An excerpt from How To Dress Business Casual – Min A. Lee:
Learn how to navigate the business casual dress code for your summer office attire. We put together our favourite pieces to keep you comfortable while maintaining a professional and smart appearance.
Read more Men’s Style Guide features.
When it comes to dressing for your 9-to-5, the grey area between sleek tailored suits and getting away with denim is challenging. Depending on the work environment, business casual allows men a chance to express individuality without overstepping those bounds into losing respectability among their peers.
The challenge is finding what looks work best for your environment as well as your style, and keeping a balance between business appropriate wear, and a comfortable outfit to help you get through the day. With everything from business casual suits, shoes and trousers to choose from, we’ll help you through the minefield and help you find a look that will work for you.
What is Business Casual for Men?
Business casual. It’s a term that gets thrown around a fair amount, but what exactly is it? In simple terms business casual is similar to smart casual, but tends to relate more to your work environment, and so can adapt according to your surroundings. If you’re in a traditional office where people tend to wear suits and ties, then you might be more limited to what casual aspects you can incorporate into your wardrobe. However there are still ways that you can keep your outfit comfortable as well as smart, and this is what business casual is really all about.
Business Casual Suits for Men
Normally, when we speak of suits it’s about formality. In the case of business casual you can still pull off a tailored suit. It comes down to knowing your fabrics. Cashmere, silk and velvets are best for those evening occasions. Heavy weight wools even worsted wools are a no-go for summer. Aim for:
You may find these light weight fabrics wrinkle easier, but are much more breathable for the warm seasons. They may not have the luxurious appeal of fine wools, but you’re wanting for a more relaxed vibe to begin with. Keep the colours on the lighter side and the cuts well-fitted. If you really prefer dark grey and black, you can always lighten things up with a cool patterned shirt. Usually socks and suits go hand-in-hand, but you can skip on them for summer.
Business Casual Blazer
There’s more freedom that comes with using a blazer, single or double-breasted. You can pair it with different coloured trousers for personality. Though as with all men’s business professional attire—keep it tailored. You want to avoid looking unkept. Make sure the length of your trousers are hemmed properly.
On the other hand, this is the chance to explore different textiles. Generally, blazers are solid to help define them from sports jackets, and neither come with matching pants. We will go into the difference between the two later on.
Here’s some other style points to consider:
- Pass on wearing a tie.
- Sport a good quality t-shirt underneath.
- You can get away with unbuttoning the collar.
Make sure that you follow complementary colour rules. Check out this quick guide to understanding the colour wheel. Having a chance to play with style doesn’t mean avoiding all the rules. You don’t want to clash.
Business Casual Jeans
The main question is, are jeans business casual? Yes and no. There are ways to make jeans fit into the mens business fashion category. Of course, this is if your office allows it.
First here’s what not to wear:
- No distressed denim, whether purposely done for design or not. Distressing is strictly casual men’s fashion only. Your boss doesn’t want to see holes all over your pants and if you are dealing with clients on a regular basis, they don’t either.
- No fabric that’s showing wear patterns around the knees and seat. Those pairs need to stay in your weekend pile.
- No heavy whiskering or edgier dye jobs, such as acid washes. It doesn’t look as professional as it needs to be for men’s business casual.
With the blues, keep it clean and keep it dark. Summer tends to be the time for lighter blue washes, but darker is sharper. It looks more confident in the work place. You can go for monochrome blacks and blues or step out in high contrast with lighter tops and jackets.
If you really want to try colored denim, look for solid pale grey or beige, neutral tones. White is another option that can look savvy. There are a spectrum of jean colours out there, but the vibrant ones look more well-groomed when worn as a trouser.
Mainly, if you are going for jeans, everything needs to be immaculate. From the jacket to the shoes—make sure they all fit you correctly, nothing baggy, especially the jeans. Preferably keep to a blazer and a crisp button down to help take away the lax appearance of denim.
For more on dressing business casual follow the link above.