Corporate Apparel. Why do it? What are the guidelines?


 Corporate Apparel. Why do it? What are the guidelines?

Without high-end business apparel you are left with a dull, predictable and unbalanced company. You might be able to offer your customers something of value by including branded clothing. It's common knowledge that it is one of the best ways to connect with your target demographic in a unique way. Clothes have been around for thousands of years influencing style, society's values, and even public opinion on certain companies and individuals. These days they are an essential part of what defines a brand's identity.

The problem is apparel selection. With that millions of dollars, fashion and branding companies get confused about what to buy for their corporate wear needs. There are so many choices out there that it makes it difficult for them to make a decision. Things like: Why do we need shirts? Should we use a shirt, jacket or both? Do we need pants? How about ties, pocket squares or both? What about hats or sunglasses? The list goes on.

This article will provide some background information as well as offer guidelines to help you narrow down your apparel options and select the right ones for your brand. The more you know ahead of time, the easier it will be for you to put together a corporate wear plan that won't just draw attention from your customers but also from your employees.

The History and Evolution of Corporate Apparel

In 1823, a man named Henry Sands Brooks started a shirt company in New York. He made high-quality button down shirts and sold them under the brand Brooks Brothers, which is still around today. This was pretty much an invention (though there were similar brands before him) and it revolutionized the world of business fashion. Before that point, no one had ever worn clothing specifically designed for work. Clothing was purely utilitarian with the exception of formal attire in certain situations. It was only a few decades later that Brooks Brothers started to offer other types of clothing. They recognized the need for more fashion-oriented choices, which allowed them to form a partnership with an up and coming designer named Paul Stuart. This partnership led to them starting to design ties and suits.

At this point there were still very few options for corporate wear because it didn't have much purpose. If you wanted to be taken seriously in business, you just wore a suit (though people would mock your tie colors) or went without one. The most popular items were ties which were used in all sorts of ways, from plain white ones or blue ones with stripes on them, to the more colorful ones that had flowers on them.

It's because of this that men didn't wear suits very often. They were only worn for special occasions like funerals, weddings and black-tie events.

The Original Business Suit

The first major break in corporate apparel was the 1940s when the business suit gained popularity. This was due to two reasons: The rise of WWII and the fact that there wasn't a lot else to wear for work at that time. In fact, it was so idealized at this time that people would often copy designers' looks from films, which had not yet been invented. Many people had seen pictures of challengers dressed in navy suits in movies like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Great Dictator, both released in 1940.


As you can see, there is not much of a history to corporate apparel. While the suit might be the most popular style, it wasn't always that way. In fact, for a long time people didn't wear business apparel at all. Just think about that... Are you going to risk becoming another Brooks Brothers? Or are you going to aim towards being a Paul Stuart? Perhaps another company will come along and offer something more innovative than what's out there now or maybe not. Time will tell. Either way, don't get lost in the details and miss out on connecting with your audience through clothes.

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