As I’m unemployed and have a lot of time on my hands I spend a lot of time in a coffee shop. Recently some guys have begun to congregate there, and from their chatter they are “communications consultants.”
Now, that is typically BS. But from things they say at least one really is a communications consultant, and at least one other is a probable.
But they look like schlubs. Ugly sweaters, corduroy pants, bulky brown shoes, the works. It’s a cliché that women respond to clothing but so does everyone else. I would not take these guys seriously in a business context.
Something often called “business casual” has taken hold in America, and basically it means, “not a suit, but not blue jeans either.” From this comes many hideous errors- polo shirts, khaki pants, Timberland shoes, all kinds of ugly crap that does nobody any good other than the clothing company and the department store.
That doesn’t mean you can’t go overboard in the other direction. You see a good-looking guy in a nice suit who gives you a hearty greeting, you immediately have him pegged as a salesman.
Let me stick with savaging business casual though. A polo shirt is not really suitable outside of a context where a T-shirt would be appropriate. A polo shirt looks particularly bad if you have a gut. Everything looks bad if you have a gut, but a polo shirt especially. Stick with a dress shirt, with or without a tie.
Khaki pants are something that originated for work wear- I think with the British army in India, later picked up by other military and naval services. I doubt it is appropriate unless you are on the borderline of dress and work wear- if you do something clerical in a warehouse and are expected to move boxes sometimes, khaki pants and a polo shirt might be appropriate. Otherwise, wear dress slacks with your dress shirt. Corduroys are another hideous thing. These also originated as work wear, for cold weather, but should be a historical curiosity.
“Comfortable” shoes should only be worn by lesbians. Unless you’re a lesbian and trying to get with women who are not butch lesbians, in which case no comfortable shoes or khakis or corduroys. The “casual” dress shoes of the Timberland style are typically bulky, often brown and have bulky crepe soles. It is best to stick with something pretty safe, plain black oxfords, maybe captoes. Yes they make dress shoes with rubber soles if you need non-skid or are on your feet a lot.
You may object that higher-ups, or rich people don’t follow this. Mark Cuban is famously anti-suit, he blogged about this once if you want to look it up. My business involves dealing with rich people and they do indeed dress hideously- ugly, weird-colored blazers and slacks, tasselled loafers, and never ties for some reason. If they get away with this, it is because they are rich and can get away with it. Mark Cuban doesn’t need to wear a suit to impress any business person or woman. But maybe he should wear one anyway, because even if you are a billionaire you could be more effective with people. Cuban is a handsome guy- he might even have a good body, I can’t tell under the baggy sweatshirt and baggy khakis. Everything about him screams “overgrown frat boy who got lucky early with the internet.” In a nice suit, maybe with shorter hair, everything about him would scream “smooth operator who made a billion on the internet because he was smart, and is going to make billions more. Invest your money with this man and make deals with him and do what he says.”