Office attire for men tends to be limited: Dress codes can be strict, and work wardrobes can lack variety. Given these narrow parameters, you might think it’s safer to stick to a basic everyday uniform. Consider the benefits, however, of shaking things up via the strategic use of custom clothing.
The right clothing garners respect and admiration from others at your place of work. Within each typical workplace dress code—formal, business casual, and casual—follow these do’s and don’ts to add a jolt of personality to your office attire. No matter the level of formality to which your office subscribes, you have the potential to stand out in a positive way while still looking like you belong.
How to Mix Up Your Formal Office Attire
The classic suit-and-tie combination is a foolproof workplace uniform for offices that place an emphasis on tradition and decorum. When donning this uniform, however, it’s important to maintain your sense of personal style to avoid blending into a sea of grey and navy. The best-dressed men in formal offices are those who look polished from head to toe; their clothes fit impeccably and feature personalized touches that add variety to their overall look. Learn from their example by following these tips:
- Do invest in a high-quality everyday suit in your favorite neutral shade. Prioritize fit and quality over everything else.
- Do push the limits with designer suit fabrics, and experiment with new shades like brown and platinum instead of sticking to basic grey or navy.
- Do wear well-fitting dress shirts in a variety of colors and patterns.
- Do mix up your look with a statement jacket in a subtle pattern or a unique fabric.
- Do wear personalized accessories, stylish ties, and polished and pristine footwear.
- Don’t wear a suit that fits you poorly. Your jacket should button without buckling at the waist, your sleeves and trousers should be hemmed correctly, and you should look immaculate.
- Don’t stray into casual territory. Be careful with bold patterns or colors that may dress down your look.
- Don’t wear the same suit every day. Expand your options with patterns and textures.
- Don’t buy the same tired staples that all your coworkers are wearing. Invest in a few key items that are unique to you—and make you look and feel great.
Our sample look from the formal realm is based around a sophisticated navy micro stripe suit cut from Reda worsted wool. The micro stripes add visual interest and much-appreciated texture to the classic navy suit, resulting in an outfit designed to turn heads in any corporate office. Complement your suit with a twill shirt in the lightest blue and a silk tie in a subtle pattern. Dark brown leathers complete this ensemble.
How to Wear Business Casual in the Office
This in-between dress code can be difficult to master. When attempting to balance professionalism with an informal environment, the ambiguity leaves many of us stuck in a rut of khakis and button-down shirts. Make business casual attire unique and personal by following these tips:
- Do invest in a few pairs of high-quality chinos and khakis in various colorways.
- Do have a solid rotation of leather brogues, oxfords, and loafers at your disposal.
- Do wear dress shirts that fit you well, and experiment with color and pattern.
- Do add a tie every now and then—but dress it down with alternative textures and patterns.
- Don’t wear denim, unless it’s a tailored chambray button-down.
- Don’t wear shoes that are either too casual, like sneakers, or too formal, like patent leather.
- Don’t wear tees, stay away from logos, and use other knit items such as polos and pullovers sparingly.
- Don’t wear garments that fit poorly. There’s never room for ill-fitting clothing in any office environment.
At its core, business casual office attire can be narrowed down to a simple, customizable formula: chinos plus a dress shirt plus a unique third item—shoes, tie, socks, or timepiece—that displays a flash of your personality. Depending on which pants and shirts you pair together, this foolproof system leaves quite a bit of room for variety.
What to Wear Without a Dress Code
The “anything goes” dress code is a subtle challenge—and an opportunity for you to display your superior style sense. You don’t need a dress code to put together workplace attire that reflects a sense of respect for yourself, for your colleagues, and for the position you’ve earned. That being said, there are specific ways to creatively push the limits and let your personality shine in a no-dress-code office:
- Do curate a nice collection of knitwear, pullover shirts, polos, and cotton button-downs.
- Do experiment with chinos, corduroys, and fitted dark wash denim.
- Do change up your footwear with boots, crisp leather sneakers, and suede shoes.
- Do wear clothes that look incredible and fit you flawlessly.
- Do develop a signature style that matches your ideal aesthetic.
- Don’t make T-shirts the foundation for your entire work wardrobe.
- Don’t wear light-wash jeans or trousers that are baggy or hemmed incorrectly.
- Don’t choose overly casual footwear. Workout shoes are definitely out.
- Don’t wear any garments that are ill-fitting, fading, or falling apart.
- Don’t wear the same thing every day, even though it’s easy. You’re not Mark Zuckerberg.
One sample look for the no-dress-code employee starts with a pair of high-quality corduroy pants in a perfect off-white shade. Throw on a lightweight cashmere crewneck sweater in blue, and top with a cardigan or statement blazer if you’re looking for extra warmth or extra pizazz. Lace up a pair of suede oxfords in a neutral shade and add a leather belt and watch. This custom look borders on business casual and is both comfortable and classy—the perfect combination for a casual office.
Mastering Office Attire for Men
Office attire for men doesn’t have to be boring, repetitive, and identical to what everyone else is wearing, especially when you have the freedom of custom design. The critical concern for all office dress codes is looking put together and professional. Buying custom means automatically acing that test. We recommend investing in a few high-quality wardrobe items that fit perfectly and help you feel confident in your own skin. Custom menswear is the quickest and easiest way to master office attire, no matter which dress code you’re fitting into.
Want in? Make an appointment with Knot Standard and start working with your own personal stylist. Together we’ll craft staples that will upgrade your office attire from forgettable to remarkable.