In 2006, I found myself as a recent college graduate working for a high-end, fashion-forward men’s clothing store in New Orleans. I was selling Robert Graham shirts paired with designer jeans and sport coats, bringing in a nice commission check for selling this pricey and trendy menswear. I sported it myself on the sales floor and in the clubs on weekends. I eventually moved into a job in banking where the dress code required me to don traditional suiting in the workplace, but I would replace those nicely creased flat-front trousers with a pair of True Religions before hitting post-work happy hour. It was almost part of the young professional uniform, it seemed.
Why would it not be acceptable to wear a pair of well-fitting “dress” jeans from Rock & Republic or Seven Jeans with a nicely tailored sport coat from Hugo Boss or Zegna? It was 2008 and everyone was doing it, right? It was a more casual “dressy” look to sport when not in the workplace. It showed the world that I was put together, yet not too stuffy. It allowed me to look “dressed up” when enjoying the nightlife of New Orleans, Louisiana. Pocket squares, cuff links, and seven-fold ties only added to the “dapper” image, or so I thought.
Then it hit me in the early months of 2013 that I was now 29 years old, self-employed, and wearing blue jeans and a sport coat to Friday happy hour at Lucy’s. What’s wrong with this? Nothing is wrong with it, except when you’re on the brink of turning 30 years old. I had ditched the unacceptable bar behavior that marked my misspent college years, so why should I still dress like I did when I was running with the fraternity boys? I now run into clients when I’m enjoying a mojito at the Columns Hotel, and sometimes I run into potential investors when I’m enjoying cocktails at the Sazerac Bar. These people are not just investing their money in the services that I offer, but they are also investing in me and the brand that I project. Wearing jeans with a corporate logo all over the pockets makes me look like a party boy, or worse, a 30k millionaire. Even when I decide to don unmarked, but still high-quality, denim under my sport coat, the look still fails to exude the professionalism that I should project anytime I am around potential clients or in a setting that is conducive to networking.
Will I quit wearing designer blue jeans with sport coats? Not entirely. I will just save the jeans for trips to Las Vegas because what happens in Vegas…
The contributor’s latest obsession is adding pocket squares to his wardrobe.
More from this contributor:
7 Watches that Offer the Classic Rolex Look for Less Money
10 Fashion Tips for the Well-Dressed Man
Men’s Fashion: The Affordable Cuff Link Collection