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How To Dress Business Casual | Men's Business Casual Guide

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Richard Wright-Gedcke

Many modern men enjoy dressing up. There is an element of serenity in a perfectly tied tie, a sense of calm in a well-pressed shirt. There will always be times and places to dress formal. However, these times are becoming less frequent in the workplace. Business fashion has turned a corner recently. Less and less corporations are asking for full suit and tie and more and more are asking their employees to dress business casual or ‘dress for the day’.

This change in attire should be embraced rather than resisted. This may seem counter-intuitive, but as a man who enjoys intricate combinations I love the dressing down mentality. The change does not mean that you put less thought into your outfits. In fact, I would argue it means the exact opposite.  Coinciding with the decrease in suit and tie is the increase in accessories. Men must make sure that their outfits are still planned and coordinated. Throwing on a navy suit, white shirt, and navy tie is no longer acceptable.

There are six pillars to business casual fashion. Each pillar is integral to a complete casual wardrobe and must be considered when dressing for the day.

1. Casual Shoe

One of the biggest mistakes I notice when consulting men on their wardrobe is the lack of a true casual shoe. Men love their running shoes and Nike’s. It should go without saying - however it doesn’t seem to - that running shoes are for running and basketball shoes are for basketball. Please, don’t wear either of these.

There are several exciting options that one can wear when dressing casual. The first one is a classic brown oxford. This has been a staple in the wardrobe of men for quite a while. However, it is being worn much more casually now. Pair your classic oxfords with a matching belt and watch your look instantly become more professional.

Business Casual Brown Brogues

Brown Oxford Shoes make for a fantastic look when dressing business casual!

A second option is the loafer shoe. These come in several different styles ranging from classic and plain to colorful with tassels. Let your personal sense of fashion shine as you implement your own style in the selection of your loafer.

 Business Casual Loafer

The Tassled Loafer is a perfect way to add panache to your business casual ensemble! Courtesy of www.hespokestyle.com

Lastly, for the more fashion forward gentlemen, there is the monk strap shoe. These are an extremely stylish and fashion-forward shoe that can be worn in casual as well as formal situations. Much like a loafer, there are several styles of monk strap shoes. All styles are acceptable so let your creativity soar with the selection of a bold addition to the shoe wardrobe.

Business Casual Monkstraps

Brown Monk Straps provide for a sophisticated business casual look! Courtesy of www.fashionweek.mx

 

2. Stylish Sock

Working from the ground up brings us to the next item on our list: socks. Traditionally, a sock is an extension of the pant. Therefore, one would wear a black sock with black pants and a navy sock with navy pants. This is boring. Fashion is fun. The fun sock is the simplest way to add a punch to an outfit. There aren’t really rules for pairing a sock with an outfit. Ideally it will tie into some other element of the look (e.g. pocket silk, shirt). However, this is an area where men are given full freedom to choose what they wish. Stripes, argyle, dots, and animals are just several ideas for fashion socks to look into. If you’re a dog lover find some dog socks! This aspect of your look is a great and easy way to personalize your overall style.

Business Casual Colorful Socks

Nothing wrong with mixing up the color of your socks when dressing casual but dapper! 

 

3. Casual Pant

Switch out that wool suit pant for something more casual! Again, there are a couple options here so make sure your wardrobe is stocked with a couple of each to ensure that you can build any look on any given day.

Your first option is a cotton pant. These are the basic go-to pant in the casual wardrobe and there are several things you should look for when purchasing your casual pant wardrobe. First and foremost is fit. Ensure that your cotton pant is slim and fitted. A casual look turns to a sloppy look the minute that fit is compromised. Dressing casual doesn't mean dressing sloppily. A misfitted pant is an error that will throw your entire image off. Make sure that you have a black, navy, and khaki color as these are the staples of a cotton pant. Once you those you can add periphery colors such as grey and olive.

Navy Chinos Business Casual

Navy Chinos provide for a dapper business casual look! Courtesy of www.lookastic.com

The second option is a pair of jeans. Jeans at the office? Not on Friday? Yes sir! With a well put together look; jeans are the perfect pant for more casual days. The fit of jeans should be either slim or straight. Stay away from bootcut and relaxed jeans as these are too casual for the workplace. In terms of color, there are two main options. Dark blue is the most common with a black jean coming in a close second. The common ground these two jeans share is in the darkness of the denim. A light wash or blue wash jean is unacceptable much like a relaxed jean. Make sure that your jeans are slim and dark to create a sophisticated casual look.

Dark Denim Business Casual

Dark Denim lends itself perfectly to business casual attire! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com

4. Casual Shirt

This is probably the easiest article to choose for your outfit. Since the business casual look often excludes a tie, one does not need to consider combinations nearly as intricately as when pairing a shirt and tie together. There are countless patterns and colors to choose from and you have full freedom to go from a relatively plain blue shirt to a purple paisley shirt. The choice is yours!

Colorful Shirt Business Casual

A colorful shirt can add significant pop to your business casual ensemble! Courtesy of www.lookastic.com

5. Jacket

The jacket is a crucial component of the ‘dress for the day’ mentality. Chinos and a button up is too casual for many business settings. However, the addition of a sportcoat or blazer can transform your image from casual to business professional. When choosing sportcoats for your wardrobe there are several things to look for. My recommendation to you is to go wild with it! Find some peak lapels, ticket pockets, and off-color button holes.

Individualized elements within a jacket add personal style as well as demonstrate a strong sense of fashion. These are both things that can only benefit you in business and should be thought about carefully. Avoid high end wool as it can often look to dressy. Look for unstructured cotton, linen, and wool-blend jackets that have a more casual look to them to maintain the style throughout the entire outfit. Remember you want to integrate different textures and patterns throughout the outfit!

Business Casual Blazer

Are you looking to rock a blazer with that business casual ensemble?!? Attention to details such as contrasting colored button holes will really help you to stand out!

6. Pocket Square

The final pillar may be the most fun. Accessories are crucial when dressing business casual. You should consider quite seriously how the pocket silk will add to the overall perception of your look. Eliminating a tie enhances the importance of the square. Use bright colors and bold patterns to your advantage. Remember, you have very few restrictions when adding this final element to your outfit of the day. Do not match it directly to your shirt - but other than that you have free reign!

To view The Dark Knot’s range of exquisite silk and linen pocket squares, please click here!

Blazer Pocket Square

The addition of a Pocket Square can do much to spice up your business casual attire! Courtesy of www.soletopia.com

Use these six pillars of casual men’s fashion to ensure that you are always fashion forward while remaining professional. Combining business and fashion is made easy if you carefully consider and plan each pillar. Work from the ground up and you will be rocking the business casual world in no time.

And that's a wrap for this one! I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have writing it!

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