Most modern workplaces are ditching the formal wear rules and rare are the men who need to suit up every day of the week. While this might sound like great news, it also opens up new dilemmas, like what are you supposed to wear to work? Luckily, the internet is here to assist you with putting together a perfect business casual wardrobe that will make you look elegant and professional yet relaxed.
The mystery of jeans
Many guys might wonder whether jeans are a good business casual option and the opinions are mixed. Fashion purists would say no, but just because many men don’t understand the difference between dressy jeans and everyday jeans. Dressy jeans have a dark color without signs of distress and they are fitted to the body. If you want to try your luck with jeans a the office, opt for a pair that’s fitted, hemmed to the right length, dark, and adorned with minimal detailing.
Chinos are a must
Chinos are a type of pants that falls right in the middle of the formality spectrum. For offices that don’t allow denim, you’ll get a lot of wear from your chinos. If that’s too formal for you, you can replace them with wool drawstring trousers, but for more formal occasions, make sure to pick cotton dress pants.
Stock up on nicer shirts
A man can never have too many button-down shirts because they are perfect for dressing up or down and fit with any pants and shoes. If your office leans more towards a casual vibe, a polo shirt is an excellent choice. Your favorite fashion terry cloth polo shirt in gray, white, or navy will go perfectly with your chinos and your dark denim, but also look elegant when layered with sweaters. And you’ll get a lot of wear from your polo outside of work as well—it’s a truly must-have item.
Invest in a quality cashmere sweater
If the weather allows, wool, or better yet, a cashmere sweater or cardigan is always welcome in business casual fashion. It looks amazing worn over a button-up shirt during early spring, late fall, and all winter long. In many cases, a sweater over your fit allows you to leave your jacket at home. It allows your outfit to look elegant, yet very approachable and cozy.
Get a nice sports coat
If you live in a climate that gets cold in the winter, you will need a semi-casual coat option. When it comes to suitable pieces, a trench is always a good idea—it’s casual, it’s rain-resistant and it looks good with many things. You can also opt for mac or a single-breasted overcoat for that sweet spot between business and casual. And if you don’t require a coat at all, wintertime will still call for a covering like a sports coat. This item will be more than suitable for all client-facing situations as well as commuters from home to work and vice versa. A sports coat is quite casual, but it can also be elevated with tailored pants and leather shoes if you have a more important meeting.
What about the shoes?
Most casual shoes (sneakers, boots, boat shoes, espadrilles, etc.) aren’t appropriate for business settings. On the other hand, any type of “dress shoe” is a good choice. Loafers and casual lace-ups are the safest choices, but you can also go with dressy chukkas or Chelsea boots, depending on the weather. For ultra-casual Fridays, white sneakers can be a good choice though.
Some rules to remember
There are not many rules with business casual, but some should be kept in mind. For instance, the more complicated your outfit is, the less formal it is, so make sure to keep your pants simple (without too many pockets) and your shirts without print. The same goes when it comes to color—more color equals more casual. For instance, a pink button-down will be more casual than the white one, and a light blue blazer more casual than a navy one. And finally, the more trendy an item is the more casual it will look. Think cross-body bags, chunky dress sneakers, tie-dye items, etc. When it comes to business casual, keep this in mind “more X means more casual”.
As you mix and match your pieces, you’ll get a better sense of what business casual means and you’ll always look professional yet approachable.