Reader Question

  • Ask Style Girlfriend #003

Ask Style Girlfriend #003

13th August 2013
Mic check, one-two one-two..


We’re on a roll now, guys! Questions in the third episode include:

1.  What’s the best look for a guy on a first date?

2.  What bag can I bring to work? I’ve been using my backpack, but I know I need to upgrade.

3.  Any tricks for sweat? It’s 110 degrees with the humidity here, but I can’t exactly show up to work in shorts and a t-shirt.

**Face wipes mentioned in this question:

Ursa Major Men

Simple Radiance Wipes

Yes to Cucumbers

Tell me:

What’s your go-to first date outfit? Do you own a briefcase? What kind? Any other tricks for staying stylish on a sweaty day?

Got a question? Email me at megan (at) stylegirlfriend (dot) com, or tweet at me, using the hashtag #AskStyleGF

…And be sure to subscribe to the Style Girlfriend YouTube channel to be sure you don’t miss any upcoming videos!


  • alan

    The Video says “this video is private”. Oops! :)

    • Style Girlfriend

      Whoops! Should be fixed now. Thanks for the heads up, Alan!

  • Tod C

    I get a “this video is private” message trying to watch this. It’s not on your channel so that might be part of it.

    • Paul

      Same issue here. Whoops! :)

      • Style Girlfriend

        Fixed! I hope!

  • fattsmann

    Tricks for dealing with sweat in the summer.
    0. Wear a polo shirt if you can. Looks better than a T-shirt, but lighter and more breathable than a tucked in dress shirt.

    1. Shower at night before you sleep (I mean you were sweating all day right?) and apply antiperspirant (just one layer, don’t need to gunk it on) to your underarms after the shower. It will block your pores overnight AND you likely won’t need to shower in the morning. If you actually want to maximize the effect of antiperspirant, trim your underarm hair to about 0.25-0.5″ so the antiperspirant has better contact with your skin. It also helps with the not gunking it on.

    If you do shower in the morning anyway, just reapply the single layer.

    2. Wear a V-neck heather grey (or skin tone) 100% cotton undershirt. If it’s 110 F out there, you are going to sweat regardless if you are wearing clothes or not. So to preserve the best appearance (which I guess is the question), you want to wear an undershirt that will lock in the sweat and not transfer it to your dress shirt. Synthetic shirts (Underarmor, etc.) that wick sweat are great for working out, but when they are underneath your dress shirt, they will wick the sweat… to your dress shirt… showing all the sweat stains.

    Heather grey or skin tone shirts show up less underneath your dress shirt so people won’t really be able to see the undershirt. The V-neck allows you to unbutton the top button while not revealing you are wearing an undershirt.

    Some antiperspirants also leave a yellow residue due to the reaction of the aluminum with your sweat. The heather grey or skin tone shirts will also show less of this. White undershirts, however, will show it all…. and make it look like you have nasty pits. If you have undershirts or even just white shirts with these stains, use Oxyclean to wash them out — might need to soak for a few hours, but it does work.

    3. If you can’t wear a polo shirt (… the problem at my workplace), roll up your sleeves or wear a short sleeve dress shirt. I’m in favor of the first, but it’s your call.

    4. Pants and suits. DO NOT wear standard wool suits or pants. Lightweight (“summer”) wool or cotton (my choice) is much better. Or linen if you can go more business casual.

  • Drew J

    1. Depends on the first date, but my go-to look in general is jeans, penny loafers sans socks and a button down with the sleeves rolled up.

    2. I carried a leather briefcase for years. Bought it shortly after college and it still has held up well now 10 years later. This spring before I went on vacation I bought a Hudson Messenger bag from Ernest Alexander. It’s not nearly as “nice” but I love this bag and carry it every day. But generally it just gets me back and forth to the office. if I ever start needing to take a bag to meetings again, I’ll likely go back to something more professional.

    3. Living in Houston, you just learn to accept that its hot and you’re going to be sweaty. There’s no way around it. Don’t judge other people and they won’t judge you. Roll your sleeves up, wear an undershirt, and love that we live in an air conditioned world.

    • Style Girlfriend

      Penny loafers sans socks is a great look!

      • Drew J

        About 20 years ago I stumbled across a copy of the Official Preppy Handbook. I read it cover to cover multiple times. I routinely have to buy a new copy as I’ll loan my copy to girlfriends and never see it again. About 10 years ago on a stupid blog I used to write I predicted penny loafers and people cuffing their jeans/showing their ankles making a comeback.

        I’d take credit for my prescience but in all reality, about 90% of my personal sense of style came from the OPH, a book written over 30 years ago.

        • John W.

          The Official Preppy Handbook was supposed to make fun of the preppy style, but was so close to the mark it became a true handbook.

          As they say, everything old becomes new again.

  • Pentox

    Briefcases went out of style when people started carrying laptops and stopped carrying papers. At the time it was just a size issue of appropriate padding a laptop and fitting it into a traditional briefcase unless it was purely a laptop case that looked like a briefcase. At least with CA tech industries the norm has switched to messenger bags and backpacks. Most people carry a bit more than just a laptop so the extra space is useful. To show up with a leather briefcase would be a very notable and very noticed departure from the norm, but it’ll carry a bit of a stigma with it. Granted it totally depends on where you are and the industry you’re in. The other thing to think about is how it goes with what you’re wearing. A leather briefcase has a very formal and highly professional look to it, if you work at a casual workplace then it just won’t work with jeans. Also a rectangular briefcase (hard sided) just looks dated and old.

    • Dan J.

      Nailed it. Not only are you carrying the laptop itself, you’re often carrying an Ethernet cable, a power supply, USB cables, a cable to sync and/or charge your phone, etc. Yes, you can try to minimize what you carry with you but the simple fact is that brief cases weren’t designed for carrying the type of stuff that most people now lug around.

      • Pentox

        That does remind me of another reason they went out of style. When the switch happened the laptop and stuff you were carrying was notably heavier and so the shoulder straps on messengers and backpacks took a load off of carrying around a rather heavy case all the time. Not so much an issue with current laptops, but still points out the why.

        • Tod C

          Bingo – same reason I carry a messenger bag. We have a guy at work who carries a briefcase and a superman messenger bag. He is super casual in his dress and it looks terrible. If he got rid of the briefcase it would be fine.

          The problem for me is the weight which is why something with a strap is a must.

    • Drew J

      I don’t know anyone that carries an old school leather hardsided, briefcase (actually I work with a couple of engineers & accountants that do, now that I think about it)

      But just about every real estate person or lawyer that I know carries a some sort of leather soft-sided bag.

      • Pentox

        Yeah, lawyers and real estate are the industries I would think that carrying them is a bit more normal. Since they also have the need to dress on the more formal end of the spectrum.

        In my neck of the woods I don’t know any engineers who carry any briefcases hardsided or non.

    • Jon

      Totally agree. Laptops and gadgets tend to make briefcases an obsolete choice. In Seattle, the standard seems to be some sort of leather messenger bag or a techie backpack or messenger bag: TimBuk2, Swiss Army, Chrome, etc. I had a nicer Brenthaven messenger for a while, but ended up having to switch to a Chrome backpack. The messenger bag was aggravating an old shoulder and back sports injury because of the way it only pulled on one side. For people with back trouble, it seems like the only choices are nothing or backpack.

      This discussion brings up a bigger issue that I hope Megan will address in the future though. There is a large variation in what is normal and acceptable from where she is in NY, to the South, to midwest and where I am on the West Coast. I love her ideas (and other sites like The Style Blogger) but sometimes I worry the the fashion is “too New York”.

      Megan, any chance you expand a bit and start making attempts to contextualize fashion to different regions? For example, I’m an engineering consultant. I got my current job through a head-hunter in Boston. In his check-list to prep for my interview, he said to make sure that I wear a suit and tie. Of course, I didn’t. That might be normal and appropriate on the East coast, but I knew that I would stick out in a bad way if I did. Instead, I wore a nice pair of wool slacks with loafers and an oxford shirt tucked in. I was still very presentable and better dressed that my potential employer (the two who interviewed me were in jeans, tennis shoes and untucked polos).

      I’m all about pushing the enveloping and having great style, but I think that means different things in different places.

      What do you think?

      • scott

        I’m in Oklahoma, and had a tailor the other day tell me not to go any shorter on the hem on suit pants, because “we’re not in New York”. Had to get a suit quickly and there’s not much selection locally, so I will deal with an extra quarter-half inch of length on the pants. The rest of the fit was slim and up to NYC standards, not sure what her issue was. I guess she couldn’t fathom that I’d be wearing the suit all over the place, Mexico is first on the list in a few weeks.

        On a side note, camo is plentiful and not fashionable here. I restrict my camo use to hunting only. ;)

        • Style Girlfriend

          What do you hunt?!

          • scott

            Ducks are my favorite, but anything in season is fair game and good eating. :)

          • Style Girlfriend

            YUM!!! I want some :)

      • Style Girlfriend

        This is a really interesting idea! I’m going to give it some more thought about how it would work (eg, is it “Style Girlfriend: Boston?” etc..)

        Thanks for chiming in!

        • Pentox

          I’ve wondered about something like that too for a while, but recognize your expertise is NY. I’ve often looked for a west coast counterpart to you.

      • fattsmann

        I think you raise a good point. Style = your own. But I recognize a person’s boundaries are dictated by where you have been and will be in life. Yes, if I were in Texas, I would totally rock a cowboy hat, denim suit with boots and spurs, and hang a lasso from my belt. And I would bring that to NYC. And I would own it.

        All these style tips on this and other websites are suggestions and lean towards discussion fashion trends. Fashion, however, is industry. It’s dictated by Paris, Milan, New York, maybe even Tokyo now. It’s an industry and it may have a style, but it’s not your style or my style.

        The only thing we disagree with is wearing a suit to an interview. It’s never wrong to wear a suit to an interview, even if everyone else is wearing t-shirts and shorts. People don’t get not-hired because they wore a suit — they get not-hired because the interviewers didn’t like something about that person’s personality or qualifications. People do get not-hired because they didn’t project a serious image, so why not get a leg up in that category?

        When I interview people and talk to others in the panel, we have talked specifically about “That person should have worn a suit. What were they thinking?” We never say “That person that wore the suit should have dressed more casually.”

        • Pentox

          I disagree that it’s never wrong to wear a suit to an interview. I do agree though that part of not getting hired is due to your personality. What you’re wearing comes off as a large part of what your personality is. If you show up in a suit it implies what your state of dress is. It might not be true, but it implies things about your personality. If you were applying for a job at a skateboard manufacturer and showed up in a suit it would probably be a notable strike against you. It says you don’t know what the company culture is, that you don’t know about the company and probably aren’t looking for a job specifically there, but rather just a job.

          Personally the notion of dressing too well for an interview has come up while I was interviewing. I wasn’t even wearing a suit to it and the topic came up, I was just wearing kakhis and a blazer. I’ve also had cases where while setting up interviews the interviewer specifically state that dress is business casual. If I showed up in a suit to that it would indicate either defiance or a pure inability to follow directions.

          On the interviewing side I know that how someone’s dressed has affected our opinions of them. If they’re from the east coast we generally give them a pass on it, but if you’re from the west coast and have been at other casual dress companies the question normally does come up of why you’re overdressed for an interview.

          • fattsmann

            I agree with you 100% that if you get specific instruction that dress is business casual or casual, then absolutely you should follow that advice.

            Whereas interviewing for Tony Hawk’s skateboard design team is probably a casual affair, applying to the BMW’s skateboard design team is more likely a suit affair.

            So yes, I’ve mentally amended my policy on suits are never wrong. It is a game of strategy and tactics on what kind of visual impression you want to make.

    • Style Girlfriend

      Briefcases don’t have to be so stodgy. Coach makes some great ones that aren’t hard-sided and will definitely fit a laptop (or a reasonable size).

      This one, for instance, I really like, and could see a guy in a tech job carrying:

      • Pentox

        Something like the one you linked would probably be fine to carry around. But it’s not really what most people would consider a briefcase. It really resembles early laptop cases in configuration and has some notes of being a messenger due to the cross body shoulder strap.

        It would be a bit odd to see someone with that who isn’t in management though. But that’s a question of breaking away from the norm of the bags that Jon listed (TimBuk2, Chrome, Brenthave, Swiss Army, etc).

    • Matt M

      I dunno. I use my Saddleback Briefcase in Chestnut daily. And yes, I have a laptop and a bunch of other stuff in it. Thing looks amazing and I always get compliments on it. Especially when my colleagues are using some cheap ballistic nylon briefcase/messenger bag they picked up at Staples.

  • Derric

    Date outfit: I aim for stylish but not overly fancy, and fits well but not tight and uncomfortable. My go-to is dark blue slim-straight jeans, brown shoes, simple patterned shirt with no tie, and a gray blazer. Stripes and gingham are my favorites for the shirt pattern. I have multiple gray blazers/suit jackets so I grab whatever shade feels right for the moment.

    • Style Girlfriend

      that sounds perfect!

  • Matt M

    First date style always depends on what we’re doing, what time of the year it is, and what the person’s like. Most of the time I’d say chinos with an OCBD and nice shoes/loafers without socks. Blazer if it’s more formal in the evening or it’s cooler outside. If it’s really casual like a bar (her idea, not mine), I’ll probably throw on some dark denim, Alden Indys, and a sweater or henley. If it’s warm outside shorts, possibly short sleeved OCBD or madras shirt, loafers or Jack Purcells, no socks. Casual, stylish, well put together and comfortable.

    I can’t believe people say that briefcases are out of style. Granted, I don’t use a metal one or a hard sided case like our parents probably used, but Saddleback makes amazing briefcases. I have a large one that I use for trips and a small one that I use on a daily basis for work. And yes, I have to carry a laptop, but also papers and other documents. The color is a reddish brown called Chestnut and the bag only looks better with age. Best part is the compliments I get (from men and women) on the bag. Good conversation starter.

    When it’s super hot outside (it gets over 100* in the valley here in Los Angeles), I’ll always take a shower in the morning, but finish it off with a minute of cold water. I read somewhere years ago that it was dubbed the ‘James Bond Shower’ because apparently Bond took cold showers in one of Ian Flemings’ books. The thought behind it is that it takes down your core temperature to help keep you cooler longer. It also wakes you up without needing coffee!! For my underarms I’ll apply Degree Clinical or Certain Dri the night before so it absorbs into my skin. On my face I use Jack Black Oil-Control Lotion so I don’t appear shiny by noon. Lastly on my, uh hem, man section I use Fresh Balls. It’s a product that goes on like lotion, but becomes a powder without the mess. This is a new addition to my routine, but it really does help keeping things dry and clean!! Lastly, I’ll sometimes use Clean and Clear oil absorbing sheets to clean up any oil that still appears on my skin in the afternoon/evening. Thanks to the ex-girlfriend that taught me about them.

    I do have to wear a suit to work everyday so I totally understand how uncomfortable it can get when it is extremely hot outside. For those people I also recommend looking into lighter fabrics (both in color and material) to help you breathe a bit more. Half lined jackets are even better for this.

    Thanks for the latest video Megan! I definitely prefer the location of this video and holy cow, you look fantastic!!


  • brianmo95

    “Mic check, one-two one-two..”
    I appreciated that one^ Lol

  • Brandon

    Honestly, when it comes to sweat in the summer. I just change my clothes at work. Seeing as I ride my bicycle to work everyday and humidity in this country sucks.

    • Style Girlfriend

      That is a very solid idea. If you’re working out on your WAY to work, a change of clothes is definitely in order :)

  • Brad

    Catching up on Style Girlfriend after being out of town… Love the new video. The background is great and you look amazing!

  • Joseph Dougherty

    Do you really color code your books? And if so, will you marry me?

  • Joseph Dougherty

    First date clothes depend on the kind of date I’m going on. Yes I own a briefcase, hard shell, like something James Bond would carry. And living in Florida where it’s always hot and humid, i learned that if you use strong aftershave before you leave the house, it helps with face sweatiness and active sport deodorant heels alot. I have a physical job where i have to wear pants and usually im sweaty before i even get to work, but often get compliments on how nice i smell haha.

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