Business Casual Men: Simplified Guide

Quick take on business casual men attire.

Merry New Year, my friends. 2019 has arrived, and we’re still here! How did your wardrobe look in 2018? Was it ‘wear’ you wanted it to be or just the same old thing?

While I’m no Giorgio Armani, nor Versace, and in 2018 I do not recall being mistaken for James Bond, I have spent a few minutes (20ish years) in the men’s clothing world and have seen the best and worst of what gentleman would call their ‘business casual’ and/or their ‘social’ attire – guys, it may need a bit of work. Now I’m not going to lay out a hundred black and white rules on what to or when to, but perhaps just a few guidelines may be helpful.

What is business casual for men?

We are in the midst of a fabulous time with regard to personal style. Men are aggressively putting combos together, and made-to-measure clothing is seemingly everywhere as men have become more and more detail conscious. That said, one message from clients seems to repeat year after year: “Damon, I don’t like business casual,” or “don’t have a clue what it means.” You sir, are not alone. It is probably the most ‘googled’ men’s clothing question from businessmen just like…you.

First of all, transparency check – my own ‘after work’ casual rotation had dwindled the past 18 months as I found myself wearing the full suit or blazer office gear by day, then carpooling my boys to one of their seemingly endless extracurricular activities draped in my favorite Maryland Terrapins or Detroit team hoodies and sweats by night. So prior to the arrival of the holiday work/social functions, I added a few classic sweaters and gave new life to my sans necktie game. But we’ll address the ‘social calendar’ section of your closet later. Today I’m talking about the dreaded days or weeks when clients and/or colleagues look at your suit and mutter under their breath ‘overdressed son of a..’

Men’s Business Casual Tips

Back in the day, I loved to say ‘Confidence is sexy.’ I’m not sure when or from whom I first heard the phrase, but I quickly adopted it as my own – and my peeps expected to hear it from me. I thought it was applicable in every aspect of life, but always was quick to point out that while it was undoubtedly true, be wary of his evil cousin, Arrogance – he’s just ugly. My point? Do not overdo your boldness on those non suit casual days – be true to yourself and the confidence will shine, but too much and your bold is quickly seen as just LOUD.

“Can I wear this suit coat as a blazer or sport coat with jeans?” This is a perfect example of the lack of confidence that even the top CEO can feel about business casual. The short answer is negatory, Robert Horry – you cannot double THAT jacket! But the reality is likely that will do it anyway because you saw a television anchor or that guy in your office always sporting that look. So let’s do it right!

How to Build a Robust Casual Wardrobe

As a matter of fact, it’s often this haberdashers recommendation with a client looking for new additions to the rotation, a subtle windowpane or plaid that can indeed ‘double down’ when combined with the right trousers and shirts. Vertical integration is what the cool kids do. Perfect example, two of my recent additions: one a solid navy suit and the other a blue and green plaid (pants of each go beautifully with jackets of the other). I’ve got like 20 outfits right there! Ok…maybe not 20, but you’d be surprised how far a few combinations will take you. If you’re not sure if a suit coat will look good as a sportcoat, it probably doesn’t. Start simple.

First things first: update your navy suit and a navy blazer. As I discussed earlier in 2018, the versatility of the solid navy is unparalleled. My goal when my navy suit (Dormueil cloth – more on cloth in the future) arrived was to wear, at least the jacket, as an outfit a minimum of 3 days each week. Now I did get a second pair of trousers for the suit (one cuffed, one plain bottom) which allowed me to create even more options while not concerning myself with wearing out issues (allow the cloth to rest/revive). Bear in mind, not just any navy suit jacket can double as a blazer – not in my opinion anyway! In order to create that option, I spiced up this jacket with subtle details, tan buttonholes and a throat tab that can be removed for a more formal look when desired.

Final Thoughts on Business Casual Attire

Simply put, be aggressive but remember that less is more.
Make 2019 the year you feel like you presented your best dressed version every dang day! Cheers!

Damon W. www.alexcustom.com #lookgoodalways

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