Style Switch: Taking this venture capitalist from sloppy casual to sharp professional

Style Switch: Taking this venture capitalist from sloppy casual to sharp professional

From black-tie events to kids’ birthday parties, busy businessman John Kim struggles to dress appropriately for everything his day requires. CNA Lifestyle’s Style Switch team comes to his rescue.

Style Switch John Kim
Dressing appropriately for many different events in a day was John Kim's challenge.

An ultra-packed, multi-faceted lifestyle has driven venture capitalist John Kim to dress in what he calls a “schizophrenic” fashion.

As a venture capitalist, he has to look formal enough to meet investors, while remaining approachable enough to meet young entrepreneurs. He finds himself at black-tie events every few weeks – and also in church leading worship. And he’s a father of two, and frequently finds himself at kids’ parties.

So, on a given day, John may find himself at church in the morning, on a plane an hour later to meet investors in a boardroom in another country, before heading back on another flight to attend a gala in the evening.

Style Switch John Kim
John Kim's usual casual get-up. 

“My wife has been asking me to get a style makeover,” he shared. “I usually meet investors wearing a jacket and chinos. And if I’m meeting entrepreneurs, I’m in jeans and a T-shirt.”

“Once, I had an awkward encounter with a CEO,” he said. “I was dressed casually for an event, and the CEO made a joke that the person who is most casually dressed is usually the one with the most money. Obviously, he meant me – and obviously what he said was not the case!”

READ: Style Switch: How to dress for your body when you’re taller than most men

Style Switch stylist Yang Derong set to work on a “simple capsule collection” for John. “We kept it neat and tight. I picked simple, neutral colours for him – black, white, ecru – so that no matter how you throw them on, they look good.”

Because of his broad shoulders, John has his shirts made by a tailor. “That’s the best thing he can do,” said Derong, approvingly. “He wears size 50 suits but with size 48 pants. His body is almost a rhomboid.”

READ: Style Switch: How we turned this lawyer from dishevelled to dapper

“If he buys off-the-rack, the shirt may fit him but the collar won’t. So I told John: Find a shirt-maker you really like, and get him to make you the same shirt in all colours, and in multiples. That way, you can have a spare one in your travel bag that’s ready to go anytime."

Style Switch John Kim (1)
"Find a shirt-maker you really like, and get him to make you the same shirt in all colours, and in multiples. That way, you can have a spare one in your travel bag that’s ready to go anytime," said stylist Yang Derong.

Layering was another tip. “He can get T-shirts in all kinds of material: Cotton, silk cotton – these are great for layers under shirts, jackets.”

For pants, “we worked with a slim-fit cut, but not tapered – he needs to be comfortable on a plane, since he is always travelling.” Derong also suggested the five-pocket pants for John – it’s comfort-meets-professionalism. “Not in denim, of course, but in a black, stretch fabric.”

Style Switch John Kim (1)
"I picked simple, neutral colours for him – black, white, ecru – so that no matter how you throw them on, they look good," said stylist Yang Derong.

As for shoes, Derong proposed sneakers, which have gone from being utilitarian to being a style symbol. “Cool sneakers, but in neutral tones. Some luxury brands make very nice ones that are subtle.”

The central idea, said Derong, is to build a capsule collection of these basics that can be packed into a travel case, ready to go at any time. “This collection is very minimal but high quality in terms of fit and fabric, and it goes with him wherever he goes.”

Style Switch John Kim (2)
The central idea, said stylist Yang Derong, is to build a capsule collection of these basics that can be packed into a travel case, ready to go at any time.

Source: CNA/bk

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