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28 Observations On International Style From A Slow Trade Show

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    28 Observations On International Style From A Slow Trade Show

    I recently attended a trade show in Atlanta. It was very soft from a business perspective (recession really has its fangs sunk deep into the ankle of the global economy) so I amused myself between meetings by undertaking an analysis of international style trends, given that the event attracted 4,000 delegates from all the populated continents.

    To provide context, I work in aviation. The event attracted industry movers and shakers. Very few people make less than six figures (USD) and it’s very much an Old Boys Club. Read: SausageFest.

    Armed with some knowledge gleaned from the greater Dappered community, my observations:

    1) It’s a dead heat between the Americans, Canadians and Russians for the world’s worst dressed nation. That said, the Russian expatriates currently living in Miami do show some sartorial bluster. The Scots were pretty shabby as well, but wonderful people … that judgment buoyed by the fact they offered a selection of scotch at their booth every day at noon. Thought I hated scotch. Guess not.

    2) There is a direct and undeniable correlation between obesity, age and level of personal presentation.

    3) The single most common style violation has to be most everyone wears clothing that just doesn’t fit.

    4) Suits are quickly sabotaged by casual, ugly or inappropriate shoes. I was conversing with a very nice, articulate Honduran gentleman who actually had white New Balance shoes on with his suit. Didn’t help that he had the face of a Bond villain.

    5) It’s remarkable that so many of the attendees – most of whom are mid and upper-level management – will sport a $4,000 wristwatch but a dress shirt from WalMart.

    6) The Italians are the best dressed. I’d put the Brits and Dutch a close second. The Swiss, Belgians, Czechs, and Germans also bring it. Portugal, Poland, Ukraine, Latvia, Thailand … not so much.

    7) Younger professionals, the world over, are dressing better … everything fits slimmer.

    8) Pastel and coral-colored solid ties appear to be standard issue for anyone from the Caribbean/Central America, or Miami. Likewise linen suits.

    9) The Japanese dress better than the Chinese. Both favor very subdued, conservative ties. The younger Asian delegates sport rock star skinny suits but seem to invest most their energy in porcupine-quill/Cristiano Ronaldo hairstyles. They do love their slip on shoes.

    10) The CEO is always the best dressed of the bunch. Like a boss. Take note.

    11) Considering most of them use money as post-it notes, the Middle Eastern delegates were dressed quite slovenly.

    12) I am beginning to believe anything more than a straight or triangular fold pocket square of subdued color and pattern is simply too much on the side of dandyism for work. This saddens me.

    13) Too many young guys dressed as if they were at a Las Vegas bachelor party – white unbuttoned shirt, no tie, suit jacket worn as sport coat, jeans that are too light with fraying hems, godawful hybrid sneaker/dress shoes.

    14) The South American ladies dress like a salsa dance might break out at any moment and treat every day as a party waiting to happen. They believe “good fit” is interchangeable with “tight.” God love them. As everyone knows, A Great Ass Is Forever.

    15) Lot of people wear button down collars with suits. It doesn’t look too terrible in my eyes, but I wouldn’t do it myself.

    16) Africans get a lot of freedom with patterns that would make Helen Keller wince. Somehow, they pull it off with aplomb. In general, people of African descent look better dressed up than anyone else on earth, the world over.

    18) The skinny tie is on its deathbed.

    19) Shoes can’t be both comfortable and beautiful.

    20) You can’t go wrong with a side part.

    21) In style, Europe leads, North America follows … albeit slowly.

    22) Way too many old guys who feel wrinkled chinos, square toed shoes and a Captain Crunch navy blazer is sufficient for business dress.

    23) The collared polo shirt is a total cop out.

    24) Hate to say it as a small town guy, but people from rural communities/states really need to step up their style game.

    25) Presenting yourself well doesn’t close the deal, but it sure opens the door.

    26) If we can find an incinerator of sufficient capacity, every tassled loafer in the world should be burned. Immediately.

    27) There’s a fine line between fitted, tailored and "skinny like dental floss" fit.

    28) Why are people making/wearing dress shoes with the length of cross country skis? Combined with a tapered pant, it looks ridiculous.

    In general, poorly dressed people just don’t know any better. It’s not a character defect and people shouldn’t be judged by what they wear, it’s just a matter of taking interest in presentation and learning how it works. A colleague who traveled with me showed me a photo of an old work trip while we were awaiting the tube in London to a meeting. I’m wearing a boxy suit with linebacker shoulders, shoddy white dress shirt with no tie and Frankensteinian square-toed Kenneth Cole shoes. Here I am five short years later pretending I know something about style.


    I should offer as an addendum a chat I had with an immaculately dressed guy at a cocktail party at the same event who, noting my shoes, said "you can't go wrong with a pair Park Avenues."

    I told him I was making an effort with how I presented myself.

    "The way I see it," he said. "There are four reasons you should dress well. They are chicks, money, power and chicks."

    He offered his fist for a bump and was gone. That little exchange will stay with me.



      Kittiwake - I also work in aviation (large Canadian company, that should narrow it down for you). Not only is it an Old Boys Club, there is also a huge proportion of engineers (even in the Marketing functions that go to these shows). Not to offend anyone here, but engineers have never been at the forefront of style...



        Yeah, it's a very nuts and bolts industy that runs counter to the supposed "glamour" of aviation. The guys who really make the the industry fly usually have grease in the lines of their knuckles.

        Anyone with the brains and commitment required to become an engineer of any type gets forgiven for not being a pillar of style.

        Any chance you can get me an employee discount on the Learjet 75?



          Good guess, but I work for the other large Canadian aviation company



            Yes, engineers are definitely not style gurus. In fact, some of the best engineers I know are the worst dressed.



              The skinny tie will never die. For those of us too slight for table-cloth sized ties, now that they're an option they're not going away.



                You don't realize how much you love wearing sneakers with formal clothes until you've had to stand for entire days at a time...



                  Older gentlemen, I'll give them a pass. Younger gents (IE those in #13), that's the worst.

                  "Waste no time arguing what a good man should be. Be one." – Marcus Aurelius



                    Not surprised that the Italians and Brits were so well dressed. Sometimes you just can't beat them, it's in their blood. I'm sure you made a good case for America though.

                    I've considered getting a tassel loafer, but it's only something that I would wear casually, not with a suit or to a business meeting.

                    For me, the skinny ties work. I am not exactly super slim but I am by no means heavy. I don't go with the crazy skinny ties. I stick to 3" or 2.5".



                      @Teej: Best place to buy affordable 3" ties? That seems to be the best width for me. 3.25-3.5" looks a bit big, but I feel 2.5" is too skinny.



                        @zerostyle: Tie Bar ties are all $15 (you can sort them by width).



                          My ties are 2' but I am only 5'5" 140. So they work well with my frame. And being 23 I am shaking my head with the unbuttoned shirt, no tie, frayed jean wearing, frat thinking guys. My work is business casual, and the guys (no matter what age) here dress terrible. I saw a guy yesterday, who by the way has the biggest stomach I have ever seen, wear a shirt too small. The bottom of his stomach was showing, and you could see it plain as day. And not in a stretch upwords and the shirt lifts up way.I wear a shirt and tie everyday. There are only maybe 5 out of 100 guys here that actually dress somewhat decent. Its a shame.

                          What we do in life echos throughout eternity.



                            Hey, do I know you? I'm a editor in the field.



                              *opens door*

                              Just want to say, this was hilarious

                              *nods a salute and leaves*