Need Specific Help with 'Business Casual' pants and color matching

Discussion in 'Menswear Advice' started by Bms259, Sep 5, 2016.

  1. Bms259

    Bms259 Member

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    Dec 12, 2013
    Hey friends!

    I need some help! I need to up my 'business casual' look. I've been browsing and researching but I'm honestly stuck. I have very little fashion sense or color-coordinating skills. So while I've been able to pick up some basics and pointers and things, what I really need or some very specific suggestions. "Buy this, wear these pants with this color shirt." That kind of stuff. Feel free to talk down to me, I won't be offended!

    Here's my context: I'm in my late twenties and lead a large non-profit/community organization in a small semi-rural community. In that role I often have to give presentations & lectures to eclectic groups of people. There will a few lawyers in suits, some farmers in jeans and t-shirt and everything in between. Historically, the organization leadership has been fairly formal. The previous person in my role would often where a suit, but I am intentionally trying to create a more casual culture.

    Here's my go-to style that works well for me:
    I always wear dark-ish muted colors. I've tried to brighten it up, but it just doesn't feel right. I'm quite happy to stick with muted colors. My day-to-day in the office & out in the community is a pair of Levi 501 STFs, Wolverine 1000 mile boots, and an OCBD from JCrew Factory or Taylor Stitch. My go-to shirts are a dark gray or light gray, but I also have a dark blue, a light blue, olive green, and white that works into the mix. I have a couple linen shirts from Uniqlo and a Mechanics shirt from Taylorstitch as well. In the winter I have a dark green or dark gray quarter-zip sweater I'll wear, and occassionally a dark gray or blue v-neck sweater. When I need to present as more professional day-to-day, I have a couple sport coats I'll wear with my jeans and OCBD. I have a gun-metal watch with brown leather strap and a dark brown leather briefcase I use everyday.

    I am really happy with my day-to-day look. I feel good in it. It's simple. I can match the colors simply, because basically any color goes with dark business casual/presentation look is a different story. I'm never sure about how to match pant color and shirt color and tie color. I feel like it should be a bit more professional and put-together without crossing into formal territory.

    My current "business casual" wardrobe:
    I will wear the Oxford shirts from above, plus work in a couple broadcloth style dress shirts form JCPenny (but they don't fit well). I like the OCBDs quite well. I'll wear a skinny tie (usually wool or wool knit because I like the texture) from The Tie Bar. (I'm generally expected to wear a tie when presenting). My shoes are usually the 1000 Mile boots brushed well (though I am looking for a pair of Oxfords).

    My pants are where I have the most trouble getting good color match and fit and texture. They are usually straight cut Docker's "jean cut" khakis in British Tan, navy, or this grayish color with a hint of tan (and dark brown & black pairs that I almost never wear because I don't know how to match it). More recently I have worn a British tan Docker's Alpha Khakis in the tappered cut. The slimmer cut helps I think.

    My go-to pairings are navy Dockers with dark gray dress shirt + dark blue/gray/maroon tie, or British tan with light gray or blue shirt and tie.

    I like that it's casual, but it doesn't feel as put together as I like. The slimmer fit of the Alpha Khaki helps, but my colors are all off. In my ideal world, I would wear dark jeans, an OCBD pair with a well-fitted sport coat, but I am not (yet) allowed to wear jeans or skip the tie.

    So as specific as you can be, what should I wear?

    TL;DR I need specific suggestions for business casual pants and how to match it with my shirt & tie colors. Plus any other tips for a near hopeless cause!

    Thanks so much for you help!!

  2. Murlsquirl

    Murlsquirl The Moral Squirrel Dubiously Honored Moderator

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    May 16, 2013
    I'll be honest, I skimmed through most of that up to TL;DR. Bottom line, keep it simple. Tan and navy chinos, blue/white shirts (no crazy patterns, and simple ties (solids, repp stripe).

  3. Astaroth

    Astaroth Senior member

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    Sep 26, 2013
    I'm not a fan of navy trousers outside of suits and tan is ok or their lighter siblings of stone/kharki but would also add grey trousers (mid or light, not charcoal). Depending on your weather it could be flannel or something lighter weight.

    Shirts generally should be light colours and white and blue are by far the most univeral. Check or stripes are ok but if you want simplicity of matching with ties then add interest via texture rather than pattern - oxford, herringbone, end on end etc.

    As the above are all very neutral they can be paired with most jackets/ties etc with the one key element to ensure there is enough difference in colour between the items. Its very hard to pull off the same colour/tone with non-matching items unless there is another item creating a visual seperation

    Oxford shoes are fine but depending on material and any other decoration (toe caps, punching etc) they may be a bit too formal so potentially look at adding broguing or a more textured leather or possibly moving to the more informal derbys

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