The Case for Dressing Well, Post Covid

How we'll return to our growth - and our senses.

By: Michele Stephens, Director of Marketing
July 13, 2020

We’ve been there before.

It was 2007. The market was an all-time high (then, at just 14,164 points). The US Unemployment rate was 5 percent and the net worth of American households stood at $69 trillion.

Just two years later, the Dow plunged to 6547 points…a drop of more than 50%!

The US unemployment rate hit 10% for the first time in a quarter century and housing foreclosures reached 2.9 million in just that year.

By 2012, the Dow had recovered to over 15,000 points, but on the backs of hard workers, many who had to re-invent themselves, get truly competitive (again) and call upon their American grit to battle back.

Part of that recovery involved a return to dressing well.

Being competitive, standing out in the workplace, making a positive impression – with potential clients and potential employers – was suddenly supremely important – and more so than it had been in recent years.  Looking like you came to play gave you an edge. It communicated you were serious, could be trusted, etc. and helped set you apart from other professionals.

If that was #menswear1.0, then we are currently living out #menswear2.0 (termed by Cam Wolf in writing for GQ in April 2020). He explores the strong probability we’ll return to greater sensibility in our dress.

For all of the companies who themed the year, 2020, on Vision, they didn’t know the half of it. If this year brings us anything good at all, it might be that clarity…that vision…a crystal clear sense of what’s truly most important.

If the last few years found a workforce a little too focused on comfort, then it may be comforting to know we’ll all be back to work with a heightened sense of presenting well. As Cam Wolf said:

Menswear entered the age of coronavirus in the throes of a no-limits game of style. Want to pair your drop-crotch joggers with a leather blazer and Vetements hoodie? Fair game. … Great big trousers with knit sweaters and a newsboy cap? Why not! The defining style rule of this new decade was … we make the rules up as we go along. But after talking to a few designers and people who were there a decade ago, I started to think that the pandemic, and the economic depression it’s brought with it, may even precipitate an embrace of the values that dominated the #menswear movement of the late 2000s and early ‘10s.

Consider Tom James one of those people (Companies) who were there back in the recession of 08/09. We saw it then. We saw our clients change their habits and return to a sense of style and elegance, of getting work done, of presenting well.

And if that doesn’t make at least a few of you grateful at the thought, then perhaps you and your associates never lost dressing appropriately to begin with.

It reminds me of a story of one of our clothiers in San Diego. She received a call from a long-time client for an order of 5 suits, ‘PRONTO!’

We’ll come to play!


We’ll be ready and we’ll look the part!

Since he’d been ‘casual’ at work for years, she knew there HAD to be more to the story. When asked, he told the story of his top client, who he’d lost. When he quizzed them as to why, they replied: “Your competitors came calling. They were dressed sharp, their pencils were sharp, while you look like you are headed to the golf course every time we see you. We want to know that you’re always working for us!”

If that doesn’t tell the story, nothing does.  When we’re dressed for work, we LOOK like we’re working. And according to the experts, we’ll be better at it, when we do! Scientific American collected various studies that prove that out, going so far as to say even testosterone levels went down when dressed down. That should bring you pause. If what makes you competitive in the work place matters for your success, you’d likely want to protect that.

We, at Tom James would suggest that the comfort dressing down gives you can still be achieved when wearing professional clothing.  Proper fitting professional clothing. Garments that are made for you, with fabrics that breathe, stretch, wear well with a fit that makes you look like a million bucks, can be just as comfortable and can give you the edge the experts say we’ll need as we head out of this COVID-19 situation.

Here’s hoping your new normal is nearby and that success carries you into 2021. If we can help, GET STARTED HERE.




"Sarah Slaper is a consummate professional and one of the most knowledgeable consultants I have worked with. Sarah's dedication to her craft and her commitment to her clientele is simply unmatched. It has been a great honor working with Sarah and I highly recommend her."

Custom Clothier Sarah Slaper

Sarah Slaper

Tom James of Washington DC

"I have worked with Jake Hadley for a couple of years and it is always a pleasure! He knows the styles and trends."

Custom Clothier Jake Hadley

Jake Hadley

Tom James of Denver

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