The Columbia businessman is a character caught somewhere between new-world innovation and old-world values. He emails from his phone while marching down Ninth Street on his way to a meeting with the city’s most powerful town elders. His schedule is jam-packed with meetings, 30 minutes of which are actually in his office. He is both a beer-drinking good ole boy and a modern gentleman, up to date on the latest news, technology and pop culture.

And yet rarely does he dress the part.

He is oft clad in a polo shirt, khakis or blue jeans and — on a good day — a pair of bulky, worn-in loafers. His so-called business attire is reminiscent of his 13-year-old self, dragged out of bed and into church on a Sunday morning.

The Columbia businessman’s appreciation for traditional business values seems to stop just before the wardrobe, which leaves Columbia women to fill in the style gap. After centuries of gender oppression, workplace sexual harassment and a still-present glass ceiling, this is one area where Columbia businesswomen are leaps and bounds ahead of their male counterparts — and in heals no less.

The Business Times began noticing the suit discrepancy a few years ago. We do not claim to be the ultimate authority on high fashion, nor do we wish to dictate business styles. But our fashion experts put their heads together and came up with a few guidelines to help you look as sharp and secure as your business. The following few pages are not the type of business reporting you might be used to reading in our magazine, but we cannot deny the role appearance plays in our collective ideas of professionalism. So suit up, men. It’s time for work.

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