Service of Wardrobe and Grooming: Planning Ahead for Women and Men

May 16th, 2016

Categories: Fashion, Planning Ahead, Politicians, Politics

Jane sanders

Last week I sent a note to winners attending the Christopher Awards this Thursday to ask them to look for me because I’d like to include them in a group photo that I’ll send media after the event.

It’s always a scramble to gather a good number of people by category–in this case authors of winning books–during the cocktail hour. I like as many as possible to share in the publicity opportunity. It’s awkward and disrespectful to tuck into a group of people happily talking, stare at a name on a badge, and turn away from someone because they aren’t the person you’re looking for so this year I also made myself a sheet with their publicity photos.

To help me find them, two of the women wrote back immediately describing the dress they were going toSarah palin wear—one bright pink; the other a green floral. Both my collaborator on the project, David Reich, and my husband laughed in wonderment that they knew so far in advance what they were going to wear. A third woman, after asking about the dress code, reported she’d wear a long skirt and dressy top.

I related to them: For one thing, I need to determine if what I plan to wear needs to be ironed by me or a dry cleaner. My hair stylist doesn’t work on Thursdays and no matter what I wear, if I’m not happy with how my hair looks, I could be in vintage Chanel and I wouldn’t be happy. However, the wonderful stylist, who understands these things, said she’d come in on Thursday for me.

And I’m wallpaper at this event.

Think of what it must be like for a woman running for office—or the spouse of a man who stands on countless stages in line of the camera’s eye. Men have a big advantage. They only need to decide on necktie color—blue or red—and to be sure the tie has no mayo stain.

Elizabeth warrenEverything about a woman is under scrutiny. You’ve never seen one wear the same favorite day after day, photo after photo. On the contrary, most on the national stage don’t wear the same jacket twice. Bad hair days are out. And makeup? Maybe D. Trump is concerned about the latter two but both are essential for women.

How far ahead do you plan your wardrobe for a special occasion as a guest at a wedding, graduation, baptism, or naming or as part of the team at a product launch, awards, client or fundraising event? Do you agree that most women have this disadvantage?

Hillary clinton


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13 Responses to “Service of Wardrobe and Grooming: Planning Ahead for Women and Men”

  1. David Reich Said:

    I rarely wear a suit for work anymore. So if I have a formal affair like a wedding or bar mitzvah coming up, I’ll check a week ahead to be sure the suit is clean and pressed. Other than that, I have no idea what I might be wearing next week… or even tomorrow.

    Probably typical of most guys.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I find that my day-to-day wardrobe is much more casual these days than in the past. For 10 years my office was in a law firm and that had something to do with it though when they didn’t have clients, the lawyers dressed casually as well. [Some people go a bit far, I think, showing up at work in NYC in what I’d consider beachwear.]

    For this reason, dressing up and making sure all the elements are in place might be more stressful as it’s unusual. I’ve dashed into a store to get pantyhose at the last minute. I detest making hurdles for myself like this.

  3. hb Said:

    You are right. Men have it a lot easier than women when it comes to what they are going to wear to an event or even every day. Yet, I suspect how they dress and look matters just as much for them. Times may have changed, but not as much as it might appear.

    I’ll never forget a young man looking for a job that I interviewed on behalf of friends. He showed up at my Wall Street office wearing a sports coat. If he had done any homework, he would have known that if you want to get a job as a management trainee in a large bank, you dress the part and wear a suit. Again, had the kid been very bright but from the sticks, I would have cared less. (You can train people how to dress), but he was not. He was a born and bred New Yorker.

    Another place that I found what one wore made a difference, was on airplanes. I travelled a lot and, of course, even then people dressed down when they flew. Instead, I always wore a suit and tie. I may have looked weird, but, somehow, I seemed to get much better service that way, from upgrades to empty middle seats, to quicker and more pleasant on-ground and onboard attention, to fewer lines at airports.

    One last point, it is not how expensive your clothes are, but how you look in them that counts.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The other side of the coin was a young man who showed up to an interview at a hip ad agency dressed as his father told him to–in a suit–and he looked so out of place he wasn’t considered for the job before he’d said a word. The others were in jeans and tee shirts. I think the moral from both our examples is if you don’t know the dress code, ask someone who does.

    I agree that the clothes should fit the body and age of the wearer. And I agree that just because something is expensive doesn’t make a person necesarily look good in it. But cheap fabric and sloppy workmanship combined with lack of style on many inexpensive garments are beauty killers. I wear a Burberry raincoat for which I paid a fortune in London 30 years ago and I still love it and it shows very little wear. Frankly, while I’ve always had an eye for a bargain, I prefer well made things and these tend to cost more and last longer and I feel happier wearing them. Also, if you have a great figure you can usually get away with cheaper clothes.

  5. ASK Said:

    If I am invited to a special event, I start thinking about the clothes I’ll wear as soon as I receive the invitation…and frankly, I enjoy the process. What I regret about women in the public eye is that people (read: the media) criticize them for wearing the same thing twice. But if the Duchess of Cambridge can wear the same dress or jacket more than once, why can’t we all?

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’m with you. Early in my PR career you’d update your wardrobe according to the event you were running or attending. That would be the excuse for buying something new and you felt it was important to your client and the media that your outfit be new. It was such a relief to the pocketbook and schedule when this was no longer the case especially if you traveled to four day events and needed several changes of clothes throughout the day and evening.

    Hooray for the Duchess of Cambridge!

  7. Martha Takayama Said:

    Women are forever being judged by men,other women and even children much more on appearance and style, and beauty, than men, In the business or political world capabilities, presence and articulation are often secondary to appearance. Television, especially HD,can furnish too much information. Today we also have a large number of virtually interchangeable women who furnish news around the clock It often makes no difference who they are as long as they have the desired look of the moment.
    Choice of hair and clothing is used for short term classification on many levels for women more than men. Still planning an outfit or wardrobe appropriate to different occasions is more flexible than in the past. Personal vanity also plays a role. Men definitely have a much easier time. Navy blazers and chino or grey wool pants with or without a tie can take them myriad places.
    Hair is also a major concern for me. Even applying the best of skills and intentions it may rebel. For women little black dress is the indispensable garment that resolves most situations calling for a well put together appearance.

  8. Hank Goldman Said:

    You are what you wear?

    We try to plan ahead for the particular occasion. Some are religious and you have to be careful how you appear…

    One of my best friends, years back, used to “just wear what he had on.” He was an original beatnik, and didn’t care for outer show, but instead inner worth. Sounds crazy but he seemed really comfortable in just plain old, really old, comfortable loose clothing …jeans T-Shirt etc.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    The little black dress is perfect for travel and and for so many events–I agree. Add some lovely jewelry or fantastic scarf and voila! I’ve coveted some amazing jackets made by little known fashion designers who display their creativity at high end craft shows. Slip on one of those over the black dress and you feel and look amazing as well.

    As for female news anchors, many look a like, which you note in the “look of the moment” reference. I wonder if they own their clothes or if they borrow them from local stores or fashion houses? Same with politicians. Many of the latter must have a wardrobe budget. Often spokespeople for corporate brands paid to travel the country being interviewed by media have hair and clothing budgets. That would help!

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    CLEVER! Though as the old saying goes, be careful of the fellow at the conference table wearing the dirty ragged raincoat. He’s the richest one in the room/decision-maker, not the fellow in the $6,000 suit.

    My parents had a friend who, like your best friend, was also an artist–and a good one. He wore his favorite and only [I think] worn suede jacket when “dressed up” at a period in which men wore suits at night, period. He could have cared less but many in the day, who had nothing better to do, would suck in their breath feigning disgust on seeing him.

    At that time women, regardless of how skinny they were, wore girdles and other uncomfortable paraphernalia. How lucky we are that people, like your artist friend and my parents’ friend, won so today few of us need to feel uncomfortable. To make her waist appear small a young woman I know wears corsets. Whew! She believes what some people told me at one time: that you have to suffer to be beautiful. Ouch!

  11. Lucrezia Said:

    People, especially women, seem to forget that when going to pains to plan a wardrobe, chances are no one is going to be interested, that the event is not about themselves, and that those they may be trying to impress aren’t looking.

    With that in mind, I usually put few thoughts into getting dressed up, and the few that exist, are aimed to please me. That way, at least one person is happy!

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I don’t think trying to look nice is always a question of trying to impress. There are many reasons I do: I feel happier and more secure if I like what I am wearing. Sometimes I think that my host appreciates that I’ve gone to trouble. And I love nice clothes, scarves, fun jewelry. When someone notices a pin or scarf or jacket I’m wearing, it makes me happy.

    Further, when I attend a client’s event, I represent them so I’d best look smart/my best–it’s as much about them as it is about me.

  13. Lucrezia Said:

    To clear up what appears to be a misunderstanding, I was not suggesting insulting ones hosts, clients, etc. by dressing in an unseemly manner.

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