Clothes definitely have power and we want you to always use that power to your benefit, however, that’s easier said than done. Coming up with different business casual outfits can be more difficult than it seems.
Because of that, I want to give you five specific outfits that you can work with because we’re sure you have those staples in your wardrobe ready and by adding certain accessories or certain other elements, you can just create something that’s very versatile, at the same time, always elegant, stylish, and professional.
We created five typical business casual outfits that evolve around one specific garment. The idea is to provide you with inspiration for your own business casual outfits because it’s such a popular dress code.
1. Patterned Blazer Or Sport Coat
Chances are you’ve heard of the navy blue blazer, it’s a fantastic garment, however, it can be a little formal at times. Good news is you can certainly wear it as a business casual combination! At the same time, having a different item such as in a small white and blue check, maybe something in a houndstooth pattern, or maybe even a tweed coat, can help you to break things up, make it more casual, and more appropriate for that dress code.
If you are into traditional blazers like boating blazers such as rope stripes, that’s something I would not wear to the office because it’s over the top. One underrated business casual pattern is the classic Glen check pattern or Prince of Wales pattern. Usually, it comes in a background of black and white or maybe dark brown and off-white with an overplaid in a contrasting color, it can be brown, it can be green, blue, or sometimes even pink.
Even though it is typically sold as a suit, I suggest you take the jacket and wear it with some odd trousers. That way, it’s more casual but still visually interesting as long as there’s enough contrast between the pants and the jacket. If you want, you can also take jackets from your brighter colored suits such as a medium brown suit or maybe a green fresco suit and combine those into a business casual outfit. As you can see, at the center is always the jacket and you want it to be more casual, meaning either it should have a pattern, it should have a nice interesting color that is different from typical business colors, or it could have an interesting material blend with rougher wools such as tweed.
During the colder months of the year, you can even wear a cashmere jacket which is super warm but at the same time, extremely soft. When you’ve chosen a bolder jacket that makes a statement, I suggest to tone down the pants and the shirt in your outfit simply so the jacket can shine and its overall, harmonious. Maybe try to pick up a color scheme in your shoes, go with simple chinos, or on the other hand, if you just have like a navy blazer or maybe with mother-of-pearl buttons or a windowpane pattern, you can combine it with some seersucker pants.
2. Interesting Pair Of Pants
Typically in an office environment, pants, trousers, or slacks can become monotonous very quickly. Between solid navy, gray, or charcoal, there’s not much else. Every once in a while, you’ll see maybe a chino in a khaki tone or in sand but that’s about it. If you’ve watched this channel before chances are you see me in corduroy pants, I’m a big fan of them, especially in the winter. Ideal colors to me are brown, maybe caramel, or olive green. Corduroy is actually made in the exact same way as velvet with the exception that ridges are cut in and wider ridges make things look more casual, slimmer ridges are a little more formal.
For the warmer months of the year, I suggest you experiment a bit with colorful chinos that could be like a pale blue pair of chinos or if you’re more daring, a pair of Nantucket red chinos. Of course, you can also play with the texture and if you go with a linen pair of pants, I suggest going with a royal blue color which is darker and less flashy than a pale blue or a Nantucket red, at the same time, the texture stands out and by choosing a blue that is two or three shades lighter in a typical business suit, you indicate that it’s not at all the same garment and it’s very different from a business suit.
If you’re into seersucker, maybe evolve past the basic color of blue and white and maybe opt for something in beige and white. It will really look very different, at the same time, it has the same benefits of seersucker which is that it’s very lightweight, it doesn’t wrinkle a lot which is always welcome at the office, and at the same time, it’s made for hot weather so you can be stylish without overheating.
3. Gray & Brown Combination
Traditionally, black was the color for the city and brown was the color for the country. Now both of these were rarely mixed, even darker suits such as a gray flannel was rarely mixed with brown, however, I think both of those colors can really be combined quite well if it’s done so tastefully.
That means if you have a darker gray, go with a darker shade of brown. Let’s say you have a gray flannel suit, combine it with a brown grenadine tie and maybe brown loafers. Rather than going with a light tan, maybe go with a chocolate brown. You could also go with monk straps, for example, or anything else you like but picking up both of those colors gives your outfit a warmer appearance, at the same time, it’s still quite formal enough for most office environments out there.
4. Tweed Jacket
Personally, I’m a huge fan of tweed jackets because they’re so versatile, they have lots of colors in their fabrics, they are warm, at the same time they are thicker and because of that, they are very wrinkle resistant. Honestly, you can sit on a jacket and just throw it at a corner, pick it back up, put it on, and it doesn’t show wrinkles at all. Now try that with your other suits and you will see what I mean.
When it comes to business casual, tweed really fits right in because it casualizes the jacket style and ties it together with more informal pants. A really great tweed color for the office is gray. I suggest you go with a medium gray because it’s still considered formal enough and you can choose between many different styles; there can be a gray Donegal, one which has undertones of blue with colored specks and those colorful dots really soften things up, at the same time, I can wear it with a pair of denim jeans, I can wear it with corduroys, then I can also wear it with chinos, no problem!
5. Sweater Vest Or Cardigan
Traditionally, vests are part of a suit but in a more casual environment, a three-piece suit is not an option. When it’s colder in the winter, however, you can wear a vest that is contrasting underneath your jacket and can look quite dapper. Personally, I love my burgundy vest but I also wear bottle green velvet vests and all kinds of other colors including blue tweed for the office. I think a blue tweed vest comes in really handy.
Personally, I would not wear a tailored vest without a jacket, I would always go with a jacket, however, some people are fine with it especially if it’s a sweater vest or a cardigan. Most cardigans you see come in solid colors with navy being a favorite. Sometimes, you can also see off-white which can be quite casual and inappropriate in the wintertime. I also like green because it’s a warm color, it’s kind of an earthy nature color, and it’s in stark contrast with the traditional business color of gray, blue, and charcoal.
If you wanted to take it a step further, you can also have patterned vests or patterned sweaters such as a houndstooth pattern, could be very traditional, it could be a Prince of Wales for example, or it could be something with dots on it. That aside, you can also find textured sweaters which have kind of a cable knit or other elements. Personally, if I would go to a more casual office environment and I wanted something that was business casual, I wouldn’t hesitate to wear maybe something along the lines of a tennis sweater which is of course quite preppy but that’s simply the style I enjoy.
When I wear a sweater to the office, I typically like to combine it with a necktie which means I get a deep cut v-neck sweater because that way, my tie and my tie knot really pops and looks much better than with a crewneck that actually just covers up the entire tie.
Play With Dress Shirt Colors
In terms of shirts, I prefer to go with small check shirts in a button-down collar sometimes though if the sweater is very loud, you can also go with a more muted shirt. Just stay clear of the plain solid white ones because they are too businesslike and they don’t go well with the casualness of the sweater.
Now most people wear plain white or light blue shirts to the office, I’m a big proponent of the off-white or cream shirt because it’s much softer from afar, it still almost looks like a white shirt yet it ties warmer tones such as brown or green much better together than a plain solid white shirt would.
At the end of the day, you could argue that a cream shirt is better than a white shirt because it’s a lot more versatile. It can be worn with a business suit but it can also be worn with a lot more casual jackets including things like a Harrington jacket or a linen jacket.