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OK this is a VERY general question :) but I figured someone here may have experience with this.

On the slides for the packing casts Mark mentions that's obvious when polo shirts are washed at home as opposed to a dry cleaner. And he's right, my polo's get frayed and faded when I wash them at home but stay pristine for a very long time when I take them to the dry cleaner.

But the problem is its so expensive to have polo's washed at the dry cleaners. I've picked up decent polo's on clearance at Kohl's for like $15 that look fine when dry cleaned, but the cost of 3 or 4 washings exceeds the cost of the shirt!

So my question is, has anyone every used any of those home dry cleaning kits for polo's? Note that I'm only talking about polo's here; I will always take dress shirts to the cleaners.

Thanks!

Jason

US41's picture

I used to wear polo (golf) shirts to the office. I stopped after meeting Mike and Mark. I now only wear button-down front shirts and wool slacks to the office with shiny black leather shoes (usually loafers).

I have my shirts shirts and pants drycleaned.

I recommend dumping golf shirts for work. They scream "I'm comfortable and intend to stay at my current position. I'm not really top leadership material - mostly just a friendly casual guy who is good where he is."

I must agree with Mike and Mark that purchasing shirts at Brookes Brothers is highly recommended. They cost like rip, but they are sort of "code clothing" as they are very conservative and say to management, "I am one of you and I shop there too."

jclishe's picture

I don't wear polo's to work. I work from home and they only time I "go to the office" is when I visit a customer, in which case I'm always in a button down shirt.

So when I wear polo's it is purely personal / casual / recreational. However I still prefer the look of a dry cleaned polo over a home washed one.

I will check out Brooks Bros for shirts though, thanks for the tip!

Jason

HMac's picture

I used to work at a marketing agency where many of the senior executives wore polo shirts most summer days. But I noticed a ridiculous form of one-upsmanship: who had logos from the most exclusive golf courses?

-Hugh

adragnes's picture

I would not recommend button-down shirts if you wear a business suit. Button-downs were originally sportswear and are still considered too informal to be worn with suits.

US41's picture

I don't know what you are calling a button down shirt, but I'm referring to a semi-formal dress shirt just like you might wear with a tie.

adragnes's picture

A button-down shirt is a shirt where there are buttons to fasten the collar.

jhack's picture

That definition is not necessarily widespread. Conventional use of the phrase is for a shirt that buttons down the front.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dress_shirt

http://www.landsend.com/ix/index.html?store=le&action=newSearch&search=b...

John

garyslinger's picture

True (jhack), but you're getting in to British vs. American English, "regular" English vs. "Marketing" English, and "current usage" vs. "traditional usage".

[i]Traditionally[/i], a regular (dress) shirt that also had buttons at the collar-points was considered a country or sporting shirt, and not a shirt to be worn with a "city" suit.

From your wiki-link:
[quote]Button-down: a collar, that buttons to the front of the shirt at its points. Introduced by Brooks Brothers in 1896, it was patterned after the shirts of polo players and was considered a sports shirt until the 1950s in America. It is still today a more casual style and is infrequently worn with a suit. The term "button-down" is often mistakenly used to mean any dress shirts with buttons, as opposed to just those with a button-down style collar.[/quote]
It's not a collar-style I'd expect to see in the work-week in the City of London...

So, everyone's right :)

G.

jhack's picture

[quote]'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.' [/quote]
As M&M would say: Communication is what the listener does. So we must use the words that our listeners understand.

John

garyslinger's picture

[quote="jhack"][quote]'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.' [/quote]
As M&M would say: Communication is what the listener does. So we must use the words that our listeners understand.

John[/quote]
Ah, but I'm English, so if you could be a good chap and use British English from now on, that would be just dandy, thanks!

:lol:

tlhausmann's picture

LOL:

Shaw's famous line: "England and America are two countries separated by a common language."

HMac's picture

[quote="garyslinger"][i]Traditionally[/i], a regular (dress) shirt that also had buttons at the collar-points was considered a country or sporting shirt, and not a shirt to be worn with a "city" suit. It's not a collar-style I'd expect to see in the work-week in the City of London...[/quote]

Also true in Southeast Asia.

As a result, I've gradually moved more non-button collars into my office wardrobe, especially because I work with a lot of international clients - and the button-down is very "American." Yes, it means that I have to be sure to pack the correct size collar stays (or "bones" to you, Gary!), and that adds one more step, one more thing to remember when packing.

Still, nothing beats the button-down collar when you're not wearing a necktie. I think it's actually a bit "neater" appearing, because collar points are tacked down. And almost all of the standard non-button collars get misaligned when you're wearing them without a tie.

Is it possible that the button-down collared shirt looks less dressy than a standard collar in a formal setting, but more dressy in a work casual setting? :lol:

-Hugh

garyslinger's picture

[quote="HMac"]Is it possible that the button-down collared shirt looks less dressy than a standard collar in a formal setting, but more dressy in a work casual setting? :lol:[/quote]
Absolutely, if everyone else in the office is wearing polo shirts, and you're consistently doing the wool pants & "proper" shirt attire. It gets noticed. Whether that notice is good or bad is going to depend on a lot of factors, methinks.

Possible best of both worlds for stays (see, I'm bilingual!) and button-downs: http://www.wurkinstiffs.com/default.aspx

G.

dajoines's picture

Holy cow! Those “wurinstiffs” collar stays are absolutely incredible! What a fantastic idea! I am placing my order tonight!

US41's picture

[quote="adragnes"]I would not recommend button-down shirts if you wear a business suit. Button-downs were originally sportswear and are still considered too informal to be worn with suits... A button-down shirt is a shirt where there are buttons to fasten the collar.[/quote]

Now that we have that squared away...

A button-down collared shirt is frequently worn with suits in the US. Most Americans are not schooled in wearing formal attire and will wear golf shirts or even t-shirts with dress pants and a sport coat. Wearing a button down collared dress shirt with a suit wouldn't be noticed by 99% of the population as an infringement. I had never even heard of such a "rule" until now.

However, I notice those at the highest rungs are aware of these things. They all wear the Brooks Brothers look and while they don't seem to play close attention to footwear, they are very conscious of shirts and tend to wear more formal dress shirts requiring cuff links.

I have never actually touched a pair of cuff links myself and wouldn't know what to do with them.

It seems that with each step up the ladder comes increasing costs to maintain the appearance of deserving that status.

HMac's picture

Let's apply the "[b]Fit In[/b]" Rule for a moment....

In my experience,there's nothing wrong with wearing a button-down collared shirt with a suit - in the US, the UK, or Asia-Pac. [i]Nobody's breaking any damn rules - you're just making a choice within the range of acceptable options...[/i]

As to the frequency of choice, here in the US the button-down collar is more often seen with a necktie and a suit - and so goes unnoticed. And if you want to [b]Fit In [/b]with most US managers wearing suits, you're gonna do just fine with your button-downs. I love 'em.

But if you look around Europe and the UK, you'll find very few wearing this combination. It's also true, as 41 notes, that as you interact with more top executives in the US, you'll find fewer collar buttons and more cufflinks.

Hell, in the UK many of the managers I see are wearing cufflinks - and often without neckties (gary - is that your experience?).

How important is it to for you to [b]Fit In[/b]? It's just up to you if you find yourself in these settings.

-Hugh

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="HMac"]Hell, in the UK many of the managers I see are wearing cufflinks - and often without neckties (gary - is that your experience?).[/quote]

I'm not Gary but I am in the UK. :D

I can only think of two occasions in the past 12 years I've seen a, male, senior manager not wearing a tie at work, both of which were cases where he'd been wearing a tie but it got marked or damaged. I've seen less senior managers not wearing ties but they've tended to be in ICT or front-line production areas where a piece of cloth flapping around your throat can be downright dangerous.

Cufflinks do tend to be a badge of higher management, or at least aspiring to such. I tend to wear cufflinks but that has more to do with finding them easier than buttons as I have a disability that effects my co-ordination.

Stephen

garyslinger's picture

I [i]am[/i] Gary, but I'm based in Tampa now, so sometimes it's hot enough we're just glad everyone's wearing pants!

I have mixed experiences with ties - like a lot of us, I work in technology, and for a long time I was at the pointy end of that, and the majority of the folks I was with dressed accordingly. The "business side" of the house, and senior management, however, was traditional - very much so because the CEO was that way, and wanted it that way. That was a Brit running a heavily-US based company - there were some "opportunities for feedback", shall we say?

Day to day, at the moment, it tends to be about comfort. I also have a number of clients that have explicitly said they'd prefer we not do "suit and tie" when we visit, because that's not their culture, and it makes folks nervous. I play it by ear. I have the luxury (!) of working at home most of the time, for now. Suits without ties? Well, the traditionalist in me doesn't like that, but I'll confess that I [i]despise[/i] ties and [i]have[/i] worn that look - and I can almost hear Mark muttering about it now! I tend to only do that socially now.

Fitting in is probably the best point made, especially with the point about noticing those further up the tree. The historical/traditional stuff - that's just an interesting diversion.

G.

mdave's picture

This is an interesting ""Field Guide to the Subtle Dress Code of Upper Management". Any thoughts on on the ladies side of things?

bffranklin's picture

[quote="garyslinger"]I also have a number of clients that have explicitly said they'd prefer we not do "suit and tie" when we visit, because that's not their culture, and it makes folks nervous.[/quote]

I'll note that in my experience as a security consultant, this is more of an issue of not smiling, not sticking your hand out to meet people, and generally being unapproachable (all things I've been guilty of, and am working like crazy to get better at!) rather than an issue with the dress. Your mileage may vary.

garyslinger's picture

[quote="bffranklin"]I'll note that in my experience as a security consultant, this is more of an issue of not smiling, not sticking your hand out to meet people, and generally being unapproachable (all things I've been guilty of, and am working like crazy to get better at!) rather than an issue with the dress. Your mileage may vary.[/quote]
I've seen that - it isn't that. There are just some environments out there when the only time "a suit" shows up, it's bad news from corporate.

As a personal example:

When I went through the first wave of layoffs at one of my recent company's, IT was in a (handful of miles away) separate facility to corporate. Corporate was suit and tie, IT... Not so much. The VP of HR handled a lot of the layoff meetings himself - he'd come over, and while he was sitting in a room with a person, one of his folks was coming to me to have my team disable accounts and such like. Suits appearing in the office, particularly that suit... Not a good day for folks.

G.

adragnes's picture

Choosing what clothes to wear is a question of fitting in. If wearing a suit alienates your constituents, be they your managers, peers, employees or customers, it is just not effective.

Try dressing a little sharper, but do not overdo it.

-- Aleksander

mtietel's picture

Regarding fitting in and getting noticed...

Shortly after we began dating, I was invited over to my future wife's parents for a casual holiday picnic. I wore khaki shorts and a nice looking T-shirt (no pithy slogans). However, her grandfather wore silk trousers and a sport coat over a shirt (not sure if it had a botton-down collar) and ascot. He always shopped at Brooks Brothers.

Clearly our definitions of casual attire were different. My future father-in-law was kind enough to remove his sport coat to make it less obvious, but I was still the "one of these things is not like the others".

I've since learned and she married me anyway. ;-)

jhack's picture

Sounds like the treated you as a person, not based on the way you dressed. That's true class.

John

jclishe's picture

[quote="adragnes"]Choosing what clothes to wear is a question of fitting in. If wearing a suit alienates your constituents, be they your managers, peers, employees or customers, it is just not effective.

Try dressing a little sharper, but do not overdo it.

-- Aleksander[/quote]

That is an excellent, excellent point.

Hi tech companies are notorious for extremely casual dress. I don't work for Microsoft, but I work with them quite frequently. In fact, as I type this I am in my hotel in Redmond visitiing Microsoft campus all week.

The dress code at Microsoft is "anything goes". I'm working with some relatively senior product managers that are wearing shorts and flip flops everyday. In fact the entire campus culture is casual. Most of the buildings have pool tables in random locations, alcoves with couches and bean bag chairs, and the campus itself has soccer fields, baseball diamonds, volleyball courts, basketball courts, etc. It's not uncommon for people to play a quick game of pickup basketball in the middle of the day.

I think you have to look at not only what your peers and managers are wearing, but also take into consideration the entire culture. If you wore slacks and a dress shirt at Microsoft everyday, you would stand out like a sore thumb. And I mean REALLY stand out. To the point where it would be brought up in conversation about why you're not "fitting in". Yeah, you're going to have meetings and what not where it will be necessary to dress up on occasion, but certainly not as a matter of daily habit. You have to get very high up the food chain at a place like Microsoft to get to people that dress up everyday. If you managed a small team there, not only would it not do you any good to dress up everyday, but it could actually be detrmental as you could be considered to not be promoting the culture. And I'm sure this holds true for other high tech companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.

Oh yeah, a high tech company also breaks the "no backpack" rule too :) At least, until you get pretty high up the food chain.

Jason

bug_girl's picture

[quote="mdave"]This is an interesting ""Field Guide to the Subtle Dress Code of Upper Management". Any thoughts on on the ladies side of things?[/quote]

Ugh. If only there [b]WERE[/b] clear codes about what to wear if you're a woman!

If you think ties and stays are bad, at least you don't have to wear pantyhose.

pantyhose = evil

high heels = possibly even more evil

At least a man's suit won't physically injure you.

bflynn's picture

[quote="US41"]I used to wear polo (golf) shirts to the office. I stopped after meeting Mike and Mark. I now only wear button-down front shirts and wool slacks to the office with shiny black leather shoes (usually loafers).

I have my shirts shirts and pants drycleaned.

I recommend dumping golf shirts for work. They scream "I'm comfortable and intend to stay at my current position. I'm not really top leadership material - mostly just a friendly casual guy who is good where he is."

I must agree with Mike and Mark that purchasing shirts at Brookes Brothers is highly recommended. They cost like rip, but they are sort of "code clothing" as they are very conservative and say to management, "I am one of you and I shop there too."[/quote]

I'm late into the conversation, but let me echo this. A few years ago I changed my attire and I could see a difference in how people treat me. I was wearing khakis and polo shirts most of the time. I changed to more professional clothing (gabardine slacks, button down, occasionally a sports coat) and almost immediately people changed - they listened better, they deferred to me more, it became easier to get certain things done. On occasion I will still dress down for certain functions or environments (say in a factory) but that's the Fit-In rule in place.

One additional suggestion that I'll add; try out the non-iron shirts (from Brooks Brothers). For day-to-day wear, I have great success with them including traveling. You can wash them at home and hang them up straight from the dryer and they look like an unstarched dry cleaned shirt. When I travel with them, I hang them in the bathroom during a shower, leave then in the steam for about 5 minutes and wrinkles fall out without ironing. If you don't have experience with them, get one and try it.

Brian