How does your day begin? Do you walk into work, cross the threshold of your office and catch the eye of everyone present? If so, then you’re either doing something very right, or very wrong when it comes to your professional attire…
But which is it? In this article, we’ll show you how to match your look to the culture of your workplace. Then, once we’re clear on what we’re aiming for, we’ll let you in on 5 tricks to take your work wardrobe from office junior to CEO level…
Join us, as we get under the hood of the modern man’s workplace wardrobe!
First, Avoid a Culture Clash
Once, every workplace had a clearly defined dress code. Back then, you could follow the rules and rest easy, knowing that you were safe among the herd – anonymous and bland, but sheltered from the risks of a fashion faux pas. Today, things are a little more nuanced, and the many options available mean that dressing for work is a lot like walking a tightrope. But understanding your workplace’s culture will take you a long way towards success.
Unless you’re in a manual trade, then your workplace probably goes one of two ways. There are still many environments where suit-wearing is either a written requirement, or just so entrenched that breaking convention would set you up for a day of icy stares. Then there are workplaces where things are a little more laid back; the kind of environment where dress-down Fridays have spilled over to take in the full week. If you work in a more traditional office, then it’s suits all the way for you. Otherwise, smart casual could be the look that takes you up the corporate ladder.
Next, we’ll look at how to bring off both looks, as we motor through 5 work wardrobe tweaks guaranteed to up level your professional presentation!
Pick a Suit that Fits Your Ambitions
What is it that separates lean ‘n’ hungry go-getters from those slouches who never climb above middle management? Often, it’s their choice of suit. If you’re slim built, then make the most of it and add a razor-sharp edge to your look with an on-trend skinny fit suit. For larger gents, buying something too loose is a common mistake – so choose a tailored cut instead, to define your shape and reduce the bulk that comes from excess fabric.
Shoe Shine, Sir?
The shoes you wear lay the foundations for your entire look, so if you’re out to dazzle with your sartorial choices, then start off on the right foot (sorry) with a pair of black patent shoes.
For some extra tips, explore our guide to men’s formal shoes.
Focus on the Details
Sometimes, less is more, but other times it’s just – less. So, don’t shy away from accessories like a tie clip, pocket square and cufflinks – they all have the power to lift your outfit high above the norm.
Put the Smart Back into Smart Casual
Even a relaxed dress code normally has its limits (unless you work at one of those edgy tech start-ups where anything goes). So, if smart casual is your aim, then err toward the smart side of the spectrum; think blazer ‘n’ jeans, rather than hoodie ‘n’ tee-shirt, for a look that’s right on the money.
Find the Middle Way
One way to walk the line between formal and smart casual work wear is to subtly twist the classic black-suit, white-shirt look. Use the basics of that style as a foundation, then twist one element, by adding colour – try a navy suit, texture – in the form of a wool jumper, or an added extra – such as a waistcoat.