Selecting the perfect business attire can be a tiresome work. You need to keep an entire spectrum of factors in mind, be it the work environment, the level of corporate culture in the organization, restrictions posed by the HR or the kind of industry you are in. The classic business attire that includes a collared shirt, a solid color suit, and black oxfords, are an endangered species now as the corporate world is evolving. This evolution has led to the standard suit and boot attire that has stereotyped the corporate world for so many years being enlisted as endangered species. The times have changed as gone are the days when the corporate attire was restricted to a very small range of clothing. It is the era of business casuals and we thank god for that.
When talking about business casuals, we have a large variety of items that fit into this category. The most common of these being Khakis with a collared formal/semi-formal shirt for men, and knee length formal skirts/trousers and a blouse or collared shirt for women. Know more about business casual attire for women. Although there are organizations, where even khakis are not considered as a business casual. But you have to admit there is nothing that says, “I did not want to put on trousers today for work and I obviously cannot wear my jeans so here is the best compromise I could think of” like Khakis do. There is still much debate and discussion on the ‘correct’ business casual for the corporate environment. Human Resource departments try, Magazines like GQ try, designers like Harry Rosen and the Brook Brothers try to define the perfect business casual look but it just seems that the perfect combination is a myth. It ultimately boils down to what your organization deems fit as per the vision and corporate culture of the organization.
Here is some advice about your corporate look that is widely accepted in the corporate scenario when it comes to business casuals or corporate casuals. Have a look!
For years and years, the shirt and the tie have been in a strong relationship. They have been together at times of happiness and sorrow alike. Their bond was unbreakable and they complimented each other perfectly. But the tides have turned and they have inevitably broken up. Probably the second most surprising break up after Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. But unlike in the case of those guys, this time, we are happy that they did.
I am not saying that the tie and shirt can’t be used anymore and are out of style, because they still form a very important piece of office formal attire. It is just that the shirt now can stand its own ground in the corporate arena without the aid from the tie. You can also add a neck piece like a scarf and put a blazer on top of it to enhance your business casual look, that is if the weather allows you to.
Without the tie, the shirt has many options. You can sport the shirt with a blazer or just a suit jacket. You can also button it up all the way or leave the top or penultimate button undone. This will add a masculine look to your overall personality. In case you are unsure of leaving the buttons undone, leave it buttoned up. There is no point being insecure all the time of what you are wearing.
For those who are daring enough, there is another way you can perk up your business casual game. Put together a v-neck Tee or a regular crew neck Tee with a blazer. You can even add a neck piece like a dog tag or a locket if your organization permits it. However, you need to be really careful about this outfit as you will only be left with a T-shirt in case you need to remove the blazer. Therefore, take factors like occasion, weather and the fact whether you can carry the look with just a T-shirt on or not into consideration, because the blazer sometimes acts as a mask on the actual look that comes with only a T-shirt on. Also, try and stick to a solid color T-shirt as designs make take it a wee bit far.
Shoes are an important part of the business casual look and are in fact one of the most sought after items that people look for adding that final touch to their attire. Gone are the days when you had to stick to the standardized black lace-up oxfords and could do nothing about it. With the onset of the concept of business casuals, you can expand your horizons for shoes that you couldn’t imagine you could pair with your shirt and blazer.
After choosing the shirt and blazer/suit jacket of your choice, you ought to select a shoe that stands out make you look unique. Stick to brown and navy blue shoes and shoes with a hint intricacy. As far as style goes, it is best to stick to brogues, oxfords, and derby. These are the best of all time and can blend in with any attire or outfit. If you a daring one, you can go for the dress boot which is a much more casual option but would do justice to your business casual look. Stick to brown color and you should be good. You can also opt for the loafer. Loafers are especially in trend these days as they come in multiple colors and are much easy to pull off. They are easy to maintain as well.
By now you must be thinking that everything has to be paired with the blazer. But that is not even remotely true. Business casuals attire winter are not about blazers. There are other ways you can sport your business casual look. To start with, you can pair your shirt with an oversized cardigan. It will not only look great but also compliment your physique. It is debatable in some organizations but you should be good to go. It would look even better if you pair it with a top button unbuttoned shirt or a crew neck T-shirt. You can also throw in a tie on the shirt if you feel more comfortable buttoned up all the way. An alternative to this is a low–buttoned thin cardigan to emphasize the tie more. The latter will not only provide a leaner look but will also make you shift a little bit more on the formal side.
Other options include pairing your collared shirt with a short sport coat. This will spice things up and draw all the attention to you. It is advised that you stick to light, plain colors like beige, gray or off-white to stay a little bit on the formal side and yet stand apart from the regular dark official colors.
I don’t mean you should literally go and put your pants on fire. However, you can do that in a figurative way. Selecting pants is crucial to the overall outfit. Most people do not understand that the most important factor is that you select a pair of pants that is of a contrasting color to that of the blazer. Some examples are a beige blazer and blue navy/denim pants, gray blazer and mustard/golden pants/chinos, blue blazer and off-white/beige pants/chinos.
It is important that you follow this rule of thumb when you pick your pants and your blazer or any outerwear, be it a pair of chinos, trouser, slacks or jeans. However, the latter two wouldn’t be too appropriate with regard to the workplace. In case you have the green light on the denim, stick to solid colors.
But that is a rare scenario. If your organization has the same policy as the majority of them do, that is, a no to jeans policy, I suggest you go for khakis or chinos as they provide a vast spectrum of colors as well as styles. They also offer different sets of colors for both spring and winters.
For spring and summer, it is advised to go with a light colored cotton pant which will prove to be more comfortable. Whereas, in winters, a woolen pair of pants would be perfect as they will provide warmth as well as style. I suggest you stick with darker colors.
That is the golden rule. Period. If it doesn’t fit, don’t buy it or get it fitted. Only go for clothes that fit you perfectly, regardless of the dress code, the cost of the clothes, the organization you work in or whether you girlfriend wants you to buy it. If it fits, it clicks. This is the basic rule everyone should follow. Buy fitted clothes. Be classy.
After you have get the fittings right, it is important to build a wardrobe. Now, people usually go crazy after the trending and upcoming fashions but it is always advised to go for the basics. They have remained so long in the game because of something, don’t you think? Start small, that is, start with items that you can mix up easily such as ties, shirts, pants, and blazers. Once you have a basic wardrobe, you can go deeper and experiment with different styles and designs.
• Blazer – A blazer should definitely be in your wardrobe. It should perfectly fit regardless of your physique. Not everyone can have a superman-like physique but everyone can have perfectly fitted blazer. A blazer should sit perfectly square on the shoulders and should be cut slim on the sides and should end just under the hips. The sleeve, on the other hand, should end just above the thumb joint so that a centimeter of shirt cuff can be seen.
• Shirt – Shirts are the illest fitted clothes worn by men. The reason being that not all of us are models. The rule for a fitted shirt is simple. It should be fitted in the shoulders and the gap between the neck and the collar should be able to accommodate two 2 fingers easily. Also, the cuff should end at the thumb joint.
• Trousers – Trousers have become more important than ever in the recent years. Your solution to the question of too formal and too informal has been answered in the form of chinos. I suggest you stick to the basic colors, camel/ mustard, and navy blue.
• Shoes – When it comes to shoes, stick to all time favorites, that is, oxfords, derbies, brogues, monk straps, and loafers.
• Polos – The Polo has been rising in the business casuals’ picture in the recent years. It symbolizes an effortless business style. They come in various styles, the most popular being the retro knit and the cotton pique variations. The collar can be worn unbuttoned or buttoned up all the way up as per your level of comfort.
• Woolens – In case you do not refrain from wearing bold colors, knitted sweater are the ones for you. They provide a wide range of colors and bold textures. However, keep away from crazy patterns that may make you look insane. It is important to keep in mind the fitting of the sweater. It should perfectly fit and be weighty enough to hold its ground if needed. It should also slide conveniently inside a blazer if needed.
Always feel free to accessorize and experiment with different patterns, textures, and styles. Throw in different colors and prints to see the magic. For instance, add a leather briefcase, preferably light colored (camel, beige) with a metal wrist watch to compliment your outfit. Also, remember that when it comes to accessorizing, less is always more. The lesser you focus on accessories, the better you look.
If you know the rules, it is easier to bend them and nail the game of casual business attire.
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