If dressing stylishly were easy, everyone would do it. But there’s something about the word style—that unleashes a palpable sense of pressure, of living up to standards many men consider unattainable.
While it does requires some forethought, creating the perfect business casual style isn’t difficult and, when executed correctly, looks positively effortless. And contrary to what couture nobility may think, it is possible to pull a sophisticated look together without buying pieces that require taking out a second mortgage on your home.
And so, as one of the world’s premiere purveyors of men’s jewelry and accessories, we thought we’d share a few industry tips for creating a business casual style that is sure to stun.
Before one can dress to meet a certain standard, one must understand the standard itself…and the phrase “business casual” is notoriously ambiguous. In the most general of terms, it references an enigmatic style of dress that is slightly less casual than traditional business wear but incorporates elements of formal attire to create a relaxed yet professional aesthetic.
It sounds complicated, we know. One of the challenges in coming up with a business casual look is the fact that the goalposts are constantly moving. Business casual may mean losing the jacket when wearing a three-piece suit for one company…and saving your Bermuda shorts for Fridays at another.
For the sake of clarity, we’re shooting somewhere in the middle in the hopes our suggestions will work most business casual situations.
You may be scratching your head thinking a blazer must be the definition of formal business wear, but the truth is they can be a perfect casual business wear piece when executed correctly.
The key is to think relaxed. Even you throw it on over jeans, your double-breasted jacked with gold buttons at the cuff is just too structured for a casual environment. Instead, opt for a relaxed-fit blazer that is free of shoulder pads in a soft Merino wool for winter or a breezy twill or linen in cooler months.
Throw it on over a button-down and chinos during the week or pair it with jeans and a t-shirt on casual Friday for a look that balances business and casual beautifully.
Pullovers and cardigans are a great way to soften the look of a formal button-down shirt. They’re also marvelous to have on hand when working for companies that set the corporate A/C to the “meat locker” setting.
We can likely thank Chris Evans and the pullover he wore in Knives Out for the world’s current obsession with cable knit, but yours need not be so intricate. A lightweight cotton pullover with a crew- or V-neck collar lets the crisp collar of a button-down peek out while softening the overall look.
And don’t let anyone tell you cardigans are reserved for grandfathers. A cardigan with a substantial shawl collar makes the perfect substitute for a blazer and looks equally at home when paired with trousers and a tie or a t-shirt and denim.
There’s just something about getting a flash of silver or a glimpse of gold that elevates a casual look to the next level. Adding a few key pieces of jewelry can make your business casual look stand out from the rest.
If you’re wearing your crewneck sweater, consider throwing a slim chain in the finish of your choice around your neck so that it is only occasionally revealed as you move. And a slim metal cuff looks effortlessly stylish peeking out from beneath the cuff of a denim button-down that’s layered beneath your cardigan.
And assuming cuff links are too classy to work with a casual outfit would be a mistake. Once again, the key is balance, so lose the jacket and vest and sport just your button-down shirt with a more casual pair of chinos or trousers. And don’t sport the diamond cuffs—a pair in a toned-down metal (or even a fun novelty pair depending on company policy) will suffice.
Though we mentioned wearing them on casual Fridays, many companies are realising jeans can fit within the business-casual workplace…with the proper prep.
Most importantly, rips and raw hems have no place at the office—save them for the weekends. The same goes for heavily bleached or acid-washed jeans. Your workplace denim should be relatively dark and uniform in color. Perfect the balance by pairing your jeans with a crisp dress shirt and top it off with a vest, blazer, pullover, or cardigan. For shoes, consider a leather loafer in warmer months or a dressy boot any time of year.
Emmerson once said, “Being perfectly well-dressed gives one a tranquility that no religion can bestow.” We hope these tips help you find the business casual that suits you perfectly.