Igniting consumer interest is a daunting task for any designer especially in this unsteady economy. "In the midst of the Barack epoch and the renaissance of change in professional dress, it's important to recognize the young, ambitious, entrepreneurs who represent an era of humble yet well-educated African-American leadership and support those emerging enterprises," says Kwame Jackson creator of Krimson by Kwame, an executive neckwear tie line.
This Harvard MBA graduate and alum from the inaugural season of NBC's "The Apprentice" set out to create a collection of ties that give men a competitive and stylish advantage in the work place. Now, more than ever, how you present yourself both in person and on paper can determine how you fair in a corporate/professional setting. ESSENCE.com reached out to Jackson to discuss the importance of dressing for success, menswear dos and don'ts and how not to become another suit in the office.
ESSENCE.COM: How important is a man's attire in a corporate business setting?
KWAME JACKSON: Sophistication, confidence, refinement, and intellect are internal seeds that come full bloom with one's choice of attire! Your attire is the first signal that you send on how you want to be perceived in business, so you want it to be on point and relevant to that unique business environment or situation. Potential business partners, employers, or employees can all make critical first judgments from your attire that can affect the outcome of your overall presentation, idea, or deal.
ESSENCE.COM: How do Krimson ties give a man a stylish advantage?
JACKSON: Krimson is the executive neckwear you choose to wear, not the everyday tie you have to wear. It is the symbol that says today I will get it done, truly a mindset that manifest a lifestyle!
ESSENCE.COM: What corporate dress rules should never be broken and why?
JACKSON: Never wear a button-holed collar dress shirt with visible buttons and a tie; this is a fashion faux pas that many people make and shows a lack of cosmopolitan sophistication in your dress.
-Never tie your neckwear too short, the tip of your neckwear should always touch the top of your belt when fully tied.
-Never mismatch your belt and shoe color. It's great if they match, but they can also complement one another, but never clash.
-Never wear a suit or shirt that is too tight, very unflattering.
-Try to view your work attire as three possible pattern choices. Suit, shirt, tie...at least one of these palates should be a solid color to go easy on the eye and assure that the outfit is not too busy. If you are a very conservative dresser, you should shoot for two out of the three patterns to be solid.
-Pocket square always add flair and style, but use this dash of color or highlight option wisely. It always goes well in a business-casual setting with a sports jacket or suit without a tie.
-Avoid ring around the collar; cleanliness is paramount in everything you do, dirt is the death of sharp!
-Shine your shoes as often as possible, they are often the first thing a woman notices about a man's dress and speak to your attention to detail in the corporate world.
-Flat front pants are not for everyone, they tend to accentuate the fit and tall only.
ESSENCE.COM: How does a brotha keep his swagger in a stuffy work environment?
JACKSON: Your choice of neckwear is the perfect place for a personal statement and reaffirmation of swagger! Neckwear is really the last unique choice that allows men in a corporate environment to show some degree of personal style.
ESSENCE.COM: As an entrepreneur and public speaker, what advice/encouragement do you have for both men and women struggling to find work in this tough economy?
JACKSON: These are truly the times that try men's souls, and Dr. King once said that "the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." So we are all being measured right now—myself included! The question then becomes how will you measure up and what do you want your legacy to be?
The Krimson by Kwame collection is currently available for purchase at Macy's and Belk Flagship department stores. The collection can also be viewed, and purchased, through its online boutique krimsonbykwame.com.