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Dressed to be boss

High-powered men are slowly learning to relax their look

by Stephanie Naddaf

A boss can silently let his fellow colleagues know how he gets business done. A bespoke suit along with a crisp dress shirt and pure silk tie is for those businessmen that run the company in a classic manner. The specific cut of their suit parallels the defined lines of the corporate structure.

“Around 75 to 80 percent [of customers] prefer suits,” says Ali Nasser, manager at luxury menswear store, Pal Zileri based in downtown Beirut. “For the classic look, there are three types: classic, sport-chic, and casual.” 

In the classic category, you’ll find single and double-breasted suits, along with dress shirts and ties.  Globally, the double-breasted suit, popular in the 1980s, is back in fashion and was spotted on the runaways of Milan during the Fall 2013 Fashion Week. In Lebanon, explains Nasser, the style is viewed as outdated and a man in a double-breasted suit is viewed as unfashionable, when in reality he is in keeping with the latest global trends. 

In every businessman’s closet you are likely to find the classic, standard, solid colored suits, alongside suits with a bit more flair. “The customers take a black, blue, and gray suit for the whole year,” says Nasser. These solid color suits can have different looks by switching out the shirt and ties for $450 and $250, respectively. 

Aside from solid colored suits, a businessman can show off his own personal style by choosing plaid printed blazers and colors and patterns that match. “Italian style [is mixing] gray, with brown, navy and blue. People with this style usually buy suits more often,” explains Nasser, because people in the office might notice if the same ensemble was worn over and over again.

Along with its ready-to-wear collection, Pal Zileri also provides top-notch services in customized tailoring. “We have a tailor that comes from Italy twice a year and he takes the sizes of all our clients. Then he goes back to Italy and he makes the suits,” he says. “It takes two months to make them.” However, this service is exclusive to a select few, “about 15 customers” states Nasser, and with reason, as prices range from $4,000 to $10,000 for one suit. “The customers take about five to six suits every six months. So each customer’s bill amounts to $45,000 to $50,000.” 

In addition to handmade Italian suits, an affluent Lebanese businessman’s outfit is completed with top-of-the-line accessories such as Hermès silk ties and Berluti leather shoes.

Casual, but always chic

Yet, not all wealthy men always want to dress formally, and, high-end fashion also includes casual wear. “The remaining 25 percent [of customers] are divided between casual and sportswear,” Nasser says. “It becomes a question of how you will relax.” 

According to Janis Sarraf Tabet, brand manager and buyer for Malia Moda, member of Malia Group, businessmen go to Paul & Shark, another retailer of high-end menswear, for items to wear during the weekends and at laid back outings as the brand’s products are casual, but carry gravitas. 

The casual-chic look has the advantage of combining the formal feel of a traditional suit with a more casual and comfortable twist. “This is the sport chic: blazer, pants, and a shirt. It’s still classic, but without the tie,” states Nasser. Tabet says Paul & Shark shirts are their best seller, along with pants and jeans. But “not jeans with washes, never. Just simple blue jeans with…very small logos or stripes.” Shirts and polos cost from $200 and $250. To complete the look, you can add a sports blazer from Pal Zileri for $700.

Other brands also realize the importance of casual clothing that still meets the high quality found in luxury brands. Italian brand Hogan is currently launching its latest campaign, titled “Casual Business”. The shoes in the line go for around $370. Businessmen not just in the Middle East but all over the world are slowly transitioning to a more relaxed look that maintains a chic and serious form.

With all the possibilities, it is up to the boss to decide which look he will advocate. The look should not define who he is, but complement his characteristics and his personality. After all, those who truly appreciate fashion do so for the quality it offers and understand the value that it holds beyond its name. 

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Stephanie Naddaf


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