Going through the process of finding a job or starting in a new workplace can come with a lot of stress. You are starting a new chapter in your life, taking steps to build your career, and that can be overwhelming at times. A highly effective way to build up your confidence and make yourself feel right for the job is having the correct attire.
Looking the part is half the battle for fitting in at your new workplace. What you wear communicates a lot to others, but it also impacts how you feel about yourself. Should you always wear a suit to an interview or to the office? No. In most cases, you want to look clean and professional, but comfortable and approachable at the same time. Here are some tips for the best casual business attire for men.
Button-Down Dress Shirts
As a start, you can never go wrong with a classic dress shirt, more specifically a simple oxford-style cotton button-down. When buying dress shirts, aim for either a regular or slim fit style. The modern fashion scene tends to favor the slim fit style, but if that does not work for your body type, buy a regular fit.
Avoid buying shirts that are too big, you do not want to look like you are drowning in your clothes, and at the same time, make sure your shirt is not too skintight, you are at your workplace, keep it professional. Speaking of keeping it professional, you should have your shirt tucked in. Even if you are wearing business casual, you still want to look neat and respectable, tucking your shirt in communicates that.
Another thing to pay attention to is to make sure your clothes are ironed. You absolutely do not want to show up to your office in a sloppy, wrinkly shirt. In terms of color, most casual business attire comes in cool, neutral tones such as white, navy, grey, light blue, or a combination of those colors if the shirt has a pattern.
Clean, neat, and presentable, that is what you are aiming for. High-quality yet affordable brands to look at when shopping for casual business shirts are J. Crew, L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen, or Gap.
Moving on from shirts, you want to wear the correct pants with your new and improved outfit. Rule number one, avoid jeans. While we are aiming for business casual, jeans are simply unprofessional so stay away from them. You want to wear slacks, khakis, or chinos. There is a similar rule of thumb as with your dress shirts, modern fashion favors slim-fit styles, however, if that does not work for your body type, stick to straight or regular fit styles.
Absolutely do not show up to work in skinny, cargo, or otherwise too small or too large cuts. Even though the skinny and cuffed pants are in style right now, you want to look professional so purchase pants that fit properly and do not cuff them. In terms of color, when it comes to pants, try to avoid bright colors or patterns.
There’s perhaps a bit more variety in color than for the dress shirts. You want your dress pants to work with your shirt, and you want to look uniform, but if you wear a white shirt, for example, you can wear most dark colors such as navy, black, brown, maroon, or even a deep green. As your shirt should be tucked in, you will want to wear a belt with your pants. A simple black or brown leather belt will do.
Good brands to look for when shopping for dress pants are J. Crew, Bonobos, Banana Republic, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, or Rag & Bone.
When it comes to shoes, there are a couple of options you can choose from. The golden rule here is that your belt should match your shoes, so make sure you are paying attention to that. Business casual is quite a broad spectrum, if you want to dress it up a bit, any leather shoe such as oxfords, monk straps, dress boots, derbies, loafers, or brogues will work. There are only two acceptable colors for leather shoes, brown or black.
Leather shoes automatically make your outfit more formal, but you do not necessarily have to wear them. Many business casual attire includes a specific brand of casual footwear called dress sneakers. you can find them at brands such as Ted Baker, Tommy Hilfiger, Clarks, GANT, or Wolf & Shepherd. These shoes usually come in black, brown, white, or navy colors.
Blazers, Sweaters, Cardigans
If you want to wear something over your dress shirt, you can choose to wear a plain blazer, however, that might be a bit formal, especially if you chose to wear leather shoes. Another great, more comfortable, and casual option is to wear a black, brown, or navy cardigan or a nice sweater. Most crewnecks, v-necks, and quarter zips all work, but make sure they are made from a thin material to avoid looking bulky.
Brands such as Uniqlo, Gap, Everlane, J. Crew, Naadam, or Fairlane & Sons carry perfect sweaters for the business casual style.
When it comes to accessories you can never go wrong with a nice watch. You can wear a casual skinny tie if you want to, however, business casual attire often excludes ties from this style. You do not need to over-accessorize, keeping your look neat, simple, and professional is the goal.
Business Casual Dos
- Cotton, long-sleeved button-down shirt
- Dress slacks, trousers (chinos, khakis, etc.)
- Dress shoes (leather or business sneakers)
- Thin, tight-fitting sweater or cardigan with a collared shirt underneath
- Neutral, monochromatic colors
- Simple patterns
- Neat and clean clothes
Business Casual Don’ts
- Overly fancy/formal suits
- Polo shirt or t-shirt
- Jeans, shorts, or any athletic type of pants (sweatpants)
- Junky or baggy sweaters
- Informal sneakers, sandals, velcro, or any form of overly casual footwear
- Bright colors
- Loud/crazy patterns
- Dirty, wrinkly, or otherwise messy clothes