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Doing business casual well

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by johnnynorman3, Jan 7, 2005.

  1. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    What is your idea of doing business casual well? Does it entail using blazers/sportcoats often or always? I ask because I sometimes get frustrated with the business casual policy in my office. I sometimes wear a suit anyways -- usually without a tie -- just because. As for pure business casual days, I will go exclusively with wool slacks -- usually flat front, but a couple of pleated pair, usually in shade of grey 3 season weight flannel, some solid, but also houndstooth, glen plaid, windowpane, and (gasp) pinstripe. I will wear a dress shirt, always in a pattern (herringbone, fine pinstripes, sometimes a check pattern), mixing of barrell and french cuffs. I will often wear a fine gauge solid color wool sweater as well, usually in cashmere but sometimes merino wool. On some days I will opt for a zip or button neck sweater, but most days will go more traditional with a v-neck or crewneck. Of course, I use different shoes to mix things up.

    I make sure that my clothes fit and are (usually) pretty high quality (not Kiton quality, mind you), which to me are the two biggest problems with most business casual wardrobes.

    I don't have a single sportcoat suitable for work, because no one at my office wears them, and because I'm moving to a suits only office (sportcoats on Fridays maybe) fairly shortly. Still, I'd like to have one or two high quality blazers if I can pick them up cheaply.

    So, should I try to integrate sportcoats more into my wardrobe? I don't want to be the "guy in the blue blazer" mind you. But on the other hand, really cool odd jackets would stand out a bit much in the office here, I'd think. Am I doing all I can to get mileage out of business casual?
     
  2. Alexis

    Alexis Senior member

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    Whatever is wrong being the guy in the blue blazer? [​IMG]
     
  3. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    Fair enough, but I don't feel like dropping that much money on a Borrelli blazer if I can help it. You're right though that a well-cut blue blazer can be nice. I must admit that I'm looking at one on Ebay right now.
     
  4. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    I have a variety of odd jackets in charcoal and navy, some with patterns, and pair them with a polo and wool slacks, I think its a good way to do bus casual that is more interesting than dress shirt/slacks or the like.
     
  5. curt222

    curt222 Active Member

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    Johnny, like you, I am a lawyer in a business casual office. I generally wear a coat 2 to 3 times a week. I have at least 4 sportscoats that I wear - a solid blue, a black and grey houndstooth, a brown glen plaid and a blue and tan houndstooth. All of very nice quality picked up on Ebay or at FB. Personally, I like the look of a coat for business casual. I think it presents a more serious and business like presence. I always wear wool pants with the coat and an appropriate button down shirt. Occassionally I'll add a tie to the wardrobe.

    I don't, however, like the blue coat with everything look. A blue coat coordinated with the right pants and shirt once a week is fine. Every day is very boring.
     
  6. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    I have slaved over the high quality business casual look for four years and have all but given up. A suit is easy, in my opinion, compared with matching up blazers, odd coats, dress slacks, etc. It is much more difficult for me to get the components in an outfit to work together when the blazer is of one cloth and color, the pants of another, etc. My basic strategy has been to choose a color tone that most suits my complexion and build ensembles around it. I have to be very disciplined about bringing any thing new in to my wardrobe that does not support what is already there. In other words, if I buy the fancy, totally cool pair of orange slacks, the dark brown sweater, or the super duper neat-o sport coat cut from satanically incompatible beige, then I'm screwed running around trying to buy stuff that goes with them (unless I want to look like a tree in autumn. Hey. Maybe that's not such a bad idea.). But if I stick with certain classics--a black blazer of medium weight wool; a charcoal herringbone sport coat--I can use these as palates, I can build a wardrobe, not a headache of choices in the morning. To do business casual well, one must be capable of managing the endless winding roads available once you decide to drive off the tried and true highway of the two-piece suit.

    My basic advice regarding one contemplating the route of high-end/high-quality business casual is to drive slowly and beware of seducing yourself in to a purchase each time you see something that makes you think wow. Suits simplify dressing to a great degree (I am talking in general here). If you go off the beaten path, know that's where you are and that there are pitfalls.

    For what it's worth...and good luck.
     
  7. Brian SD

    Brian SD Senior member

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    I generally detest anything related to "business casual" but I think a navy blazer looks very nice when paired with a sharp pair of gray trousers.
     
  8. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    I think that in terms of sportcoats, the most obvious choices for me would be plain worsteds, or herringbone worsteds. Even a glen plaid -- as much as I love them (they seem to work with everything from jeans to trousers), and as much as I really love them for suits -- are already pushing the edge in terms of the "headache" that Johnapril speaks of. I think I should try to pick up a basic first, and then see if branching out into more creative patterns is a step I would want to take.

    I must say, though, mixing dress shirts, slacks, and shoes can be much more than the plain broadcloth, plain trousers look. I think that at least three times a week I'm mixing patterns and fabrics fairly interestingly.
     
  9. Will

    Will Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    A simple variety of business casual is comprised of what Londoners would consider Friday suits, worn with a mock turtleneck.

    Examples being a black and white glen check, a gray flannel, a tan gabardine and an olive poplin.

    I wear this dress almost exclusively when visiting tieless businesses (once in a while I'll dress down to an odd jacket and casual shoes). The only decisions one faces are color of sweater, shoes, and pocket square.

    Will
     
  10. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Senior member

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    If you already have a suit in this pattern, why will it be difficult to coordinate a sportscoat in the same pattern?  Just add khaki or gray slacks and you have your outfit.  I think houndstooth and glen plaid (particularly with a subtle windowpane) patterns are much more visually interesting than plain worsted and herringbones.
     
  11. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    C,

    I think that it becomes slightly more difficult to make sure that the colors in the jacket pattern coordinate well with the pants -- glen plaids have more colors/shades involved, which makes it much more likely to clash (or "stand out") from the pants. While I don't mind that personally -- indeed, like it quite a bit -- it is a little bit too sartorially sophisticated for my office. Like we've discussed in the past, you don't want to be known as "that guy that looks like the Paul Stuart ad" in the office. Bad rep, man.
     
  12. TCN

    TCN Senior member

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    I once hated Friday casual, but I've come to like it, and feel that if done well, can actually be fun.

    Today (Friday), I'm wearing a Samuelsohn brown tweed jacket (w/ loden and burgundy windowpaning), a white and loden tattersall button-down shirt, khaki trousers, brown wing-tip Aldens, and a paisley Polo bow-tie. A bit English professory, but fun.
     
  13. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Senior member

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    Or you can give in to the dark side and wear a polo shirt and pleated khakis. Â [​IMG]
     
  14. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    With a hooters logo on it.

    If I could find a double vented brown/black glen plaid with a very deep burgundy windowpane jacket, I'd buy it in a second.
    I saw a similar coat to this at Louis, but alas, even on sale it would be $650.
     
  15. curt222

    curt222 Active Member

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    90% of the time I am able to match and feel comfortable about the look of the coat, pants and shirt. The other 10% I take the coat off and go with wool pants and a button down all day. Personally, I think the houndstooth and glen plaids just look better than a herringbone jacket or a plain blazer.
     
  16. johnnynorman3

    johnnynorman3 Senior member

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    Curt, I wholeheartedly agree -- which is why I hate working in my office. I can't wait until I move to London -- I'm expatriating someday if the GOP keeps winning.
     
  17. STYLESTUDENT

    STYLESTUDENT Senior member

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    Gray flannels or olive corduroy. Solid white or blue button-downs. Then, the jacket color and pattern starts to matter little. Ask Flusser (or me-too difficult to coordinate a plaid jacket with a patterned shirt). As to JN3's comment regarding the need for lawyers to expatriate because of GW Bush's victory, my very liberal wife wants us to retire to Italy. "But you can still work over there", she says (she's thinking of a villa in Tuscany, because of a movie she saw recently). I guess they need lawyers over there who can't speak Italian and are unable to read the road signs to get to court (let alone write a brief). [​IMG]
     
  18. Etruscan

    Etruscan Senior member

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    Just because business casual is so often done poorly doesn't mean it isn't worth doing well. In some ways, the fact that so many men dress so badly every Friday only makes one's own efforts shine a bit more brightly. I don't work in a very sartorially formal environment. As a public agency, the men are generally in ties but often enough shirtsleeves are the order of the day. I wear suits only 2 or at the most 3 days out of the week, thus on the other days I'm in a sportcoat of some kind. I virtually always wear wool trousers, except occasionally in summer, when I might choose a sufficiently dressy cotton or linen pair. Even then, however, tropical or lightweight wool is more likely. On Friday I omit the tie in acknowledgment that my male colleagues will have open collars, but never forgo the pocket square. In winter, I often wear heavier sportcoats (tweeds and the like) but sometimes I opt for a sweater, generally a cardigan (except on the cold, snowy days when a pullover might seem right). Whether zip- or button-fronted, a good many of my cardigans can almost be worn as sportcoats (one's even double-breasted) so the omission of an actual jacket isn't such a departure. I find it's a good way to get a bit more wear out of my sweaters (hence justifying my tendency to acquire ever more.), and try not to repeat one over the course of the winter. For anyone who enjoys wearing garments of as high a quality as he can afford, and who moreover relishes combining their colors, patterns and textures (and surely that's why we're on this forum), business casual can provide not only a sartorial tonic but a rewarding visual exercise as well. Nonetheless, I'm glad it's a Friday-only affair for me, as otherwise when would I get to wear my suits and ties? [​IMG]
     
  19. TCN

    TCN Senior member

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] With corporate logo . . . it's a must.
     
  20. TCN

    TCN Senior member

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    That's funny, my wife seems to think my admission to the Michigan Bar is something employers in Paris would actually be desirous of, let alone give a rat's a$$. [​IMG]
     

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