Business Casual Survival Guide Helps You Dress Like an Adult

By William Peacock, Esq. on February 18, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

I have a friend who works in sales. This friend, who we'll call Joe, wears a company-mandated polo shirt and slacks. Simple enough, right? You can't screw that outfit up. Except he does, with running shoes. His New Balances look like a dog ate them, and then defecated them out. The only thing holding those shoes together is duct tape.

He may be beyond saving. Another friend of mine looks like page 57 of GQ.

Emmi Sorokin's The Business Casual Survival Guide is for neither of them. This book is, however, for everyone else, especially those recent graduates making the leap from law school to the working world.

The Power of Dressing Well

The book is full of anecdotes about men who dressed better, and saw a positive effect on their careers. Take them for what they're worth (who knows if a guy really became BFFs with his boss's boss because he wore a swell lapel pin), but at least one of her happy clients told Business Insider that he "got bigger clients and doubled [his] income" as a result of the makeover.

Sorokin herself references Malcolm Gladwell's Blink and scientific studies to show that first impressions and your appearance really do matter. Personally, I don't need science. I just have to picture my friend Joe's yellow, stained New Balances.

What's a [Guy] to Wear?

Dress codes. As Sorokin notes, "What's considered appropriate in D.C. looks stiff in LA; what looks sharp in Miami seems loud and out of place in Boston." Plus, you have to take into account your place in the company, how formal your business (or law firm) is, and more.

Put it this way: a California family law attorney probably dresses different than a partner at Cravath.

This book doesn't have much, if anything on Cravath, but then again, it's the "Business Casual" guide. And it does so with a four-part "4mula" (us lawyers love four-factor tests, don't we?): fit, feel, top layer, and accessories. Her tips are easy to remember and extremely approachable.

Are There Pictures?

Yes. The book includes numerous diagrams on fit, to help you tell the difference between (and appropriateness of) "Super Slim Cut," "Tailored Cut," and "Regular Cut" and other vague styling concepts. There are also 30 "looks," which incorporate her four-factors, in case you need a quick visual reference.

Verdict: Get It

A man who dresses like a slob gives the impression that he doesn't want to be there -- he doesn't care enough about his job to put effort into his appearance. A man that dresses well won't be mistaken for a rapist (as happened to Gladwell, an incident which reportedly inspired Blink).

Sorokin's guide is written in extremely approachable blog-like (in a good way) language that you can burn through in an hour or two. If you have a friend like Joe, this is the book to give him. Right after you burn his shoes.

Disclosure: Emmi Sorokin, the founder of It's a Man's World Co., a men's makeover consultancy, provided no compensation other than a review copy of her book.

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