While the implication of a dress code is that it will aid the process of deciding what to wear, sometimes they can feel like more of a hindrance than a help. The workplace equivalent of the decidedly loose – and often infuriating – term that is 'smart casual', business casual has become commonplace since the rise of dot-com industries.
In an attempt to de-code the sartorial convention, we’ve identified the key business casual pieces and asked Craig Landale of Menswear Style and GarçonJon.com’s Jonathan Daniel Pryce for their styling tips. Just because you don’t have to wear a suit doesn’t mean you should let things slip, as Craig concurs: "It’s amazing how looking good can help you in business."
A Tailored Blazer
"Getting the blazer right is key because it creates the main structure of a look, whether it’s paired with tailored trousers or jeans," explains Jonathan. "I always begin my business casual outfit with a sharp navy or grey tailored blazer," agrees Craig. "A breathable fabric combined with the perfect fitting helps me to stay fresh throughout the day." Worthy of a few hangers in your wardrobe, build your blazer collection steadily, turning to Paul Smith for weaves and cuts inspired by classic English tailoring and Saint Laurent for rock 'n' roll edge.
Let layering come into its own by picking out refined knits in a lightweight gauge that will sit equally well atop collared shirts as they will underneath a blazer; "You can’t go wrong with a very thin cashmere jumper," Jonathan suggests.
The days when denim was preserved for farm hands and miners might be long gone, but business casual-worthy jeans need to chosen and looked after with care. Save sandblasted and faded denim for the weekend, opting for indigo jeans with fuss-free finishes. Make Armani Jeans your go-to for straight leg styles and try Adriano Goldschmied for a more tailored feel.
One of the shoe department’s most versatile styles, a good loafer is hard to beat. "The only brand of loafers I own is Tod's," Jonathan admits. "They're so comfortable and the colours used go with so much." We’re fans of the classic Gucci Horsebit Leather Loafer, too.
"Don't be under-prepared for your meetings without the right equipment."Craig Landale
Extolling the importance of a well-chosen briefcase, Craig advises: "Don't completely ruin your look with a low quality and cheap-looking bag; equally, don't be under-prepared for your meetings without the right equipment." Luxury labels from Mulberry to Valentino have got all requirements covered.
Not convinced by the rise of smart watches, Craig explains: "For many men in business, their watch is a projection of their aspiration, success and personality. No smart watch can match that. My simple rules include: If you're wearing black shoes, you'll need a black leather or silver watch strap; if you're wearing brown, go for a brown leather watch strap."
Last but not least, don’t let your ensemble down with a pair of boring socks. Ideal for injecting a hint of colour and personality, choose your socks in Paul Smith stripes or Alexander McQueen skulls.