Let’s talk about first impressions.
Some you can plan in advance.
But most just…happen.
During your normal routine.
On ordinary days.
When you least expect them.
For most people, the commute to work is a matter of habit. You do it practically in your sleep, right? But life-changing moments aren’t confined to out-of-the-ordinary times. That woman who sits down next to you on the train could be the love of your life one day. You could walk in the office door and be face-to-face with the manager you’ve never really talked to who could give you that promotion you’ve been wanting.
Bottom line: it pays to pay attention to how you look on your commute (and immediately after it). Try these tips to help you get where you’re going.
#1) Smart Men's Coats And Jackets
You’ve probably seen (or made) this style gaffe, which is common for commuters: a man goes out in cold weather wearing a sharp suit and a nice pair of shoes, figures his job is done and tops it off with a garish or out-of-place jacket.
Don’t let this be you. Commit to finding the jacket your work wardrobe deserves.
A wool peacoat is a great option for those in colder climes. It's a practical classic that'll keep you warm and dry.
Leather jackets are another versatile option – but choose with care. Many are too casual to really work with business wear.
Topcoats and overcoats are some of the oldest styles of men's outerwear. They're made to be worn with suits and tend to look best with them, so they're a good bet if your office has a more formal dress code.
Look for versatile colors that will complement work outfits. Remember, when you're shopping for a coat, you're committing to wearing it every day for at least the season – versatility and durability are your chief concerns.
#2) Have Separate Commuting Shoes And Office Shoes
You want something that will stand up to the elements but doesn't look completely silly with your work clothes. If you wear business casual, then hiking boots, “dress” sneakers, or even trainers will probably be fine.
If you're in a suit and tie you might need to be a little more discriminating. Look for dark, relatively plain boots or walking shoes that will just blend in.
The other consideration when choosing commuting shoes is climate. Sneakers and trainers are only suitable in dry and warm climates where the main risk to your dress shoes is damage, dirt, and wear.
If it's cold or wet you'll want boots. Army boots or leather hiking boots are best (sure, you can wear actual snow boots, but unless you ski to work they might look a bit out of place). Dress boots that you then wear to the office are also an option, but winter conditions can ruin the leather unless you care for your boots regularly.
If you go with dress boots you definitely want the more durable ones based on a boot construction with rubber soles, rather than the smarter leather-soled ones that are basically tall dress shoes.
The other thing to consider in your shoe swap action plan is your socks. You'll want socks that are comfortable, hard-wearing, and classy enough to go from commute to the office. The right socks can make more of a difference in your commute than you'd expect – comfort is the first step to confident style.
#3) Colorful Men's Accessories, Neckwear, And Shirts
This is an especially good tip for winter commuting when you’re just a bundle of dark colors. Fashionable men's scarves draw the eye towards your face. A muted green or a manly deep red provides a unique accent without looking too “dandy.” Learn some men's scarf knots too.
In warmer weather, your shirt collar will be visible above your coat as a face-framing accent. Watches and masculine jewelry are also great ways to work in subtle dashes of color.
#4) A Handsome Leather Bag Or Briefcase
Sure, backpacks can be practical – but you're not a schoolboy. Your bag should be as grown-up as the rest of your outfit (and ideally, a color match with your shoes and belt – all brown or all black).
It should also be functional, sturdy, and help you stay organized. You'll need compartments. One big sack where you dump everything is not an option. An organized bag influences how people see you. Which would you rather be: the guy digging through his bag for a solid sixty seconds every time his phone buzzes or the guy who's always ready with a pen, a tissue, or whatever the situation requires?
Where you work may be a factor in your choice of bag – different places will have different conventions. If you work at an established law firm, you'll probably want a classic leather briefcase. If you work at a tech startup where most people are under thirty, it might be better to go for a quality satchel or messenger bag with a unique color or design.
The bag you carry on your commute usually carries the stuff you use to do your job. Its look should reflect the values that define your workplace and your career.
#5) Leather Portfolio For Writing
A portfolio is a slim case, almost like an A4 folder but a little sturdier and more permanent. They're great for holding tablets and e-readers, as well as notepads, pens, and business cards.
Portfolios are the modern man’s day-to-night carry-on. Their practicality makes them a must-have – all your essentials in one compact case.
They also look fantastically dapper and give you extra gravitas. Imagine pulling one of these out of your leather briefcase. What would that say about the writing contained within? Would it give your words extra weight?
Hats are helpful in both wet and sunny weather, and they give your outfit a touch of vintage panache.
Casual men's hat styles include the watch cap (great in the cold) and the baker boy cap. Smarter options include the trilby and fedora. You can even get these in straw instead of felt for hot summer days.
Fedoras are oft-maligned these days because they’re formal hats that young men wear with casual, even scruffy clothes under the mistaken impression that that’s enough to look like a gentleman. If the rest of your outfit looks dapper (and especially if you’re older), don't worry – you can pull it off.
#7) The Perfect Sunglasses For Men
Sunglasses lend you a bit of mystery and solve the problem of Where To Fix Your Gaze While On Public Transport To Not Seem Awkward. They’re also helpful if you drive – and even more so if you bike.
Studies have shown sunglasses actually make you more attractive. To take advantage of this effect, you need to choose the best sunglasses for men's face shape – more angular for round faces, and rounder for angular faces. Classic styles like aviators, Wayfarers, and Clubmasters suit most men.
Tasteful yet unique sunglasses are a great way to work a bit of personality into office wear (but they’re easy to take off when that’s not the right message to send.) Why not try an unusual color?
#8) Stylish Men's Gloves
Gloves have a lot of functions for a commute – they keep you warm, sure, but they can also be helpful for grip if you bike or stand on the subway or bus, and they'll protect you from other commuters' germs.
Choose natural materials like leather or wool for style, comfort, and warmth. A color that complements your coat color will add interest.
Gloves with a dapper ensemble should be fitted to your hands – you don’t want them to fit like work gloves. However, they should not be constricting.
#9) Breathable Clothes For Hot Weather
This is very important for commuting in the heat, and especially if your commute includes a packed subway train. Fabrics that aren’t breathable leave you smelling like B.O.
Natural fabrics like cotton and wool are more breathable than polyester. With cotton shirts, look for a looser weave, which you can spot by holding the shirt up to the light – you’ll be able to see points of light through the fabric.
#10) Choosing The Right Cologne
Again, if you’re getting up close in the subway, a fragrance is helpful – but only if you don’t overdo it. The keyword is SILLAGE. That means how far a fragrance spreads. Too far and your fellow passengers will be choking in a cloud of scent.
You want something with a medium to low sillage. If you like a certain cologne, you should be able to find out the sillage just by googling it, or by checking a respected website like Basenotes or Fragrantica.
Hot, sweaty bodies make cologne smell stronger and spread further, so go for a lighter cologne with green, aquatic and/or citrus notes in summer, and save the heavy spices, woods, and incense for the winter.