Art & Creative Design

Corporate Styling Without The Summer Sweat

Summer can be stifling hot with humidity levels making wearing a suit jacket akin to putting yourself in a steam room for those of us not confined to a cubicle in a city tower.

So how to have a styling corporate look without drowning in sweat on a patio or having the bottom hem of your suit jacket clean an establishment's floor as it's draped over your chair.

A 'waistcoat' gives you style choices that range from stoic corporate conservatism to unabated individual expression.

I have a friend who works for an agency of the City of Toronto.  We had not been in touch for a few years and when we became reacquainted he had descended into the chasms of unimaginative middle age men's wear. He was wearing socks in sandals; an oversized uninspired printed short-sleeved collared shirt and the templated plaid Bermuda shorts that were making their rounds into the mass of miserable male humanity at the time.  Granted he was never a fashion conscious individual for as most jocks of youth he was a boring visual presentation in later life.  His board, that were made-up of retail clothing merchants, had implored me to help him out as did a number of other personal associations.  A major function of his job necessitated that he walk his community to meet with merchants thus requiring a comfortable business casual style.  I agreed to help.

I successfully recontoured his fashion psyche.  He began to wear the uniform of a business casual look which at least afforded a level of comfortability that was mandated by way of his door-knocking King of Kensington type traipses through his community of vendors.  His limited personal budget was shown not to be an impediment to dressing with some decorum of individualized corporate fashion statement.  Several blazers a few different coloured pants, shirts and a few ties from my collection would allow him to keep his look fresh through-out the week. His sandals were forgone to a bin of back-to-the-future attire whereby in his retirement he could retrieve and revel in past glory days if he so desired.

But what about summer?  

I witnessed him too many times walking his community suppressed beneath a wool blazer and cotton shirt streaming with condensation one normally witnesses in a bathroom after a hot shower. He had now developed a fond affinity for the business casual look much of it by way of an ego developed from his employers positive affirmations.  My friend was loathe to part with this new look even when biology screamed citing man was not made to walk 5 km's door-to-door in humidity levels of 40 degrees plus in full business uniform attire of wool and cotton layers.

The waistcoat is a solution that is also so very versatile:  

  • Tie or No Tie: You want to be a little more formal go with a tie or go with more utter abandon and forgo the business signature accessory of a tie.
  • Open or Closed: You can wear it buttoned up or left open adjusting the volume of your corporate presentation from conservative to creative wunderkind freedom mode.
  • Accessorize: Ordain it with an accessory like a pocket watch fitted from pocket to pocket or from a button hole down into a pocket.
  • Pattern or Solid: Be a stand-up corporate dude with a solid colour or go for patterns ranging from European flair to exuberant 'I stand alone. I am style.'
  • Pants: Now here you can really make a direction as to where your presentation is going.  The more formal the pants the more conservative the canvas you put forward. Although this can easily be balanced by the upper half of your presentation.  
  • Shoes: Like pants they will make your presentation lean a certain way from more conservative to more creative.  Go for comfort or go for corporate power push. Ultimately this will be determined by how much the other pieces of your ensemble you have decided to be in the same section of your orchestra - i.e. on the conservative side or the individual side.

Fashion is so luxuriously rich in context.  It allows you to really express yourself in a myriad of ways and I'm a firm believer that conventions are for the unimaginative.  Make your statement and if you genuinely believe in it you are never truly wrong just independent minded.

So keep your dapper style in place while inhibiting profuse sweating this summer and go with a waistcoat vs. a jacket and you won't have your jacket assist in the mopping up of an establishment's floor.  

You were born an original don't die a copy!