I’ve worked in corporate America long enough to have seen the evolution of the work environment transition from a very conservative blue/gray suit palette with complimentary button down shirts and boring ties to the now relaxed, but popular business casual environment. While we have gained freedom and the opportunity to express our individual taste by wearing khakis, colorful shirts, polo styles, sweaters and even jeans; I have also witnessed the declined of polished and refined dress in the work environment. Todays Blog will outline five elements of stylish business casual looks for men.
1. Blazers Required:
Blazers are a nice touch to an otherwise plain outfit. Not only do they create the complimentary silhouette (if tailored correctly). They add the desired polish to our look. Polished is good! Navy blazers are my favorite and are great because they work with slacks, khakis and jeans. Brass buttons are a personal preference, but certainly would work with or without. Like we mentioned in the Tuxedo edition, proportions are very important. Sleeves should reveal just enough shirt cuff and accent that tasteful timepiece. Once you own a blue blazer you can add other blazers such as a tweed variety or even a camel. The same details work for those jackets.
2. Sweater Power:
Sweaters have evolved over the years and no longer have that Mr. Rogers appeal. Wearing a sweater is another way to enhance your image in the office without looking boring. There are a variety of color choices and styles to choose from. Beware, not all sweaters are complimentary. Believe it or not, the two that offer the most options are the V-neck and the Cardigan. Now, if you’re not throwing anything at your computer, hear me out! The V-neck allows you to accent your look with the shirt collar and cuffs. The collar should not overwhelm the look, but should expose enough of the shirt for interest. As it relates to the cuffs, a little of the cuff should show again to expose a little of the shirt and your timepiece. The Cardigan, which has always been considered the librarian uniform, now has a new and fresh appeal. Todays cardigans boast higher armholes; which benefits the sweater with a polished and tailored look. Lower armholes gets us back to that Mr. Rogers look. Cardigans transition from day to evening wear quite easily and look sophisticated in blue, black and gray. Lastly, remember gentlemen to always leave one or two of the bottom buttons undone to reinforce an effortless appearance.
3. The Fitted Shirt:
Try to find a shirt that makes a positive statement. Most designers are making shirts that are slim and fitted. Fitted shirts look more tailored than the sloppy and blousy look that ruins so many outfits. When you’re not wearing a jacket, the shirt is really on display. Let’s make sure that it sends the right message. Go for the dressy collar, not a casual collar that says, I’m headed to the gym in a few minutes. Button-down styles along with tailored safari shirts are great options. If you decide to wear your shirt outside of your pants, you should make sure the tail of the shirt does not hang below the back pocket. A shirt that stops at the top of the pocket is acceptable and can be worn outside of the pants. If the shirt is longer, tuck the shirt in your pants. Remember to also try new and tasteful colors palettes in the office setting. No need distracting your clients while you’re trying to close the deal with a very busy shirt. Sometimes simplicity is the only detail a shirt really needs to make a positive statement.
4. Pants that get it Done…
The two popular choices are dark denim or chinos. For the dark denim, they give a professional and polished look. Remember jeans should not have holes, tears or rips. We’ll all assume you’re headed fishing if you decide to rock a pair of ripped jeans and think it will be acceptable in an office setting. A blazer with dark denim jeans is a very nice touch and can easily transition from the office to dinner with the wife or friends. Khakis and chinos are also acceptable. Most designers have opted to create tailored, flat fronted pants that are more stylish.
Gentlemen, I realize that most designers have created looks that call for the cuffed, shorter pant that accents a nice loafer or stylish oxfords that usually don’t require socks. That is really a risk that needs to be taken into consideration when assessing your current place of employment. If the sight of your uncovered ankle upsets your boss, simply wear socks for a few hours and take them off as you leave the building. Another alternative is the anklet sock; it looks like a footy, but its designed to be worn to help create the sockless look. Again, take your current place of employment into consideration and decide wisely.
It’s a Wrap:
Business casual attire is fun and should still communicate the correct message when worn in the office setting. Never allow yourself to get so relaxed that your business attire suggests you are lazy and could care less what you look like. While business casual gives us freedom from the suit, shirt and ties; it is not a license to dress without any thought. Use casual dressing as an opportunity to prove that you know how to dress at all times. Next level living is what we want; so go for it!
Thanks again for your support and we hope you stay tuned to our next blog. Until next time,