Smart Casual: How Modern Businessmen Build a Balanced Wardrobe

What makes a modern businessman? Working professionals have to know how to dress well too. Take a look at these wardrobe must-haves for business professionals.

Smart Casual

Dressing well is an important part of your image, especially while you’re at work. Although you always want to look professional, the rules of workplace attire have gradually become more relaxed over the past decade. Building a career and reputation will have a lot to do with your personal image and appearance and now there is a lot more gray area. If you aren’t sure how to make a balanced wardrobe work in the modern business world, here’s how you can get started.

Consider the Formality of Your Workplace

The first thing you need to do is figure out how formal your workplace is. If you’re looking for a job, you’ll want to consider how formal those in your industry typically dress. You never want to be underdressed, but you’ll also look out of place if you’re wearing a suit and a tie while everyone else in the office is in a t-shirt and jeans.

Formal dressing is quickly becoming a lost art, as more businesses move away from strict dress codes. One way to prepare for working in a formal business environment is by making sure you dress well during college, and get advice from your business management professors on what counts as formalwear in the business world. Before interviewing, see if you can look at the employee's photos online and see if they have a dress code.

Put Together a Closet of Interchangeable Staples

When you’ve figured out how formal the majority of your clothing needs to be, you can start getting staples. For most offices, long-sleeve shirts and slacks are a great choice. They look professional, without being so formal that you’ll stick out like a sore thumb in more casual offices. If your workplace is very casual, you can swap out the slacks for a nice pair of jeans or khakis.

The key with these staples is that you choose items and colors that all go well together, making your shirts and pants interchangeable. If you have five shirts and five pairs of pants that all go together reasonably well, that’s 25 outfits, much more than if you every shirt only matches one pair of pants. It’s usually best to stick with neutral colors for more versatility.

Make Sure Everything Fits Properly

Fit can make or break your wardrobe. A cheap piece of clothing that fits well will still look significantly better than an expensive item that doesn’t fit you at all. When you get clothes that fit well, they make you look your best and they’ll be more comfortable to wear.

The trend has been towards slimmer fitting clothing, and that’s a good choice regardless of your body type. Just make sure it’s not too tight. The best way to get clothes that fit well is to either have clothes custom-made based on your measurements or to take your clothes to a tailor. You can easily get shoulder seams, cuffs, and other places tailored for pretty cheap. The investment in a staple piece of your wardrobe will be worth the initial cost.

Finish It Off with the Right Shoes

A great outfit is ruined if you put on lousy shoes. You should have at least two pairs of dress shoes that go with your shirt-and-pants combinations, as this allows you to alternate days and avoid wearing any shoes two days in a row. The traditional combination is one pair of black shoes and one pair of brown shoes, but you don’t necessarily need to do that. If you prefer one color or the other, you can get two pairs of different styles that suit your wardrobe.

It’s a good idea to invest in high-quality shoes. You can usually find a good pair from a reputable brand starting at about $150 to $200. Take care of those shoes and you can expect them to last you for years to come.

Building a balanced wardrobe for work doesn’t need to be a chore. Go through your closet to see what you have that could work, and then make a list of the items you need. A couple of shopping trips later and you'll be looking like a stylish modern businessman.

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