Ability, being yourself, never arrogant or superficial are all on show. Being overdressed or underdressed is always a mistake.
In a classic business setting, go for a grey or navy suit with a light blue shirt and a sober tie (navy with grey, grey with navy or a black knitted silk tie that goes with everything). Avoid cufflinks, pocket squares and luxury watches. Choose a pair of classic shoes like the Richelieu in black or a brown pair with a squared end.
Look around when you get there, or even better before you start. Who’s wearing a tie? The boss or the whole team? Anyone in jeans? No one? Follow their lead whilst keeping it tasteful.
Consider the situation. Where are you eating? Local restaurant? Somewhere a bit special? And most importantly who are you eating with? A client you need to convince? A supplier you want a favour from?
If you need to score points opt for a two-button suit, white shirt, silk tie, buttoned cuffs and a pocket square. Go for it. But, if you need to get pricing down it’s a different story. Do the minimum. Lose the tie for example.
Unlike a business lunch, lunch at the club is a moment of down-time between colleagues. Take the same attitude with your attire. Enjoy. Relax.
The simplest option is taking off your tie, losing the jacket and rolling up your shirt sleeves. But it’s not impossible either to think of your day’s outfit in relation to this lunch. Especially if it’s on a Friday.
Move away from the suit and, during winter months, slip on a textured jacket in flannel or tweed, and wear it with a well-cut pair of jeans. A round-neck sweater and Oxford shirt underneath will do nicely if it’s really cold. The shoes could be in suede.
For summer put on a deconstructed and unlined jacket in cotton and wear it with a pair of beige or navy chinos. Or white jeans if you dare. Complete the look with a polo or chambray shirt. Slide your sunglasses into the breast pocket of your jacket… You won’t be back at your desk before 4pm, that’s for sure.