Recently I dined at an upscale restaurant in Austin where, over the course of the evening, patrons at different tables were dressed as follows:
1) Business Suits
2) Tuxedos and evening dresses
3) Dressy casual shirts and slacks and casual dresses
4) Cut-offs, Logo T-shirt (Keep Austin Weird), flip-flops; I thought this person had wandered out of the kitchen but I was mistaken, he met up with his girlfriend, who was wearing a lovely dress and heels, and he may have been the restaurant owner; in Austin you never know.
This is not an indictment to not dressing well or even appropriately, but simply an observation of the diversity that is Austin. Men have told me they moved to Austin so they wouldn’t have to wear a tie EVER AGAIN (their emphasis, not mine). That seems extreme to me, but whatever. What does this have to do with fashion? Not as much as it has to do with Personal Style.
Austin is a great place to practice Personal Style. Sadly, what I often see are people wearing ill-fitted, generic clothing that only says they aren’t even trying to attract the attention they will need to get what they want from life. This is ok if you are in the witness protection program, otherwise attention is a good thing, especially in business and in love.
And that’s where creativity can come into play. What is the Power Suit of an artist or a gaming exec? Maybe a black T-shirt and jeans. But pair those with slim black trainers and a leather jacket and it becomes an outfit that can move with the movers and shakers anywhere on Planet Earth.
The Power Suit for a corporate exec or attorney who deals with the courts and foreign associates will be the traditional garb, a suit. But even that has room for Personal Style and she or he could use the more artful wardrobe staples (jeans, leather jacket, boots, sweaters, hats) for casual business meetings, travel, the weekend and to mix and match with the business uniform. For a woman, wear a leather jacket with a slinky long dress and boots or heels and you have a very hip evening look. The leather jacket with a wing collared shirt and black slacks will gain entrance for a man or a woman almost anywhere except a strict black tie event which calls for the dreaded tuxedo.
And yes, many of us need a tuxedo, not some rented job, but a version that suits your body and Personal Style and will serve you well for the next ten to twenty years of business and social events. And don’t leave the tux in the back of the closet. You can deconstruct it and wear the tux jacket with jeans for day or evening, which is a chic choice in any country, especially Texas. The tux pants will work with a casual shirt or cashmere sweater – wearing the high with the low will quadruple your wardrobe options which is great news if you have a slew of holiday parties to attend. And the tux is amazingly comfortable (and warm!) for New Year’s eve. I have yet to meet the man who doesn’t look fantastic in a tux. And for the women, Yves Saint Laurent gave us “Le Smoking” in 1966 and added a much needed choice for women’s evening wear.
The challenge in choosing clothing is to make whatever you are wearing communicate your professional and personal message (Ref: Talking Behind Your Back). This is easy IF you have available, in your closet, clothing for ANY event you might want/need to attend for business or pleasure. Dream BIG! And don’t say I didn’t warn you. The person you met on the East Austin Studio Tour may invite you to dinner in Tokyo or the next Sundance. It would be terrible to miss out because a dysfunctional wardrobe. Austin may be casual but it is an international city with international opportunities: Prepare accordingly!