How to Master Business Attire for Men

by Jamie Wilson

Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

Business attire doesn’t always mean having to wear a full three-piece suit, you can vary up your wardrobe and still have a stylish and smart, office ready, wardrobe at your fingertips. 

Dressing for work can be challenging, especially if you have to adhere to a strict dress code, but if you’re luckier in the workplace that you don’t have to follow the rules of a top hat and tails then you can really experiment with your look. Now I’m not saying that you can’t be smart whilst you’re doing this, you can still keep the classic roots to your look, but jazz it up a bit with a few simple changes and details.

What is Business Attire?

What is the business attire definition? Business attire is what you’d wear to work, most commonly the suit and a crisp white shirt with a tie. The word business emulates formality, so it’s best to stick to this end of the spectrum when deciding what to wear.

Business Professional Dress Code:

  • Suits: Neutral shades such as black and navy are the best option as they are more formal in colour.
  • Shirts: Again stick to the neutral shades, particularly white. The tie is optional but a better bet for upping your formal game.
  • Shoes: Opt for dark shade brogues, or switch it up for loafers during the warmer months.

What is Business Casual for Men?

The best way of getting around this is switching your suit jacket for a blazer. You can mix things up by adding in loafers for the summer.

Your top choice is probably the most difficult to style. A shirt is always the best option. Stay away from lumberjack shirts and denim shirts, as these are too casual. But a patterned shirt is great for a business casual look.

Are Khakis Business Casual?

Khakis are the epitome of business casual trousers. Chinos are more formal than casual but can be worn as both. They can easily be teamed with a blazer and loafers for a smart casual look. Another great option is twill shorts, as they’re higher up on the formality spectrum and can be worn with your clean shirt and a blazer.

Mens Business Casual Shoes

There are several options for you to for here. During winter months, you can opt for desert and brogues boots as they’re still formal. But for warmer months, stick to brogues and loafers to keep your feet cool.

What is Formal Attire?

Formal attire should be worn with a black- tie outfit. This is slightly more formal than business wear and is often associated with events such as weddings and sophisticated parties. Most workplaces don’t opt for this much formality but you may need to be prepared for events that are.

Formal attire pieces include:

  • Waistcoats: Mostly a three piece suit.
  • Ties: Either a tie or bow tie
  • Colour: The colour of these events are mostly black, but you can get away with the dark navy shades.

Business Professional Attire: Classic Look

You can’t go wrong with the classics, so wearing a traditional suit will do you no wrong when it comes to office attire. Play around with the colour of your tie or pocket square, as it adds a bit more detail and texture to your look.

Worn with a pair of plain derby shoes you’ll have yourself a classic, office-ready look, without going too out there and still adhere to certain dress codes.

Business Attire: Winter Casual Look

If you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to live by a dress code then the balls in your court and you can pretty much wear whatever you want. However, if you want to keep it smart then look no further, it can be done!

Grey is a great transitional colour, perfect for all seasons, but it’s perfect for this A/W. Instead of a shirt, try wearing a roll neck in black, just to add something different to your look and it looks very smart indeed. A pair of white trainers would look great with this, as formal shoes can look a bit clunky and uncomfortable. A pair from a minimal brand like Garment Project is your best option. Simple, and classic enough to work well with a suit.

Business Attire: Winter Layering Look

Layering is a great way to keep warm this season. With the nights getting darker and the days getting colder you’ll want to wrap up and brace yourself for the impending freeze. Again, if you’re lucky enough to not have a dress code for the office then the world is your oyster.

Wearing a jacket under an overcoat works really well. It adds a hidden detail which is just an element of fun and an added bit of warmth. Accessorising really helps with layering, especially in the winter months, adding a hat or a pair of gloves the same colour as your overcoat to tie in with the rest of your look works really well.

Business Attire: Summer Shorts Look

Switching up your suit trousers for some shorts is a great option for those warmer months, particularly in stuffy offices. But we’re not talking about cargo shorts, camouflage print or short shorts, aka hot pants. Your best option here are some twill/ chino shorts.

They’re easily teamed with a crisp shirt, blazer and loafers, keeping your look business appropriate. You also have the option to go for a full short suit, but these are better suited to more formal occasions.

Business Attire: Summer Casual Look

In these circumstances, your best option is to ditch the suit jacket. But what if you have sweat patches? Change your suit fabric to a much better-suited one for Summer. These include seersucker, linen and a thinner cotton. Or mix up your suit colour to a lighter shade.

The great thing about these options is that you can still team it with your classic white shirt and business casual tie, but the lighter shade and thinner fabric will help keep you cool. Switch the brogues for loafers to keep your feet from getting sweaty.

Business Casual dress code for men: Smart Casual

This is a great alternative to business casual as it offers you more flexibility. Ditch the suit jacket and give your sleeves a quick roll it. You can still pull this look off with a tie. You could also opt for suit trousers which are shorter in length, allowing you to show off your ankles and shoes.

Business Attire: Chinos Look

Chinos are a great alternative to the classic suit trousers. They are less formal but are still work appropriate if you style it right. Stick to neutral shades such as black, navy and sand to keep them formal. Team with a crisp shirt and finish off with brogues or loafers. The blazer is optional. You also have the addition of adding a jumper for colder days.

How to Wear Business Attire

  • Stick to the formal end of the spectrum. This includes dark shade suits and a crisp shirt.
  • For Business casual, swap your suit trousers for chinos and your suit jacket for a blazer. You can also ditch the tie.
  • Formal attire is smarter than business wear. This includes three-piece suits and bow ties.
  • Chuck on an overcoat for this chillier months.
  • Swap the shirt for a polo neck jumper for a warmer look.

On That Note

Business attire isn’t that hard to master once you know what to stick to. There are several ways you can style your workwear so you can mix up your look. Swap the suit trousers to chinos for a business casual feel, or through on a mac or overcoat for the colder months. There’s plenty of ways to still dress formally without having to sacrifice your style.

Feature image from Pinterest

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