Posts Tagged 'celebrities'

Business Dress on The Junior Apprentice

Last night we had the third installment of The Junior Apprentice, the spin off of Lord Sugar’s The Apprentice. The programme is identical to the main show except that the candidates are ages 16 or 17 and are competing not for a job with the business tycoon but for a business bursary. A lot of the hopefuls have had experience running their own businesses or being involved in some way with the art of making money.

Jordan - he of the shiny suit

However, I have been continually taken aback at the poor standards of dress that most of the candidates have. The first person to get fired was a boy called Jordan. He wore possibly the shiniest suit imaginable. Such suits only look good on Saturday night television and if your name is Graham Norton – for some reason, Graham seems to be the only person able to get away with such an outfit. However, Jordan’s suit was a business/lounge suit and this made it look very cheap indeed.

But for this blog I shall focus on the third episode of the series.


There was one shot in the programme that showed Zoë, who clearly takes pride in her appearance (if a little too much), writing. As it was a close-up of her hand with a pen we could see her nails clearly. She was wearing nail polish but it had chipped and cracked and so it looked messy. If nail polish is going to be worn (whether in a business or social environment) then make sure it looks good and is perfect at all times. Regarding make-up, Zoë has a tendency to wear a bit too much (especially for a 16-year-old). She has pale skin and wears striking red lipstick, which set against her blonde hair does cause people to take note of her. In a throw-back to the 1980s, Zoë is clearly a big one for power-dressing, but more-often-than-not she just looks like she’s about to serve us drinks and tell us how to put on our life-vests.


Last night’s fired hopeful was Rhys. From episode one he was wearing shirts with collars that were far too big for him, and probably would have been too big for Pavarotti. Although many people complain that they feel restricted when wearing a collar and tie, if you are measured properly by any half-decent men’s outfitters for shirts then this will never be a problem. Rhys also committed the crime of colour-on-colour (in the case of episode 3, black-on-black). He wore a black shirt and a black tie. Never do this! Black shirts look awful full stop; black ties should be reserved for funerals – but really one should never wear the same coloured shirt as the tie (i.e. a plain pink tie would look silly when against a pink shirt).


There are so many things that annoy me about this candidate’s dress. He has clearly never heard of a razor. Beards are fine, however, Tim’s facial hair is not quite a beard. I would suggest that business people are clean-shaven (unless they are opting for a proper beard). Designer stubble (as he had yesterday – he had given his facial hair a minor trim) is not suitable for the boardroom. Tim also seems not to have heard of a top-button. He is an advocate of the loose-tie-open-top-button look, which, again, should not be found in business. It looks sloppy and lazy (although some may say this is a reflection of the boy’s attitude to business). Last night we saw a close up (for some reason) of Tim’s shoes and socks. He had chosen to wear a pair of green striped socks. You may expect me to slate this choice, but I actually condone it. I am a big fan of colourful socks and I feel that if done tastefully, a man can say a lot his personality through his socks: they give one a chance to show a bit of personality. That said, I have seen all too often people wearing white socks with business suits, which is something that just isn’t done. Socks (if plain and traditional) should match the colour of the shoe or of the trouser.


Finally, a word about Adam, who also left Lord Sugar’s boardroom last night. His tie was dreadful. The knot was too big, but also too loose. He was trying to go for the big footballer knot, but even so, it should have been tighter. Being able to tie a good tie is a life skill that sadly many are lacking. He also needed to make sure the tie was pulled up to the very top of the shirt. As you can just about see from his publicity picture, you could drive a bus between the top of the tie and the top button of his shirt.

The English Manner offers training in business protocol, which includes dress & appearance. To find out more, please contact us.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Red Carpet: Black Tie?

We’ve barely got over Christmas: the last mince pie has been eaten and that stubborn piece of Christmas cake that no one chose to eat up has been thrown away. Now we are faced with endless acceptance speeches, glittering gongs and ticker tape as the awards season is here once more. It seems that everything and everyone has to have an award ceremony nowadays.

Whilst many of us will be slaving away in the coalface that is work, there are those select few, who some may envy, that are living the high-life on the red carpet. Traditional award ceremonies call for the most common of formal dress codes, Black Tie. But where does this dress code come from? What is it supposed to look like? It seems many of our celebrities don’t know either, or have chosen deliberately to flaunt it.

Keeley Hawes and husband Matthew Macfadyen at this year's BAFTAs

Keeley Hawes and husband Matthew Macfadyen at this year's BAFTAs

Black Tie was the creation of celebrated dandy Griswold Lorillard, who wore a mutated and deliberately altered version of White Tie to New York’s Tuxedo Park Club in 1886. At first, sartorial traditionalists were shocked with both the change and the audacity of the man. Lorillard, whose father owned the club – so there was no danger of being thrown out – wore a much shorter jacket than the required tailcoat. He also wore the white piqué shirt, which was worn with correct White Tie, and black trousers.

In England, the then Prince of Wales, Edward, had introduced a similarly short jacket for him and his courtiers, which they dubbed a “Cowes jacket”, which they wore to the annual boating festival.

Fashionistas, at first shocked by the new form, soon began to warm to the new design and the new dress code caught on, soon evolving into how we wear it today.

Black Tie, when worn correctly, is not to be taken literally: it does not mean wearing a black tie – one is not going to a funeral. The tie is a black bow tie, and, where possible, should be self-tied. A white dress shirt (preferably piqué) with turndown collar can be fastened with evening studs. A black dinner jacket and tapered trousers are also part of the dress code. Black patent leather evening shoes are optional, although preferred.

Black Tie is more diverse than some imagine. It can be dressed up or down. For example, if attending a private dinner at home, one could select a soft silk shirt with properly tied bow tie, if going to a subscription dinner – a pleated shirt.

Ladies don’t have it quite so easy when it comes to dressing up for a Black Tie event, although like their male counterparts, they can dress up or down, from little black dress with pearls for a formal business function, to something far more glamorous with ‘important’ jewellery for that award ceremony. However, the reason men wear black and white is so that it acts as a blank canvas for their partners to wear whatever colour they so wish (within reason, of course). Floor length dresses can be worn for more formal black tie events; otherwise cocktail length or luxurious evening trousers are perfect.  If attending a white tie event, then long dresses for ladies are de rigueur, together with tiaras and gloves. Earrings can be more flamboyant for evening events, dangling sparkles only at night, and always smaller and discreet – perhaps the ubiquitous pearls – for day wear.

There is so much to say on the humble Black Tie (including how one actually ties it) that next week we will discuss this dress code further.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

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