As we enter a golden era for men's office clothing, many workplaces have a very flexible attitude to work attire. However, while the days of a black suit, shirt and tie every day may be dead, you still can't afford to get lazy with your choices. Read on for our complete guide to office wear and nailing the office dress code for men.
Smart Work Outfits
The Smart Choice
Although in most offices these days, it’s not compulsory to wear a suit and often not even a shirt and tie, sometimes going the extra mile can really show that you mean business. There’s nothing more empowering than putting on a great looking suit - it can make you feel six inches taller and infinitely more refined. Ranging from the height of sophistication to the more casual and comfortable, a suit always looks good while maintaining that touch of class. For a work suit we'd recommend going for grey or navy colourway as this gives off the professional vibe you're after. And when looking at the fit, keep it slim. No one likes an ill fitting suit.
Simple and Classic
There’s a very good reason to why the single breasted suit is a wardrobe staple amongst business leaders, politicians and movie stars, the answer - it almost always looks good. There are numerous ways of adding interest and personality through the use of colour and pattern, although it’s usually best to go for one or the other. If going for a brightly coloured shirt, it’s best to pair with a simple suit, whereas a pinstripe or check suit should be paired with a plainer shirt and tie combo. Remember to keep it simple and classic and you'll have the right amount of business professional when you rock up for work.
If you're not up for wearing a complete suit you can still make use out of them by wearing it as separates. In order to pull off a more relaxed look, while still maintaining the sharpness that's garnered from a suit, you could pair more casual clothes with the suit jacket. This, for obvious reasons, is by far the most versatile way of wearing a suit. A smarter jacket can be paired with a more casual pair of chinos and finished with a shirt. And without a tie you create a fairly smart casual workwear look.
Another way to dress the suit down is to swap the shirt for a fitted crew neck T-shirt or roll neck jumper. This adds an element of informality to the look while maintaining the professional core of the style. Keep the T-shirt or jumper simple - a black or grey roll neck or a white T-shirt will be just enough to tone down the look.
What Shoes to Wear with A Suit?
It’s often said you can judge a man’s character by his shoes and that’s never more true than when he’s wearing a suit. A misjudgement in shoe colour, in particular, can absolutely destroy the look of a suit. A black suit should always be matched with black shoes, a grey suit can be paired with either black or brown, and likewise with navy and light blue suits. Do not make up your own rules, as you won't be getting that ideal suit look. And finally, a beige suit? Brown shoes please.
Smart Casual Workwear
If your workplace is a little more on the relaxed side, then donning a suit could potentially make you stick out like a sore thumb - nobody likes someone who tries too hard. However, this doesn’t mean you should rock up to work in joggers and an old T-shirt - there is definitely a middle ground that you can go for. It may be a case of incorporating the right mix of denim or toning down a pair of formal trousers - you can definitely mix and match smart and casual pieces.
If you can get away with denim pieces in your workplace then why not go for it. You may be thinking jeans aren't smart enough but when worn correctly and paired with the right things, it does actually work. A dark blue or black pair of slim fit jeans paired with a white shirt and crew neck jumper will create an easy smart casual look. Brogues or Chelsea boots will go with this outfit perfectly. All pieces every guy should have in their wardrobe.
If you don't want to risk the jean look then why not try some smart casual trousers like chinos and pair them with a patterned shirt and jacket or an Oxford shirt and jumper combination. Remember, there are far fewer hard and fast rules when you're going for a laid back smart look, so have fun with mixing up different styles, colours and patterns. It's also worth noting that too many colours and patterns might be overpowering, so try to go for one strongly patterned piece and pair with neutral tones picked out from the pattern itself. If you're going for no pattern at all, make sure each colour complements the other. Dark colours like blues and browns or blue's and navy's always work well when it comes to smarter attire.
Mix & Match
Just because you’ve been given the green light to go ahead and dress down doesn’t mean you have to over complicate things. When it comes to office men's fashion, sometimes the most effective looks are the simplest. Being able to tone things down and maintain an air of class will go a long way to getting you noticed for all of the right reasons. Match a pair of smart trousers with a long sleeve shirt or T-shirt depending on the vibe of your office. If you want to add a little bit of interest to this look, make it a patterned or tastefully coloured shirt and maybe add a jumper.
T-Shirt and Jeans
While probably not always the best work trousers, a fitted jean (ideally a straight leg or a tapered fit) can more than hold it's own in a smart casual environment. However, it’s worth remembering that you still want to look professional, so avoid distressed, torn or baggy jeans. Keep things old school and simple, and go for dark blue or black as these always seem to look the smartest.
In terms of T-shirts, keep it really simple and opt for a classic fitted plain tee or one with a simple pattern. To finish off the look and make sure it still looks fairly smart, stay away from the trainers and instead go for a pair of chunky boots. Chelsea boots will work well and keep things smart and are ideal for all seasons, summer to winter.
Office Dress Code For Men
- The key to dressing for the office in the modern day is all about maintaining a smart, streamlined look - even when going casual.
- Keep trousers and jean cuts slim fitted. No shorts, crazy prints, joggers or vest tops... ever.
- Add in pops of colour and pattern to create some interest and personality to your workwear. Just don't go overboard and stick to one or the other.
- Ensure T-shirts and sweaters are fitted and maintain a relatively subdued colour palette. A jumper over a T-shirt or shirt is the easiest option to smarten up your look.
On That Note
With everything from formal to smart casual outfit ideas for the office covered, you'll be more than set to suitably dress for your office. If you try your very best and stick to the rules and guidelines set out in this complete guide to office wear for men, then you’ll soon be reaping the rewards for your great sartorial sense and will be well on your way to impressing all the right people in the right places. Why not check out The Idle Man suits to get you started.