With many workplaces becoming less formal in recent years, the concept of a business casual wardrobe has become much more common than it once was. While this idea may seem very straightforward, it creates some challenges. How do you simultaneously look professional, while not feeling overdressed? Here are a few key elements.
Elements of a Perfect Business Casual Look
When many men hear business casual, they immediately think of the classic polo and khaki combination. While this is very traditional, it can resemble a retail or fast food restaurant a little too closely to feel very stylish.
Ideally, think of business casual as slightly relaxing a business professional look. It is not a dressier version of what you would wear to a family picnic- keep the focus on the business part, then just make it a little more casual.
This is all dependent on your industry. Business casual will mean different things in a law office than it does in a Graphic design firm. Don’t be afraid to ask for the specifics of your company’s dress code when choosing your wardrobe- the goal is to be comfortable and professional. Insecurity in your wardrobe choices in a new environment is not the best route to comfort.
1. Fit is Key.
The basics of men’s fashion may seem to stay the same over many years: button down dress shirts, polos, and basic slacks have been fairly standard for generations. The fit and finish of those basic pieces changes dramatically from season to season. Properly fitted elements will keep your look fresh and current at any time.
2. Start with the Right Shirts.
Your choice of shirt says a great deal about you. It is generally the first article of clothing most people notice in a man’s look. For a more traditional business casual look, stick to solid colors, or simple subdued patterns. If you are in a more creative field, your patterns can be more vibrant and eye catching. Avoid screen printing and uncollared shirts.
3. Accessorize Well.
Just as with any style choice, your accessory elements need to tie in with the rest of the look. Sneakers, sandals, or boots are generally not going to be appropriate. Stick with lace up leather shoes or a classic loafer. Coordinate your shoes to your belt. Traditional rules dictate that your shoes should be the same color as your belt,and even your watch strap, but those rules are a little dated. It is generally acceptable to mix the colors of these pieces as long as they work together and look intentional.
4. Pick the Perfect Pants.
Your pants may seem like an afterthought, but they make or break a look. Choose dark neutral colors that coordinate with your shirt and other elements. The fit of your pants is also important to your overall look. Your choice of pants can help determine if the rest of your look ends up being more “business” or “casual”.
Flat front hemmed slacks are very classic, but tend to look a little more casual than a pleated cuffed trouser. To look professional with a wider array of shirts, you should seek out the best cuffed pants you can find. These can help to dress up more casual shirt choices, while also helping to balance your look.
Remember the Business
The key element of a business casual look is that it still looks professional. Choosing a few perfect elements that coordinate, not only in color, but also in fit and style will help you find the perfect balance. Seek out pieces that could easily dress up to be business professional, and you are on the right track. The most important part of pulling off any look: be comfortable. If you feel like you like your best, your confidence will be the perfect finish to your look.