Corporate Confidence feat. Gabe Schulman
December 21st, 2010
This one goes out to my corporate, full-suit-and-tie-every-day readers.
In a conservative place of business with a strict dress code (which is often accompanied by an interesting “clothing hierarchy” among its employees – those of a large investment bank for example), it can be a fine line between fitting-in (as you need to) and subtly standing-out (as you want to).
For a young guy in a big corporation, it can be tricky to look stylish and “cool” without raising question or concern among the more “traditional” (i.e. “older”) partners.
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who walks that fine line better than my good friend Gabe Schulman.
“Working in sales, I handle my own book of clients, although I do work for a larger firm. I think that is reflected in my office style – my clothing choices walk the line between being my own man, and reporting to a superior.”
We shot Gabe going about his business every day for a week, Monday-Friday
Nothing says business like a solid navy suit – it’s the one that every man should own. It is the most versatile of suiting fabrics. It’s appropriate in every season, works in any weather, looks great with black leathers or brown leathers and works with just about any shirt & tie combination. Not to mention it makes perfect separates as well – the jacket can easily be worn as a blazer, say with jeans or khakis, and the pants look great under just about any other jacket.
Get it in a three-piece, and you’re really maximizing versatility. “I like the 3-piece because it keeps me warm enough during the Fall that I don’t need an overcoat; just gloves and maybe a scarf…I also like to mix-and-match waistcoats which is something that alot of guys don’t do”.
On the balancing act:
“This is one of my favorite pairs of shoes – but they’re a little flashy. I usually pair them with a solid, more conservative suit – it helps anchor down the outfit and keeps it from being too “loud”…while at the same time it also helps show off these bad-ass shoes”.
Gabe keeps the suit solid again on Tuesday, but this time introduces a little pattern with the shirt using an unexpected color combination: green with grey. “I think ginghams and plaids are okay in Fall/Winter, as long as they are the right color. Forest green, for example, fits nicely with a cool Fall morning”.
A navy overcoat, similar to a navy suit, works well over just about any color (maybe not black, but you shouldn’t be wearing black suits to the office anyway). Similar to the way he pulls out the white and green of the gingham shirt with his tipped pocket square, Gabe also accentuates the overcoat with a little dash of blue on his “classic with a twist” penny loafers.
About not keeping it too perfect:
“When a look might be leaning towards a little too ‘pristine’, I throw on a vintage accessory – like this tie bar to add some character.”
“The middle of the week is a good time to try a slightly edgier look”. Wide peak lapels, one button jacket, mismatched vest, pink shirt, purple plaid wool tie, gold cufflinks, unfastened colored buttonholes, suede wingtips, purple shades – yea, I consider that “edgy” in the corporate kingdom. But even with all that going on, Gabe has the poise – and more importantly, the personality – to pull this off comfortably.
“With edgier styling – like the one-button peak lapel jacket paired with the mismatched vest – I usually stick with classic fabrics like this flannel chalkstripe, grey glenplaid and pale pink broadcloth”.
On texturizing; “The light color and nap of the shoes and gloves really add a level of “warmth” to the look”.
“Thursday is usually my biggest day and when we close deals. It’s all business. So I usually go with something strong. Something that makes me feel at my most confident. The black gloves, black briefcase and black loafers combination has a slight ‘assassin’ feel to it, and that’s sort of the point”.
This is the one look that Gabe is not mixing high-end with low-end, as he usually does. “Sometimes – only sometimes – you need to walk into the boardroom like you’re going to war…and if you were going to war, wouldn’t you want all your best soldiers with you?”
Gabe has a number of bespoke suits, but “this one is my game time suit. It’s the finest fabric of any of my bespoke suits, but that doesn’t mean it’s flashy. It’s dark and conservative from a distance but has just enough pattern and sheen when you get closer to it”.
A contrasting club collar and a gold collar pin (to match the gold watch) are nice subtle touches for an extra little style kick.
- Black leather briefcase by Dunhill
- Black leather gloves by Ralph Lauren Purple Label
- Blue contrast collar shirt by Ralph Lauren Purple Label
- Grey tetxured tie by Calvin Klein Collection
- Navy herringbone suit
- Tassel loafers by A. Testoni
- Vintage gold collar pin
- Watch by Audemars Piguet
“Because I’m a bigger guy [Gabe is 6’2″ 210 lbs] it’s often difficult to find off-the-rack suits that fit me properly. The classic American stuff [think Brooks Brothers, Hickey Freeman] is usually too full-cut, and the European fashion houses [think Prada, Gucci] usually cut their stuff too slim. Occasionally, though, some designers will carry separates, so I can buy the jacket in a 44 and the pants in a 35. I still need to take both pieces to my tailor, though”.
Bonus Tip: When it starts to get cold but still isn’t freezing, most men will throw a heavy winter-weight overcoat on top of the “4-season” suit they’ve been wearing all year. Other, more stylish men (like Gabe here), will break out a winter-weight suit and throw a lightweight jacket over it instead.
On casual as a state of mind: “Friday is a good loafer & textured sock day. It’s a nice way to have “Casual Friday” for those of us who don’t actually get to have casual friday”.
Thanks for reading.
Yours in style,