Social Studies Get an Update

When I was in middle school (seemingly a long, long time ago….in a galaxy far, far away), social studies included things like history and geography. In high school, civics and some basic human psychology were thrown into the mix. Finally, as an undergrad, I got a heavy dose of economics and a side order of sociology. All good stuff to be sure, and even more interesting as I’ve matured in life. But as any grown adult trying to make his or her mark on the world knows all too well, the social studies that matter most were not learned in the classroom from Ms. Jones or Mr. Johnson.

More recently, my college freshman nephew was encouraged by his mother (to the great surprise of his father) to go to a few more parties and stretch out his social skills. My sister-in-law knows from past experience that if college consisted mostly of time of in the classroom, library, and the gym (he’s a pretty good point guard), then he may come up short in the ever-valuable “social studies” – making friends, developing skills of persuasion, etc.

To be a true master of Social Studies, you must develop an engaging, attractive, and positively memorable first impression, not only in a traditional business setting, but, perhaps more importantly, in a variety of social settings – from backyard casual to big city formal. To say nothing of the primary importance that attitude and countenance supply, one’s overall appearance and the message it conveys plays a critical role in making positive emotional connections….especially when things turn social.

What does your “social wear” say about you? Are you as comfortable about your appearance in a variety of social settings as you are on a typical business day? If your answers to those two questions come close to “I’m not entirely sure” and “not really,” it may be because appropriate social dress codes are sometimes hard to discern. It may also be that you just haven’t developed a level of expertise in this area yet. Not to worry, your Tom James Clothier can help with this just as easily as he or she can with suits and dress shirts.

To get you started, here are six things to keep in mind:

  1. Pick clothing and styles that are age appropriate. I know that 50 is the new 30, but most guys of that maturity just can’t pull off most of the same looks that work great for their 20-something son or nephew. If you regularly star in action films (or look like you could) please disregard.
  2. Develop at least two go-to outfits for upscale/resort level casual dress. You definitely don’t want to keep wearing the same look over and over again with the same people.
  3. Start with neutral pants and express more of your personality with your shirts. If you choose to wear “reds” or some other more colorful pants, then keep it more neutral up top. You get the idea.
  4. Always tuck in your shirt when wearing a sport jacket or blazer and maybe wear your shirt un-tucked if the setting is more relaxed – like an outdoor barbeque, beach party, etc.
  5. Get at least one great sport jacket that is seasonally appropriate that you can dress up or down and wear with a range of colors and patterns. For summer, don’t shy away from a half-lined jacket of linen or cotton, or a blend of the two. A color that is brighter or otherwise more expressive than you might choose for a suit is highly encouraged.
  6. Finally….the shoes (and belt) you wear for social occasions just might be the most important piece…the make or break it element. A loafer of suede or soft calf that works equally well with or without socks would be a great place to start. A lace up that works with jeans, khakis, and any five pocket pant would also be a great investment.

When well put together and properly fit, clothing that is more social in nature will get you more compliments and provide a new level of sartorial enjoyment. Go social and have some fun!

Sartorial Regards,

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