The New Rules of Business Casual Style
1. Keep The Denim Dark and Rip-Free
Have a pair of raw jeans you've been beating up and breaking in for months? Save them for the weekend. But that doesn't mean wearing denim to the office is off limits — just make sure it's fresh. Stick to straight cuts that aren't too loose or skinny and always go dark. It's best to balance the casual factor with a crisp oxford shirt — and maybe even a sport coat — to elevate the look.
2. Sneakers Are Great, But Stick To The Basics
Even if the interns are flexing in the latest sold-out sneakers, resist the urge to show off your Jumpman collection in the office. Classic, subdued designs are best for work. Look for a timeless, minimal silhouette in leather or suede and avoid any unnecessary bells or whistles.
3. Accessorize, But With Restraint
From belts to watch bands, accessories are an easy way to add personality to a business wardrobe. Just do it sparingly. A sturdy brown Horween leather belt adds texture to any look and will age well over time. NATO bands are an easy place to make your watch game a bit more casual (they're inexpensive and easy to switch up to suit different looks). But whatever you do, skip the loud, heavily patterned socks. It's the sort of style pitfall that can blow up an otherwise solid professional look.
4. Pick Up A Simple, Stylish Tote or Briefcase
The most efficient way to blow any promising, modern professional look is with an inappropriate bag. We've all seen the new grads donning their college backpacks on their way to interviews or first jobs. It's not a good look, and it's even worse when you're a few years into your career. Instead, pick up a simple tote or briefcase. Earth tones and dark colours are best for versatility and fit in with more dressed-up looks. And if you really can't give up on a backpack, at least opt for something elevated — like leather.
5. To Tuck or Not To Tuck? It's All In The Shirt
It might seem counterintuitive, but tucking in a button-down isn't always the best move. Flat hemmed shirts; textures like denim, chambray, flannel; and casual cotton oxfords with short tails are all best worn untucked. An untucked shirt's hemline should hit around the middle of the back pocket. Formal shirts in broadcloth generally have longer hemlines and should be worn tucked in to avoid looking like a ten-year-old kid at a wedding reception.
6. The Navy Blazer Is Your Friend, But Save The Suit For Big Days
The suit and tie may be reserved for board meetings or interviews, but blazers are always welcome. Navy is a classic choice that goes with almost anything. Opt for an unstructured design for versatility's sake—and save the tie for formal client meetings or one-on-ones with the boss' boss.
7. Leave Your Ski Parka On The Mountain
Technical outerwear is great for foul weather and changing temperatures; but if it was designed for skiing, save it for the mountain. Pairing sports outerwear with business apparel is a quick way to look out of place, even in a casual office. Invest in a simple but capable Mackintosh-style jacket for the cooler months. You'll still be warm and dry, but you won't look like you're getting ready to hit the slopes anytime soon.