The [BC] Godfather… (nice one, not like the movie..)

So while the fashion fairy-god-mothers, Melissa Shoes and a host of wonderful people I’ve met on the BusinessChic/Destination90s journey, work on getting me to LMFF Runway 7

A tasty treat I thoroughly enjoyed today whilst running between appointments

..Here is a tribute to someone who has been an important influence in helping me define my own work dress-style… and blokes – I hope some useful insights on work style for you too…

Mr Kennedy

 I do not address this gentleman as “Mr Kennedy”, directly… however I will refer to him here as such, to convey the respect I have for him, as that’s the way my parents raised me. My own father has always impressed upon my brother and I that, “you don’t get a second chance to make first impressions”… still, all the way through uni I was content being a happy, creative bum, dressing exclusively from op shops and walking around barefoot… then I got a respectable job and found it a real struggle trying to wear closed-toe shoes in summer and felt lost in cardboard-cut corporate suits and stiff collars.. for a sartorial rule-breaker, it was time to start learning the basics in this new world of workwear..

Mr Kennedy's advice helped me channel my creative hippy side..

Then for some reason I got selected to be an ambassador for the firm, actually come to think of it, there were at least 50 of us… hmmm! Anyway, this meant that we were signed-up for one of Mr Kennedy’s training courses to polish up our youthful attempts at making positive and professional first impressions. I learnt that too many of us don’t realise that we’re not but should make eye-contact when shaking hands… that when meeting with a client/someone you wish to impress, you should always be standing… to make sure your shoes are polished, nails short and neat and work clothes not torn or frayed (this was the ‘tSUBI’ period).. and that my side-swept fringe is distracting and I should consider alternatives (I did for a bit and for that, my own mother thanks you!).

Mr Kennedy

This was all backed up by Mr Kennedy’s own impeccable grooming, rich-toned voice and impressive-but-genuine professional manner… and there was something about the way he dressed- such character but also timeless and perfectly professional- that lit a lightbulb for me and helped me see how I could translate my creative dress-[non]sense into a professional something-something..  and not that I don’t make mistakes, far from it!… but I feel that Mr Kennedy’s influence helped me develop an eye for that certain style which I later found defined in fashion magazines, as ‘business chic’.

So thank you Mr Kennedy, I’m not quite sure that there would be a BusinessChic if it weren’t for you…! So without further ado, here is some sharp work style advice for the boys from the man himself…

Sage advice from a professional..

Your interpretations of the following dresscodes 

Strictly corporate –

Suit – ideally pinstripe or charcoal grey because they more effectively set off a crisp white shirt, single breasted two button jacket because it makes you look slimmer and taller, must be double vented because it allows for the jacket to still hang nicely if you have a hand in your pocket, trousers with cuff, black belt.

Shirt – white, cutaway collar with removable metal collar bars because collars curling up don’t look sharp, French cuffs, plain cuff links.

Tie – a single bold pastel colour with a Windsor knot. In my view, a single bold colour makes a stronger statement than stripes or patterns.

Socks – must be black and knee high, I can’t think of anything much less attractive than a strip of white ankle between the top of a sock and the bottom of a trouser leg.

Shoes – black, highly polished, plain, rounded toe cap. Scuffed or dirty shoes will let your whole outfit down.

Contemporary business wear – (if it’s one step below above)

Jacket – plain or small check/hounds tooth, ideally cashmere and/or silk mix for drape; single breasted, two button, must be double vented.

Trousers – contrast colour to jacket, with cuff.

Belt – mid tan to match shoes.

Shirt – white or bold stripes, button down collar (with collar buttons fastened) because the collar sits up and always looks neat, top button only undone, sleaves buttoned up.

Shoes – mid tan, highly polished, rounded toe cap.

Socks – knee high in same toning as trousers or shoes.

Regular upkeep of accessories such as polishing shoes is an important part of a professional look.

Smart Casual – 

Shirt – Open neck check, striped or plain with button down collar and long sleeves. Sweater – V neck cashmere in single bright pastel colour. V necks show off your shirt more. Cashmere or at least a cashmere mix will hold its shape far better than cottons and will last you a lot longer. They cost a lot more but they’re worth the extra expense in time.

Trousers – casual trousers (no cuffs) or jeans, width of belt to match belt loops on.

Socks – knee length in bright colours that pick up on the shirt or sweater.

Shoes – soft leather or suede slip-on in tan or mid tan.

Sources of your workwear favourites – 

Shops – Harrolds, Henry Bucks, David Jones, Golf Club pro shops often have a good range of shirts and sweaters for casual wear.

Brands – Don’t particularly care about brands; it’s all about the quality of the cloth/material. Good quality cloths and materials hold their shape better and generally wear longer than the cheaper ones. Again, they’ll pay for their extra cost in time.

My hardest working item of clothing is a good jacket. A good quality cashmere jacket in the right colour can be worn over and over and can be mixed with different trousers and shirts. It’s worth spending on it because you’ll always feel good in it and it will last. They don’t need to cost a fortune however if you buy at ‘sales’. Don’t compromise or it will just hang in your wardrobe because you won’t wear it.

Gentlemen, well-groomed facial hair can add extra charm (unless its Movember where I think you all take it too far, albeit for good cause).

Skincare – I only use after shave (Dolce & Gabbana) and a good quality roll-on deodorant.  

Publications/sites     The Age, The Australian and occasional business mags. AM and PM on ABC radio are good while travelling to and from the office and provide enough information to engage in conversation and create discussions.

Your favoured coffee source or lunch/dinner/drink venue  Coffee from the coffee shop downstairs is quick and good enough for me, I’m not an aficionado and I’m trying to drink less anyway. I don’t like expensive and pretentious restaurants; I actually prefer bistros and cafes because the atmosphere is usually much more conducive to eating, drinking and enjoying yourself. Italian is my first choice with a nice Shiraz (I’m told you can’t go past any Shiraz from Heathcote). In warmer weather a nice cool white wine is hard to go past. I think Chardonnay’s are much more interesting than a Sauvignon Blanc and I don’t really care about matching the wine with what I’m eating, it’s whatever I feel like at the time.

 A reliable tailor/shoe repairer you can recommend If you want some trousers taken up or some item of clothing adjusted, the tailor/repairers in the basement at the old Nauru House (now the Aon building) on the corner of Exhibition and Little Collins St are incredibly reliable, fast and good value. They’ll do anything for you. I’ve taken them two cashmere sweaters that were wearing through at the elbow and they put suede elbow patches on them. They’re great for week-end wear with a pair of jeans and I’ll get an extra few years from them.

Thank you Mr Kennedy, a rather significant influence for BusinessChic.. I'm now off to scour op shops for cashmere jumpers to get suede patches put in at the elbows- hmmm or a liberty-print fabric or tartan..? how wonderful!


  1. Hi Darling!

    I love the story of your inspiration and how it all developed for you. Who says workwear has to be just black and white and boring! This has me motivated to keep job searching! Thanks for your blog sweets and looking forward to catching up next week.

    xxx R

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