As I have said time and time again in both interviews and in my classes, making a first impression is vital, in both a social and business context. Getting those first few seconds correct can make or break a career or relationship. A firm handshake and charming manner is key but what is harder to get right is one’s appearance.
Earlier this we saw the new candidates on Lord Sugar’s ‘The Apprentice’. As usual, I despaired at how arrogant and unappealing most of them seemed. I am well aware that sly editing may have been at work, but there is nothing the cutting room floor can do to change the way in which the candidates wear their business attire. What we wear and how we chose (consciously or subconsciously) to wear it is often overlooked, yet incredibly important.
From his profile picture of the BBC programme’s website we see him wearing possibly the worst men’s fashion accessory in the world – the skinny tie. Yuck. Not only this, but he has chosen to wear an insipid grey shirt with the grey tie, together with a grey suit. Grey, on grey, on grey. Need I say more? There’s nothing wrong with grey suits, I should point out. Quite the contrary, although I prefer a navy suit myself (on me) as grey sometimes washes me out: it works better on people with darker hair.
Several of the men, including Leon, have the same problem – ill-fitting shirt collars. Shirt collars should sit snuggly around the neck. You should not, as we saw with Leon’s collar in episode one, be able to fit a bus between the top button and the neck. In Leon’s profile picture his shirt is much better than it was in the first two episodes, but there is still a bit of room for improvement. Getting your collar size measured properly in any half-decent men’s outfitters or department store will avoid baggy collars.
In Gavin’s profile picture he is wearing a black (or charcoal) suit with a black tie. He looks like he’s going to a funeral. The tie is a gentleman’s opportunity to inject some personality into his day’s outfit. Opting for a tie that has no colour whatsoever is a brave move. Gavin has also chosen not to shave and has ‘designer stubble’. I find only the very good looking can pull off this look, and whilst Gavin is no ugly duckling, he is working in business and I am not sure whether stubble is really appropriate for the workplace. He should make his mind up whether he wants to be clean shaven or have a beard.
Tom has the same fondness of stubble as Gavin. He also has the baggy collar syndrome I mentioned earlier. Tom is the only bespectacled member of the candidates. I’d say that his glasses actually work for his face and colouring. I have to wear glasses sometimes and I have found that (being fair) dark glasses, such as Tom’s, make me look too severe. Lighter colours work better with fairer complexions, and darker glasses with darker features. Tom’s tie in the picture is a diagonal stripe, and just about works. When opting for ties with stripes, English gentlemen should be careful that they are not inadvertently wearing or sporting the design of an exclusive gentleman’s club (no, I do not mean a strip club) or of a public school.
Oh dear. For someone who claims to be a perfectionist, Vincent really needs to sort his appearance out. A good hair cut wouldn’t go a miss, and I’d ditch the demi-goatee look. His moustache draws attention to the fact that he’s got a large nose, which I personally would want to detract people’s attention from if I were him.
Jim gets the award for best dressed in the profile pictures. His collar fits, he is clean-cut with a sensible and business-like haircut, and he has opted for a tie that catches the eye and lifts his outfit. All of the male candidates, safe for Glen, have chosen to wear white shirts, which I applaud. Although some would say this is the safe option, I think the classic crisp white shirt is a staple of the gentleman’s wardrobe. I have a million and they are one of my prized possessions within my closet. A white shirt can be worn with any colour tie and so if you are not brilliant with putting together ‘a look’ then you can’t really go too wrong with a white shirt, which provides a neutral canvas.
Read about what I consider to be the best look for gentlemen for business. Click here.