The Style Column: How To Dress For A New Job

The former Mr Porter Editor-in-Chief has taken up a new position at Christie's auction house – and it's causing him some sartorial issues 

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I’m at work, at Christie’s, wearing a suit, knitted tie and a pair of expensive shoes. I bought the shoes recently and they’re of the type, fashionable right now, that look as if you’ve owned them for decades: the polish is uneven and they appear a little scuffed.

I love the shoes but, earlier in the day, when I met a new colleague for the first time – a colleague not familiar with the fashion world – I became conscious that he’d have thought it odd that I’d made such an effort to look smart that morning but had clearly forgotten to put my work shoes on.

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I’m discovering that some elements of my previous career in fashion retail do not travel well into the current one in art.

It’s sometimes tricky trying to fit in sartorially with an auction house soon to celebrate its 250th anniversary with a wardrobe bought from a menswear website that’s just celebrated its third. The other dilemma, which I predicted might happen, has already raised its head: how to pop straight out from work to meet a mate and not look as if I am going to attempt to sell him a mortgage (or a painting).

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Last week, a young actor friend asked if I fancied seeing a movie at the IMax that evening. It had been a long day and the thought of some celluloid escapism was a tempting one. It turned out he’d bought us both tickets to watch, on the giant screen, a film starring...er, himself. If I was a handsome movie star, I suppose I would watch myself endlessly on the big screen, too.

However, the problem was that while he was wearing skinny jeans, sneakers, a leather jacket and a baseball cap (in case anyone in the audience spotted Noah’s son was actually in Row G and not on the ark), I was wearing a suit and tie and carrying a business briefcase. I looked like his dad. Or a perv.

I need to conjure up an outfit that works for both scenarios – boardroom and bar – or keep a change of clothes at the office and, each evening as I run out, morph from Clark Kent into Superman. Well, Superman is being a tad optimistic, but to help on that front I’ve joined a gym.

Yet another outfit to keep in the office; yet another set of clothes to worry about. Gym tribes actually deserve a whole column to themselves, but once again I’m trying to navigate a happy medium: I don’t want to go down the baggy, ill-fitting, Napoleon Dynamite-does-a-workout look, but neither do I want to appear as if I take it too seriously with a whole load of high-tech, high-performance, too-tight ponce-wear.

A couple of years ago, I foolishly signed up for a triathlon. On the morning of the event, as we prepared to swim, the competitor next to me laid out his super-expensive, semi-pro equipment and made lots of impressive grunts and stretches as we waited for the start whistle. Jesus, I thought, I’m never going to be able to compete with guys like this. The whistle went, everyone dived in and then, lo and behold, halfway across the lake Mr Got-All-The-Kit started waving his arms frantically in the air and had to be rescued by an attendant boat. He’d got cramp. Ha!

No, I need a kit that says I may have done a spot of cardio and met a dumbbell or two before, but I know I’m not at the level where people are going to clap with admiration if I wander past in a sleeveless vest carrying a protein drink (incidentally, why do protein drinks smell of poo?).

For the moment – and if you see me in the gym do say if you think it looks rubbish – I am opting for a low-key Saturdays Surf NYC cotton jersey T-shirt (which looks like I found it in the cupboard, in a good way), Nike x Undercover Gyakusou running shorts (high-tech fabric with an unfussy design), Nike Flyknits (off-duty sneakers that work for the gym), and a pair of Hanro sweatpants (they have usefully deep pockets for secret stashes of Haribo).

Next week, I’m in New York and a friend is dragging me to the hot new fitness craze in town: Mitchell Wayne’s class at Chelsea Studios. This intense, 60-minute, cardio-dance workout sees you learning the moves to a different Beyoncé promo video each session.

Oh dear.

At least it’s unlikely I’ll bump into a colleague from Christie’s.

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MORE FROM JEREMY LANGMEAD:
Tailoring's New Wave
The Eighties Style Revival 
On Underwear 
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