For some people, looking their best is not a priority. If you are a freelancer working from home, pants are optional and you don’t have to comb your hair the whole day. However, a lot of people work in a more formal business environment, and they often fail to adequately follow their company’s dress code. Of course, it is also important to stand out somewhat and look stylish, so dressing fashionably while staying within the set rules can be difficult. What follows is a comprehensive guide to dressing to achieve a unique, fashionable and confident look that is appropriate for a number of common occasions.
Casual yet stylish
For those times when you are just doing some shopping or having a chat with a friend in a café – when you don’t need any formal attire, but you still want to look smart – a few simple rules will carry you a long way. A good pair of dark jeans, a simple colorful shirt and some elegant sneakers are a tried and true combination. In colder weather, you can go with a simple t shirt underneath a thicker shirt, throw a jacket and a hat on and wrap a scarf around your neck. Sweaters, short sleeved shirts and T-shirts also go well with a pair of jeans or corduroy pants, and you can go for lighter colors, as long as you match everything properly. You can carry your laptop and other important things in a casual backpack or military style messenger bag, and throw on accessories like a decent watch, necklace or simple bracelets with a handmade feel to them. Black and white can mix with anything, and grey is a fairly versatile choice as well.
This dress code is usually enforced by companies who want to give their employees a bit more freedom to express themselves through their fashion choices, while still staying within the realm of tasteful professionalism. It is also a kind of outfit you might wear to a friend’s party or a fun night out. A nice shirt combined with a sports jacket or an elegant shirt with a sweater or sweater vest are good choices. Corduroy pants or slacks are fine, but you should avoid jeans. Go with shoes that are stylish and elegant, but still somewhat non-formal, e.g. loafers and slip-ons. Briefcases are clunky and too formal for this type of outfit, and a much better option would be to look at modern leather bags, which are becoming increasingly popular with business professionals around the world. It’s best to keep accessories relatively simple and classy. In summer, you can have fun with some lighter colors, but darker pants with a light shirt work well year round.
This is a more conservative outfit, for workplaces with a relatively strict dress code or for those times you want to impress the boss by looking just a bit sharper than the rest of the pack. You should definitely go with a nice patterned or lighter color shirt and a darker jacket or sports jacket, combined with a pair of nice slacks. Black and brown loafers and slip-ons work well with this type of outfit as well. A tie is optional, but if you decide to go with one, you can choose some more creative and colorful patterns, just avoid “funny” novelty designs, and stick with simple and effective patterns. Stylish leather messenger bags are quite acceptable, and simple accessories like nice, higher-end watches should be enough.
Classic Business and semi-formal occasions
This is a fairly straightforward affair – a nice suit and tie combination coupled with navy blue or dark brown oxfords or lace-ups. Some small variations are still allowed, so if you want to fine-tune your look and stand out a bit, you still have some wiggle room. Light colored shirts with traditional patterns are preferred, combined with darker suits and ties with unobtrusive patterns, which can be a bit brighter to break up the darker colors of the rest of the outfit. A carefully chosen tie can make a huge difference – they can help you catch the eye of your superiors in a subtle way, singling you out as an elegant and fashion minded employee with the confidence to be unique and take some risks.
Red ties signify power and masculinity, shades of purple are associated with dignity and high-class status, yellow is a way of saying that you are still down to earth and friendly, and blue is the most versatile of tie colors and should be your go to option. You might want to consider going for a classic black briefcase, and as far as accessories go, a high-end watch and elegant cufflinks would be great.
Executive and formal occasions
It’s difficult to get this look wrong, as it is strictly defined. Black, navy blue or dark charcoal grey two-piece or three-piece suits combined with immaculate white dress shirts, ties with very basic designs and black dress shoes, e.g. oxfords or derby shoes. A blue tie is a safe bet, but you can go with black or burgundy. A briefcase, a luxury watch, some elegant cufflinks and a tie clip will complete that formal look.
A few tips on looking the part
Whatever you choose to wear, you need to make sure that all the clothes fit you well and that the colors don’t clash with your skin tone. You should also strive to boost your confidence. You can appear more confident by standing straight with legs shoulder width apart and hands relaxed at your side or resting on your hips, walk with a long confident gate, keep eye contact when speaking to someone and calculate your movements instead of just fidgeting and making sudden and uncoordinated movements.
While it may seem a bit confusing initially, following some of the most common dress codes is not that difficult once you get the basics down and understand what is actually expected of you. Too many competent and good people get overlooked by society because of a poor fashion sense, but with these tips, you can make sure that this won’t be you.