Dressing for Success: boosting confidence and rocking the 9-5.

Body image, self-confidence and insecurities. We all have them in some form; men certainly have hangups, way more than what is widely recognised and acknowledged, particularly amongst other men.

Positively, there has been a recent surge of male bloggers such as Charlie at Modish Male, Arran at Halo of Thoughts and Adam over at The Male Stylist sharing their experiences of body-image. Their reflections are honest, they’re raw and they’re a realistic account of the inner-demons that plague a lot of us gents in an attempt to live up to societal ‘norms’ and projected manly-man images.

So, another body confidence post then?

Not exactly.

This post is not a reflection on male body confidence; I couldn’t begin to articulate my feelings half as well as the chaps above have. Instead, I have decided to put together my tips on how I approach tackling those inner-demons and projecting confidence through how I visually present myself, particularly my 9-5(ish) office job where I am regularly up on my feet in front of several hundred people. Confidence in all aspects in this environment is everything, especially as a leader of people, and I draw a lot of this from when I feel good in what I wear. With that in mind, I thought I would instead present a round-up of my style in outfit building for confidence with the help of a couple of my favourite emerging brands.

Dressing for confidence: SuburbanGent’s style tips

As Adam over at The Male Stylist advocates, developing your own style and dressing in what makes YOU feel good is vital in developing your personal confidence.

So, what does it for me?

A well-fitted shirt and blazer combo

A fitted shirt is the foundation of my corporate workwear or a confidence-boosting evening out at a restaurant or cocktail bar; quality tailoring can be extremely flattering depending on it’s fit but the luxuriousness of a good shirt certainly helps me project confidence and feel pretty snazzy smart.

As a fairly broad-shouldered chap, I find slim-fit a little too tight over the shoulders and arms so generally opt for a slightly more flattering tailored-fit. I do like the offerings from shirtmakers TM Lewin and Charles Tyrwhitt, however a recent discovery of mine has been Milton Green, an independent shirtmaker specialising in high-quality craftsmenship; the guys kindly gifted me an Archie 100% cotton non-iron shirt (above), which I absolutely love and pairs beautifully with just about anything in my wardrobe, suit or blazer. I’m really impressed with the quality and will be making some new fitted shirt purchases with the guys over at Milton Green shortly.


Speaking of blazers, pairing a quality shirt with a sharp blazer really brings an outfit to life and makes me feel pretty good in the process; I like a good herringbone or a wool-blend navy blazer in particular, they go with pretty much with anything. Good tailoring feels luxurious and a strong blazer (with pocket square, of course) looks awesome.

A solid pair of Oxfords

I do love brogues; I recently purchased a pair of Patrick Grant brogues from Debenhams and after wearing them in (which involved a day of limping about), they’re so incredibly comfortable, sitting well with more formal trousers or a more relaxed dark denim jean or chino.

In addition with Patrick Grant’s Hammond line, I also adore pretty much all the footwear by the chaps at Oliver Sweeney; I’m yet to make the plunge as £200 for a pair of brogues is very top-end, however I do plan to invest in the coming weeks as part of a wardrobe update for a new job I start shortly.

Attention to detail with accessories.

I’m a big advocate for something a bit different and special when it comes to the finer details, and that’s where the good people of Quiet Rebellion came into my life; hidden from all but the wearer, the Quiet Rebellion socks feature (VERY) colourful and playful designs that celebrate the triumphs of historical mavericks, allowing for some playful expression whilst in a corporate environment.. celebrating the inner rebel in all of us. It’s like smuggling a bit of fun.

Quiet Rebellion - socks for colourful soles
Quiet Rebellion – socks for colourful soles

It seems a bit off perhaps writing about socks, but they are by far the most comfortable and well made socks I have ever owned, the material feeling hard-wearing and really high quality. I love the hand-wrapped packaging and ethos behind what the guys at Quiet Rebellion are all about so I shall certainly be adding more of these socks to my collection shortly.

I also love my watches; yes I do really want an Apple Watch 2 because I’m awfully cool and London-like, but there’s something about a beautiful timepiece, the engineering and the chronograph that I really appreciate. A great watch is a bit of a timeless classic.

Fossil watch
Fossil watch

I have a huge wish-list of high end watches from the likes of Tag Heur, Breitling and Bell & Ross, but my favourite (for more sentimental reasons) has to be my Fossil Nate Chronograph, available at a more affordable £98. At 50mm diameter, it’s certainly a rather large statement, rugged and chunky, poking out of my shirtsleeve.

A fresh trim and tidy stubble

Okay, this one is very personal. It probably sounds quite vain but these two elements have a big impact on how I feel when I hit the office each morning or prepare myself to walk out in front of several hundred people to present. Feeling ‘on point’ gives me bravado. It is perhaps the origin of my confidence.

I get my haircut every three weeks, without fail. Whilst I have a more relaxed messy bedhair look at the weekend, I prefer to keep my hair pretty tidy and styled Monday – Friday. With regards to rocking a bit of stubble, it’s all about clean lines and maintaining a tidy shape daily using the new Philips OneBlade I recently reviewed, with a more substantial shave every couple of weeks. So fresh, so clean (that’s an Outkast quote BTW).

Don’t miss my roundup of top (and easily followed) grooming and skincare tips.

A gorgeous fragrance

My final tip is smelling goooooooooood. A quality and premium fragrance feels special; it’s a little more exclusive, it’s typically smells GREAT and it’s long-lasting, perfect for a busy day in the office.

I have a whole host of go-to fragrances (they’re my ‘thing’) for different occasions and events, my favourites include Lancôme’s Hypnôse Homme,  and Chanel Bleu de Chanel. Whether it’s a colleague asking what I’m wearing or just knowing that I’m wearing a great fragrance, a good aftershave feels like a treat and definitely makes me feel good.


As an aside, it’s worth noting that we recently also reviewed the Secret Scent Box, a monthly subscription service which offers the chance to receive three new fragrances each month, an ideal way to find that new perfect scent. I’ve recently fallen in love with the classic Paco Rabanne 1 Million, something I would otherwise never have tried, thanks to the subscription.

So there you have it…

Developing my office-wardrobe, grooming routine and personal style over the last eighteen months or so has done WONDERS for my personal confidence and projection.

Perhaps I’ll do another post like this covering my style tips for a more casual setting – I appreciate not everybody has the flexibility to wear blazers and brogues to their workplace – and I’ve recently been adding to my casual wardrobe, including some gorgeous desert boots that I would *love* to write about. In the meantime, I hope this roundup has proven an interesting read, perhaps the basis of some style inspiration.

Also in this series: don’t miss my top interview tips or top grooming and skincare tips.

Thank you to the good people of Milton Green, Quiet Rebellion and Secret Scent Box for the samples that aided the creation of this article.

6 thoughts on “Dressing for Success: boosting confidence and rocking the 9-5.

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