Be A Man: Fashion in the World of Business

Sunday, November 24, 2013

If you are like me, you have trouble. And if you are like me, you know the trouble I’m talking about. That’s right...I’m talking about fashion: specifically, men’s business fashion. I confess that I am confused by color, puzzled by patterns, stumped by shirts, and thrown by ties. But cheer up! I discovered that Hagley library has answers. And if the library can help me, it can help you, too. Here are some suggested reads to brush up your style:

"The Power Look" book by Egon von Furstenberg

The Power Look was a bestseller written by fashion designer Egon von Fürstenberg and published in 1978. Power should be conveyed by one’s dress in all walks of life, but Part II of his book deals specifically with business and how fashion can make all the difference in one’s career. Fürstenberg also modeled his sense of fashion for the cover of his book.

1978 was a good year for fashion. William Thourlby, the original Marlboro Man, also published his dos and don’ts to help the reader “present yourself as a dynamic, trustworthy, competent and successful businessman--thereby truly becoming what you wear.” Thourlby modeled acceptable and unacceptable fashion choices for all of the illustrations in his book. Style and the Man was Alan Flusser’s third book dealing with men’s fashion, published in 1996. He is an award-winning fashion designer who notably designed the wardrobe of Gordon Gecko, the greedy stockbroker played by Michael Douglas in Wall Street (1988). This book explains how to buy and wear clothes, as well as where to shop around the world for the highest and most exclusive fashion.

Perhaps the mot interesting book I found is Image Impact for Men: The Business and Professional Man’s Personal Packaging Program, edited by Jacqueline Thompson and published in 1983. As the title suggests, fashion is just one of a complex of issues that define a man of business. So while fashion may help convey the perception of competence, matters of etiquette, grooming, body language, poise, personal communication, and public speaking also contribute toward the complete image of a successful business man. As such, a total self-image evaluation and overhaul is advocated. So there you have it...plenty of timeless advice to help overcome your fashion anxiety. And if you are feeling more confident after taking these matters to heart, why not browse through Hagley’s collection of trade catalogs to assemble ideas for your new wardrobe?

Max Moeller is Curator of the Imprints Department at Hagley Museum and Library.