OK, you've got the suit, now it's time to add those finishes touches. Those small (and not so small things) that help you stand out from the crowd. We're 50plus it's our time to shine. Looking sharp is not the exclusive right of the young, rich and beautiful. If we make the right choices then we too can cut a dash.
The business shirt:
So where to start. Well for me, the next step after the business suit is to ensure you purchase the right shirt. Now before we go any further let me state for the record, there are definitely times when a t-shirt or a crew/roll-neck jumper can look very right under a suit. There may even be occasions when that works in a business setting, but if you're trying to look professional it's the classic formal shirt that is needed. I know you're going to say I'm 50plus years old, I know what a shirt is! I'm sure that's true but before you skip this article answer this question, do your shirts fit correctly? When was the last time you checked your neck measurement? I know it seems obvious but before I started researching this article I hadn't checked my own neck measurements for quite a while (we're actually talking years). Just like the rest of our bodies, our necks change size as we grow older.
How should your shirt fit?
We've all seen the guy fiddling with his shirt collar because it's uncomfortably tight or almost drowning in a shirt with a collar that is obviously too big.
Try this simple test to see if the shirt you're wearing is the right collar size: Do up your top button and then try and slide a finger between your neck and your shirt collar. If you can get a single finger in, then you're wearing a shirt with the right collar size. If you can't get a finger in, well your shirt collar is probably too small. If you can get more than a single finger between your neck and shirt collar then your shirt is probably too large.
Remember your shirt collar is going to frame your tie. So if your collar isn't right, your tie isn't going to look right and neither will you.
A dress shirt should fit comfortably around the chest, under the armpits, and across the upper back. When your shirt is buttoned-up you should enjoy a full range of motion. Your chest should "fill out" the shirt but not in a way that makes your body discernible under the fabric.
What colour shirts are business professional? As long as you wear plain coloured shirts as part of your business outfit, you should be ok. When in doubt, I would suggest you opt for a white or light blue as those colours are versatile.
Tip: Get the right collar size, if the shirt is a little large/small in the body, then don't be afraid to take it to your local tailor/dry cleaner for some alterations. A few well-placed stitches can turn an ill-fitting shirt into a stylish cornerstone of your wardrobe.
Add colour with your ties.
Our choice of a tie is one of the few opportunities we have to make a self-expressive statement within our professional wardrobe. The right tie can be a big statement so take a moment when you're choosing to make sure you select the right one.
I am not one of those people who says "go bold or go home", but there are certainly moments when a splash of colour and a striking pattern can lift a suit and the person wearing it. And my friends, if you're like me, at 50plus anything that can lift your appearance, needs to be embraced.
In the office, a set of different ties will also help you change your overall look while wearing the same suit and shirt. A navy suit with a white shirt and a navy tie will look very different from the same suit and shirt with a bright orange tie.
Tip: I know the phrase clash with a dash has become popular in the last couple of years but spots and strips don't work together, so if your suit has a subtle stripe in its weave don't wear a shirt with spots on it.
As with the business shirt, times have changed and dress shoes are no longer required in all business circumstances. In fact today, in many situations, a suit matched with appropriate casual footwear is considered cool. Just so there is no misunderstanding, I feel that at 50plus we can look cool in a suit and low profile training type shoes. That said I certainly believe that every man needs a pair of dress shoes in his wardrobe. The most commonly worn business shoes are called Oxfords (or sometimes Balmoral in the United States). Named after Oxford University, for many Oxford shoes are the quintessential dress shoe, but for me, it has to be a pair of Brogues.
Elevate your business look with the right accessories
Once we have the key elements of your business look in place, we can begin to add accessories to express our personality and personal style a little further.
Here are a few suggestions of accessories that you can keep for years to elevate your business casual look.
Printed silk pocket square - Handkerchiefs, as an accessory, is a practice that dates back to the 800s. Today, they are popular with many dapper men religiously adding a pocket square to their suit-and-tie outfit.
Belts: Finish your outfit with the right men's belts. From classic black belts to bold and colourful designs, there is something for everybody in the men's belt market. In my view for a timeless look, a simple leather belt will pair well with literally anything.
Cufflinks: Nothing says 'stylish' quite like a pair of cufflinks. Whether you opt for classic or something more playful, the right cufflinks will catch the eye and keep your cuffs neatly in check.