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Men’s Fashion Finesse on the Event Stage

Awards shows aren’t the only venues where one can make a fashion statement. While conferences don’t feature red carpet entrances, the corporate event stage still represents a prime occasion for speakers to display their sense of style.

With more attention being paid to female executives’ wardrobes, our focus today is on their male counterparts. A recent New York Times article pointed to the rise in men’s fitted suits, but colorful accessories or footwear can also attract notice. Nowadays, almost anything to draw the audience’s gaze towards the stage instead of their mobile devices amounts to a good strategy.

We’ve compiled six examples based on New York-based events we’ve covered this year at which some element of the presenters’ attire was as buzzworthy as their performances.

Well Suited: Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (left) sported a gray suit during an Internet Week talk in June. We couldn’t help but think that since Brad Pitt portrayed him in the movie Moneyball, he’s always got to look his best in public (though the actor himself seems to have stopped trying).

Pumpkin Power: Nothing conveys leadership like a bright crewneck sweater, since hoodies now are cliché. That must have been Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt’s view when he wore an orange pullover to an October appearance at the 92Y. As his interviewer, Kara Swisher, remarked, “By the way, I’ve got to tell you that you rock in that pumpkin [colored] sweater!”

In Mufti: Former (and perhaps future) TV show host/sportscaster Keith Olbermann wore blue sneakers to an April evening event at the Paley Center for Media. Sneakers were a smart choice that day, since he filed a lawsuit against Current TV, his former employer, then attended a New York Mets game and appeared later at the Paley Center. When you’re so busy, you need comfortable footwear.

Hats Off: The New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliot moderated a media panel at the Nederlander Theatre during Advertising Week in October. Beforehand, he donned a white cap while he sang and danced around the stage where Newsies the Musical is performed. (He’s not likely to quit his day job, but could serve as an understudy.)

Sock It to ‘Em: Late night talk show host Craig Ferguson looked dapper in an all-black outfit at an October Paley Center event, but what was he hiding underneath? An observant audience member asked him during the Q & A: “Are those Kermit the Frog socks?” Ferguson proudly showed off his legwear to the crowd, which applauded his visible support of Sesame Street.

Burst of Bling: The New York Yankees’ director of sales and corporate sponsorship, Brian Calka, wore a dark pinstriped suit to a July AMA New York event at Yankee Stadium. We noticed diamonds glittering on his hand, so we inquired whether it was a 2009 World Series ring. Indeed it was, though sadly the Yankees did not add to their ring collection this year.

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