Panic has officially set in.
You upturned your dresser drawers. Pawed through every hanger in your closet. Tore the clingy plastic off the last batch of dry cleaned shirts in an effort to find something—anything—to wear today.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. You’re minutes away from lunch with a high-profile client. A presentation of your boss’ pet project. Or a romantic dinner with that special someone.
Get a grip. Before you pass out with anxiety and bail on the lunch/presentation/date, stop and listen to your rational inner voice: The meltdown is more about your lack of confidence than your lack of clothes.
And while the problem isn’t rooted in your wardrobe, the solution is: Social science proves what your dad told you all along: Clothes make the man. Look good and you’ll feel good. Pull together your exterior and your interior will follow.
Need some inspiration? Read on.
5 Outfits for 5 Occasions
1. Ace the Crucial Second Date The first date went great—better than great, because you now have a second date. The only downside? The stakes are now higher. You feel a real connection with your date and you don’t want to blow it. You wisely picked a farm-to-table eatery with a casual atmosphere that will, hopefully, set the stage for relaxed conversation. For your date-night wardrobe, you want to look pulled together, but not stuffy. This unstructured blazer perfectly blends sporty cool and refined tailoring. Pair it with colored chinos and classic brogued lace-up boots that add an aristocratic weekend-in-the-country feel—with the added benefit of a lug sole that keeps the look easy.
2. Crack Casual Friday’s Unspoken Dress Code Casual Fridays are supposed to be a good thing: a chance to relax, segue into the weekend and express yourself creatively through clothes. But the last day of the work week can quickly devolve into a menswear minefield—especially if your workplace fails to define dress code. Find out if jeans are allowed. If yes, a denim-based look is a great option—with the following guidelines: choose dark-wash jeans in immaculate condition—no holes, tears, fading, or whiskering—and go with a tailored rather than hipster-skinny silhouette. Assure the look stays professional by pairing the jeans with a subtle plaid sportcoat and complementarily colored fine-stripe dress shirt. A brogued blucher is perfect for Casual Fridays, walking the line between a more formal cap-toe Oxford and too-casual chukka.
3. Crush it at Your Next Power Lunch Entertaining your company’s newest—and biggest—client is a daunting task. Your clothes are the last thing you want to worry about. So choose that sartorial standby, a well-tailored two-button navy suit. Wear it with a windowpane check shirt, medallion-pattern tie and print pocket square in flattering shades of sky blue. Smooth leather loafers with horsebit hardware keep the look classic but comfortable.
4. First Impressions Count on Business Travel You never know who will plop down in the seat next to you when you travel for business. So make a habit of dressing up—rather than down—when you board a plane or train. Layers are key. Start with a Henley—the cotton jersey makes a breathable base and the button placket telegraphs a more polished look than a tee. Add a zip-front cardi for warmth and top it with a handsome quilted jacket. We love this version with its loads of snap patch pockets that carry your boarding pass, ear buds, phone and more. Suede Chelsea boots add a ruggedly handsome touch—and slip on and off easily as you pass through security.
5. Win Over the Parents in a Grown-Up Ensemble Meeting your significant-other’s parents represents a major step in your relationship—and can be a major step backwards if you show up looking less than exemplary. Will a blazer telegraph that you’re trying to hard? Opt instead for a cool sweater-vest combo jacket paired with preppy, parental-pleasing salmon-colored chinos and neutral suede desert boots.