What does Dress to Impress mean?


Friend, originally, when I wrote What Does Dress To Impress Mean, 8 years ago, Dressing To Impress overwhelmingly meant dressing up. Less than a decade later, formal attire can make one look less impressive to a growing number of audiences. 

The two culturally intertwined major trends responsible for this loosening of formality are athleisure (athletic+leisure), and what I call the Casualification Of Everything. Here’s what that looks like in our lives and what Dressing to Impress means now, in 2018 (2019, I feel your hot breath on my neck, wait your turn.)


What dressing to impress used to mean: Suit jacket or blazer

What it means now: A top layer that makes you feel fucking great. Blazers have been dressed down to the realm of sweatshirt jersey material with no padding or lining. If you're one the many "I'm not a suit guy"s out there, it's never been easier to be comfortable and pulled together. 


What dressing to impress used to mean: Dress shirt, maybe with a french cuff and cufflinks

Now: T-shirts are regularly worn underneath Tux jackets to black tie events and under blazers at business conferences. Same for the untucked button-down (it's me, Casualification!) Regardless of where you identify on the T-shirt to Dress shirt Spectrum, what's most important is that it fits you perfectly and sets the tone you want.


What dressing to impress used to mean: Slacks or dress denim

Now: Any great fitting bottoms that also fit the occasion. Jeans are more popular than ever, in all colors. Ripped and very light denim is a huge trend right meow (in contrast to the plain dark dress denim). It’s much easier to do ripped denim badly than well. Truly the most important factor is how your pants fit, without that no matter the style of pant, saggy ass impresses not.


What dressing to impress used to mean: Dress shoes

Now: Men are sporting sneakers with tuxedos on the red carpet and with suits to the office. Tuxedo slippers are no longer made only in patent or velvet, and are now worn sockless with jeans and shorts. Is this formal going casual or casual going formal? Yin and yang, my friend. However, whichever style of shoe graces your feet, they gots to be in fresh outta the box condition.


What dressing to impress used to mean: tie & pocket square

Now: Everything is more expressive to allow the world a glimpse into your snowflake soul. Glasses, phone cases, bags and folios, once cookie cutter bound, now come in variety of color, texture and print. If you prefer classics or vintage, well made and in beautiful condition are key. It's basic, default accessories that fall short of impressive.

"Rules" are dissolving to embrace individuality. Yet dressing to impress remains, at it's core, showing respect and mastery of yourself and the environment. Get free tips to tighten up your style here

Emmi SorokinComment