Dressing for Success


Do your sartorial choices play a major role in your performance and success?

The fashion industry can get a bad rap for being seen as a vain, egocentric, expensive, pretentious, and an artistically absurd industry. But there can be a lot to learn about the art of  understanding silhouette, colour balance, and composition that can be better understood and translated into how we choose to express ourselves, and most importantly, how we're perceived by others. Whether or not you consciously care about how you or others dress, the subconscious manifests our  visual impressions in ways we often forget to acknowledge.

So what did the experts have to say? TOM" talks assembled an experienced panel of Toronto’s leading fashion innovators Harry Rosen and Roger Gingerich, producer and TIFF co-founder Henk Van Der Kolk, and men’s image consultant Leah Morrigan to discuss the relationship between men, fashion, and success. 

“Men don’t want to be seen as fashionable," remarked the iconic Harry Rosen on the clientele he has served for many years. “But they do want to feel that they project themselves.” Harry shared that he trains  his employees to get a first impression about the customer based on what they are currently wearing. From there, they can get an idea of how the customer wants to be seen. Through this conversation, they discover what kind of image they project, and how confident they look in their clothes. “We train our staff that way so we’re not selling them what is fashionable, but what is right for their personality within the parameters of fashion.”

The Panel: Roger Gingerich, Henk Van Der Kolk, Leah Morrigan, Harry Rosen. (Images sourced from facebook.com/tomtalk)

Images provided by Harpsachord

Leah Morrigan has dressed doctors, divorcees, politicians to average joes, and her process  is the same no matter which field her client comes from. The men that come to her are looking for a change and they want to dress better. For her, dressing for success means putting your clothes to work for you. “Socially, men haven’t been able to express themselves the same way that women have. For men, I have a process that I go through to help them better understand themselves.” She believes we should dress for who we are. With a background in costume design, her approach is rooted in an understanding of character. “Asking what does success mean for them? Gives me an understanding and insight as to who they are as a human.”

“Dressing for success is not necessarily about having the right suit. It’s about understanding your environment."

When everyone turned to Henk to ask his thoughts on dressing for success, he confessed that he was probably the least fashionable person in the room. And although he may have forewarned us and perhaps didn’t feel completely educated on the subject, his advice was pertinent. “Dressing for success is not necessarily about having the right suit. It’s about understanding your environment. I have never thought about dressing for success. As an entrepreneur, I put the clothes on that go best with whomever I might be meeting with.”  He explained that people expect him to be a bit wacky because he is in the film industry, which being in a more artistic field, you usually can get away with expressing yourself more freely. His response -  “I am who I am, that’s it."

Showing up in the most dapper ensemble may make a fashion statement, but being able to express your individuality without conforming is a simple art. Your success lies in your ability to use your wardrobe as a tool to convey your best self.   You should wear great clothes, after all, you never know who you’ll meet.