5 Steps to Upgrading Your Business Casual Clothing
by Antonio Centeno
Art of Manliness
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work used to be simple. Men typically donned a full suit and there
were rules to dressing that were passed on from father to son. These
dressing guidelines were reinforced by society and informative publications
that educated men on dressing well.
began to change hats disappeared, jackets were left at home,
and mens magazines started focusing on fleeting fashion and
designer clothing. Casual Fridays turned into casual weeks and somewhere
along the way men forgot how to dress properly.
Let me be clear:
You do not have to wear a three-piece suit to look great and conduct
business; in fact, if you worked at a company like Patagonia or
Google, this type of clothing could work against you. And really
no particular set of clothing does justice to what it truly means
to dress sharp. Dressing sharp goes beyond any article of clothing.
Dressing sharp is about taking pride in what you wear and controlling
what your image says to those with whom youve never spoken.
khakis a size too big paired with a baggy dress or polo shirt
into any office today and youll see men dressed in this new
uniform of business casual. But what you wear to the office doesnt
have to be boring, frumpy, and Dilbert-esque.
outlines five guidelines that can take your business casual look
from bland and unimaginative corporate-drone to smart and sharp
go-getter. Whether you are managing a diner or selling commercial
space in a retail center you want others to view you as competent
and trustworthy. And although the right clothing doesnt guarantee
you or your potential clients anything it does set a good
tone that you can build off of.
Get the Right Fit
that do not look sharp are actually fine in terms of
color and style. The problem is often fit. Its the most overlooked
way to improve a mans wardrobe and often the cheapest.
The point to
understand about proper
clothing fit is that your clothing should have a defined shape
as it drapes over your body. Even if youre a bigger guy, you
want clothes that dont billow and sag. It is a common misconception
that loose clothing makes a large man look better or provides a
higher degree of comfort. In fact, the opposite is true. Clothing
that is too loose is made to fit a different body type and will
length is the starting point of a good fit. Trousers should fall
just far enough to break on your shoes: the cuff should
rest slightly on the top of the shoe but not bundle up with excess
cloth there. Jeans can be worn slightly longer as the bunching on
a narrower cut spreads out better over the leg but dont
be afraid to have them shortened and ask before purchasing if this
is a service the store provides for free.
should rest comfortably right above your hips, around the natural
waist (the narrowest point on your torso, usually). Jeans will fit
lower at the trouser waist, as will many modern cut chinos and dress
slacks. The lower cut is easy to pull off when your waist is smaller
than your chest once the reverse is true you need to seriously
consider moving away from low-cut trousers as they will never stay
up properly. Start thinking suspenders they are a lot more
practical and stylish than pulling up your pants every few minutes.
should extend far enough to cover your wrist bone when standing
with your arms hanging down. Take a look at where the sleeve joins
the shoulder too that seam should fall neatly on the end
of your bodys shoulder, not hanging down on your bicep. Jacket
sleeves, if you wear one, should start in the same place and be
just a touch shorter, so that a half-inch or so of shirt sleeve
is visible beyond the cuff. Shirt length should be enough that you
can tuck at least 2 inches in all around less than that and
your shirt will come un-tucked every time you stretch to grab something.
If the length
of your clothing is sufficient, the next step is to ensure the clothing
fits well circumference-wise or at least close enough so that a
tailor can adjust it. A mans clothing should fit close to
the body with just enough slack to let you move comfortably.
that the vast majority of men in the United States are accustomed
to wearing their clothing too large, so when they wear clothing
that actually fits, it may initially feel restrictive. Proceed towards
closer fitting clothing with caution and ask a trusted friend to
give you straight advice and feedback. Youll find that you
can adjust to the new fit and improved appearance quickly.
attention to the rise in the trousers the distance
between the waistband and the crotch seam. If the seam that joins
the legs is hanging a few inches below your actual crotch, youre
going to get a saggy look that translates straight to your thighs
and your bottom.
a shirt, make sure it fits you in the shoulders this isnt
something you want to adjust, as the needed tailoring will often
cost more than the shirt itself. Next look at the fabric in the
torso most of us will find that if the neck and sleeve length
are right, the torso looks like a balloon. The easiest way to avoid
swimming in fabric is to buy either a slim cut dress shirt or go
custom. Another option, if the problem isnt too bad (3 inches
or less) is to have a seamstress dart the dress shirt basically
tucking in the fabric semi-permanently with stitching.
impossible to find off-the-rack menswear that fits perfectly. Take
the time to find
a tailor that you like and get to know him or her. Small adjustments
to clothing (shortening sleeves, taking the waist of a shirt in
some, etc.) are fairly inexpensive and will make all the difference
in how you look. Getting rid of eye-grabbing extra fabric and saggy
clothing is absolutely the best way a man can update his business
Improve Your Color Scheme
A big thanks
to Barron over at The
Effortless Gent for this chart that shows the difference color
can make. Visit his
website for more higher resolution charts just like this.
drone look is easy to spot: khaki trousers and a white or
blue dress shirt. This combination is safe because its so
common. However if youre reading this, youre likely
not interested in looking like everyone else. So lets discuss
small changes in color and pattern can separate you from the
Dilberts at your office.
the dress shirts. White and various shades of blue are the safe
standbys we see 95% of men wear. Instead of these, try pastel colors
in lavender, yellow, ecru, tan, or pink. These light canvases are
easy to match with a wide variety of trousers, ties, and jackets
and instantly set you apart in a crowd. But why stop there? Change
the solid single-color look for a patterned shirt stripes
are fine for any business casual environment and checks are acceptable
in many situations outside of conservative corporations, finance,
and the legal profession.
khakis in your wardrobe? Try a deeper brown, olive, or even summer
white cotton. Or switch it up with a charcoal gray wool for a dressier
look lightweight wool for the warmer months and flannel in
the fall and winter. For the more adventurous man, patterned trousers
in a check or small pattern will add a punch of interest to a solid
white or blue shirt.
in a deep, un-faded indigo may be acceptable in some
workplaces, and if they are, theyre a great addition to your
wardrobe as they match almost anything. Keep your denim dark, free
of distress, and well-fitted.
office wear shouldnt be restricted to plain black dress shoes
and a black belt. Consider a light, buttery brown pair of slip-ons
to wear with lighter trousers, and reddish oxblood leather bluchers
to wear with your charcoal grey flannel trousers.
Avoid Cheap Looking Clothing
not saying to avoid inexpensive clothing there are many bargains
to be had out there. But you want to avoid cheap clothing
clothing that contains poor quality fabrics that are uncomfortable,
function badly, and make you look like a time traveler from 1973.
A glance at
the composition of the clothing is a good starting point. Anything
that has a substantial amount of artificial fibers like polyester
or rayon more than 15% or so is going to develop a
slick, plastic-looking sheen over time. Its also a good sign
that the manufacturer was cutting corners. A bit of man-made fiber
in the blend, done properly, can strengthen a garment and help with
wrinkle and stain-resistance. Large percentages over 40%
point toward cost-saving measures.
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© 2011 The Art of Manliness