Guys, what are you wearing?
A call to the youngest of the work force to dress for success
Young men (if you’re under the age of 30, that means you), go watch the Intern with Robert De Niro. It’s a heart-warming story of an older, retired executive who fills the hole in his life left by the passing of his wife, with a second career.
Jules, the female lead, is played fantastically by Anne Hathaway and she states, in many way, how modern men are failing — and she does it without sounding condescending or angry. She’s just correct.
Jules: How, in one generation, have men gone from guys like Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford to… take Ben, here. A dying breed. You know? Look and learn, boys. Because if you ask me, this is what cool is.
What Jules means here is laid out in tidbits throughout the movie. Ben carries a handkerchief, he wears a suit to work every day, he shaves every morning (even, gasp, on the weekends!). Basically, Ben is what modern fashion bloggers would call a gentleman. This used to be par for the course in the 50s and 60s and I think it’s high-time we brought the idea back from the vintage bin.
Jules: Nobody calls men “men” anymore. Have you noticed? Women went from “girls” to “women.”Men went from “men” to “boys?” This is a problem in the big picture. Do you know what I mean?
I do know what she means, and I think it is a big problem. Not to knock feminism in any way, because most of these ideas hold true for women as well as men, but the problem isn’t as prominent among women. I get a very strong sense that women completely understand that, in business, they can be judged by their appearance and they adapt to ensure their success. Guys… not so much. We’ve skated by for far too long on the successes of our fathers and we assumed that they only dressed well because they wanted to. Boys, let me tell you, they dressed well because it got results. People pay attention to you for two reasons. Either you’re a well-known expert, or you look like one. Until you’ve got the reputation, you need to look the part.
How to get started is pretty simple. Get a few suits that you can mix and match with other, versatile things. You don’t need to spend $2000 on a designer name. Basic fabrics and solid colors shouldn’t break the bank. Throw a few interesting shirts into the mix and toss the jacket over a pair of jeans on Fridays if you still want to feel that rebel spirit, but the bottom line is that you have got to start caring about how you look at work. Because you’re boss, executive board and future employers all care (whether they say so or not).