You polished your resume, brushed up on your interview skills, and landed your dream job as a manager. Now there’s just one thing left to keep climbing the corporate ladder: Mastering your office style to leave a lasting impression on your superiors. If you ever wonder what professional attire you should be wearing to work, follow these recommendations for building a wardrobe of business-casual essentials.
Jackets and blazers
Purchase a jacket that fits you perfectly. A few things to keep in mind when shopping for jackets: Try on jackets with a dress shirt, remember that only a quarter inch of your shirt cuff should show, and your sleeves shouldn’t hit past the crease of your wrist. You don’t need a ton of options — something like a tweed or corduroy sport coat and a navy blazer should be enough for building a work wardrobe. If jackets are not your thing, wear a vest with matching dress pants or jeans for even more versatility.
First, get plain-colored dress shirts in white and light blue for formal presentations and client meetings. For your day-to-day office wardrobe, add some variety with brighter shirts, stripes, and checkered patterns on a small scale. You can also wear vivid shirt-and-tie combos in complementary shades that go well with your blazer and trousers. Try out textured fabric, pique polos, and sweaters in solid colors if patterns are not your thing.
Invest in trousers that fit you perfectly. When the fit isn’t just right, have a good tailor on call. For business-casual workwear, go with slim-fit chinos in navy, gray, khaki, and black. If your work is more on the dressy side, stick with suit trousers in the same colors as the former. For a more relaxed workplace, you should wear dark-wash jeans that fit you well, but no skinny jeans, please.
When it comes to shoes, the classic option is lace-ups. Wear brogues, loafers, and black cap-toe oxfords (for formal offices). The color of your shoes should match your belt, and your socks should match the color of your trousers. If you work in a creative workplace, try less-conventional shoes like white sneakers, suede desert boots, and leather slippers. Remember to polish your shoes regularly.
- Watch: Get a classic, sleek watch that you can style with multiple outfit choices.
- Ties: A silk tie is the workwear staple, but don’t be afraid to try new textures like linen, cotton, and knit. Mix and match patterns with your dress shirt, wear shirt-and-tie combos, and add a pop of color with a bright tie.
- Briefcase: Invest in a leather briefcase with a modern look that you can carry for many years.
- Cologne: Less fragrance is ideal, but opt for a cologne with strong base notes.
- Trench coat: For those rainy days, protect your look with a versatile trench coat.