Business Attire Dress Code For Professional Men

Business Attire Dress Code For Professional Men

Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette and
our series about dress codes! Today, we discuss business attire and if you’re
curious about other dress codes, please come back to our channel and search for it, I’m
sure we got you covered. Generally, the dress code business attire
is the most formal thing you will encounter in a professional office environment. Even if it’s an unspoken dress code, it can
often be required in traditional white-collar environments such as law firms. If you know the business attire dress code,
you’re always appropriately dressed for client meetings, network meetings, board meetings,
or general office occasions. You can wear it if you have to attend the
funeral or if you are in court. Business attire is sometimes also called business
formal or boardroom attire. Sometimes, you’ll also encounter traditional
business as a dress code. Basically, those are all the same things. So before I elaborate about what business
attire or business formal means today, let’s take a brief look at the history of this dress
code. As you can imagine, the history of business
attire is the history of clothing worn to the office. Until a few decades ago, the only appropriate
garment for the office used to be a suit, meaning a matching pair of pants and jacket
out of the same fabric in a dark color. This was a solid, sometimes faint stripes,
there was always a conservative suit with a white or light blue dress shirt and some
form of neckwear such as a tie. At the turn of the century, business attire
was really only worn by the elite and the majority of the workers were blue-collar workers. In the very early days, a black frock coat
was the proper business attire with black pants or cashmere striped pants and white
shirts and dark neckwear. Later on, the morning coat became more popular
and then that was followed by the lounge suit. If you want to learn more about morning coats
stroller suits and cashmere striped trousers, check out our morning dress code and our stroller
guide on the website. In the 1920s and 1930s, suits as we know them
today, back then called the lounge suit, became more and more popular and the morning coat
became more outdated and was really only worn by very old gentlemen who were just stuck
with their tradition. At that point in time, business suit fabrics
were still quite heavy and offices were usually cooler which is why you would see many men
wear a waistcoat, it just helped to keep them warmer. Just like with any war, the conventions afterwards
were a lot more relaxed than before and that was also reflected in the office environment. So basically that meant hats would slowly
but surely disappear, the waistcoat would disappear, but you would still wear a dark
suit, a necktie that was somewhat conservative, as well as black leather dress shoes. From the 1950s through the 1980s, styles changed,
lapel widths changed, the width of the tie changed, but other than that, the basic core
principles of dark suit, white or light blue shirt, conservative tie, and black leather
dress shoes, remained the same. Think of the saying “no brown in town” that
indicated that brown shoes were never appropriate for the office. In the 80s and 90s, the power suit became
popular, you’ve probably seen the movie Wall Street with Michael Douglas pulling off that
style and it was a style by Allan Flusser to really reflect that style at the time. Even though the power suit fell out of favor,
afterwards, the core of the dress code business attire still holds true today. In a nutshell, that means you wear a dark
business suit, either a two-piece suit or a three-piece suit with a waistcoat. The shirt should be white or light blue or
maybe a pastel color, it can be striped with a very small pattern, but overall, solids
are preferable. You go with a conservative necktie either
a=dark red or dark blue, can be solid or a small pattern or stripes, so you could either
go with suspenders with a fishtail back or you can have a belt that matches the color
of the shoes or you can just go without any of those two things and just have side adjusters
on your trousers. It also means you have over the calf dress
socks that don’t expose your hairy legs in the office and optionally, you can have a
pocket square. The most traditional choice is a white linen
pocket square which you can find in our shop here. It should have hand rolled edges and be folded
in a TV fold. Now that’s just a broad overview, let’s dive
a little deeper and define what all those things mean. First of all, what is a dark business suit? In terms of colors, that can be anything from
Navy to dark blue, maybe a charcoal, a dark gray, medium gray, or light gray. Alternatively today, you can also have a very
dark brown which is known as charcoal brown. The most classic form are just solid suits
in one color, however, you can also have smaller micro patterns such as needle head or pin
point, they have two colors when you look at them up close but from afar, it looks like
a uniform solid color. You can also go with a more textured fabric
such as sharkskin or a hopsack. If you want to go a little fancier, you can
have a faint pinstripe or a faint chalk stripe, you can even go with a Prince of Wales check
on a smaller scale and nothing with bold colored overplaids in pink. Another option would be a faint windowpane
but again, less is more and it is a conservative business suit so when in doubt, always scale
it down a notch. In terms of styles, you can have two-piece
suits or three-piece suits. If you have a two-piece suit that is single
breasted, I suggest you go with a two-button jacket, you can also go with a three row two
for example, or a simple single breasted three-button jacket, always opt for a notch lapel because
that’s more traditional. I’d also opt for side vents, skip center vents
because they’re meant for horseback riding. The side vents are much better, you can put
your hands in your pocket and it doesn’t expose your bum. If you go with the double-breasted jackets,
go with a six button configuration where two are closed or maybe a four button configuration
where two are closed but avoid just a single row of buttons because that’s too fashion-forward
for a traditional business attire dress code. For your pants or slacks or trousers, you
can have a flat front, you can have a pleated front, personally, I’m a big fan of inward
pleats because it’s more comfortable to sit in them. Your pants can have cuffs or no cuffs; if
you go without cuffs, some consider it to be a little more formal. The advantage of cuffs or turn ups is that
they add a little more weight which makes your trousers hang and drape nicely. Even though combinations, let’s say between
a blazer and a pair of chinos, are very acceptable in most offices today, it’s technically not
appropriate to wear a combination when a dress code requires business attire. In terms of dress shirts, ideally you want
to opt for French cuffs for cufflinks and the majority should be white and light blue. If you want a specific breakdown on what shirts
to invest in, please check out this video on the first ten dress shirts every man should
own here. For cufflinks, avoid any kind of diamond cufflinks
or colored stone or anything flashy. Stay with simple traditional gold and silver
cufflinks; not combined but either/or. For a selection of very classic business appropriate
cufflinks, I suggest you go with knot cufflinks because they’ve been around for a long time,
they’re not flashy yet they work with everything in your wardrobe from your tweed coat to your
black tie ensemble. With a pocket square, the white pocket square
is a classic staple, you could also invest in some silk pocket squares in subtle patterns
and more muted colors that pick up tones of your neckties. In terms of accessories, a necktie is probably
the only way to introduce different colors into your outfit so traditionally, most business
ties are either blue or some form of red or burgundy. You can branch out you can go with green you
can go with yellow maybe even purple or other shades. Again, this is your chance to shine. The traditional material for ties is silk,
usually, they’re either printed or it could be like a stripe like a rep stripe for example,
or it can be just a jacquard weave in a classic muted pattern such as a stripe in silver and
black which is the most formal, or you could have maybe a small Prince of Wales check which
is very business appropriate in either red black and white or just black and white or
Navy and white. For your socks, you traditionally want to
match them with your pair of pants. You can also add a little bit of contrast,
for example, in this outfit here, I paired the color of my socks to the color of my tie
and in this day and age, that is acceptable. To learn more about how to combine pants with
shoes and dress socks please check out this video here and don’t forget to download the
free guide. The first shoe you should in invest in for
business attire is the black cap toe Oxford without any form of broguing; that means no
hole perforations. It’s a classic staple, it always looks good. Once you have that, you can also invest in
a quarter brogue Oxford that means there’s just a little bit of perforation along the
cap toe or you can have a half brogue where there’s a little more perforation, you can
also go with a full black oxford wingtip in my opinion, it’s a little too much and I prefer
the quarter brogue and a half brogue but if you want to go for it, no problem. If you have more voluminous feet, you may
want to go with a derby shoe which is technically a little less formal but if it’s in black
color and has a nice leather sole, it’s still perfectly acceptable. In terms of construction, most classic business
shoes are either Goodyear welted or if they’re from Italy, they can be Blake rapid Blake
stitched. In general, Goodyear welted soles are a little
thicker, they’re harder to break in but they also last for quite a long time. Italian shoes that are blake rapid stitch
typically have a thinner sole. To learn more about the differences in shoe
construction, please look at our video on a difference between English Italian and American
shoes here. While black is still the color of choice for
business wear, today you can also wear brown shoes. For dress code business attire, I would suggest
you stick with darker shades of brown such as chocolate brown and you can also go with
a dark oxblood color which can alternatively be worn with very casual outfits but also
with business attire. Even though you can wear very light tan shoes
in 95% of all offices today, I would stay clear of them if the dress code calls for
business attire. Now as you can see, the dress code for business
attire is rather strict and you may find it hard to stand out in a subtle sophisticated
way. So in my experience, here are the good ways
to stand out with business attire in a professional manner that isn’t garish or over-the-top. first of all, you can start with your suit. Instead of just a plain solid suit, you can
add maybe a faint stripe such as the one I’m wearing here right now. It’s kind of a grayish brown undertone with
a very faint orange reddish stripe, it’s different, its unique, it’s appropriate for business
attire. I also decided to add a matching waistcoat
to it which makes it more formal and more unique. Most business suits today are two-piece suits
so adding that matching vest really elevates you from the crowd. Definitely make your accessories count. Go with cufflinks, maybe go with a slightly
darker stone, for example, in this outfit, I’m wearing a red tie so I went with silver
cufflinks with a dark red carnelian stone simply to add a bit more color to my ensemble. Brighter colors such as yellow obviously pop
more than a dark navy. Alternatively, you can also play with a texture
rather than you know a plain silk tie, you can go with a grenadine tie because it has
a wonderful texture and for a selection of varying ties, please check out our shop here. In any case, you want to avoid super bright
pink ties or bright orange ties because that’s garish and over-the-top. Instead, maybe opt for a dark purple maybe
with the light Paisley on it or a bottle green tie with a micro pattern. Yes it’s different, yes it’s a color but it’s
subtle muted and formal enough for business attire. Maybe you want to wear a pinstripe suit and
add a knit tie to it if you do that, go for a solid color that is maybe in the blue family
because the texture itself is similar to grenadine but it’s a little stronger and it’s already
some kind of a statement so don’t go overboard and have a two-tone knit tie with your business
attire. of course you could also choose a subtle pocket
square. The white linen pocket square is great but
having maybe a silk pocket square or a silk wool one with a paisley pattern that picks
up the color of your tie is a great addition. To learn more about how to combine a tie with
a shirt a jacket and a pocket square please check out this video here. When it comes to shoes I think oxblood shoes
are very underrated because they’re very dark yet they have a really nice color depth and
they work well with navy suits with grey suits and they’re just slightly different without
being as bright as let’s say a tan shoe for example. So adding a pair of oxblood shoes maybe a
cordovan is a great way to stand out with business attire. if you enjoyed this video you also want to
watch the video on what to wear as a lawyer there’s lots of overlap but we cover different
aspects such as accessories or bags or backpacks what to wear what not to wear in that video
here. if you enjoyed this video please subscribe
to this channel so stuff like this comes right to your inbox and in today’s video I’m wearing
a slightly more progressive business outfit it’s not the general solid dark business suit
with a white shirt and a Glen Jack tie instead I opted for a faint striped suit it’s a three-piece
suit it’s relatively lightweight fabric it has peak lapels it has one button and it has
a double-breasted waistcoat my tie picks up those red tones it’s a burgundy tie with a
very small polka dot which is very business appropriate I keep the shirt white but I opted
for a round club collar I’m going with French cuffs I’m wearing cufflinks in sterling silver
and a carnelian which pick up the red tones and my socks pick up those red and white tones
of my shirt and my accessories and they’re a good barrier between my black half brogue
dress shoes I also opted for a pinky ring and a white pocket square with the TV fold
a crown fold would have been too ostentatious the TV fold is very classic and this is something
that I could wear to any kind of office environment and I would always be appropriately dressed
and in most offices to be frank I’d probably be somewhat overdressed but still within the
realm of what’s acceptable

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Hey Sven, recently I've developed an interest in new suits through watching your content and watching older films such as Goodfellas. What are some good websites for suits, particularly regular vintage ties that were much wider than now, as well as spearpoint collars and even double breasted jackets?

  2. Given that those who need tips are probably just starting out their career, please don't show up in a waistcoat, suspenders or a double breasted suit in 2018. Honestly, ditch the pocket square as well. You're going to look like a goober. I'm sorry, but a lot of these outfits would simply look silly in the office. As a young guy in financial services, I can tell you that even the higher ups don't wear those things. Look up any CEO of a major bank, they dress simply and cleanly, and get all the basics right. You're not there to stand out for your outfit. You're there to do BUSINESS, hence the "business attire" name.

  3. I really like your videos so no offense.. but your suits are WAY too wide. also the lapels of your jackets are really old school. so again no offense, but the look is (especially for business) really outdated

  4. Hi Raphael — great video as always! What do you think of wearing a bowtie as part of a business-attire ensemble? are they too loud, or can a muted/more formal bowtie work? (e.g. Churchill's navy polka-dot bowtie with a Marlborough suit)

  5. Dear

    I understand you are all about classical dress and understated dress. But could you do a show on us peacocks Making classic a little out standing, a little showie, gaudy, for us who want to standout but still be a little classic!
    Not red suits or 5 pounds of gold around our necks, but some visual wow factors. I like to be a little Ostentatious a little out of the norm, over the top, out of of the normal! The one in a million, but still pay respect for classic. Not disrespectful, no bad fitting, or color red jacket black-tie no tie sloppy dress. Things people notice and do-not or will never forget.. yet still not so over the top! Opposite to subdued!

  6. I strongly believe in the correct attire in the appropriate place.

    I worked in finance and wore a suit for my entire career (retired age 47 to follow my interests and manage my investments).

    Best example of the power of a suit was when I had a two piece navy pinstripe made back in 1996. A superb suit, traditional English, pretty expensive. It was intended for my new job hunt.

    I made an application for the position of Director of Finance and IT in a major UK Charity in London. My interview took place in the boardroom of Coutts Bank on The Strand. Chairman of the panel was Sir David Money-Coutts, Chairman of the Bank, together with the charity CEO and two Trustees.

    I'm convinced that suit played a part in my success in gaining the position….my confidence and appearance to the panel just had to be enhanced by it.

  7. Hello, I wanted to know how to wear more, “extinct collars”, such as the Murrayhill collar, or a square collar, I also wanted to where am I able to purchase these particular collars. Thank you

  8. Im attenting a us navy holiday party next month and the theme is formal, would these suits work or should i go with something a bit more casual?

  9. What's your opinion on the haircut 'The Kentucky Waterfall'? They say "business up front/party in the back." I say the entire thing is a party. Cash of formalities.

  10. Love all your videos and it’s great because I work in an Auction Room so I need to be smart and I love dressing up as much as you do.

  11. makes me think of crisp, sharp and clean dress wear. It could be my opinion, but a nice tailored suite or casual wear can up the overall appearance of it the outfit from a few adjustments 👍

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