Whether it is smart casual, business casual, business formal, or more dressing professionally can really make an impact on your everyday life, but many people are unaware of the extent that impact may have. It is essential to keep a nice, organized wardrobe for business purposes so you can look professional and make a good impression.
Here is some insight into why office attire matters in the business world, along with a guide about men’s office fashion essentials to help you improve your own wardrobe. To learn more about developing a good collection of wardrobe essentials, check out our article on things every man should own.
Why Office Styles Matter
Making an undeniable statement during an interview can make a lasting impact on your future employers. We have a whole guide on whether you should wear a tie to a job interview. The way you dress will be a way of letting people get to know you, allowing others to create a first impression of you based on how you present yourself. Think of it as physically and visually displaying your professionalism and confidence so if the dress code or office style is business casual then follow it.
You will want to send a positive and professional message to anyone you are seeking employment from with the clothes you wear. If business formal, an elegant suit matched with a collared button-up dress shirt, tie, and dress shoes will show your confidence and professionalism.
However, be sure that you do not go overboard with your outfit. While you do not want to be invisible, you will also not want to stand out too much. Start out with a wardrobe of neutral colors such as black, navy blue, and brown and be in line with the office style and dress code.
Having a full and varied wardrobe can help you be prepared for anyone or any business casual situation. Sometimes, you may have to travel for business meetings or talk with a client face-to-face. In any type of business situation, it is also best to keep your wardrobe stocked up and to be prepared for anything each day has to offer.
Especially in a competitive corporate world, you don’t want to just blend in with everyone and seem easily replaceable. Dressing professionally will help make a lasting impression and involves, at the minimal, business casual. Having a decent office style wardrobe will give you one less thing to worry about each morning, which will help you focus on more important tasks that need your undivided attention.
Men’s Office Fashion Essentials
In order to cover all of the bases of office attire, you will need to collect a multitude of the basic clothes that will form your business look. You will need suits and blazers, collared button up shirts, an assortment of ties, solid colored socks, and some professional dress shoes.
It is also useful to add a few professional looking accessories to your look to add an extra touch of style to your outfit.
Build up your wardrobe with the basics and work your way up by mixing and matching different combinations of clothes to find which styles suit you the best. Start off with basic styles and keep getting more and more creative once you are comfortable enough.
Experimenting with different colors, textures, and patterns can help you build your own unique style.
An absolute must have for business casual and business formal. Build a nice collection of dress shirts and keep them from creasing too much after they have been worn by ironing or steaming the wrinkles out. You may also want to get a custom fitted shirt or two.
Focus on getting shirts that have solid colors and can match easily with anything. Remember to account for the size of your shoulders to determine which kinds of designs will fit you the best.
Blazers are one of the essential staples of a business professional office wardrobe and you should collect a few that fit nicely across your shoulders and arms. You should also account for the weather so you do not get too cold or feel too warm in your clothes. Wear a linen-blend or beige pure cotton blazer when it is warm outside, and a grey tweed blazer when it is cold outside.
The sleeves of your blazer should end a few centimeters above your thumb joint. If you need any adjustments made to blazers for a better fit, visit a tailor to see what they can do for you.
Oxfords, Loafers, Derbies, monk straps, and brogues are the shoes that you can typically find in any office wardrobe. They are classic shoes that will add to the overall professional appearance of your outfit.
You can hardly ever go wrong with leather in more neutral colors such as black and brown. Feeling a little adventurous? If you want to experiment with colors, you can even try more colorful shoes for the summer.
Pants are an equally essential part of any office wardrobe and we recommend pants with darker colors. You can mix and match them with a variety of blazers and dress shirts to tie your overall look together. Be sure to finish off the look by wearing a matching belt to complement them as well.
Office Fashion Guidelines for Men
Collect Button-up Collared Shirts
You should have plenty of standard white button-up collared shirts to start off your wardrobe so you can have one for each day. Make sure that the shirts look professional on you and fit nicely when they are fully buttoned up. Also ensure that the collar is firm, allowing you to display your tie.
Once you are accustomed to your white shirt, you can move on to a bigger variety of colors to coordinate with the rest of your outfit for a more adventurous style.
Always Have a Suit
Every men’s wardrobe should have a few sets of business suits if they are expected to dress professionally every day for work. Having suits in a variety of colors can help you come up with different outfit coordinations so you won’t feel so bored about the same old outfits.
If you are starting off your suit collection, you may want to find a patternless dark navy blue or black suit since you can coordinate those colors with pretty much anything. They can also be worn for semi-formal or formal occasions. Just remember, a suite and tie goes together - if you're wearing a suit you'll want to make sure you're wearing a tie as well.
Ties are a way to express your personality and add some color or fun to the rest of your business attire. However, you will want to avoid ties which have colors that do not match your suits and shirts, and ties that are heavily patterned.
You may be able to mix and match ties with different outfit combinations to see which ones work best for you. If you work in a field that encourages creativity with your ties, such as an animation studio, you may be able to forget about avoiding the more bold and patterned types of ties.
Dress pants are a must-have in any men’s wardrobe and for semi-formal attire. Try to get pants that come in darker colors such as black, navy blue, or khakis. You can try exploring a variety of men’s warehouses to collect some dress pants that fit you and your personal style perfectly.
Shoes and Socks
The shoes and socks you wear will act as the finishing touches for your overall outfit. Oxfords are one of the most popular options for dress shoes, and they can be combined with practically any business outfit you wear.
As for socks, stick with more neutral colors such as black and brown while avoiding white socks and socks with patterns on them. Make sure your shoes and socks match so they will not clash with the rest of your outfit.
Follow the Crowd
This tip doesn’t necessarily mean to blend into the crowd with your dressing and look like everyone else. However, if you’re truly unsure how to dress or are at a loss for ideas, get some inspiration from your fellow colleagues. How your colleagues dress can give you a clue for what is acceptable in your particular workplace.
Avoiding Common Mistakes
Do Not Wear Running Shoes
There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to finding the right shoes to wear for work or other business events. However, you should avoid wearing running shoes to work especially if they have bright colors or worn down.
They may be comfortable but they’re entirely inappropriate for office settings. Proper shoes are a very basic expectation for office wear.
You should make sure that your shirt is free of wrinkles every day before you set out for work. One way to prevent creases is to invest in a decent iron or steamer and use them to iron all the wrinkles out. A creased shirt could completely derail your look, so make sure that the shirt you choose is appropriate to wear out of the house.
Avoid Dressing Too Far Down in the Name of Style
While it is cool and trendy to be stylish, it is also important to keep in mind that your clothes still need to make you look professional and appropriate for office settings. Wearing the appropriate clothing is much more important than setting trends in the workplace.
Make sure you are comfortable in the clothes you wear, but do not get carried away while trying to dress down. Find a nice balance between your clothes depending on what you decide to wear each day.
Make Sure Your Undershirt is Hidden
You might wear a white undershirt underneath your dress shirt, but make sure that the undershirt stays hidden from view underneath the rest of your outfit all day. Otherwise, your outfit will become a bit unsightly, although it can be fixed with a bit of minor adjustments.
One of the best ways to hide an undershirt is to wear a v-neck undershirt so you will have an easier time concealing it underneath your dress shirt.
Do Not Underdress for Summer
Summer will be a difficult season to wear heavier clothes, but that does not mean that you should show up to work in beach attire. Many places of business will likely be more lenient with their dress code when it becomes hotter outside.
But make sure that what you wear is still appropriate and will help you keep cool all day. Tailored shorts that come in neutral colors may work just fine for the lower half of your outfit.
Check Your Shoes
Before you leave your house, always make sure that your shoes are nice and clean. Scuffs and dirt marks can damage your shoes and affect the overall appearance of your outfit. Make the effort to take care of them as soon as possible.
Every now and again, you should spend time taking proper care of your shoes by polishing them down, cleaning off any loose dirt, and applying some shoe protector.
Building your office fashion wardrobe is no easy feat; a lot of thought and time has to go into it. However, it is certainly worthwhile since you won’t have to worry daily over what to wear once you have your wardrobe sorted. A decent collection will serve you well for a long time so go for quality rather than quantity. Taking time to understand men’s office fashion will also remove the daily stress of what to wear so you can truly focus on what you do best at work and succeed. Check out our article on business casual vs business professional for a more detailed breakdown.