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Smart casual in workplace

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Right now, where I'm working, the place is really casual. And, my position is near the bottom of the totem pole. I've heard that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. However, my boss dresses very casual. And, even, the VPs dress pretty casual. I've never seen anybody wear a suit here. So dressing in a suit would just come off as pretentious and ridiculous. And, nobody wears a tie either. Just by wearing a dress shirt, I'm aleady dressing better than most of my coworkers. My dilema is how to dress casual like everybody else, but still come off as somewhat professional and dressy. Right now, I wear dress shirts, with the top two buttons undone on the dress shirt to give a layered look, while wearing a white crew undershirt underneath. But, it seems that this look wasn't highly thought of on this forum. Does anybody have any suggestions for trying to pull a casual smart look in the office? I'm thinking of wearing french cuffs with silk knots, even though I'm not wearing a suit. And, are my Allen Edmonds Park Avenue captoe shoes too formal to wear with just a dress shirt and pants?
post #2 of 23
What about a white shirt, tucked in to some dark evenly washed jeans, and a black or brown blazer. Or as above but replace the shirt with a sweater, and please for god's sake don't wear anything under the sweater..
post #3 of 23
Quote:
I've heard that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
This is a silly trope that really should be retired from the canon of "style rules."  If all it means is that one should take some pride in one's appearance, and dress with respect for yourself, for others, and for your industry, then fine -- but why not say that? But "dress for the job you want" ... let's see ... I want to be the boss ... should I dress like my boss?  Should a 22 year-old guy just starting out in the mailroom dress like a 50+ year old CEO who makes a hefty 6-figure salary?  At its worst, this maxim encourages people to overdress in environments that are very status concious and unforgiving.  We all bemoan and attack "conformity": I hate it as much as anyone.  But reality often intrudes: if you want to advance in a conservative, hierarchical industry, they way to do it is not through drawing undue attention to your clothes.  So forget the maxim. As to specifics, I would avoid french cuffs and captoes.  They really only go well with suits.  You could try trading cotton pants for wool pants.  Or instead of wearing chinos, get some nicer cotton pants cut like tailored trouses.  The shirts you describe sound good.  Button downs look better without a tie than other collars.  As for shoes, get a nice pair (or two) of high quality loafers -- maybe one brown, and one black.
post #4 of 23
Manton, I have to respectfully disagree. I love my AE Byron cap-toes. I wear them with everything, and they look great. I also own French cuff shirts exclusively, and wearing silk knots without a jacket or tie adds a touch of personality. I get compliments constantly. Esquire, It sounds like you are making good choices. I might change the color of the undershirt to something darker, like navy, or charcoal. Those stretch undershirts from CK or Structure work great with this look. I heartily support silk knots, they are not too dressy, they are just unique and attractive when worn casually. I would probably wear wool pants too. -Tom
post #5 of 23
This thread is right on topic at my work place right now. A friend of mine in accounting had been called to task on his wardrobe. We're a "business casual / business appropriate" environment with many cross-organizational and cross-location associates at our location. Our offices are also attached to one of our manufacturing facilities. If I told you he wears khaki's and polo's then he wears what most other men here wear. But he's on the edge... pants are usually a more casual material, usually baggier than most; his polos are "vintage" RL's, Lands End, etc...; shoes are clogs. It doesn't help that they're usually wrinkled. He's prolly up for a controller level position in the very near future. He's taken the feedback more as a personal attack than as contructive criticism. When given the "dress for the job you want" speech he responded with "we're paid for performance, not the way we look" cliche. I've tried to tell him that the two ideas are not mutually exclusive but he won't have anything to do with it. I've decided to let it go as it's his fight an not mine... if he chooses not to listen to HR or me then it on him. For what it's worth, I usually stick with nicer pants and button downs and wear more casual patterned FC shirts with knots on occasion. I save the dress whites and french blues for more formal events.
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Quote:
(esquire. @ 10 Oct. 2004, 12:19) I've heard that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
But "dress for the job you want" ... let's see ... I want to be the boss ... should I dress like my boss?  Should a 22 year-old guy just starting out in the mailroom dress like a 50+ year old CEO who makes a hefty 6-figure salary?  At its worst, this maxim encourages people to overdress in environments that are very status concious and unforgiving.  We all bemoan and attack "conformity": I hate it as much as anyone.  But reality often intrudes: if you want to advance in a conservative, hierarchical industry, they way to do it is not through drawing undue attention to your clothes.  So forget the maxim. As to specifics, I would avoid french cuffs and captoes.  They really only go well with suits.  You could try trading cotton pants for wool pants.  Or instead of wearing chinos, get some nicer cotton pants cut like tailored trouses.  The shirts you describe sound good.  Button downs look better without a tie than other collars.  As for shoes, get a nice pair (or two) of high quality loafers -- maybe one brown, and one black.
I don't think this is totally valueless. I think the inference in this maxim is that the job one wants is their immediate supervisor's, and therefore they should dress in kind--a notch above their peers, but still within office culture.
post #7 of 23
as for smart casual, I like to mix casual with formal elements. Occasionally I will wear an old-school track jacket over a dress shirt, or a v-neck sweater with pinstriped pants and classic sneakers. Usually it means a blazer of some sort with jeans, and either loafers or classic sneakers. Slim-fit cords are another excellent alternative to denim, fwiw. While some manifestations of smart casual may be a little too progressive or irreverent for some, it can be done with quality details and it conforms to casual without being monotonous or underdressed.
post #8 of 23
First, white crewneck undershirts nearly always look cheap to me when they are showing under another shirt. I would first switch to other colors and/or v-neck undershirts. I have some white v-necks from Perry Ellis that I bought specifically because they are a small neck that still shows under a two-buttons-open dress shirt, not the old man style with the deep chest hair gorge. (No offense to anyone who wears those. ) What kind of pants are you wearing? You didn't say. As for the shoes, they might be a little severe if they're black but I doubt any normal people notice the difference anyway. I'd probably stay away from black shoes if possible in a casual office. Anyway, no matter how nice they are black shoes tend to have less character. I say this looking in my closet at almost all black shoes. I think dressing for the station above your own is reasonable. Dressing like the CEO is ridiculous unless it's a small step from your own wardrobe. Besides if everyone dressed for the job he really wanted we'd have all these people in space suits walking around...
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
This is my reasoning for wearing a white crew t-shirt underneath a dress shirt with the top two buttons undone- I think that a white dress shirt with a dark suit is the most business look possible. And, I feel that even though I am not wearing a suit, I am referencing that sharp contrast of the suit with my dress shirt and white crew t-shirt. I don't do this if I'm wearing a white dress shirt. Its also important to not wear a ratty crew tshirt if you do this. My pants are micofiber, a fancy name for polyster. But, they actually look kinda dressy. And, they were a discontinued style, so I was able to get them for a very good price which is an important factor when you look at my paycheck. I only dress in khakis on friday, cause everybody dresses down even more on those days. I live in SoCal, so I don't know if wool pants would work. I think of wool as something for the winter, and here, its summer year round. I can understand why my shoes might be too dressy, since they have a leather sole. But, would even a captoe with rubber soles be too formal? If you think about it, captoes are already less formal than a shoe with no lines or decorations. What shoes would everybody wear in this enviornment?
post #10 of 23
I usually wear wool pants day to day even here in Southern Cal... I think a lighter weight wool pant will be fine for our climate.
post #11 of 23
Quote:
I've heard that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
I want to be a rockstar, but I work in an office. Does this rule still hold true.
post #12 of 23
Quote:
I want to be a rockstar, but I work in an office. Does this rule still hold true.  
And I work in academia, but want to be a porn star.
post #13 of 23
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post #14 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
And I work in academia, but want to be a porn star.
Actually, I would really encourage this. I don't think there are any asian males in the american porn industry. You could be the first, and represent. Break down those barriers. But, I think if you are a man, you must start doing gay porn first before you can do porn with women. You might have to start off as a fluffer. As to the original statement about dressing for the job you want, I think it refers to the immediate position above you and not to the highest position in your company.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
But, I think if you are a man, you must start doing gay porn first before you can do porn with women. You might have to start off as a fluffer.
Not true (used to know some people in Van Nuys,) but still, ouch.
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