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The Emergency Suit in 30 minutes

Written by Mr. WellCultured, Thursday, February 14th, 2008 in Fashion, The Style Guide, Uncategorized

Man taking a shower in a suit coatOkay, let’s play out a scenario that many of us have faced before. It’s 30 minutes before a meeting and you’ve been told it’s Business attire- meaning, for us males, a suit and tie. You have a suit and shirt and tie, but it doesn’t match and it’s all horribly wrinkled- and to top it off, you’re dirty and nasty and dressed in jeans and a t-shirt that says “FEMALE BREAST INSPECTOR”. How the hell do you get out of a predicament like this? Well, with a little but a luck and a whole lot of cleverness, you can get by fairly well- and end up being a bit better off than everyone else.

Step 1: Clean Thyself and attempt to steam your Suit

I don’t care what the situation is, your personal cleanliness is numero uno. Period. End of story.  Even if you have to walk in naked, there is some sort of advantage to looking well-kept, at least so far as general hygiene goes. Hop your rear into the shower and turn on the water, hot, full blast. Grab your suit and hang it up FAR AWAY FROM THE SHOWER, but still in the room. Obviously, you should avoid blasting it with hot steam and water, but let it hang naturally while you shower and the suit should repair itself slightly. This should not be done on a regular basis for suits, but this is an emergency situation, so emergency measures should be taken.

Obviously, this is the time to clean yourself. Scrub yourself absolutely clean. Don’t skimp- and make sure to wash your hair and get out anything possible. This shouldn’t take long- don’t mope around or panic, just get it done. You’ve probably (hopefully) done this every day for your entire life, you’re just doing it fast. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and even God himself will laugh at your ass if you walk in a conference with a nice suit and bed hair. Don’t forget to shave, and if needed, clip your fingernails. You can’t do much about a bad haircut, but you can do everything about your chin hair.

Step 2: Decide if you’re going tie or no tie, and keep the tie flat

Okay, let’s face it: if the only tie you have doesn’t match, you’re going to have to suck it up and go tieless or suffer the horror of looking unmatched. Yes, it does matter that much: you will look dumb with the latter, but the former runs the risk of being too casual. In this case, it depends on what you’re doing- for interviews, I would actually think you could go without a tie, unless it’s been explicitly made clear you should wear one. For example, lots of newer startups and more “modern” companies are more apt to be open to variations in attire (like no tie, or going sans coat), but more professional (read: often arrogant) companies will use it as a test of your ability to conform and/or put on your “I’m working!” hat. While style failures are sometimes harder to notice (especially by those who don’t know what to look for), it can sometimes reflect on you poorly, as it makes you look unkempt and/or tasteless, which can kill you (especially for jobs involving marketing or other “creative” jobs, or conferences where you’re supposed to appear professional). Your choice.

If you have to wear the tie (or if it matches, in which you’re in the clear), make sure it’s presentable. If it’s wrinkled or ugly, place it between two books, or if an iron is available, place it between two sheets of paper and GINGERLY put heat on it. Do NOT keep the iron on for long, and do NOT put it on bare- this is a delicate procedure that can easily screw up a good tie, but it’s not difficult to do correctly, either. Depending on your situation, you may want to tie it before you put on the dress shirt- especially if you have trouble with it when you’re wearing a dress shirt.

Step 3: Dress thyself

Put on new underwear and socks and an undershirt if you wear one, and throw on some cologne or aftershave (OR, not AND, don’t overpower it) and some deodorant.  Style your hair as needed, and basically make yourself perfect, sans clothes. Then, throw on the suit pants and the shirt, and make sure everything is fine. Don’t bunch in the shirt anywhere, and keep everything fit to you. If it’s a bad fit, you obviously have to suck it up- but try to make it work. Don’t throw on the suit coat until you leave the door- leave it as best you can, putting it on needlessly (except obviously to try it on) may make it look bad or wrinkle it. Don’t put on any excess jewelry or anything- a nice watch or tie clip is all you need. If you’re going outdoors and have a topcoat, use it, but try to avoid putting on an unmatched coat unless you absolutely must.

Step 4: Carry it Confidently

Don’t stress out about how you’re dressed. In the long run, we all have days when we look like shit- just carry it confidently. Especially in the context of an interview or a meeting, it’s more important that you carry yourself as competent, rather than  show your insecurities about how you look. Sometimes, stuff we thought would never look good in today’s world can be pulled off by sheer candor- so keep that in mind. And be proud of yourself: you pulled something off in 30 minutes in a situation that usually would suck. Just don’t tell them that.

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