Business casual sounds like an oxymoron, right? Don’t get caught up with the casual part, and show up wearing distressed jeans and sandals; view men’s business casual as an opportunity to expand your style and use of color.
Gone are the days when the only acceptable office wear was a full, pressed suit loaded with stiffening starch and paired with a shiny black lace-up shoe. And for that, we’re thankful.
Ditch the tie
For decades the suit jacket and tie have gone together like Lennon and McCartney, but just as the infamous Beatle’s duo proved in the ‘70s, sometimes you must go your separate ways. Now, it’s not to say that ties are obsolete; they’re still a very crucial piece of formalwear—and can still be used for semi-casual looks—but if your neck is ready to be free, tieless is the way to go.
If you feel more comfortable with a neckpiece, consider a scarf with your shirt and blazer instead of a tie, if the weather permits.
So without a tie, what then do you do with your shirt?
Suit shirt options
Sporting a button up without a tie below your blazer looks incredibly sleek. Button it all the way or leave one or two undone at the top for a masculine chest appearance. Wearing a thin sweater instead of a button up is also a great alternative if you’re unsure about leaving your buttons exposed.
For an even more casual look, pair your blazer with a crisp crewneck or V-neck t-shirt. Sport this style with caution though, since you’ll be left in just a tee in the event you have to take your blazer off throughout the day. It’s usually best to stick to a solid color tee, because designs can make them look too informal.
Your shoe choice is crucial
With business casual, your collection needs more than just a basic black dress shoe. Since you’re dressing down your threads, make your shoes stand out with a unique shade—such as brown and navy hues—or intricate detail. Style wise, stick to a loafer, oxford, derby or brogue. Depending on the outing and weather, you may also be able to get away with a dress boot, which is more casual.
Dress Boots: esquire.com
Oxford Brogues: tedbaker.com
Suede oxford: menswearhouse.com
Navy Wingtip Derby: paulparkman.com
But remember, the ‘90s are over, so no square-toe shoes. New York designer and storeowner, Steven Alan, says, “I don’t think square-toe shoes ever had a good moment. They’re like PT cruisers.” Don’t be a PT cruiser, be a Porsche—or at least a Mercedes.
Business isn’t all about the blazer. If your coat collection is getting worn out, sport your button-up shirt and tie with a cardigan. A thick, oversized cardigan looks great unbuttoned with a button-up shirt and tie underneath or even a crewneck sweater or tee. If you feel better buttoned up, try a thin cardigan with low-placed buttons to showcase your tie.
Oversized cardigan: ravelry.com
Low-button cardigan: eu.suitsupply.com
A short, tweed sport coat is another style that brings a twist to the fabric. A light, neutral color acts as a nice getaway from the usual dark office wardrobe.
Tweed Sport Coat: www.gq.com
It’s all about the fit
Not enough can be said about the importance of having clothing fit properly. A well-tailored suit adds power and sophistication to your ensemble, whereas oversized clothes cause you to look heavier set and disheveled. On the other hand, clothing that is too small makes it look like you haven’t shopped since college—or are in denial about those few extra pounds.
The key to business casual is having a pant that is a different color than your blazer—whether it is a pair of slacks, khakis or even jeans. Although, depending on your workplace, jeans may not be considered office appropriate. If you have the denim go-ahead, stick to a solid, dark wash.
Slim khakis: bonobos.com
If your office frowns upon jeans, a slim pair of khakis complements a wide array of colors and styles, and is a great addition to spring and summer wardrobes. A thin cotton pant is also a comfortable option for warmer months.
Corduroy Pants: us.suitsupply.com
Navy Wool Pant: bananarepublic.gap.com
For cooler months, a wool pant provides warmth, texture and style. Corduroy also brings different fabric texture to your ensemble in the fall and winter, and is typically available in many colors.
Expanding your style can be tough, and with all the available options, men’s business casual can be even harder to master. Gentleman’s Box delivers lifestyle products to enhance your style and complement your gentlemanly nature.
For insight on how to dress well outside of business casual occasions, check out our Men’s Summer Style Prints.
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