The Suit Still Has Mystique in Professional Situations.
BY JOANNE KLIMOVICH HARROP
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Published Saturday, June 25, 2016, 9:00 p.m
Attorney Ken Horoho looks at his daily schedule to determine his wardrobe.
“If I am going to be with a new client, having a business meeting or in court, I will definitely wear a suit,” says Horoho of the firm Gentile Horoho & Avalli, Downtown. “I recently met with a client who had taken the day off from work, so I figured he would be dressed more casually, so I wore a sport coat and open-collared shirt.
“You have to know your situation, because it’s crucial you be dressed correctly for the occasion. Wearing a suit in the legal profession gives you an air of confidence. I love being in the legal profession, and I am like the suit. I am not going anywhere.
“Some research suggests the business suit may be becoming less desirable. According to research by OfficeTeam, based in Findlay Township, whose parent company is specialized staffing firm Robert Half of Menlo Park, Calif, 50 percent of senior managers report employees wear less formal clothing than they did five years ago. What’s notable is that even very traditional suit-wearing institutions are beginning to alter their dress code in order to attract top talent.
A question that often comes up, says Brian Reed, branch manager at OfficeTeam, is what’s too casual?
The survey found 58 percent of respondents would prefer to work at a company that has a business-casual dress code, casual dress code or no dress code. Twenty-three percent say a company’s dress code doesn’t impact their decision to work there and 18 percent say they would prefer to work at a company that has a formal dress code.
“In determining the appropriate dress, it is important that you do at least some intel regarding your client or the person you are meeting, especially if they work in an industry that has a reputation of being totally business casual,” says Horoho of Mt. Lebanon. “There are a lot of successful young entrepreneurs that, more than likely, don’t even own a suit. If you show up for your meeting with that type of client in a three-piece suit, the first thing the client is going to think is, ‘Who is this stiff?’ ”
The summer definitely has an effect on suit purchases, says Joseph Orlando, owner of Joseph Orlando, a men’s clothier, Downtown. He inventories more sport coats than suits this time of year because a lot companies go casual for the summer.
“It’s a reality,” Orlando says. “When you walk the streets, you see less guys in suits. The suit is viewed as a different garment than it used to be. It’s not as vital a part of a man’s closet as it used to be.”
But it’s not going away entirely; suits won’t become obsolete, he says.
“Ask any woman, and she will tell you she likes her guy in a suit,” Orlando says. “We see a lot of young guys who want a nice suit to wear to their own wedding or to an interview or to start a new job.”
The launching of his career was a reason Horoho’s son, Sean, was with a stylist at Nordstrom shopping for a suit. The suit was a present from his aunt, Kathy Bower, for the recent Penn State University graduate. He was hired for an accounting job with PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“He needs a good suit for his profession,” his dad says. “And it needs to fit properly, too. You can always take off the tie or jacket and unbutton the shirt if you think you are overdressed, but you can’t do much if you are underdressed.”
Henry Krakovsky and Michael Startari agree they feel comfortable and work well whether they are wearing a suit or a casual outfit. Krakovsky of Highland Park is co-director of the Pittsburgh office of Aspire Auctions in Shadyside, where the dress code is casual.
But he won’t wear just anything. He says he prefers Prada brand polo shirts and pants by companies such as Band of Outsiders or Ami.
“I like to be stylish,” Krakovsky says. “Wearing a suit is an easier decision than deciding on a casual outfit, because all you need to decide is a shirt and tie and shoes, of course.
“Whatever you wear, tailoring and fit are everything. Here, we are clear about what is not allowed, like flip-flops and shorts,” he says. “We travel a lot, so I see a lot of guys getting dressed up again. If you are too super casual, that might not be good, because you never know what you might be doing that day or who you might meet.”
That’s true, says Startari of Trafford, who dresses business casual, which for him means a long-sleeve shirt, tie and dress pants for his job as regional manager of operations for Ciox Health, a health-information management company based in Georgia.
“I don’t have to wear a tie, but I like wearing a tie, and I sometimes will wear a suit depending on what I am doing that day,” Startari says. “I want to project that I am confident. I am a manager, and what I wear needs to represent that.”
Just because it’s summer, it doesn’t mean a gentleman can’t look and feel great in a suit, says Guy Voglino, vice president and brand manager for men’s and boys’ for Brooks Brothers. Suit fabrics, components and construction techniques have evolved, allowing suits to be lighter, more comfortable and more warm-weather friendly, he says.
There will always be a group of people who prefer to be casual and another that embraces dressing up, Voglino says.
“In my opinion, yes, you can always link certain professions to having to dress more formally,” Voglino says. “That said, I wouldn’t expect someone working in a tech startup to wear a suit to work every day, but there are other professions and situations where a suit instills confidence.”
There’s some truth to that, says Michael Slepian, assistant professor at Columbia Business School in Manhattan, who has been part of a research team that studied the effect wearing formal clothing can have on the way people think and act. When people act more formally, they feel more powerful and are more likely to take a step back and look at the big picture, see things on a broader level, Slepian says.