A sartorial segment written this week by the man at 3MZ least qualified to do so.
Dressing for pitches isn’t what it used to be. Not least when your suits seem to have miraculously shrunk a size while hibernating in the wardrobe over lockdown….
We were through to the final round of a new business pitch this week when, the day before, the inevitable question of ‘what to wear for the pitch meeting’ was thrown up. We were pitching to the CEO. But it was for a trendy consumer brand in the travel space. But it was very much a corporate brief. What to wear? Suit and tie jobby? It’s not the 1950s. Jeans and flannel shirt? We’re not wrangling cattle. Too early in the season for an Alan Partridge-esque festive roll neck? Not without a Corby Trouser press to hand. My judgement was all over the shop. I was flummoxed.
We all know that clients buy smart strategy and great creative work founded on logical insight. But they also buy people. And those people come shrouded in garms – garms that formulate our first impressions of others.
The crux of my issue, I reflected, was not the dearth of wardrobe finery I could no longer squeeze my expanded frame into, despite embarking recently into pre-wedding PT. But whether lockdown had defined a new era in business attire. 18 months of Teams calls in my lush M&S Christmas pyjamas has eroded my pre-pandemic penchant for a smart suit jacket and a polished cufflink.
And I don’t think I’m alone here. On the tube, in our office, among the throngs of Soho media types – there seems to be a greater collective tolerance of comfort wear. No longer need we suffer brogue-induced blisters or the indignity of Charles Tyrwhitt’s narrow choice of Slim Fit, Extra Slim Fit or Super Slim Fit. We may roam free in over sized jeans, a baggy jumper and Reebok Classics; content in our blissful collective acceptance of wardrobe utilitarianism.
Yet my corporate sensibilities were twitching and the dapper pocket square in my suit jacket was peering at me from the open wardrobe, wondering whether it was to be forever mothballed.
In the end, realising there were perhaps more important things to worry about like what to say to the CEO the next morning, I found my route to the solution: ask. I asked my would-be client what her CEO wears to work. And what he’d expect us to wear. The guidance was spot on and there was no awkward flush of sartorial embarrassment upon first encounter.
The lessons, three?
1. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
2. First impressions count.
3. Don’t give up on the pre-pandemic wardrobe; those PT sessions will eventually deliver.