How to Dress for Approachability

This is an outfit that I styled in 2017 for a collaboration with Donald J. Pliner. Originally, I published it on my blog Unbearably Stylish.

Today on Suit Guide, I will be breaking down the concept behind dressing for approachability. I will also share a few secrets on how I styled said outfit.

Among the various swatch (suit fabric) options to select from I recommend choosing a sharkskin texture in the lighter color array. To reach maximum approachability, one has to be comfortable with attracting a bit of attention to themselves…that is why my go-to suit color for this occasion has to be light grey.

But why light grey sharkskin?

  • Some call this the iconic 007 grey suit.
  • It is better known as the Tom Ford O’Connor light grey suit.
  • This particular suit was worn by Sean Connery in GoldFinger and his successor Daniel Craig wore one of a similar grey tone in the film No Time to Die.
  • This light grey sharkskin has been referenced in countless books and films, including my favorite film Catch Me if You Can. When Frank Abignale (Leonardo DiCaprio) succeeds in conning the multi-million conglomerate airfare corporation, he rewards himself by purchasing a light grey sharkskin custom suit. DiCaprio wore this suit plenty of times throughout the film to garner trust from many of his pawns.

What makes this suit so approachable?

Light grey sharkskin is an all-time classic. There are four classic suits that belong in a suit collection: the navy, charcoal, black, and light grey. On occasion, the brown suit can also be throw into the mix but it’s rare to select this color in a suit collection. Out of the 3 suits mentioned, the light grey light grey is perceived as friendly and trusting. Light grey is a suit color that shouts modern, classy, and sharp!

Now, to help you get started in styling for approachability, here are a few starters:

  • Look for something that contrasts the suit color. To optimize for the best results, I recommend that you go for a sharkskin textured suit with analogous hints of grey. You can opt for a light blue color with grey tones as well.
  • For example, if you are wearing a light grey sharkskin suit with blue hues you would want to go with a tie that has a darker shade of blue. You could also even try a burgundy tie!
  • It also helps to be congruent with the rest of the outfit, so opt to go for a pair of socks that match or share the same color or pattern that you have in your tie. In my outfit, I decided to tie this look together by matching the color of the tie with double monk strap shoes.

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