As I mentioned in the last blog, I had a blog request from one of our followers to write about the subject of business casual in a fun way that was not preachy. I decided in this blog to specifically talk about business casual for men and explore options of how to dress appropriately for your office space environment, while still being able to feel relaxed and casual.
Lets first talk about the basics. Unless you are a top executive working for a computer company in an office space that is more about creativity and development of software, jeans are not even close to business casual unless they are black and crisp. Even black and crisp jeans are not really business casual, but with the right accessories you could pull it off. But for now let’s say no to jeans. The best casual slacks are dress slacks that look like they could be worn with a jacket and are wrinkle-free like the ones I suggested in the previous blog Don’t Overpack or Underdress for Business Travel. My personal favorites are black Khaki slacks that are pleated. There are a large number of styles of slacks that you can buy that are comfortable and relaxed that can still look good for business casual. Most importantly, always wear those slacks with a nice leather belt.
While some people believe that polo style button-up shirts are business casual, I would leave those for the golf course. When I was in college, one of my professors introduced me to L.L. Bean and its line of reasonably priced wrinkle-resistant classic oxford shirts that worked with suits, jackets or just a pair of slacks. I have learned over the years weather dressy of slightly casual, these types of shirts do not go out of style. More importantly, they have to be clean and crisp. I keep the ones I wear to the office and the ones I wear for everyday use separate – only because the ones I wear to the office may be the same style and look like the ones I wear all the time. But the ones I wear to the office remind me that I should look and feel professional.
The great thing about nice oxford shirts is that you can wear them with or without a tie. So one of my suggestions is to keep a neutral-coloured tie nicely rolled up in one of your office drawers just in case you need to up your game from business casual to semi-business formal. The trick to finding ties that work with business casual is to select one that does not have an elaborate pattern and will work well with several coloured shirts. By all means, never have the tie with Homer Simpson on it as your go-to tie.
Ok, you have the slacks, the shirts and the back-up tie (that you can wear all the time if you want), but now you have to consider your footwear. A nice pair of black dress shoes goes with almost anything you choose to wear (even jeans). But you’ll want shoes that are comfortable not only to wear around your Toronto office space, but black dress shoes you feel comfortable walking in when you need to attend a client meeting several blocks away. My only other advice on shoes is to have a second pair that will work when you wear brown slacks (if you wear brown slacks) – because I once wore black shoes with brown slacks and that is what everyone noticed! Oh, just in case you were ever thinking about it, never wear sneakers or sandals to the office, especially with socks.