How To Dress Better In The Office

Are you wondering what to wear to the office? I recently asked 500 Suffolk Businessmen, what they wear to work. In this article I summarise my findings and talk about ways in which we can all improve our work attire.
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First of all, let’s talk about the fundamentals. Further, in the article, I get more in-depth, covering ways in which you can apply these key principles to look better in the workplace.

Your environment

Always dress for your environment. That means, dress to the level of smartness which is required within your workplace. Dress in accordance with the dress code. Not only is it good etiquette but you won’t be negatively judged for doing so either.

Culture. It may not be within your culture to dress smart-casually in the workplace. Often in some countries, you should dress formally. Turning up in anything but a suit would be socially unacceptable.

This article focusses on my experience living in Suffolk, England. Smart-casual is totally acceptable here and in the tech industry that I’m in, is pretty much the norm.

Fit

The fit of your clothing is without a doubt _the_ most important thing to get right. It can make or break an outfit. A fitted pair of trousers and shirt is attractive on a man and shows one’s level of care and attention to detail. A good quality that can be inadvertently associated with one’s work ethic.

Flair

Flair

We talk a lot about fit, fabric and function – but I’m going to throw in another *F*. Flair. Flair, is the personal touch that shows off your individuality. It’s what people are going to remember you for, for years to come.

Focus on fit

As mentioned already, ‘fit’ is the top dog, without it, you’re going to look like Donald Trump on a golf course. You need to take fitment seriously. If you’re just starting out and most of your wardrobe consists of badly fitting clothing, I’d suggest – find a tailor. Tailors can work their magic and make most things look better.

How not to wear a polo shirt

Invest in some slim-fit shirts. I’d recommend 100% cotton for a better experience. Cotton is a naturally breathable fibre, so you’ll sweat less. It will be more comfortable throughout the day. Whereas man-made fibres; such as polyester tend to be itchy. Cotton will last longer too.

Pick some trousers that fit you well, that isn’t too baggy and have a rise which isn’t too big. The rise is the area better the top of the trouser and bottom of the crotch. Have it too big and it’ll look flappy down there. Not a good look.

Colours

I find pastels are one of the most versatile colours for me. They can be mixed with many different items in my wardrobe, quite effectively. My wardrobe comprises mostly of oxford shirts, in an array of pastel colours (blues, pinks, reds, greens).

Related:   How to dress business casual

Topping the pastels is white. White goes with everything and will always look great. Providing it fits well, is ironed and isn’t hanging out, white looks extremely smart on a man.

If there’s a dress-down Friday or you want to break away from the plain shirt look on an occasion, why not wear a checkered shirt. A pattern can introduce your individuality and separate you from the office drones. Just be aware that checkered patterns tend to lean on the casual side. So I wouldn’t choose to wear them if I had a meeting with an important client, for example.

Colours

Layers

Guys, learn to layer. Layering can make your outfit look interesting, it adds dimension and is a great way to improve your style. To work, you might choose to wear a lightweight sweater over the top of your shirt, coupled with a sports jacket. This time of year, Winter, I love to layer! Style-wise, it’s my favourite time of year.

Layering

Shoes

Invest in some solid shoes, of varying styles, which can be paired with different outfits. Get yourself some oxfords, wingtips, loafers, chukkas and monk straps. These types of shoes can be switched up between jeans and trousers. Leather chukka boots and can be a better choice with changing weather and will still look smart with trousers or jeans.

Grooming

Keep yourself presentable by trimming your beard, shaving your neck, cutting your nails and paying attention to your hair. Get yourself a clean, tight haircut, which is current. When I changed up my hairstyle to something that was more current when the whole 1930s look started to reemerge, it was then, my style started to improve.

A couple more tips: don’t overdo on the hair products, or aftershave for that matter. Remember, people need to see you before they smell you.

Hair

Flair

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the office drones. Work often dictates how you should dress but this is where it stops. You don’t have to be pigeonholed into a particular type of look, you don’t have to look like Tom, Dick and Harry. Adam wants to be different. Not a Dick.

If you’re wearing a sports jacket or blazer, jazz it up with a contrasting pocket square. A necktie – the tie can be a perfect way to give a little originality to your outfit. But I will say this – you don’t want something that is completely wacky. Let’s not turn into the office clown who wears novelty ties and luminous shirts. Keep it refined and classy with contrasting colours.

Related:   Should Men Wear Pink?

A lot of my fellow businessmen are entrepreneurs, sole traders, freelancers, individuals running their own businesses. The goal of a networking event is to be remembered. You need something that is going to make you stand out. Your choice of clothing and accessories is one way you can achieve that.

Big alpha male type, which often raised a barrier. He used to wear a suit, but with odd socks, so when he sat down they showed. He then laughed and explained he let his daughters pick them for him each morning. Clever little personal brand touch, and changed customer’s impressions from a “big guy” to a “dad with daughters, cuddly giant”.
— Simon Goodchild

Although this is total *bs*, a salesmen tactic, it’s a great example of what is proven to be successful. I wouldn’t suggest we all go out and wear odd socks, but have some originality to your outfit that is going to leave a positive lasting impression.

The Polo Shirt

90% of the businessmen in Suffolk wear a branded polo-shirt to work with a pair of jeans, which is totally fine. The polo is a timeless classic.

However, you can buy some awful looking polo shirts, which are high in polyester, baggy, don’t hold their shape and leave sweat marks.

So, how can you improve your style when wearing a polo shirt?

  1. Buy a fitted polo shirt
  2. One with contrasting buttons to add some flair
  3. Choose one with a side split for ease of movement
  4. Quality fabrics – 100% cotton
  5. Solid colours, white, blue, claret, black.
  6. Dress it up a little – try tucking it in, with a belt and chinos

As before, white is the most versatile, it can be paired with many different colours of trousers and chinos. Black would look great with a pair of grey, or charcoal grey chinos. A rich red claret would look fantastic with a pair of smart navy jeans.

How to wear a polo shirt

Jeans

Guys, make sure your jeans fit and look smart. Go for a dark denim, with little to no wash. Please no rips. Nothing fashion forward. A nice straight cut that can fit over a chukka if needed. Make sure they fit perfectly!

A post shared by adamoc (@adamoc) on

So, that pretty much sums up my take on office attire – for my typical environment and culture. What tips do you have? What ways can you add flair which I didn’t touch on? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

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