Business casual sounds like a breeze. If the company you work in requires this dress code, you won’t ever have to worry about what to wear to work, right? Well, not quite. There are certain rules and guidelines to follow to make sure you never look out of place at your job. I’d like to talk to you about how to dress business casual, without looking too businessy and not too casual. Business casual is meant to be a refined, yet comfortable dress code that doesn’t have some concrete perimeters and is dangerously ambiguous. We all know that one guy who walks around in baggy trousers, ill-fitting shirts or indistinguishable blazers, failing to pull off the business casual look miserably. In an environment where first impressions last – you don’t want to be that guy. For that very reason, here are some style tips and some key pieces that you should consider investing in if you want to climb the corporate ladder.
Focus on the Fit
This is the golden rule, no matter whether you’re buying pants, shoes or mens work shirts. Buying clothing that fits you properly is the utmost important thing. Nothing kills an outfit, regardless of the dress code and how branded and expensive the clothes are, like the wrong fit. The first secret to looking business casual and smart is getting the proper size, which includes arm, waist and shoulder length. Once you have the fit down to a T, you can start working on building a wardrobe. Start with garments that are easy to mix and match so that you can get the most value for your money, interchanging your work shirts for men with jackets and pants for a different look every day.
The Staple Pieces
If you put some careful thought into your selection of staple pieces, you’ll be able to put together a wardrobe that’s incredibly versatile with close to no effort, which for me, is essential in the morning when I’m getting dressed before I’ve had my coffee. Let’s start from the bottom-up and talk about the essential pieces that should be included in every man’s work wardrobe.
When choosing work shirts for men, you might have a problem finding the perfect fit, because after all, not all of us are models and we all have specific measurements. It’s important to get the fit right in the shoulders, then, the space between the neck and the collar should fit 2 fingers, and the shirt cuff should meet at the thumb joint. If you have broad shoulders, find a slim-fit design or consider getting two simple straight seams put in the back to cinch the billowy fabric. Generally, Oxford shirts are a great option, and they come in a variety of patterns and colours. Solid men work shirts are the easiest to match, so focus on standards like white, pale pink and light blue before moving onto brighter colours and patterns such as checks, stripes or gingham. Always make sure the shirts are more business than casual.
The dress shoe classic, such as Oxfords, Loafers, Derbies and monk straps are your safest bets when it comes to choosing work shoes. These pieces will complement the rest of your wardrobe effortlessly. While casual Fridays may allow you to wear some clean-cut, minimal sneakers, you’ll need to check with HR or your boss first. Leather is always the preferred material, and you should stick to either black, brown, tan or oxblood when picking a colour.
And when it comes to choosing a pair of work pants, I suggest you invest in a pair of Chinos in mid-weight cotton as your go-to choice for business-casual. Stick with the classic colours, such as camel and navy, and opt for a slim fit that’s not too skinny. There has been some obsession with cropped trousers in the last couple of years, which should be kept at a minimum, and you shouldn’t invest in more than one piece. If you’re looking to achieve a timeless look, stick to regular length trousers. While jeans can be the appropriate workwear for certain places, make sure you get a pair that’s more on the formal end: no heavy fading, no rips, and a mid-to-dark wash. Office jeans should be slim, but never skinny.
There are three jackets that every man should have in order to be covered year-round. The first one is the classic navy blazer, which features a single breast design with notch or peak lapels. Navy is less stuffy than black in light wool, and it’s dark enough to smarten your look and flatter your physique. For cooler mornings, you’ll want a grey tweed blazer, which is ideal for adding some texture and works well with other feel-good fabrics, such as silk knit ties, cashmere cardigans and chambray shirts. And lastly, a linen-blend or beige pure cotton will help you keep your cool when the heat is on. These colours are warm and earthy, and you’ll easily stand out from all the navy jackets around you.