As the CEO of Ambit Capital, Andrew Holland believes in making a powerful impression. He has been wearing a formal suit to work daily for over 10 years, ever since he moved to India. “If you’re wearing a good suit, people take notice,” he says. But as soon as he’s home, the power suit is replaced by T-shirts and track pants. The father of a newborn daughter doesn’t want “drool all over my suit”.
Holland has a traditional British style of dressing in dark, two- or three-buttoned suits with a colour palette dominated by blue, white, grey and black. But since his move to India, there are glimpses of purple, orange and even lime green in his wardrobe. For casual dressing, he wears the two pairs of jeans he owns, and he will continue to wear them “till they fall off”. Edited excerpts from an interview:
What do you look for in a suit?
The most important thing is how the suit feels on me rather than what it looks like. My priority is the fit and how I feel inside of it. I don’t know how to describe it, but you can wear a suit and know there’s something not right. The shoulders should not be drooping or too broad and the trousers should fit just right.
Where do you shop for suits?
It took me a long, long time but about five or six years ago I discovered Canali and have stuck to the brand since. I’ve worn brands such as Gucci and Ferragamo but none of them made me feel like this is where I want to be. Now that I’m comfortable with Canali, I’m happy to keep wearing that. I do buy shirts in other brands like Hugo Boss and Marks & Spencer, which are quite good for work.
Well suited: Holland in his favourite black and purple pinstripe suit. Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
I’m not one of those people who need to shop. I look at my wardrobe once in a while and decide what needs to be replaced and then buy it. A few months ago I felt I need more suits. So I went to Canali and bought three.
How has your sense of dressing evolved over the years?
When you’re young, you create your own style. You wear what you like without necessarily thinking about brands. As you grow older you wear what you think fits well. You’re not trying to be fashionable any more; it’s more about comfort. Also, my wife is very fashion and brand conscious. It helps when you have someone around who can say what’s looking good and what’s not or ask you to try something you never would. Like wearing an orange shirt. I think I have got a lot more colour in my wardrobe now but that’s mainly because of her. She has literally brought more colour in my life.
Any piece of fashion advice from her that you didn’t follow?
She once wanted me to buy what I can only describe as a Bollywood kind of shirt. I said I don’t think so.
How do you like to accessorize?
I end up buying my ties usually while buying my suits. So I mostly have Canali ties. I look for basic work shoes as opposed to anything flashy; I like shoes by Dunhill, Canali, Ferragamo and Gucci. I wear cufflinks to work every day and get them made from our jeweller in India.
Do you dress differently for work here and overseas?
I always wear a suit to work, wherever that might be. I’m so used to working in suits that when I wear casuals, I don’t feel like I should be working. There’s no difference in the way I dress.
What difference do you see in the way people dress in India as opposed to internationally?
Over the years I’ve noticed that people have become more fashion conscious here. They are wearing better shirts, more colour, nicer ties and even cufflinks to work. There’s a lot more choice now and so people don’t look like they’re all dressed the same. As the disposable income has increased, people are changing their wardrobe more often.
In a job interview, how much importance do you give to a person’s appearance?
First impressions mean a lot, whether you’re meeting someone socially or in an interview. But if someone were very talented and not very well dressed, you may have to overlook that. But a lot of companies these days have courses on etiquette just to help people learn how to dress or how to sit at a dinner table. At the end of the day, we’re all brand ambassadors for our company and if someone sees you and you look terrible, they will associate that with the company.
How do you pack for a three-day business trip?
It depends on what the business trip is for. You need to look at how important your meetings are and pack accordingly. I pack my best suit for the most important meeting. My favourite suit in my wardrobe is a black one with purple pinstripes and I like it because it looks good on me and I feel good in it. If the trip is for two days, then I carry one suit with two shirts, if it’s three days then two different suits with three shirts. I probably wouldn’t carry different shoes.
Did the economic downturn affect your purchasing?
No. Actually, yes it did, but only in the fact that there are so many sales. So recession actually made me spend more than I usually do. When you see such large discounts in India or overseas, you end up buying more clothes than you actually need.