PR Week: The Uniform

PR Week asked me to illustrate 'You Wear It Well' - a page offering style advice for those working in the PR industry.

Public Affairs
What they wear: 
good suits badly or just plain old bad suits. Perhaps the Malcolm Tucker truism "people don't like their politicians to be comfortable" extends to the people that lobby them. Certainly no flashy watches here although briefcases are a must to keep all those important briefing documents hidden from the paps. Women in public affairs are often rather attractive, but notoriously bad dressers as knowing about clothes and caring about politics seem almost mutually exclusive.
Corporate Comms
What they wear: the women in corporate communications will tend towards L K Bennett, if they can afford it. The men dress a lot like the new breed of politicians – think Barack Obama and David Cameron: suited but often without a tie. The look that says “serious” without being too stuffy. At the weekend they all tend to dress like people in Sports PR and both the men and women can be found working on their golf handicap.
 
City
What they wear: suits, dark grey, dark blue or pinstripe to blend in with their city clients, paired with a pink shirt (the classic high-finance uniform). Most have finally managed to hang up their ties for all but the most formal meetings, but that was a difficult shift to make. A good pair of leather shoes are essential, comedy socks not an option. Blackberrys rather than iPhones are de rigeur, while accessories include a monogram briefcase and copy of today’s FT. Typically well groomed - no designer stubble, or trendy east London haircuts. Any hair gel in evidence better be for the slicked-back Gordon Gecko look and even then only at the office party. May exhibit a Patrick Bateman-like obsession with business cards.
Consumer
What they wear: labels darling, labels. Both sexes are trendy, beautifully turned out and rock smart casual as if nothing were easier to pull off. It's a very female environment, which brings out a touch of competitive dressing. The women tend towards lots of hair - big, bouncy, long or any combination thereof - and flawless make-up. Think the Duchess of Cambridge but trendier and sexier with killer accessories. For the men, think metrosexual, though the expensive jeans and smart shoes look is still popular.

Fashion
What they wear: clothes so beautiful it hurts to look at them. Imagine the latest designs from London Fashion Week and quite simply the best suits you will ever have seen on a man. For the women, accessories – shoes, bags, jewellery – will be designer and very expensive. Expect the men to be wearing handmade Italian shoes and a Swiss watch of the sort that might pay the deposit on most London flats. When no clients are around the boys will slip into skinny jeans and a pair of Tod’s (no socks of course). Sunglasses and tans are a year-round affair.
 
Public Sector
What they wear: tend not to be very well dressed - important in not upstaging their political masters or giving away how much public money is being spent on their services. Marks & Spencers suits for the men – plus a rucksack when commuting. Blouse and trousers or sensible dress for the women.
Digital
What they wear: jeans of course, maybe a Steve Jobs-esque black turtleneck if they can pull it off, otherwise a suitably retro t-shirt. Converse trainers and goatees (hard for the women admittedly) make up the uniform. Gadgets are a necessity - iPads, iPhones, Kindles, you name it. Expect their business card to double-up as a USB pen drive, torch or emergency transponder. Signed up to every social media platform you can think of and some you’ve never heard of (“it’s going to be huge next year”). Probably have their own YouTube channel and following.

Sporty
What they wear: the uniform of the professional golfer - polo shirts and chinos. Otherwise known as “The Tiger" look - pre-2009 of course, we're going for All American clean-cut, not divorced sex-addict. The girls tend to be fit – they are sporty after all – and are prone, on non-client days at least, to figure-hugging lycra leggings and tops. The boys run to and from work – also in figure-hugging lycra – and have an unhealthy obsession with protein shakes.

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