Only The Best Direction

There is no doubt that appearances count in today’s world. Behavioural scientists tell us that your evaluation by a stranger takes 30 seconds or less and can be so strong that it could take as much as five years to erase. Since up to 90 per cent of you is covered by apparel, the clothing you choose makes a significant impact. As the speed of the business world accelerates, the “instant communication” of your appearance increases in importance.


With more pressure on time, people are more likely to make fast judgements. The appearance factor extends beyond first impressions. Public speaking experts report that over half of communication is non-verbal. It’s not only what you say, but how you look when you’re saying it.


Even material success is linked to appearance. An experiment involving over 1000 companies showed that employers offered well-presented candidates starting salaries between 8 to 20 per cent higher than poorly presented candidates with identical resumes.


Career advisers say that people in the workplace should dress for the position they aspire to, not the one they currently hold. Although times and dress codes change, the fundamentals of looking your best remain. Should you need advice about appropriate dress for any occasion, simply call in or contact us. We’re happy to give you the benefit of our experience.

Suits and jackets are symbols of authority and give you a broad shoulder line. While alternatives may sometimes be appropriate these days, a jacket is a reliable standard for the well-dressed man. Traditional authority colours for suits are navy and charcoal grey. Remember, never do up the bottom button on your jacket – it should be left open.


Short-sleeved shirts should never be worn with a tie.
Generally they are best avoided in business situations.

Shoes are perceived as a key indicator of a man’s presentation both in business and social settings. Your shoes should always be clean, shined, in good repair and appropriate to the occasion.


Socks should be the same shade or darker than your trousers or coordinate with your tie colour and should be long enough to avoid revealing your bare leg when seated.

Belts should match your shoes.

Ties should reach your belt.

Today’s informal lifestyles have caused a relaxation of male dress codes. However, this easing of the rules has created some confusion. At Vance Vivian we are happy to give you the benefit of our experience regarding appropriate dress for different occasions. Following is a decoding of some terms we refer to often:


Business (or Corporate)
Generally this means a classic business suit and tie. Conservative environments like finance, law and government usually dictate more conservative dress. Creative environments like architecture, advertising and IT are more open to interpretation.


Relaxed Corporate (or Business Casual)
Alternative to the suit, defined as a comfortably relaxed version of classic corporate attire. The look may or may not involve a jacket, although this is recommended for meetings and more formal situations. Tailored trousers and a woven collared shirt are safe choices. Any knitwear should be fine in finish and plain in design. A tie is optional.


Smart Casual (or Upper Casual)
Similar to Relaxed Corporate. However, as this mode of dress is worn for social occasions there is more scope to dress it down with knits and more casual trousers. Jackets are still a good idea, because if you go somewhere dressed in smart casual attire and no-one else is wearing a coat, you only need to remove your jacket to blend in. In summer, linen suits can qualify as Smart Casual. In winter, leather and suede jackets work well.

Where seen: casual parties/weddings, social, get-togethers, restaurants, bars


Sporty Casual
A more dressed-down version of Smart Casual. May include active sportswear garments such as sweatshirts, windcheaters, polo shirts, T-shirts, jeans, bulky knitwear, as well as shorts and sandals in summer. Don’t make the mistake of going ‘Sporty Casual’ to the office – save it for the weekend.

Where seen: spectator sports, boating, barbecues


Resort Casual
Think linen suits or navy jackets and light trousers for more formal events; polo shirts and shorts for barbecues and more casual get-togethers.

Where seen: conventions held at resorts, beach, weddings, yacht clubs, cruises


Urban Chic
Sophisticated designer wear, often in a monochromatic colour grouping. Ties are not necessary. Try pairing leather with knits, or of-the-moment pieces with classics.

Where seen: sophisticated parties, nightclubs, bars,
restaurants, art gallery openings, theatre and music events

Black Tie
A black suit or tuxedo, white dress shirt and a black bow tie form the basics. The shirt should have a normal collar or a ‘wing-tip’ collar and have French cuffs that are finished with cufflinks. The bow tie can be ‘pre-tied’ or for the brave among us, a ‘tie your own’ gives that unique, finishing touch (and looks rather cool when hanging un-tied at the end of a good night).

Where seen: balls, award nights, gala openings


Lounge Suit
(or Semi-formal, Formal or Cocktail)

In each of these cases, a dark-coloured business suit is appropriate. Luxury, refined fabrics and a dressier shirt and tie than you may normally wear for business will help give your suit a sense of occasion. If the event has an artistic edge, you may consider substituting your shirt and tie with a piece of high-necked fine knitwear worn underneath your jacket.

Where seen: cocktail parties, functions, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, parties, racewear


White Tie
A long black tailcoat worn with a white wing collar dress shirt and white tie.

Where seen: Usually ceremonial or official government occasions.

customer service