Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Mailbag: Suiting up in the South

Last week, publisher Ben Kinney asked readers what they thought should be appropriate “summer” business attire. Here are a few of our favorite responses, edited for length.

“During the summer men should dress in: tailored pants, long sleeve dress shirt and dress shoes. No tie, no jacket.”
— Donald

“I had my own CPA practice in NY after working on Wall Street. I picked up a lot of high profile entertainers, public figures and pro sports players. I was told in no uncertain terms I should never be caught wearing a suit because then I would not be trusted — the Suits were the ones ripping them off. Even in President Obama’s White House Friday’s were dress down days. So there you have it. And, restaurants that required coat and tie always had one to lend. Never sweated more than I needed to after that.”
— Craig

“I work in the state political arena, and wearing a jacket and tie is generally unpleasant, to say the least, especially when traversing unshaded sidewalks from building to building. You’re probably aware that there is a movement to not only drop coats in the summer, but to even move toward Bermuda shorts or short-suits. WSJ did a piece on it.”
— Will

“I am from Denver, and this heat is INCREDIBLE! Recently relocating to North Carolina, I ask this question daily: How do you dress in this heat and still look professional? … I am thinking different fabrics are key. With a socialite grandma from Texas and California, switching out winter fabrics to summer silks, linens and such, were seasonally mandatory. Perhaps this may may be a great way to maintain a cool, yet classy and sophisticated look. In my opinion, this is what the South is known for, their unmatchable style! Whatever you do, don’t down play to shorts and a t-shirt — in my opinion this is very unapproachable for business.”
— Rondalyn

“Already made the ‘business attire’ change along with many of my contemporaries. Summertime — June through August — is slacks and casual shirt, preferably with a company logo. Rarely do I visit with a customer or prospective customer who is not ‘business casual,’ and that tends to be year round. So I tend to leave the coat in the car for those visits, September through May, unless it is just plain cold outside. All the trade shows and conferences I have attended in the last ten years have been business casual. The only throwbacks I see are in the legislature.”
— Bruce

“I’m old-fashioned — don’t want to buy/hear/discuss much with someone who looks disheveled. Dad used to put his suit coat on when he walked into someone’s building to sell them paper, and that was before air conditioning! … Being respected is more how you carry yourself and act than just what you’re wearing, but how you dress really does say something.”
— Nan

“… When I hit 60, which was some years ago, I decided that I no longer needed to impress anyone and stopped wearing a tie. I could make this decision because I was self-employed, and not rich and famous. I noticed no difference in the reaction of the business world to my presence. Is suiting up in the summer months an effort to express male dominance? Because of the long-sleeve shirt, T-shirt and tie, the temperature levels in some buildings seem to be low enough to obviate the need to refrigerate beer …

Liberate yourself – don’t wear a tie.”
— Jack

“Short shorts, flip-flops and Hawaiian shirt.”
— Bob

For 40 years, sharing the stories of North Carolina's dynamic business community.

Related Articles