Lesson from prom season: Boys, it’s time to learn to wear a suit

The other day, I passed a bunch of kids going to prom. The girls, in their gowns, with their hair fixed just so, were beautiful. The boys, in their rented tuxedos, looked like dorks. The girls carried themselves like women. The boys looked like dorks.

Mark Zuckerberg, May 2007
Mark Zuckerberg (Wikipedia)

I understand we’ve become a casual society, that it’s OK, apparently, for a CEO to wear a hoodie when he meets with Wall Street investors, but, boys, you really ought to learn to wear a suit.

It isn’t hard: Don’t slouch. Don’t horse around. Tuck in your shirt. Straighten your tie. Back up: Learn to tie a tie. Don’t wear a clip-on or that crappy bow tie with the elastic band that came with your rented tux. Tie it yourself. Don’t go for that end-of-the-day loose knot. You haven’t earned it. Straighten your tie.

I was a teenage boy once. I know it’s weird dressing up. It’s uncomfortable, and it makes you feel really self-conscious. I know a guy, his daughter bought a prom dress, went to the salon and was ready for prom when her date called to say he looked dumb in a tux and that he wasn’t going, and he didn’t.

Boys, don’t be that guy. Learn to wear a suit.

It’s important, because a guy in a suit looks like he knows what he’s doing. He looks like he’s in charge. He looks confident. Someday, you’ll want a job, a real job, and you’ll need to wear a suit and look good doing it, because, let’s face it, you’re not Mark Zuckerberg. You don’t have any billion-dollar ideas, and, even if you did, you wouldn’t have a clue about how to make them happen. You’re going to need a job, and to get a good job, you need to learn to wear a suit.

Khakis, a blue shirt and a Navy blazer don’t count as a suit.

Cary Grant in The Philadelphia Story trailer

Years ago, I read something, attributed to Cary Grant. He was a movie star, and looked like it. He was the George Clooney of his day, only smooth, and he never played Batman, although he sure as hell would have made a great Bruce Wayne. Anyway, Cary Grant supposedly said a guy needs only one suit, but it had better be a good one. That’s good advice.

Trust me: You want Mark Zuckerberg’s money, but you need Cary Grant’s style.