Over the past few years, “corporate casual” has become more popular in offices around the world. If you work somewhere that allows this dress code, here are a few of the trendiest items you should invest in and a few tips for mastering the corporate casual look.
An unstructured blazer is one of the best and most stylish items for a men’s casual corporate look. You get the formality of the blazer itself, but without the rigidity you would get from a regular blazer or jacket.
You can also experiment with colors, with neutrals and more expressive tones like blues, greens, and browns looking just as chic. An unstructured blazer is also often great for Summer, as many tend to be made from thinner and lighter materials.
Sneakers have become a massive part of the casual corporate trend. However, not all sneakers are appropriate, but you do still have far more options than you may think; namely, simple sneakers.
Brown or black leather sneakers are great for casual corporate outfits, but you can also wear sneakers such as Chuck Taylors, white or black Air Force 1s, and other sneakers that aren’t too eye-catching.
The Oxford shirt is similar to the unstructured blazer in the sense that it is a more casual version of a formal item. They are comfortable and breathable, you can wear them with the sleeves rolled up or down, and the collar adds a level of formality that allows the shirt to look great with a blazer.
Short-sleeve Oxford shirts allow you to stay cool in the Summer without looking too casual, and as mentioned, if you throw a blazer on, you get the quintessential corporate casual look.
Slim-fit chinos are almost a cheat in the world of corporate casual. They look very formal, but they have the comfort of joggers, and the lightweight materials they are often made from make them perfect for semi-formal Summer looks.
Finally, there are tons of drawstring trousers nowadays that look like regular trousers. The drawstring and elasticated waist ensure they are super-comfortable, but the pleats and formal appearance make them perfect for the office.
While you should keep the color more simple and neutral, these are a great way to feel like you are relaxing at home in something casual without it looking like it.
Corporate Casual Tips
Now that you know some of the trendiest corporate casual items, here are a few tips to pull off the look seamlessly every time you step into the office.
What is Corporate Casual in Your Office?
The first thing you need to do is establish what corporate casual means in your office. It will change depending on your position, the type of work you do, who you meet day-to-day, and the image your company wants you to portray.
The best way to do this is to simply look at what your colleagues are wearing. Are they always in suits, do they just dress formally when meeting with clients, or does it vary depending on how they feel that day, the weather, etc?
Speak to Your Higher-Ups
If you don’t get a clear picture from your colleagues, or you are still unsure, you can ask HR or your superiors. Simply asking what is and isn’t acceptable is the quickest way to get your answers.
This is particularly important if you work in a country that has extreme Summers or Winters, as being able to dress a bit more casually can allow you to be cooler or warmer depending on the weather.
What is Too Casual?
Next, you need to understand what is too casual. An easy rule of thumb is to look at the designs and colors of the clothes you are wearing and compare them to regular formal work outfits.
For example, a shirt-sleeved Oxford shirt is much closer to a regular button-up than it is to a t-shirt, and leather sneakers are closer to formal Brogues than they are to brightly colored Air Jordans.
This distinction will go a long way in helping you choose corporate casual clothes for outfits and at the store. Always remember, the goal is to look more casual in a work environment, not generally casual.
Always keep in mind the situation/situations you will be in for any chosen day. If it is a relaxed day at your desk, you can dress more casually, but if you are meeting clients, you need to remember to add a more formal item, such as a blazer or sports jacket.
It is always important to still come across as professional, opposed to looking like you just came back from a family barbecue.
Shoes & Accessories
As mentioned already, your shoes and accessories should be comparable to regular formal corporate wear. For instance, a baseball cap would look out of place with a suit; therefore, it will look out of place when worn with a more casual corporate outfit.
Keep your shoes and accessories simple and to a minimum; leather sneakers are ultra-comfortable and a brilliant alternative to formal work shoes.