Men At Work – And They Are Dressed For Success
A few months ago the husband of a close friend mentioned he enjoyed my articles on dressing for work. Initially, I was surprised he had even read them (given they are on a “chick blog”), but it was his next request that really got me – he asked for tips on what he should wear to the office.
He’s an engineer, in Vancouver, Canada, and felt his style was a little monotonous. I gave him some tips and promptly forgot the entire conversation – until recently when something utterly fabulous caught my eye.
It was a moment of pure, unadulterated, look-at-me style. By a man. At work.
Yes. That is LeBron James exiting a press conference after Game 1 of the NBA Playoff Finals… like a BOSS. We all know LeBron James is a legend on the court, but this was a slam dunk style statement. He wore a Thom Browne short suit, sunglasses and a man bag. Sure, Thom Browne outfitted the entire Cleveland Cavaliers team, but LeBron wore it with attitude. No fear. Werk it, ‘Bron!
So men’s corporate style was back on my agenda.
Men have fewer options at work than women in terms of clothes. It’s always going to be trousers and a shirt and often a jacket and tie. So here are three (let’s keep this simple, I don’t want to overwhelm anyone) tips to assist in breaking the monotony of mens office wear.
1. Shawl collars are in
Shawl collars are the sexiest and most underrated knitwear cuts for men. And the good news is, they look sensational over a shirt (or even a shirt and tie). All men should have one. It’s a simple and easy way to shake up a man’s winter work wardrobe. They are super flattering and add a slight point of difference while still being a sweater over a shirt. Buy one in beige, navy or grey (or all three!).
But there is no need to ditch the round and v-neck jumpers. They are classics, but consider upgrading them to a slightly more luxurious (and warmer) cashmere knit.
Shawl collars are also easy to transition to weekend wear. They look sensational (and super sexy) over a t-shirt and paired with chinos or jeans.
2. Have your suits tailored
Suits are essential, so first, let’s recap the basics – avoid shiny fabrics and anything 100% polyester like thy are the plague. A good black suit is a wardrobe staple and every man should also have a grey (charcoal) and a navy suit. Slightly adventurous gentlemen may also wish to consider a lighter blue number, which can be very dapper.
But whatever the colour, tailoring is key. The right fit maketh the man. Everyone exudes confidence in a bespoke piece and suits are no exception.
Tailoring will also ensure the length of the suit is correct for the wearer’s height. Especially the trousers. Oh! The trousers! Don’t be the “his pants are too short” guy. Just don’t.
Unfortunately, tailoring means a spending a little more time in the shops. And yes, I understand many men loathe shopping. But a good quality and well-tailored suit will last longer and look better, reducing the need to return to the shops. Tailoring is not a false economy.
3. Incorporate pops of colour and fun
Black, beige, white and blue (navy and light blue) will always dominate a man’s working wardrobe. These colours are universally flattering and should remain staples for men, but there are some simple ways to incorporate an occasional pop of colour and fun to break up the monotony of the working week.
Green ties (emerald or bottle) with blue suits are a big YES. When paired with a simple white business shirt: H.O.T.
Burgundy or blue accessories (ties, pocket squares) work well with a grey suit. Just ask David Gandy:
A black suit with a blue shirt will be livened up by a burgundy tie or sweater. A black-and-white polka dot tie can also add a point of interest and can even be a conversation starter.
When it comes to the classic black suit, break it up by incorporating repetitive prints such as ginghams, plaids and checks in the tie, socks or shirt. A navy and red stripe tie also looks great with a classic black suit and white shirt.
Be warned: when playing with prints avoid anything too shiny or too bright.
For gentlemen bold enough to rock a pink shirt, pair it with a simple black tie to create a classic look.
For men with a work day uniform of a simple suit and tie, consider occasionally ditching the tie and subbing in a striped or polka dot jumper.
Brands to help break the outfit monotony
The brands Cos, Uniqlo, Sandro Paris, MJ Bale and Ralph Lauren (including Polo) are all great places to shop for men’s work wear. Online, hit up Mr Porter (it’s great even just for inspiration), East Dane and Matches Fashion.
And if I impart only one piece of advice, let it be this: never (ever) wear corporate shorts. Much like midriffs and visible G-strings, shorts should never be seen in the office. Unless your name is LeBron James.
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