Lisa O’Shaughnessy Personal Stylist For Men
What Is A Business Casual Dress Code?
Wall Street banking giant Goldman Sachs is the latest company to introduce a more ‘flexible dress code’ to the workplace. With other banks such as JP Morgan adoption a similar approach. As a men’s personal stylist my clients often ask how to strike a balance between, looking professional, but without coming across as too casual.
To make sure the too casual doesn’t happen at Goldman Sachs the memo included a caveat: “Casual dress is not appropriate every day and for every interaction and we trust you will consistently exercise good judgement in this regard. We want all of our clients to feel comfortable with and confident in our team, so please dress in a manner that is consistent with your clients’ expectations.”
If you have suddenly found yourself in an office where the dress code has been pulled out from under your expertly tailored suit. Dressing ‘differently’ – as a men’s clothing stylist I refuse to say ‘down’ – is not nearly as complicated as it may seem.
A Personal Style Guide To Business Casual.
Colour Is Key
If you have previously relied on a matching suit and are a novice at mixing colours, a timeless combination to start with is grey teamed with blue. This colour duo will ensure you always look stylish and confident. Be it a grey blazer with navy trousers or vice versa. Add white based or light to mid blue shirts in stripes, ginghams and solids to your attire. When you have got to grips with your new wardrobe, look at adding in pink and lilac shirts.
Business casual dressing doesn’t though have to mean separate colours top and bottom. Blue closely followed by grey are the easiest colours to work with for tonal dressing, take care to make sure your tones are not too similar. The optimum look you are aiming for is contrast with the tones. For example a light blue jacket with navy trousers. Add in a mid blue/white mix shirt to keep with the tonal theme.
Stone, in slim fitting chino style trousers are a good third colour option to add into the mix. Slim fitting with a trouser-style tab closure is key to a smart look here.Save pleated or slouchy fits and turn-ups for the weekend. Wear your trousers with a navy or light grey blazer.
Try Smart Jumpers & Knitted Polo’s
Now you are aware of your easy go to colours for trousers and blazers, but what to wear with them? You may instinctively add a shirt, as indeed I have suggested above, or perhaps look to try another option.
A fine gauge knitted crew neck or ribbed jumper in cashmere or merino wool ticks numerous style boxes. With emphasis buying good quality wool and finding the right fit. I advise my personal stylingclients that the jumper should not be too chunky – as you won’t be able to wear with a blazer. If far too tight you could inadvertently send out all kinds of wrong messages. Save V-necks styles for after work.
If you have a slim frame, expand your personal style with a fitted roll neck. Try mixing up the textures with a check, tweed or herringbone jacket, merino wool roll neck, pocket square and navy trousers. Add brown leather monk shoes to finish off the look for sartorial style.
To be clear the knitted polo is not a rugby shirt, is not covered in branding and is not a sporty cotton pique garment. The go to woollen polo jumper, is in either a plain knit or with subtle textures and always with a 3-button placket. I would advise against opting for a zip up style, as this will ‘casualise’ your overall look. The same goes for printed or multi colour styles.
Don’t Forget To Pay Attention To Your Shoes
Brown used to be a definite no no, but they are most definitely a yes for business casual dressing. With Derby’s, Oxfords, Monk and leather loafer styles all sitting back perfectly with business casual attire. Don’t retire your trusted workwear black shoes, as black looks great against grey flannel trousers and works well in the winter months.
Leave the suede and canvas styles for out of work, brogues for very dressed down days and your trainers for the gym.
Personal Styling In London & The Home Counties
If you would like advice on how to develop a business casual style, or would like to expand and refine your personal style, please do get in touch.
Thank you for reading and I hope you have found this helpful.