobody Else Does
Think of casual office attire as God's way of giving you an advantage over your coworkers. You just have to be smart enough to choose something with a little more leadership potential. "That's when a tie will make the most impact, " says Boston. "It sets you apart in the room; it inspires people and lets them know that you're a man who doesn't miss the details. " Even in a casual setting, a tie is a safe choice, and you can always remove it if it seems like overkill (i.e., your boss is in shorts and a T-shirt).