Work culture is a funny thing. The start up mentality of ultra casual has really infected almost every industry, allowing a more relaxed dress code. Not only is this a ‘keeping with the times’ move, but it also helps attract younger talent to more established companies. It all started with casual Friday. It was a day when jeans were acceptable to a workforce that was starched and stodgy. While it was a nice gesture, there was a level of discomfort that was obvious. As the casual Fridays have piled up, and the dress codes have relaxed, it’s important to talk about being correctly casual at work.
While a casual dress code is good, remember that there is risk in losing the uniform. There are a couple rules that should be kept in mind when getting ready:
First, would you be comfortable if you got on the elevator with the president of the company?
Second, could you be mistaken for an upper class man heading to happy hour?
Third, are you dressing for the job you want?
I always encourage dressing for the upper end of the dress code. I’m not saying that you need to be the best dressed guy at the office, but by no means should you be anywhere close to the lowest common denominator…I don’t care how hungover you might be. On dressing for work, my dad gave me some advice long ago: Those that need to notice, will.
Go above and beyond:
Layer up. It’s the way to dress up a casual outfit without trying too hard.
LBM 1911 Wool Blazer: No matter the dress code, there is ALWAYS room for a blue blazer. It goes with almost everything, and immediately dresses up your outfit.
Peter Millar Crown Comfort Quarter Zip: For the “I’ve got a tee time later this afternoon” look…very appropriate for Spring mornings.
Taylor Stitch Ojai Jacket: A good, casual jacket is a must-have at the office. Chances are the only time you’ll wear this will be on the way in and on the way out, but that’s when you are most visible.
The dress shirt play is a must. The key is to keep them ironed and looking sharp. A wrinkled dress shirt immediately kills an outfit.
Brooks Brothers Must-Iron OCBD: Spring is about rebirth, so enjoy a Spring-flavored pink dress shirt from the company that does the best pink OCBD. Worth every penny.
Ledbury Keyser Plaid Shirt: A good plaid is extremely versatile. It goes with jeans, khakis, and 5-pockets.
Drake’s Green Stripe Shirt: Finally, a fun dress shirt that says ‘I get casual Friday, and I’m buying drinks’.
While I don’t usually wear polos to work, there are rare occasions when I make an exception. If you are a polo guy, do it right.
Holderness & Bourne Chapman Shirt: A seriously nice solid polo with no logos is remembered for looking classy.
Criquet Player’s Shirt: A sharp polo with a vintage cut for the cool guy. Just make sure it’s ironed.
Ben Silver Palmetto Polo: A polo with a logo better have a good story. Strong move for a guy that doesn’t play video games in his spare time.
Pants are the most important part of the casual Friday ethos. They need to be good quality, have a good fit, and NOT flashy.
APC New Standard Jeans: Just because jeans are allowed doesn’t mean you mail it in. Get a great pair of jeans and have them tailored. It’ll pay off once they break in.
Incotex Slim Fit Cotton Chinos: Yeah, they are khakis, but is it really a huge inconvenience when jeans are allowed? A good pair of khakis are casual, but in an adult way.
Rag and Bone 5-Pocket Pants: Five pockets have taken over. They are everywhere, and are seriously easy. Same rules apply – good quality, good fit, and subtle colors.
Ball and Buck 6-point Duck Cotton Pants: A cool pair of canvas pants are a nice break from jeans. They wear like jeans, but can be dressed up with a pullover or cool jacket.
Belts are the only way you should try and stand out. Skip the GTH pants, the loud shirts, and especially the weird socks. If you want to send any sort of sartorial message, do it with your belt.
Redfish Brand Oyster Buckle & Alligator Strap: You are a cool guy that enjoys oysters and the oyster roast culture. I’d hang out with you.
Onward Reserve Single Shot Belt: You like to shoot shotguns, which means you hunt birds. I’d hang out with you.
JT Spencer South Carolina Belt: You’ve been to Charleston. I’d hang out with you.
Martin Dingman Anderson Belt: You appreciate high end details, like a tortoise adorned buckle. I’d hang out with you.
Don’t think too hard on shoes. At the same time, don’t mail it in either. Brown loafers in the bit, penny, or driver variety is all you need.
Salvatore Ferragamo Crown Bit Loafers: “Coffee is for closers.”
Oak Street Bootmakers Natural Beefroll Penny Loafers: “I have a pair of socks somewhere…”
Onward Reserve Lace Driver: “I’ve been working in Excel for the past six hours.”
And there you go.