Style / May 2016

An Introduction to the Art of Power Dressing

In keeping with this month’s editorial theme exploring all things empowered and empowering, The Rake’s new sartorial special correspondent, Christopher Modoo, gives you some pointers on the art of power dressing…

Sometimes you just need to look like you mean business. An unstructured, soft suit is a wonderful thing, great for travel and bonus points if the jacket can be worn as a blazer. But there are times in a man’s life when he just needs to look his best. Accomplished. Serious. Powerful. He needs a power suit. You need a power suit. To hell with reverse psychology and wearing a tracksuit to important meetings to show the world how important you think you are. This isn’t about respect for others; it’s about respect for yourself.

Dark in colour but never black, the power suit will broaden your frame with a well-proportioned padded shoulder and a fuller chest should accommodate generous lapels. Slim(-ish) lapels are okay on a single-breasted jacket but skinny lapels are not taken seriously. Savile Row never embraced the overly narrow lapel as it was seen to be skimping on cloth. The High Street still loves ‘em. Wide peaked lapels are a good thing, especially on double-breasted models. If you are confident enough to carry off a 'DB' and ignore all the bogus advice about them being only for the tall/slim/aged individuals you should pick an old-school cloth like a woollen flannel or heavy mohair. Have you ever watched an old black-and-white movie and wondered why the leading actor looked so great? Well here’s my theory: they are plastered in make-up and their suits are of a decent weight. Modern lightweight suits are comfortable, but sometimes the kind of comfort you need is the reassurance that you are the best-dressed guy in the room. Select a heavier cloth. But don’t wear make-up. Ever.

"This isn't about respect for others; it's about respect for yourself."

A power suit calls for the right kind of shirt. Aggressively cutaway collars are not out-of-place nor is the long-pointed collar, especially when worn pinned. Both draw attention to the perfectly dimpled knot of a woven silk tie and, in turn, the wearer's face. Old school ties can make you look like the villain in Heartbeat and that novelty expensive motif tie that was a present from your wife, looks like a present from your wife. White shirts are always smart but ecru, sky blue and Jermyn Street stripes are better. Always show plenty of shirt-cuff and a flash of rose gold cufflink is a welcome addition. If this matches your expensive watch, then all the better. If you are hoping your expensive watch compensates for cheap shoes and a bad tie, you are wrong. In fact, the opposite is true.

Wear braces. The trousers will hang infinitely better and sit on your shoes perfectly. Skinny trousers, like skinny lapels, do not belong on a power suit. Deep turn-ups or heavily slanted hems will frame your expensive footwear. Your shoes should be highly polished - get a proper shoe shine. Comedy socks aren’t funny, details matter. Your socks should be long enough not to flash leg when you sit down and your very expensive suit will lose all of its power if you wear scuffed shoes and Rugrats socks. The silhouette of the power suit with its broad shoulders and slim waist will be severely dented if you stuff the pockets. Carry your notes in a roll or money-clip and not your wallet. Never carry a coin purse - always leave the change. Carry and use your own fountain pen. Keep your minimal tech in a slim leather folio.

Most of all, wear it with confidence.


Chris is also the subject of The Rake's latest Pocket Guide, which is available to read in Issue 45, on news stands now and to order here.

Image by Luke Carby.

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Christopher Modoo

Christopher Modoo is 'The Urbane Outfitter', with twenty five years of experience in classic menswear. He has conducted suit fittings in both Beckingham and Buckingham Palace. He hates short socks.