Want to make it in business? It takes more than intelligence, entrepreneurial flair and ruthlessness to get to the top. In a cut-throat world, you need to capitalise on all your attributes, including your look. We’ve studied six of the world’s most successful men to give you the lowdown on the secret weapon they share – an exquisite sense of style.
1. Warren Buffet – a sharp fitting suit
He’s not known as the “Oracle of Omaha” for nothing. Warren Buffet is arguably the greatest investor the world has ever known. But if you thought the famously frugal octogenarian got where he is today by wearing the same five cheap suits over and over, think again.
Buffet confesses to owning about 20 suits, all created for him by Chinese fashion house, Trands. Set up by Madam Li in the late 1970s, Buffet has been a long-time supporter of the brand which keeps his measurements on file.
If you want to cut it in the business world, you don’t have to spend a fortune on a suit. But make sure that yours fits you like a glove. Buy a quality off-the-peg wool suit and have a local seamstress or tailor make any tiny adjustments, such as trouser length, required to make it fit you perfectly.
2. Bill Gates – the preppy v-neck jumper
With his penchant for inexpensive haircuts and dark framed glasses, Bill Gates isn’t the first person you’d think of in terms of style icons. But take a closer look at the planet’s ultimate geek, and you’ll find a man at home in his preppy uniform.
Nobody rocks a v-neck sweater worn over a button-down collar like Bill. And why not? When you’ve been the richest man in the world for all but four years between 1995 and 2017, you can afford to relax into smart casual attire.
A shirt and brightly coloured cashmere jumper is the ideal garb for conferences, lunches with clients and informal networking. If you need to smarten up the look, just add a pair of chinos and top with a tweed jacket.
3. Steve Jobs – rock the turtleneck
The late, great Steve Jobs knew a thing or two about consistency: whether you’re talking about sleek laptops, or black turtlenecks, he chose a good look and stuck to it. And just check out the results – worth $752 billion, Jobs’ brainchild, Apple, is the most valuable company in the world.
Jobs was visiting Japan in the 1980s when he noticed the workers at Sony all wearing the same clothes. He decided he wanted a uniform for his employees too, and asked Japanese designer Issey Miyake to run him up some samples. But Silicon Valley isn’t Japan, and when Jobs made the suggestion to his workers, they booed him off stage. But something obviously struck a chord with Jobs. The LA Times reports him saying:
“I asked Issey to make me some of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them.”
And why not? A black turtleneck is elongating, goes well with black jeans, slate moleskins or charcoal chinos, and looks extremely smart under a jacket.
4. Jeff Bezos – always wear a blazer
“Presenting to Jeff is a gauntlet that tends to send people back to the cave to lick their wounds and stay out of the sunlight for a while” says ex-Amazon employee, Steve Yegge of Jeff Bezos. The quote, courtesy of Inc.com is just one example of the uncompromising management style that has catapulted Amazon into 4th spot on the list of the world’s most valuable companies.
In his uniform of laid back separates, we’d say Jeff is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And a sensible wolf at that, because as a shorter man, Jeff, who measures 5’7” tall, knows that an uncluttered look comprised of well-fitting clothes works best.
Smaller guys should dress in a way that draws the eye up rather than down. Go for colour on your top half, and if you’re wearing a suit jacket or blazer, pop a bright square in your top pocket. As the guys at Real Men Real Style say: “Keep their eyes moving with a crisp, peaked fold making a triangle pointing up!”
5. Bernard Arnault – sharp in a tie
“Do you have any idea how much progress you make in just a few minutes playing opposite someone like Federer?” Says France’s richest man, Bernard Arnault. The game which, according to the Telegraph, was a gift from his family, gives a good insight into the motivations of a man who at 66 might otherwise be looking forward to retirement.
Instead, Arnault remains at the helm of his luxury empire, LVMH. One of the world’s ultimate taste-makers, he oversees an empire of 70 brands including Louis Vuitton and Sephora. But though Arnault is known as “the wolf in cashmere”, you’re most likely to see him sporting a dark blue suit, crisp white shirt and silk tie.
The Frenchman clearly knows his fashion beans: as you age, your complexion fades making darker colours your best option. Like Bernard, do go for deep blues, and charcoals, and keep your look sharp and uncompromisingly smart. Attention to detail, such as his signature silk ties, mean that this gentleman never enters a room unnoticed.
6. Richard Branson – the king of casual
A smiling business icon whose laid back leadership style saw him take Tubular Bells stratospheric, Richard Branson knows that whatever your style, finding a look that suits your character and ethos gives you the confidence you need to succeed in life.
And succeed he has: not withstanding the continued success from his Virgin brand, Branson is all about challenging himself. From his 1991 world record balloon flight across the Pacific, to, becoming the oldest man to cross the channel by kiteboard in 2012, Branson loves to lay down the gauntlet.
Carrying off a chunky knit jumper with style, shows a man at home in his skin. To steal his confidence, go for an Aran knit, warm fishermans’ jumper or Nordic style sweater. But, more often than not, his casual approach to clothing is refined by crisply ironed shirts. To dress like this entrepreneur you’ll need to retain a youthful edge to your way of thinking and clothing choices – and while you’re at it, stick your name down for a charity challenge.
Which businessman do you most admire, and what style cues do you take from them? We’d love to hear what you think. Just head over to our Facebook page and leave us a comment.