The New ‘Business Casual’

By Wednesday, November 7, 2012 2 Permalink

I am so excited to introduce a new contributor to Style and Cheek: Dan! Yes, Dan, who I live with and occasionally write about. We discussed the possibility of him writing a few guest posts for the blog to get a male perspective on style, and he actually gave me more than I anticipated. Hopefully, this becomes a monthly thing but here’s his first post: The New Business Casual by: Dan.

Don Draper has become something of a aesthetic ideal. The popularity of Mad Men and its suave well-dressed main character has made wearing a suit sexy once again, despite the baggy pants era of the late 90s and NBA doing all they could to kill it off. To be cliché, men want to be Don and women want to be with him (which just makes men want to be him even more). The problem with all this is that outside of the Northeast / LA / Chicago corporate world, the vast majority of us never ever have to strap on a tie and jacket. The workplace is growing more and more casual, with companies emphasizing comfort and camaraderie over “dressing the part.” Face to face meetings with clients are rare. People work from home all the time. While this contributes to part of the quaint charm of Mad Men’s costumes, the days of wearing a suit, topcoat  and hat are long gone, though they are still marvelous to look at. I love wearing suits but I basically have no reason to wear one unless I’m going to a job interview (I still feel the need to dress as well as I can for these even though the guys sitting across from me might be in t-shirts), a wedding, or funeral.

Then there is the other, and equally unrealistic, JGL extreme. The hipster skinny jeans, cardigan, loose tie, ideal that though maybe quite a few guys would love to try, most of us (me included) just do not have the body type to pull it off without looking uncomfortable and/or fat. It’s a lot of effort to make yourself look like you didn’t put effort into your appearance. Tumblr and Pinterest are polluted with people promoting this type of look, which on me would look as awkwardly masculine but so very terribly unmasculine as Diane Keaton in a Woody Allen movie. Sorry, my child bearing hips and Italian ass will not cooperate with me trying to squeeze into pants designed for a 12 year old.

To recap – suits = over-hyped/unnecessary; hipster JGL look = unrealistic/unflattering.

So where does that leave us? With stuff like this:

1) I almost never wear a collared shirt, mostly because I’m lazy and hate ironing, but if I did wear them to work this would be the type of shirt I’d go for. I wear my Onitsuka Tiger sneakers once a week or so, and they are crazy comfortable and nice enough that I don’t feel or look like I’m wearing gym sneakers. But the most important part of any outfit like this are the jeans – they must be dark, they must be well fitted (I know you guys don’t want to deal with the “hassle” but seriously get your shit tailored, you’ll only look like half a slob), and they must be moderate in weight – not stiff, so you’re not sweating your ass off all day, and not too thin, so that your junk doesn’t bounce around like a yo-yo. There are a TON of options out there that meet these requirements, but really to make sure you’re not buying jeans that make you look like a clown bring a girl shopping with you and actually try some pants on. Finding the balance between what you find comfortable and what she thinks looks good is exactly what you’re looking for.

business casual for men

Banana Republic Classic fit Orange Micro-Check ShirtHudson Jeans ‘Dandy’ Slouchy Straight Leg JeansG-Star Raw Quilted Overshirt JacketAllen Edmonds Polished Cobbler BeltMougin & Piquard™ Chronograph WatchOnitsuka Tiger™ ‘Serrano’ Sneaker

2) A perk of living in the Pacific-Northwest is that I can wear jeans to work everyday. It also means that I can wear shirts like this almost everyday as well. This is as comfortable as a long sleeve shirt can get – form fitting, but light. I’ve included a pretty nice looking wool coat here because even though we like to pretend we’re not cold walking around outside in what is basically a long-sleeve t-shirt, really we’re just as freezing as you are. The best money I’ve ever spent on clothes/shoes was on a pair of Cole Haan dress shoes very similar to these – so let’s just say I’m a bit biased towards their brand. They’re comfortable and most feature Nike Air support so they’re not going to wear you out if you have to walk a bit. If I was going to wear boots to work, and not wear jeans, I’d wear a pair of dark cords or chino pants like these – unspectacular, but they get the job done and look pretty decent doing so.

business casual for men

J.Crew Slim Waffle HenleyJ.Crew Vintage Cord in Slim-Straight FitMarc New York by Andrew Marc ‘Keenan’ Wool Blend JacketFree Authority Americana Plaid Knit ScarfTrafalgar ‘Cromwell’ BeltCole Haan ‘Air Stanton’ Chukka Boots

A lot of this post may seem like common sense to you ladies, and some of you probably even know a few guys who are smart enough to put some outfits together that look decent and actually fit. From my perspective, it is always easier in wee hours of the morning to go with comfort and low effort (i.e. sloppy) than something that requires a little more work. Personally, I try to wear t-shirts as deep into winter as I can, but it is getting to the point now where it is just too damn cold. Long sleeves and layers are needed, and it sucks, but I also refuse to look like a schmuck.

  • Theresa Tollefson
    November 7, 2012

    Dan very helpful for a woman that dresses three men in her life….great perspective and looking forward to next month!

    • Style & Cheek
      November 8, 2012

      I am also looking forward to next month Theresa!

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