At some point in time, every one of us finds ourselves in a position where we need to look the part and look like we belong where we are. For some it’s a job interview, others it’s a client meeting and for most of us, it’s a big presentation that we hope to nail.  In every one of these situations and countless more, our appearance matters a great deal and I’ve found it helpful to have a blueprint to look the part.

Every industry has its own standards and ever person has their own taste, but I’ve broken my blueprint down into three can’t levels, Basic, Casual and Formal, that will work for every gender, every build and every industry, they just require a little modification.


10496When using a blueprint to build a building, it always starts with the foundation. The blueprint to look the part in no different. It’s made up of four main staples that are available to everyone.

When it comes to being well dressed, the first rule is dressing appropriately for the situation. I love a good suit, but it’s not always appropriate and neither is a polo shirt and khakis. Often times, one is just as inappropriate a the other. A crisp white shirt beneath a tailored Navy blazer with gray trousers or slacks and shined black shoes, however, works in ever scenario. Why?

A crisp White Shirt

There is simply no cleaner look than a sparkling white dress shirt. Male or female, every skin tone and build benefits from a white shirt.It’s timeless and it’s understated and it works because it shows that you take your job seriously. Like all things, the devil is in details, so make sure its impeccably clean, with a point collar and clear or white buttons. Make sure the fit is good with sleeve length that stops where the wrist meets the hand.

A Navy Blazer

Like a white shirt, Navy is a color that works on everyone. It’s dark enough to help slim anyone’s appearance, but not so dark as to be confused with a funeral suit. Wearing a blazer is again, an understated way of showing you take your job seriously. To nail the details of this look, have your jacket tailored. It should hug your torso without giving the appearance of a sausage casing and should leave between a half and one inch of white shirt sleeve showing. As for buttons, it’s a matter of taste. I prefer brass or silver, but plain blue work too, just make sure there are only two and to leave the bottom one open.

Gray Trousers or Slacks

There are those that argue that Khaki works just as well and I don’t have a problem with cotton khaki pants with a blue blazer but if you’re going to nail the look, your bottom half needs to be gray. Gray pants are a step above khaki because they indicate a bit more depth. Everyone has khakis but only people who really know how to dress has a pair of gray wool trousers. Getting the details of the pants right requires that the color be right; make sure they’re mid-gray and not charcoal, and that they fit correctly. Too tight you give the appearance that you’re over weight and too loose and you look like a kid being dressed up for a wedding. The hem should just touch the deal and there should be a sight break at the ankle. This works for both men and women.

Black Shoes

When it comes to footwear, we all have a lot of options. Sometimes too many options make things harder and that’ why I prefer simple. For men, a pair of black cap toe shoes and for ladies, a pair of basic black leather pumps. Both should reflect a shine that took some time to develop. Shined shoes indicate an attention to detail that others notice as soon as they meet you. Black shoes reflect a higher shine and should be considered your go to shoe. To nail the details, avoid brogues or wingtips and pocus on making the heels and the toes of the shoes shine.

Sticking with this foundation, we can present a professional image in virtually any room and on most any stage. On Friday, I will discuss how to optimize the basics to match any casual or formal situation, but this is the solid foundation on which you can build a mansion.

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