ASK DAN: Polyester Trends, Senior Ball, Tech Interview

May 7th, 2015

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Polyester Trend?

Q: When I first started learning about men’s fashion, everything I read told me to avoid polyester at all costs and stick to natural fibers. But lately I have been seeing more and more high-end garments in a poly-cotton blends. Some even $1000+ suits at Nordstrom. Did polyester become cool and I didn’t get the memo?

A: Sounds like someone is trying to pull a fast one on you. You know how eating organic vegetables is better for you than eating laboratory-grown vegetables, only it’s slightly more expensive? It’s kind of like that with natural versus synthetic fabrics, with one important difference. Rather than lowering the price of the end product, many luxury brands will chose to increase their profit margin and sell at a price that is more consistent with their luxury marketing and their costumer’s expectations. Often times in fashion high prices are associated more with luxury labels than luxury fabrics or expert craftsmanship. There are even case studies of brands who under-price themselves out of the market, because perceived value is so closely tied to MSRP… No matter how you slice it, though, a poly/cotton suit for more than $1,000 is straight highway robbery unless it was sewn by hand, in France, by Pablo Picasso. I would avoid polyester in any tailored garment.

Senior Ballin’

Q: Hi guys, I’m graduating from Georgetown in a couple of weeks and I was hoping you’d be able to give me some advice on what to wear to my Senior Ball.  The dress code is “red carpet ready”, so not black tie per se but most guys are renting tuxedos. Currently I’m planning on wearing my navy wool suit (I don’t have a tux) with a white shirt, white pocket square and black diamond tip bow tie. Everything has been well-tailored so it fits great, but I feel like the outfit is missing something to make it stand out. Do you guys have any ideas?  I’ve considered swapping my black leather oxfords for black velvet slippers, wearing a lapel flower, etc.

A: Firstly, congrats on graduating! You made it. Secondly, who’s in charge of naming the dress codes at Georgetown these days? Whenever I hear “Red Carpet” I think black tie (well, I usually I think a cheesy “flashy” take on black tie) but I think it was simply meant as traditional black tie. As we showed in our Tuxedo Rental Alternatives article, a navy suit can be used for formal occasions, just as you mentioned. I would suggest going with a shirt that has a hidden placket, to go with the formal-ness of the black bowtie. I’ve been an outspoken nay-sayer to the lapel flower, but I’m not mad at a miniature boutonnière (a real flower, pinned to the lapel). I also like the idea of velvet slippers – perhaps worn sockless since it will be warm, and you will be feeling frisky. Enjoy the night!

Tech Office Interview

Q: I work in tech. Web development, specifically. An industry notorious for its laid back dress code and constant attempts to seem young and hip. I am also at a point where I will be interviewing for a new job soon. Advice around the web about wearing a suit a developer interview range from “they won’t really care” to “they’ll laugh at you as soon as you’re out of the room”. I’ve heard that wearing a suit will make you seem out of touch/not a good “cultural fit”, and also possibly make you seem older (ageism is rampant in Silicon Valley). Despite all of this, I still want to wear a suit. I pride myself on my sense of fashion. It’s part of who I am. It also makes me feel more confident, which will help in the interview. Any tips on doing so, but not coming off as old and stuffy? Maybe throw in some bright colors and loud patterns? That kind of thing?

A: For the love of tailoring you are willing to defy the odds. I love it. I think it depends on what time of suit you’re planning to wear, and how you’re planning to wear it. If you’re thinking of walking up in the Google office wearing a Wall Street pinstripe power suit with a high-collar shirt and alligator briefcase, that might be a little much. I would also avoid bright colors or anything overly coordinated like bold pattern-mixing. A suit can feel casual and comfortable, it just needs to look simple and refined in a laidback, non-chalant, not-trying-too-hard kind of way. Ideally you’re working with a solid neutral color (medium or dark) that is softly constructed. Go with a shirt that is simple and lighter than the suit to create a contrast. Lose the tie and open a couple shirt buttons. Maybe try it with a casual loafer rather than a hard-bottom lace-up, or even a plain sneaker. Ultimately, when you leave the room you want them to say “that guy is sharp and well put-together”, not “that guy is obviously really into fashion“. If you keep it simple and carry yourself with a comfortable confidence, my prediction is that they’ll appreciate the adaptive take on a traditional interview appearance. Good luck, let us know how it goes.

Have a style question? Hit me!

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

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