Business Attire For Men: The Dress Code Guide

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Dressing appropriately for the workplace is essential. Wearing the right clothes for your work environment will help you to earn the respect of your colleagues, bosses, and clients. On the one hand, overly formal attire can make you seem too severe, or just plain boring. 

On the other hand, a wardrobe that is too casual for your workplace may cause people to think that you don't take your job seriously and cause you to be designated the office slob. Here is what you need to know about business attire for men

History Of Business Attire For Men

Up until a few decades ago, men always wore a suit to the office. A suit is generally  defined as a matching pair of pants and jacket, generally of a solid color, occasionally boasting faint patterns. Under the jacket, men wore white or sometimes light blue dress shirts and neckwear, usually a bow tie or silk tie. Brown shoes were discouraged in favor of black, since brown dress shoeswere considered appropriate for non-business attire, while black shoes meant a more elevated form of business apparel . 

As time went on, conventions around suiting became relaxed somewhat. The top hats that were often worn along with business suits slowly disappeared. Mainstays such as the waistcoat vanished as well. The dark suit, necktie, and lace-up leather shoes remained, but only for the most formal business settings. 

Business Attire For Men Today

In modern times, suits are still appropriate for formal business settings. However, a significant portion of businesses have done away with the need for a full suit, settling for a dress shirt, pants, and a tie, with a sports coat being worn in cooler climates. Dress shoes are still important, but conventions regarding the color are less strict than they have been in the past. 

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Business Formal Settings: The Suit

For formal business settings that require a suit, one can choose from a broader spectrum than before. A dark suit is still a safe choice, but you can also choose navy or dark blue and shades of grey from charcoal to light gray. 

Most of the time solid suits are preferred, but small patterns like needle head or pinpoint are acceptable as well. In fancier settings, a subtle pinstripe or chalk stripe may be appropriate, but it is better to stick with solid colors or very subtle patterns. 

When deciding between side and center vents, side vents are generally the preferable option since they let you put your hands in your pockets and don’t expose your behind. 

As a general rule, the shirt worn with your suit should be a subtle light color that contrasts the color of the suit. White is the safest option, but light blue may be a good choice as well. On some occasions, other pastel colors like pale pink or green may also be appropriate. You can also include a pocket square as a contrast to include a more stylish flare to your professional attire. 

Semi-Formal Business Settings: Dress Pants And Shirt

In most business settings, a full suit is not necessary and may even be inappropriately formal. For the vast majority of businesses, an attractive dress shirt paired with well-fitted dress pants will do the trick. Here's what you need to know about dressing for semi-formal settings.

Pants

The dress pants that you choose should be a subtle color without a pattern. Black is always a good option, as are greys like charcoal or slate. Blue is also a wonderful choice for dress pants, with darker blue such as navy or a deep midnight blue being preferable to lighter shades. 

Khaki pants or chinos are a business casual standard that work well for most offices, and can match with almost any shirt color. Here are some things to look for in your next  pair of dress pants:.

  • Non-iron fabric: If the fabric that your pants are made of is prone to wrinkling, you can absolutely expect to have creased trousers at the end of a long day. After all, sitting for extended periods at an office desk is not the best way to keep your pants from getting wrinkled. To combat this, choose a pair of pants made of non-iron fabric, like these Performance Pants from Twillory. 
  • Stretch: If you are in decent shape and choose pants that fit you well, you may wonder why having some stretch in the fabric is important. Once you sit down in pants that have stretch material, the difference will become clear. Pants with a little bit of stretch will make it much more comfortable for you to sit for longer periods of time, and will also look great when you stand up.
  • A shirt-gripping waistband: In the vast majority of cases, it is appropriate to wear a shirt tucked  throughout the day. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a partly untucked shirt or a shirt that keeps becoming untucked, so make sure that you choose pants that have a waistband that will grip your shirt to help it stay tucked in.
  • Breathable and sweat-wicking: You want your pants to be comfortable for as long as you wear them, even when you step outside for a break on hot days. You would also probably prefer to avoid sweat stains when you exert yourself in the office or when the temperature is a bit warm. Fabric that wicks away sweat and is highly breathable will keep you comfortable and looking great.
  • Zippered pockets: It’s pretty frustrating when pens, pencils, business cards, and other things you don't want to lose go missing when you put them in your pocket. Having a couple of zippered pockets at your disposal is a great idea.

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Shirt

If you are required to wear a suit jacket at work, you generally can only choose from a couple of neutral colors. If, on the other hand, your work attire is a button-down dress shirt with dress pants, you have many options to choose from. 

All kinds of colors and patterns can be appropriate, including patterns such as windowpane and various sizes of houndstooth. A good rule of thumb is to always choose a pattern that is a little toned down from what you might wear in your personal time. 

This allows you to express your personality while still looking professional. Accents like buttons that have a contrasting color, such as in this attractive Twillory Navy Performance Dress Shirt, can add a lot of style while still looking very professional. Here are some things that you should look for in the shirts that you choose for business dress.

  • Non-iron fabric: Your pants aren’t the only thing that tends to wrinkle when you sit in an office for extended periods. Your shirt will be prone to wrinkling as well unless it is made of a non-iron fabric. Non-iron fabric allows you to roll your shirt sleeves up and down as much as you like without ending up a crumpled mess by the end of the day. This fabric will also keep the back of the shirt from becoming wrinkled as you sit.
  • Moisture-wicking and breathable: The last thing that you want is sweat stains under the sleeves of your dress shirt, so make sure to choose a fabric that will wick moisture away and is highly breathable to keep you dry and comfortable.
  • Stretchable material: A slight stretch is convenient in your dress shirt since it is more comfortable, especially when you are sitting down.

Business Casual

More and more businesses are forgoing the formality of business attire in exchange for a more casual workplace. Business casual dress code is a broad category that can range from everything from dress shirts and pants to polo shirts, and may even include t-shirts and denim. 

As a rule of thumb, you don't want to be the most formal or the most casual outfit in your workplace. Just because some of your colleagues are wearing denim to work does not mean that this is a good decision for you (or for them, but that’s not your problem!). If you're looking for smarter casual options that still look business professional, and fit you well without needing to be tucked in, an Untuck(able) Twillory Shirt may be perfect for your needs. 

These shirts are cut at just the right length and angle to look amazing without ever needing to be tucked in. If you have the kind of work place where everybody wears denim, one of these untuckable shirts will look wonderful with jeans while keeping you a little bit more formal than others in your workplace. You could also add a cardigan or light sweater over the top to remain professional yet comfortable.

Business Attire For Men Is Full Of Choices

As you can see, there is no reason to be boring when choosing your menswear attire. There are all kinds of attractive options in business attire for men, especially if yours requires a dress shirt and pants and does not insist upon a men's suit.  

Many businesses don't formally list their dress code, so err on the side of more formal at the beginning of a new job and use your colleagues as a meter to help you determine just how much formality is really required. Remember, you never want to be the most formal or the most casual person in your workplace.


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