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What is “Situational Dressing” and How Can it Affect Your Career?

We’ve been witnessing this trend for over 20 years: dress codes in office environments are becoming more and more nebulous. Corporate style has been trending more toward freedom of choice than the suit-and-tie status quo since the dress-down 90s, and a recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that even Wall Street had lost some of its wardrobe rigidity.

That same article discussed “situational dressing,” and how men’s workwear has become more about picking your spots than adhering to set standards.

As leading master tailors and image consultants in Philadelphia, we know how gray areas in workplace style can be confusing for men who want to stand out while also dressing appropriately. You don’t want to show up for an important conference or meeting dressed to the nines, when everyone else in the room has adopted “business casual” as the order of the day — or vice versa. Your failure to read the situation creates a subtle divide between you and colleagues or potential clients, rather than building a bridge.

So what does “situational dressing” mean, and how can you pull it off? Here are four tips to help you navigate this brave new world.

Do Your Homework — Instead of getting dressed on autopilot every day, do a little bit of planning. Look at the next day’s calendar the night before. If you have a meeting scheduled, consider the subject you’ll be discussing and the setting. Is it in a boardroom or a restaurant? Are you making a presentation, or just brainstorming ideas? A little bit of forethought can go a long way.

Roll with the Punches — If you do, in fact, find yourself in a situation where you’re too dressed up, or maybe even too casual, don’t let it affect your attitude or the way you carry yourself. Control what you can control at that moment, which is the strength of your message and ability to relate to other people.

Be True to Yourself — Whether you have a penchant for custom suits, or you like to find creative and classy ways to work denim into your professional wardrobe, it’s important to wear what makes you feel good. When you’re comfortable, your confidence will be more likely to shine through (assuming you’re appropriately dressed, of course).

Consult a Professional — When it comes to making sense of an ever-changing set of workplace dress rules, you don’t have to go it alone. It’s okay to ask for help! A professional image consultant can help you formulate a vision for your wardrobe and get a better feel for what to wear in what situations.

No matter how trends might shift, across the globe and here in Philadelphia, fine made to measure clothing will never go out of style. For help building a functional wardrobe for the modern work world, contact the master tailors and image consultants at Henry A. Davidsen today to schedule a consultation.

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