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In Praise of Business Casual

mak1277

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Some ideas for business casual.

Sorry in advance to the people in the photo, but since this was brought up, I thought it would be a good frame of reference. IMO, a lot of stuff in this thread lacks a visual reference, so it's hard to know what people are talking about. Descriptors such as "wear a nice sweater" aren't very useful (at least to me).

I dislike this look below. It's bland and not very interesting. It's also not very flattering. It's just whatever.


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So what are some alternatives? Let's assume a suit is out of the question. We can then start with the sport coat and tie. Much has already been written about how to casualize this look without bastardizing it. Wear a jacket with a softer shoulder line instead of a structured shoulder line, choose a light blue shirt instead of white, and yes, wear derbies instead of oxfords


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The next cut is to just lose the tie. If you need to casualize it further, you can wear long-sleeve polos or chambray shirts.


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If this is still too formal, you can swap out the trousers for chinos or jeans. Note, as you do this, it's important to choose the right pants. The chinos should be single needle sewn and made like wool trousers; not double needle and what you typically find at J. Crew. If you wear jeans, they should have a certain cut (LVC 1947s work well) and the sport coat should also be dialed in accordingly (casual material, sportier cut).


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Here we go down the casual scale! Sliding down and down, but at least keeping to CM. To casualize things further, you can swap leather shoes for plain white sneakers. Good for creative fields; not so much lawyers. But again, at least we're keeping to a CM look. Here, we're still getting the flattering effects of tailoring.


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Down we go! OK, now we've dropped the tailored jacket and we're substituting it with an overcoat. On the upside, an overcoat will give you some of the flattering, face-framing effects of a sport coat. On the downside, this doesn't work for summer and it's not much help indoors. But it's an important stopping point because I think overcoats can be useful for guys who like CM but can't wear sport coats.


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OK, now you're indoors, and you can't wear a sport coat. Instead of boring, plain merino v-necks and crewneck like the people in our first photo would probably wear, I think the outfit would look better if the knit was textured. There are too many options here for "textured sweater," but you can choose among Shetlands, Arans, cable knits, some kind of interesting contemporary design, etc. I'm ambivalent about shawl collar sweaters, but some guys like them (personally would not wear a shawl collar cardigan to the office, but some guys like the pullovers, and I think they're OK).


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Another useful stopping point. I don't know if you can wear brands such as De Bonne Facture or Margaret Howell to the office, but I think they're halfway between CM and SWD. The clothes are minimalist and reasonably professional-looking. They are not too "out there." Yet, they have an aesthetic viewpoint.


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OK, let's say that's too "out there" for you, and you need to stay very close to the guys in the first photo. That still makes me kind of sad, but you can maybe try this. A button-down collar shirt that's well-tailored, a tailored pair of trousers, and please (on my hands and knees) semi-casual shoes that are a sensible color such as brown and not oxfords.


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Depending on your office environment and lifestyle, you can try to dress up the look above with various classic outerwear options, such as field jackets or Barbours. This will still make more of an aesthetic statement than the guys in the first photo of this post.


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Love this. I did have a question though about one bit:



If this is still too formal, you can swap out the trousers for chinos or jeans. Note, as you do this, it's important to choose the right pants. The chinos should be single needle sewn and made like wool trousers
If you’re in an office where jeans are OK, why would you want to limit yourself to single needle chinos? I’d think that was the perfect environment for some (nice) army chinos or cords.

I think a rugged ivy kind of vibe can work well for BC if you’re in an office where jeans are allowed.
 

artyom.le.gall

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BC, SWD, OBCD, SC..whatever.. - with the lack of acronyms opening chapter one might no green clue what it is all about. And, with such such a developed TLA+ jargon how one can decide it’s not BS?! ?
 

dieworkwear

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If you’re in an office where jeans are OK, why would you want to limit yourself to single needle chinos? I’d think that was the perfect environment for some (nice) army chinos or cords.

I think a rugged ivy kind of vibe can work well for BC if you’re in an office where jeans are allowed.
By army chinos, do you mean olive-colored chinos? Or fatigues? I like all three ideas -- olive chinos, fatigues, and five-pocket pants. I imagine fatigues + sport coat might be a bit fashion-forward for some guys.

Five-pocket cords are also a good suggestion. A little dressier than jeans
 

thatboyo

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^+1 for band collar shirts. Have a few that got regular wear pre-COVID.

Also saw that De Bonne Facture was mentioned earlier. I think their cardigan jacket can be a sub for a sport coat for a more casual workplace. Hoping they run that in more fabrics in the future.
 

Herders_Gulch

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By army chinos, do you mean olive-colored chinos? Or fatigues? I like all three ideas -- olive chinos, fatigues, and five-pocket pants. I imagine fatigues + sport coat might be a bit fashion-forward for some guys.

Five-pocket cords are also a good suggestion. A little dressier than jeans
Something like this, but maybe a chambray shirt and chukkas?
 
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mak1277

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By army chinos, do you mean olive-colored chinos? Or fatigues? I like all three ideas -- olive chinos, fatigues, and five-pocket pants. I imagine fatigues + sport coat might be a bit fashion-forward for some guys.

Five-pocket cords are also a good suggestion. A little dressier than jeans
Re: chinos I wasn’t specifying color per se, just style. Thinking about something like orSlow army chinos or the Armoury officer chinos. In khaki or green or (sorry) even navy.

I, too, like the look of a sport coat with fatigue pants, but I am not sure I’d wear that to the office.
 

Aelric

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As an aside, this is something I often do: grandfather collar shirts with tailoring. I think it works quite well to casualise things, and almost always better than t-shirts (except chunky knitted ones). I don't know why it's not discussed more often.
^+1 for band collar shirts. Have a few that got regular wear pre-COVID.
I find the biggest problem with band collar shirts is finding good ones. Any recommendations?
 

andrealed

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Just put on a jacket. That's where you get the courage to wear one: by doing it. It really won't make you stick out that much. It isn't outlandish to wear a jacket in almost any context where bc would be acceptable.
Or cardigan and tie, still a bit dressing down but sort of Ivy sixties
 

Knurt

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Interesting topic! I am the only one who has entered the world of business casual from «below»? While business casual is usually seen as dressing down, I guess many of us have arrived at these consideration literally in our t-shirt and jeans, adding sport coats, nicer shirts, a variety of trousers as our work seemed to require some sort of standard, in the process dressing up. Only rarely, at least for a long time, did the suit become an option. And now that is taken from us again…
 

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