A guide to business travel style for the modern gentleman
Christopher Legard, managing director of classic menswear outfitters Joseph Turner, shares some style tips for modern men who want to look sharp on a business trip.
You’ve written and rehearsed your presentation, the tickets are booked, and you’ve even loaded up your Kindle with fresh reading material for the journey. But there’s still one aspect of your upcoming business trip that you’ve left until the last minute: what are you going to wear?
How you dress for an important meeting or conference can make a big difference in terms of the impression you make, so it’s essential to choose your outfits with the utmost care. To help you get it right, I’ll be sharing my top tips for creating a business trip capsule wardrobe.
Put together a versatile capsule wardrobe
Versatility is key with a capsule wardrobe, especially if you need to pack light. Essentially, that means selecting a few complementary pieces that can be mixed and matched to create smart looks for every activity in your itinerary. For a short business trip (around one or two days) I’d recommend taking one full suit in a versatile shade like dark grey or navy, a pair of tan chinos, and at least two shirts. This will provide you with one formal outfit, and one smart-casual look.
In terms of shirts, I’d recommend taking one crisp white dress shirt to wear with your suit (possibly two, if you’ll be wearing your suit for two days in a row, and a checked or coloured shirt for your casual look. A pastel or patterned shirt is great for casual wear, as it brings visual interest to an outfit without the need for a tie. Chinos are comfortable enough for travelling, and you can wear them again with your suit jacket to create a stylish smart casual look if you go out in the evening. Be sure to fold everything carefully to prevent creasing.
Pick a suit that won’t crease
By far the most important element of your business trip wardrobe is a sharp formal suit. This is what will really make an impression in that important meeting or presentation, so you need to pick one that travels well and ensure that it makes it to your destination in perfect condition. Fabrics like tweed and wool are more resistant to creasing while still looking formal, so I’d recommend picking a suit made from one of these. If comfort is a consideration, go for cashmere or mohair, as these fibres have breathable, wicking qualities, and will keep you warm when it’s cool and cool when it’s warm.
Unless it’s absolutely necessary, you don’t want to wear your suit for the plane or train journey, as it will most likely end up creased. So, travel in something more comfortable, and change before you head out to your meeting. If you have time, leave your suit to hang up in your hotel room to let any creases drop out. A handheld steam cleaner is always a good addition on long haul trips where your suit has spent several hours in your case.
Use accessories to make your outfits work harder
Accessories can be used to make your capsule wardrobe even more versatile. For instance, you can create an entirely new outfit by pairing your suit with a different tie and pocket square. Finer details like socks, belts, and cufflinks can also be used to give your outfits a new lease of life. Remember to keep it professional: that means leaving the colourful socks and novelty cufflinks at home and sticking to classic dark colours and simple sterling silver cufflinks instead.
As for shoes, I’d recommend taking a pair of formal dress shoes, and a pair of loafers or moccasins for slightly more casual wear. You may be able to get away with just one pair of shoes if you’re only away for one night: brogues are very versatile and can be dressed up or down. But, if you do decide to take only one pair of shoes, be sure to pack some travel polish in case you pick up any scuffs when dashing through the train station or airport.
Chances are you’re going to be in a hurry on the eve of your business trip, so do yourself a favour and get your outfits sorted well in advance. Be sure to follow the tips I’ve outlined here, and you can be confident that you’ll look stylish and professional throughout your trip.