Jacob Osborn
The Definitive Guide to Business Casual for Men | Man of Many
By definition, business casual attire is a style that’s not quite as formal as traditional office wear, but nevertheless still designed to render a professional or business-like impression. Naturally, that leaves plenty of room for interpretation. Not helping is the inclusion of the word “casual”, which historically imparts visions of men in Hawaiian t-shirts, shorts and sandals. To that we would say: just go ahead and try wearing a truly casual wardrobe to the office on a regular workday and see how far it gets you. In other words, business casual is still far more “business” than it is “casual”, and that’s definitely a good thing.
What is Business Casual for Men?
It wasn’t too long ago that most professionals would have considered the term “business casual” to be an outright oxymoron. Casual slacks? What are those? Nevertheless, times change and so do dress codes. As for the history of business casual attire, it can, in fact, be linked to the concept of “casual Fridays,” which reportedly have origins in Hawaii during the 1960s. That was when the Hawaiian garment industry helped push for the idea of “Aloha Fridays,” where men were encouraged to wear Hawaiian shirts to work at the end of the week.
History of the Business Casual Dress Code
To help solidify your grip on the men’s business casual dress code, let’s get started with the basics. Specifically, here are some general “dos” and “don’ts” to help send you down the right path.
Dos and Don’ts of Business Casual Attire
Hopefully, you’re getting a solid feel for what the business casual dress code is all about. To help move you further along, here are some tips and suggestions from neck to toe. Your standard work wardrobe is going to be forever transformed.
The Head-to-Toe of Business Casual for Men
Your business casual outfit starts with a nice blazer, and by “nice” we mean tight and tailored. To that end, the blazer should tout a slim cut, a square fit on the shoulders, a lapel that stops right above your rear end and sleeves that stop just before the shirt cuff. Naturally, you have a range of styles and materials to choose from. Your safest bet is to get a classic single-breast blazer of light wool with peak or notch lapels, which will keep you comfortable no matter what the season. Opt for a dark, neutral colour like navy–it will do wonders for your figure. This business casual style will help you rock the office while giving you something to wear out after work at happy hour.
Business Casual Blazers
Underneath that stylish blazer, you’ll want to rock a tasteful button-down shirt like a trusty Oxford. The business casual shirt should have two straight seams in the back and cling tightly to the shoulders and frame. When first starting out, stick to monochromatic colours light white, light blue or light pink. As you gain more confidence, you can explore different patterns and brighter colours, being sure to keep your sense of fashion within reason.
Business Casual Shirts
Now that straight-up suit pants are no longer mandatory, you have options. However, it’s important to stress that your business casual trousers should emanate with as much sharpness, intent and sophistication as the rest of your outfit. Thats means wearing clean, tight-fitting trousers, though they shouldn’t be so tight that you’re suffocating the boys–slim is the operative word here. Along similar lines, a pair of crisp, mid-weight cotton chinos with flat fronts and a neutral aesthetic will never steer you wrong. And if you’re going with denim, that’s okay, but it should be denim that’s as high in quality as a pair of premium dress slacks. It’s pretty easy to differentiate high-quality denim from casual denim, and everyone at your next business meeting will be able to tell.
Business Casual Pants
Given the broad parameters of the men’s business casual dress code, there is a range of acceptable shoes, all of which have two things in common: quality and style. To play it safe, we recommend sticking with modern dress shoes such as polished loafers, oxfords or monk straps, in materials like leather and colours like chocolate, dark red or tan. When you’re ready to experiment (in an office that allows for it), slip on a nice pair of suede ankle boots or chukkas. And if your boss is cool with it, you can rock some leather sneakers, but those sneakers better are immaculate and expensive when it comes to work wear. Even a more casual workplace will expect this standard.
Business Casual Shoes
Perhaps the most beautiful thing about the men’s business casual dress code? That the tie is optional. Of course, that doesn’t automatically mean you shouldn’t wear one. If and when you do, keep it classic in colour, and consider materials like silk. However, if you ask us, we say ditch the tie and make your accessory of choice a distinguished wristwatch with a leather strap. Also, don’t forget to grab yourself a professional leather bag that makes space for your gadgets and paperwork alike. Now you’re hustling like a 21st-century businessman.
Business Casual Men’s Accessories
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