The workplace may be a far more casual place than in recent years, but that doesn’t mean that ‘Casual Friday’ should involve a compromise on style. With a little know-how and some key pieces, you can navigate the smart-casual dress code with ease and style – and still look the business!
The failsafe solution when you don’t have to suit up but still wish to appear presentable is to stick to some tried-and-tested classics - key pieces that will form the foundations of a smart-casual outfit, and that can be easily mixed and matched to work with a number of different looks. The following six items should see you breeze through any dress-down day and even score a few style points in the process.
Whatever your work environment, it’s hard to go wrong with a tailored jacket, which will give your torso structure and shape.
Why is a jacket so highly recommended? Because it provides an instant boost: drape a sharp blazer over your back and it will elevate any outfit up a notch or two. Whether it’s a classic navy blazer or a stylish sports coat, though, the key is to choose one that’s immaculately cut and perfectly tailored.
And should even the thought of a blazer sound a little too ‘formal’, bear in mind that it can be easily dressed down with the addition of more casual pieces.
It’s impossible to go wrong with a crisp, fitted, open-neck shirt in white, baby blue or even pink. If you’re looking for something with a bit of edge and personality, though, look to a patterned shirt to make more of a style statement.
Whether it’s a discreet check, a more daring floral print or something in-between, a stylish print is the perfect way to add a pop of colour to an outfit, and to really personalise your look.
A high-quality sweater is a staple that every man should have in his wardrobe artillery. A brilliant blend of form and function, it’s particularly useful for ‘Dress-Down Friday’ as, layered over a tee or a shirt, it can look smart yet effortless.
When pulling on a pullover for the workplace, though, make sure it’s the right kind. Aim for a thin-gauge, slim-cut sweater that layers as easily over a shirt as it does under a jacket. And, unless you work in a creative industry, it’s probably best to steer clear of any dizzy prints or patterns – opt, instead, for an understated solid colour and you'll be able to team it with almost anything.
Options for trousers are, thankfully, several, depending on the industry in which you work in. If it’s an artistic or creative field, denim is quite possibly perfectly acceptable. Skip the distressed jeans, though, in favour of more classic dark, fitted denims, which can be paired with some chunky brogues or even a pair of casual trainers.
If it’s a more traditional workspace, consider some classic chinos or, as an elegant alternative, some slim-cut wool trousers, which will give you a leaner silhouette, no matter what your size.
Trick your feet out in a pair of polished brown, black or burgundy leather loafers and you’re unlikely to go far wrong. Alternatively, consider a pair in suede to anchor any outfit with an easy sophistication.
Unless you’re a creative, we’d recommend keeping accessories away from the workplace. The one exception? A versatile bag or briefcase which will ensure your laptop, magazines and work paraphernalia are as well put together as the rest of your outfit.
On a final note, remember: whether you work in an office, off-site or on a shop floor, creating a smart appearance is key in giving you an extra confidence boost in the workplace. Get your outfit right and be remembered for the right reasons.