30 March 2011

Selling Shirts

Not a good idea


No baggage

Next: The Selling Suit

One of the biggest problems I see with salesmen is their suicidal leap into 'statement.' I know this because I was so good at it. That first photo up there is me circa 1992 telling the world I was fed up with 12 years of Republicans.

I wore my affiliation proudly... and loudly. "How do you vote a straight Democratic ticket?" I shouted to my wife from inside a voting booth in the Republican strong hold of Lake Forest, IL. And if you didn't like my politics then the hell with you. Odd, since almost everyone in my industry (except attorneys) were and still are Republicans. See? I'm still doing it.

Moving on. The matching of a suit color, to a shirt, to a tie, is also common. And shame on the man who does it since he usually has the economic wherewithal to do it right. He just can't be bothered. Instead, he uses the color palette of his 12 year old mind left over from putting together Revell model airplanes. "Gray suit, gray shirt, gray tie." In Philadelphia, they'll even add gray shoes.

So here it is. The shirt should contrast against the tie and suit. That usually means a white or light blue shirt. If the tie is patterned, stick to a solid shirt. If the shirt is patterned, stick to a solid tie. Remember, these rules are not for expression but for getting paid. Getting the job. The free drink. The upgrade. A mortgage. The Order.

The idea is to avoid the baggage that people will associate with certain items of apparel. No cuff links. Plain collar. White or blue. The contrasting collar on a younger man is a first class ticket to affectationville but, if you're over 50, what the hell, you deserve it. Try and stick to the "Gotta Iron" as opposed to wash and wear but if you're young and poor, keep a couple wash and wear in the closet for the, "I-don't-have-money-to-get-my-shirts-outta-the-cleaners" emergency.

Next is the Selling Suit. If you're still awake.


jeff said...

Well said. Expecting a comment on black suits in the next go round, but you've already covered that recently.

Where would a man even purchase gray shoes?

Jeff St. Denis

Kcaj said...

Have to agree with you only “gotta iron” shirts; all those chemical in no-iron clothes can’t be good for you; see,


Plus you know you’ve passed a manhood milestone when you can finally relegate your iron to the hall closest’s top shelf now that someone else is pressing your shirts!

That and a refrigerator in the garage are two of life’s greatest achievements -grin-.

Alice Olive said...

I am loving this series! I laughed out loud at the first image - classic.

I think I'm getting the message that quality and understated are the themes to go with, yes?

Peter said...

I lived in Lake Forest at that time, too. In the primary voting, I overheard one older woman whisper to her friend, "A Democratic ballot! I had a friend who voted Democratic once!"

LPC said...

Poor Philadelphia. How do they sleep at night?

Anonymous said...

Another post, another crack at Philadelphia. I don't know why I bother to read your blog anymore - it just makes me angry.

Jeff said...

Sorry but both parties hate "Trad." Everthing must be reformed, you know.

Anonymous said...

It's so much easier for men to dress appropriately for business, and yet...look around. Your post is not in vain!

tintin said...

Jeff- Go here for gray shoes:


kcaj- In Chicago we didn't need a fridge in the garage. At least not from Dec thru Apr.

Alice- Yes. That's why I'm getting my hair cut like George Michaels this weekend

Peter-It's the law in LF that all women over 35 must be blonde. I miss the Lantern. Even the new one.

LPC- I dunno. But I bet the Archdiocese can tell you.

Anon- Because, if you're from Philadelphia you love misery. Cue the Mummers.

Brummagem Joe said...

You're right tintin, in most selling situations neutrality (aka boring) is all. The minute some guy walks through a door with contrasting shirt/collar and links the bs deflectors are immediately brought into operation. I've had periods in sales and never liked it much (basically a good schmoozer but a bit argumentative) but you knew the wardrobe rules. It's different if the business is "artistic" like selling clothes retail or commercial sales of fashion items of one sort and another. There some license is allowed.

Was it 1992 the disenchantment set in? Mid/late 90's was when the head scratching started surely?

tintin said...

Middle years- In vain. I'm vain. What's the difference.

Joe- You? Argumentative? I don't believe it. Certainly retail, design, the bow-tied architect, the interior decorator with suede Belgian loafers...they all have license to push the limits of the ponce meter.

I'm still scratching my head. A 17 year old girl accepted into a couple of Ivy's on full scholarship pistol whipped her mother with a Sig Sauer because Mom wouldn't co-sign an auto loan -- for a NISSAN! Mother of God...I'm ready to move to New Zealand and raise sheep.

Oyster Guy said...

I saw that pistol whipping story too. America in a microcosm ? She has a fine career as a Wall Street bankster ahead of her. I'm sure her picture is being posted without irony on trading desks everywhere. How about a Trad Disapproved coffee mug?

tintin said...

You're my kind'a guy, Oyster Guy.

Main Line Sportsman said...

C'mon....more gratuitous shots at Philly...NOBODY wears grey shirts and difinitely no grey shoes around the courts or anywhere else.
That Archdiocise crack was low...that crap is going on all over and they are all covering uo from the Vatican to Culver city...and I am an Epsicoplian for F's sake.

A. Patch said...

I have a somewhat "busy" striped shirt from J Mac (pencil light blue and pink stripes, if you must know) that I've always had trouble pairing with a tie, so it stays in the closet. I hate solid ties, is that my only option to wear this thing?

tintin said...

NOBODY? Be careful. The last time you were this confident you had to go to Croatia for Bitter Lemon.

Dallas said...

no complaints here re: how men dress for business.

the worse that others look, the better i look.

Unashamedly Crap said...

Carter, Clinton(s), Obama. Great choices. I wish I could vote Democrat. Quite good shirts, though.

Brummagem Joe said...

"they all have license to push the limits of the ponce meter."

Well Tintin the typical sales call is not a Harvard seminar is it?

Brummagem Joe said...

"that crap is going on all over and they are all covering uo from the Vatican to Culver city.."

Yeah but they're rounding up the monsignors in Philly now...previously these guys were out of the country faster than that CIA agent in Pakistan

Brohammas said...

SO the other day my Philadelphia behind strolls into the office down in Wilmington wearing tan slacks, white shirt, navy sweater vest, rep tie, sleeves rolled up, loafers with no socks, and sit in my cubicle.

First thing anyone says to me is, "why do you always dress up for work?" asked without an ounce of irony.
At the end of the day they go back to Deleware suburbs and I go back to my rowhouse in the "bad" part of town... where I slip into my grey shoes (they are addidas)

Baron said...

Still awake and not even asking "are we there yet?"