8 Men’s Style Tips for Dressing in Business Casual Attire

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Outside of law, investment banking and your third rewatch of Mad Men, most 21st century guys don’t see a lot of people in suits at the office. Business casual attire has taken over in the vast majority of workplaces. While that’s great news for those of us who’d rather not shell out for a whole wardrobe of Italian wool, it’s hard to deny that a certain style and vibe can get lost in the process.

The unsightly truth is that it’s easy for business casual to look a little uninspired. If you’re trying to cut a polished, professional figure at the office, take a look at your business casual clothes and ask yourself if they’re truly pulling their weight. Finding some room for improvement? Not to worry! These eight tips will show you sharp options for upgrading your business casual style.

1. Spruce up your polo shirts.

Polo shirts are a business casual staple in many offices, but nothing says “minimum effort” like a cheap, badly-fitting polo. Instead, make room for a couple of high quality polos in a variety of patterns and colors. Polo shirts for men are available in more styles than ever, and they look equally great over chinos, wool trousers or even dressy denim. Look for something with a decent thread count and a soft, comfy knit. It’ll look better and feel better.

2. Invest in a great sport coat or blazer.

A semi-formal jacket like a blazer or sport coat is the perfect way to elevate your business casual look. It’s ideal when you want to crank the dressiness up a little without going overboard, like the day of a big presentation or when you’re asking for a raise. To get the most from your investment, look for a jacket in a relatively neutral color or pattern that you can pair with a lot of different things. The navy blazer is a classic for this very reason, but we encourage you to explore your options and find one that’s perfect for your style.

3. Sprinkle in some choice accessories.

The right accessories can bring any business casual outfit to life. To name one example, many men’s watches are a big part of how they express themselves when dressing, and it doesn’t have to be a gazillion-dollar Rolex on your wrist to make a splash. If you wear glasses, make sure you have a stylish pair that frames your face just right. Belts, too, can really give an outfit that little extra oomph. Matching your belt to a great pair of shoes is a classic trick for stylish dressing, and you can even match your watch strap if you truly want to take it to the next level.

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4. Purchase stylish and high quality pants.

Buying the first pair of khakis you see in vaguely the right size is a classic mistake for guys learning to dress business casual. Instead, learn how a pair of pants should fit, and if you find a pair that’s just right for you, consider buying a second pair of the same pants in a different color.  Buying for quality is also a smart move, especially since many guys will wear the same pair of pants to the office two or more times a week. Finally, if (and only if) you know your office is OK with denim, investing in a quality pair of dark-colored and dressy men’s jeans is an excellent way to switch up your pants game a little.

5. Change up your shoes from the standard Oxfords.

Breaking out of the plain-toe and cap-toe Oxford box is a fun and easy way to score some fashion points — and it can give you an instant confidence boost if you’re wearing something you really like. Most business casual workplaces accept a huge range of shoe styles, including loafers, brogues, Chelsea boots and chukkas, so explore a bit and try something new! When you’re ready to buy, it’s a good idea to go with a neutral color like brown that you can wear with lots of different outfits.

6. Try out slimmer cuts of clothing.

Lots of guys find that slim cut clothing just looks better on them, which is why stocking your wardrobe with these tapered modern styles is a popular way to level up a business casual wardrobe. Slim clothing gives your body more definition without being unflatteringly tight, and it cuts a trim, polished silhouette. Slim cut clothing isn’t just for rail-thin guys, either. Bigger dudes can look good in it, too, so long as the measurements are right. Naturally, if you try slim cut and decide you still like the classics better, that’s fine — but it’s definitely worth a try, at least.

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7. Know when to tuck in your shirt and when not to.

Business casual offices are full of guys leaving shirts untucked that are designed to be tucked, and sometimes vice versa. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to tell whether your shirt is designed to be tucked in. Shorter shirts with straight, even bottom hems are generally made to be worn untucked. If your shirt is longer and it has an uneven, “tailed” look, you should tuck it in. Whether or not you need a tucked-in shirt varies between business casual offices, but if you’re doing it, make sure to do it right!

8. Consider seeing a tailor for the best fit possible.

This tip applies to any style of clothing, but it deserves special mention in business casual because many guys sabotage their own looks by buying off-the-rack work clothes that don’t fit particularly well. Now, you certainly don’t have to get every single work shirt tailored in order to look good, but at a minimum, getting a professional measurement and consultation with a tailor at least once is worth it. They’ll be able to set you up with some foundational menswear pieces and give you useful tips for finding high quality clothing that looks good on your body.

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