Personal style should never be underestimated and our work wear clothing is certainly no exception. Clothing defines us as people and not just as workers. It is only natural for gentlemen to want to do office attire right, no matter the degree of formality. We typically acknowledge the need to dress well in a formal sense for the office, particularly with our culture’s love of tailored suits. But what about business casual looks? This dress code shouldn’t be overlooked, but rather celebrated for its mix of formal and casual wear. The dress code after all provides great opportunities to showcase personal style. From shoes to shirt choices, we’ve compiled a no fuss style guide for owning business casual.
What is Business Casual?
Business casual is one of those dress codes that don’t really have a strict definition. It can, however be loosely defined as an office dress code that is distinguished as more casual than typical corporate wear, yet not casual enough for everyday wear. All in all, it is attire which is neat and presentable enough for a professional work look, but is not too full on when it comes to formality. This dress code’s ambiguity should thus be met with enthusiasm. It’s up to you how you want to interpret it, but embrace this dress code with the same eagerness that you would with any of your formal, corporate or casual looks. That’s the key to perfecting this workplace style of attire- make it youthful and tailor it to flatter your features and build. We’re just putting it out there- business casual is no excuse for careless and certainly not boring dressing.
Classically coloured button-downs are classic and work well when they are tailored to skim the body. These shirts are failsafe, but there are other ways to harness business casual without looking like everyone else in the office. Our advice for finding great shirts for business casual? Switch things up, and opt for vivid patterns and fabrics to introduce more texture and colour to your office looks. Remember that you still want to maintain a classic aesthetic so don’t go too crazy with prints or overtly bright colours. If you want to keep things more conservative opt for patterns with a neutral or classic colour scheme. This will tie your looks together more and will prove useful for versatility. Mixing differently textured shirts with chinos or tailored pants will also switch your looks up. Shirts are really the focal point of business casual looks, so ensure they fit well is not baggy. Also, omitting a tie from your business casual looks is a good idea, and will lend to a more relaxed aesthetic.
One word- chinos. Chinos are great because they boost the appeal of casual looks, but they are stillquite laid-back. The usual materials of chinos also make them quite adaptable for the workplace. You will need chinos in all the classic colours for maximum versatility. Black, navy, khaki and beige are recommended. These colours are super adaptable and will also be great investments even for your personal wardrobe choices. They also register quite professional for the office, so you won’t feel totally underdressed. You can dress them up and also dress them down. Also, make sure your chinos are of a slimmer fit and aren’t too long or too short. Once you find a style or brand that works well for you, invest in several pairs and colours so you can ensure all your looks are consistently polished and fit appropriately. Topman do some great versions of the chino and are at reasonable price points.
The great thing about adapting your personal style into business casual is the fact that you can use much of what already exists in your wardrobe. Brogues, lace-up boots and loafers are refined options for shoes but think about changing the types of materials you go for. Suedes and matte leathers are really adaptable and will lend more of a relaxed vibe to your look. Also ensure you are opting for fairly conservative colours. You shouldn’t forget that there should always be a professionalism to your business casual looks. Black is classic and works well with crisp white shirts, but use business casual as a way of introducing more colour to your looks. Dusty brown is recommended as it works well alongside other neutral tones like beiges and tans and also complements navies, emerald greens and rich burgundies. Keep in mind colour families when you’re pairing your clothes to your shoes, but don’t take matching your shoes too seriously. This being said, try avoiding black and brown tone combinations.
Blazers and Jackets
Jackets or blazers for business casual shouldn’t be too formal, yet should still have a dressed up element to them. Opt for blazers in lightweight materials, which will still read professional, but not overtly conservative. Remember, fit is important and you do not want something baggy or that overwhelms your overall look. Keep in mind that jackets in staple colours will ground your looks and lend a classic edge to your clothing choices. Remember to uphold a more youthful look when it comes to choosing jackets and blazers to perfect these looks, as it will register more stylish and will work to enhance your height. For accessories, opt for versatile belts or suspenders to annotate your looks accordingly.
Cardigans and Sweaters
The greatest tip for perfecting business casual lies with great sweaters and cardigans. These clothing pieces work so well because they bring a relaxed element to your office looks without looking too underdressed. Most importantly, be conscious about the type of knitwear you want to go for. Cable-knits are always stylish and work really well for personal weekend looks also. Opt for round neck cable knit sweaters for a clean, classic aesthetic that reads Americana and preppy but still sophisticated. For cardigans, shawl neck versions should be in every man’s wardrobe and not only for business casual attire. Ensure these cardigans fit well and are of good quality because they can be worn countlessly. On top of that, they’re super comfy. If you want something more relaxed, opt for grandpa style cardigans which are more minimal and simple but still work well for your office looks.
Source: The Trend Spotter