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Is business casual a contradiction?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by ClassAct, May 4, 2012.

  1. ClassAct

    ClassAct Well-Known Member

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    22 years old and feel I need to start dressing with a bit more class. T shirt and jeans with trainers just doesn't seem cool any more.

    This urge may or may not stem from the fact that I secured a new job. Regardless, I would like to take steps developing a timeless wardrobe that will be classic and last me years of classy outfits for the workplace and the evening/weekends.

    The dress code is business casual, which usually means jeans, shirt and jacket having read through some basic guides. However I've observed that most of my colleagues will be wearing a suit trouser (usually black) with a shirt (no tie). My worry is will I be too dressed up? A lot of newbie guides always seem to recommend navy/grey suits but my fear is will this be too smart in my case?

    Currently I have some decent oxford shirts in various colours, casual polo t shirts and jeans. I have a couple of suits that I've worn to interviews and other formal occassions but these are rather cheap high street suits. With shoes I have a pair of toe cap lace ups in black and brown. I think I may need a smarter pair of boots for the heavy rain and even snow!

    The climate here changes day to day, it could be raining and freezing today then sunny tomorrow, so tips on outerwear would also be appreciated. In the winter it gets very cold and gets very warm in the summer.

    I'll also need a bag(s). I'm not sure how many I will need for my various situations. I will obviously need one for work. Holdall seems like the most sensible thing here. Backpacks would be far more comfortable but they would not look tidy at all! Another consideration is that I'll be heading to the gym after work. I'll also need something just when going out socially or heading into town, but this could be the same as the weekday bag.

    Thanks for reading and advice would be much appreciated!
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2012
  2. KObalto

    KObalto Senior member

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    Where are you located? What sort of job? Business casual in my experience means no jeans, trainers, etc. bur pretty much anything else goes. Suits would definitely be overdoing it in that environment.
     
  3. ClassAct

    ClassAct Well-Known Member

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    Located in greater London (not in the City) in a semi relaxed office environment. It's not a creative environment.

    (Also need some recommendations for luggage. I'll add to the original post for completion).
     
  4. jischwar

    jischwar Well-Known Member

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    To me, business casual means slacks, button up, maybe sportcoat. Jeans are definitely not business casual.

    I believe the best way to determine appropriate wear for the office is to see what everyone else is wearing. There is nothing wrong with being over-dressed for your first day.
     
  5. ClassAct

    ClassAct Well-Known Member

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    I didn't see anyone wearing jeans and wasn't planning to incorporate them.
    What sort of pieces would you recommend investing in?
    Bearing in mind that I'd like them to last a while and also be able to dress down/up for outside work.
     
  6. KObalto

    KObalto Senior member

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    Oxford shirts sound fine. Get some decent wool trousers in different weights and shades of grey. They are not suit trousers unless they come with a matching jacket. Maybe some cotton trousers in lighter colors like stone for summer depending on what others are wearing.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. worldrunner

    worldrunner Senior member

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    the only place b casual means jeans is in silicon valley and defense companies.
     
  8. ClassAct

    ClassAct Well-Known Member

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    Okay would tweed also be an option for the trousers?
    Would you recommend tie and sports jacket? Or would it be better to see how everyone else is dressing, as previously pointed out, and take it from there? I can't see just a trouser and shirt being that stylish [​IMG]
     
  9. KObalto

    KObalto Senior member

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    Tweed sounds fine. I wouldn't start off wearing sport jackets if others aren't. Once you get established, you can start mixing them into the rotation.
     
  10. ClassAct

    ClassAct Well-Known Member

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    Any suggestions for bags or should I start a new thread?
     
  11. plei89

    plei89 Senior member

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    I guess this has been addressed already, bug jeans is def. NOT business casual. That would be casual, in isolation — hence, casual fridays, where jeans are allowed...

    It sounds to me like you have a pretty good amount of clothes already - with your black & brown cap toes. I wouldn't wear your black cap toes everyday, I'd keep them nice and clean for formal occasions. I would invest in another pair of shoes. Definitely a good rubber soled boot for snow and rain? Rubber soled shoes for rain comes in handy...

    Don't wear black trousers or backpacks.
     
    1 person likes this.
  12. RogerC

    RogerC Senior member

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    Doing business casual right really is very simple.
    - Take Will's advice on odd trousers
    - Get yourself a number of odd jackets, making sure to cover the seasons. If you have the required odd trousers, matching them with any odd jacket will be a doddle.
    - Go to Jermyn Street and ensure you have a wide range of shirts that you can use to dress the jacket-trousers combo up or down
    - Add ties/pocket hanks as required
    - For inexpensive but good shoes, I'd look at Meermin or Markowski.
     
  13. ClassAct

    ClassAct Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to both of you, exactly the kind of advice I was looking for.
    My black toe caps are very formal, would you recommend getting a black open lace? I don't think wearing boots during summer would be entirely practical but definitely for the colder months.

    Do camel chinos count as business casual?
    The link on odd trousers is great but I was wondering how different shirts enable you to dress up or dress down.

    Any thoughts on the bag dilemma would be appreciated.
     
  14. RogerC

    RogerC Senior member

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    Most relatively classic shoes will work great in business casual. Given that most mens' shoes are rather horrible, just classic brogues, derbies, etc., will already put you ahead of 90% of the office population. Think suede oxfords or brogues, monks, etc.

    Any not too brightly coloured china is suitable.

    For shirts: imagine you have a navy jacket and stone chinos. You can make it more informal with a button-down collar, larger patterns, rougher fabric or perhaps floral prints (you are in the UK, after all), or more formal by wearing double-cuffed sky blue shirts.
     
  15. ClassAct

    ClassAct Well-Known Member

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    I think suede oxfords would be great as I could wear them on weekends as well. Would colours like Navy shoes work? A classic pair of simple brown brogues are needed I think.

    Thanks for the explanation on the shirts, good stuff!
     
  16. RogerC

    RogerC Senior member

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    Buy basics first, statement pieces later. I love navy suede shoes, but you don't want to be known as "the guy wearing these blue shoes all the time".
     
  17. ClassAct

    ClassAct Well-Known Member

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    So some tan/brown brogues for daily wear would be a sensible essential purchase?
     
  18. kalye

    kalye Well-Known Member

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    Desert boots in dark brown
    Blue pin whale cords in a 5 pocket jeans cut
    Checked shirts
    Sweaters
    I have a slim tan leather satchel for papers and another keep all for the gym
    the papers get crumpled easily even in messengers unless they are full
    Sometimes it can fit my small laptop
     
  19. plei89

    plei89 Senior member

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    Sorry sir, but we're discussing business casual here. I know some may be disagree with me, but Desert Boots are not business casual.

    For bags I'd go with a messenger bag — a leather one (color would depend on which color shoe you think you'll be wearing most often). And also you should get a canvas one from filson (great for the gym and weekend hang outs outdoors as well).

    As mentioned, I would stay away from navy suede shoes for now. If you were to get suede shoes, I'd go for chocolate brown.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2012
  20. kalye

    kalye Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: May 6, 2012

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