Introduction

After taking a brief glance through some of the work I’ve put out since the sun decided to disappear, it would be fair to say that I’ve stuck firmly to the casual end of the sartorial spectrum.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that – there is, after all, a lot more room for experimentation, trend incorporation and creativity within casual clothing. Plus, for the majority of guys who work in an office or corporate environment, it’s pretty much suit, shirt, tie, shoes, done. Where’s the fun in that?

However, as with most things that involve being creative, it’s all about what you do with what you’re given. And I would make the argument that because a business environment often requires you to wear a uniform, there is actually more room to experiment with colour, fabric and trends without things getting too out of control.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d put together a few tips on how to easily raise your style game in the office this season.

This does presume that you already own a solid selection of classic office wear, such as neutral suits, block-colour dress shirts and a collection of ties. If not, it may be worth reading one of my previous articles, The Ultimate Streamlined Capsule Wardrobe, before continuing.

For those that already have the basics down, let’s get right amongst it…

1. Embrace Brown & Blue

The Italians have been doing it for years, and we all know how well they’ve mastered dressing for business. It’s such a simple combination to pull off because the shade of each colour doesn’t matter, just so long as they’re together.

Whether it’s a brown wool tie with a blue gingham shirt or a navy suit with chocolate brown shoes, incorporate this colour combination into your nine-to-five looks for an instant shot of style and sprezzatura.

Lookbook Inspiration

banana republic aw12he by mango aw13diegel aw12sarar aw11ramsey aw12Ermenegildo Zegna ss13rose & born aw13brunello cucinelli aw13Ermenegildo Zegna ss13
Example Combinations
  • Reiss Pluto Patch Pocket Slim Fit Shirt BlueReiss Pluto Patch Pocket Slim Fit Shirt Blue
  • He By Mango Classic-fit Basilia SuitHe By Mango Classic-fit Basilia Suit
  • Drakes Silk-grenadine TieDrakes Silk-grenadine Tie
  • River Island Blue Accent Button Long Sleeve Poplin ShirtRiver Island Blue Accent Button Long Sleeve Poplin Shirt
  • Topman Brown Tweed Herringbone SuitTopman Brown Tweed Herringbone Suit
  • Reiss Cutler Knitted Silk Tie NavyReiss Cutler Knitted Silk Tie Navy
  • Topman Grey Blue Slim SuitTopman Grey Blue Slim Suit
  • Reiss Danton Formal Suit Belt With Feather Edge Mid BrownReiss Danton Formal Suit Belt With Feather Edge Mid Brown
  • Reiss Rossmore Hand Finished Brogues BrownReiss Rossmore Hand Finished Brogues Brown
2. Invest In Some Cashmere

It really is the fabric of winter. Cashmere has a sophisticated heritage and even something as simple as wearing a v-neck jumper under your suit will add a touch of panache to your look.

You could even go a step further and buy a few cashmere knits in slightly bolder winter colours such as mustard, burnt orange and forest green. So long as you pair them with neutral hues like navy, grey and white, you can’t go wrong:

  • Libertine Libertine Cashmere JumperLibertine Libertine Cashmere Jumper
  • Allsaints Elba Cashmere Crew JumperAllsaints Elba Cashmere Crew Jumper
  • Allsaints Elba Cashmere CardiganAllsaints Elba Cashmere Cardigan
  • He By Mango V-neck Cashmere SweaterHe By Mango V-neck Cashmere Sweater
  • Uniqlo Men Cashmere V Neck Sweater AUniqlo Men Cashmere V Neck Sweater A
  • He By Mango Cable-knit Cashmere SweaterHe By Mango Cable-knit Cashmere Sweater
  • J.crew Crew Neck Cashmere SweaterJ.crew Crew Neck Cashmere Sweater
  • Reiss Herald Crew Neck Cashmere Jumper AubergineReiss Herald Crew Neck Cashmere Jumper Aubergine
  • Uniqlo Men Cashmere V Neck CardiganUniqlo Men Cashmere V Neck Cardigan
3. A Business-Appropriate Check

Not all patterns were created equal, and not all are suitable for the office.

A check is always a lot more eye-catching and appealing than standard butcher, banker or Bengal stripes, but sometimes a multi-coloured plaid or bold exploded check can be a step too far.

This winter, why not look to add a dress shirt in a pencil window pane check to your rotation? It will pair perfectly with any suit and tie you already own, whilst adding a nice element of depth to your appearance.

For those who are looking to branch out from their collection of navy, grey and charcoal business suits, consider adding some subtle checked tailoring to your work wardrobe.

Whether it’s something as simple as a muted Prince of Wales check blazer to pair with your separates or a full Glen Plaid suit, checked tailoring is full of heritage, completely on trend and will instantly separate your look from the rest of the workforce in a refined manner.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Checked Shirts and Tailoring Lookbook - Business-Appropriate

zara edition aw13hugo boss ss11Luigi Bianchi Mantova ss13scapa aw13topman aw13boss hugo boss aw13jaeger aw13tom ford aw13burton ss12
Key Pieces
  • Topman Peter Werth Hemsworth Window Pane Check Shirt Topman Peter Werth Hemsworth Window Pane Check Shirt
  • Austin Reed Viyella Ivory Navy Coral Check ShirtAustin Reed Viyella Ivory Navy Coral Check Shirt
  • Thom Browne Window Pane Check ShirtThom Browne Window Pane Check Shirt
  • Burberry London Blue Check Cotton-blend ShirtBurberry London Blue Check Cotton-blend Shirt
  • Asos Smart Shirt In Long Sleeve With Graphic Grid CheckAsos Smart Shirt In Long Sleeve With Graphic Grid Check
  • Reiss Hendrick Gingham Check BordeauxReiss Hendrick Gingham Check Bordeaux
  • He By Mango Prince Of Wales Suit BlazerHe By Mango Prince Of Wales Suit Blazer
  • Asos Slim Fit Suit In Brown CheckAsos Slim Fit Suit In Brown Check
  • Topman Grey Checked Skinny SuitTopman Grey Checked Skinny Suit
  • Reiss Calvert Three Piece Suit With Peak Lapel GreyReiss Calvert Three Piece Suit With Peak Lapel Grey
  • Asos Slim Fit Suit In Grey And Black CheckAsos Slim Fit Suit In Grey And Black Check
  • Reiss Gleneagle B Single Breasted Check Blazer GreyReiss Gleneagle B Single Breasted Check Blazer Grey
4. Busy Pockets & Socks

A simple tip, but an area that guys continue to neglect.

Add some punch to your office wear by investing in some bold and bright pocket squares and socks. Because they both represent such a small part of your outfit, it almost doesn’t matter if they are in sync with the rest of what you’re wearing.

Enjoy and revel in the contrast.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Bold Sock and Pocket Squares Business Lookbook

next aw12unknownunknownburton ss13calibre ss14paul stuart and phineas cole ss11moss ss13ted baker ss13ami aw11
Key Pieces
  • J.crew Harris Printed Silk-twill Pocket SquareJ.crew Harris Printed Silk-twill Pocket Square
  • Reclaimed Vintage Paisley Pocket SquareReclaimed Vintage Paisley Pocket Square
  • Topman Green And Navy Dot Silk Textured Pocket SquareTopman Green And Navy Dot Silk Textured Pocket Square
  • Beams Plus Camouflage-print Silk-twill Pocket SquareBeams Plus Camouflage-print Silk-twill Pocket Square
  • River Island Multicoloured Textured Ankle Socks PackRiver Island Multicoloured Textured Ankle Socks Pack
  • Jack & Jones Lanky Stripe 5 Pack SocksJack & Jones Lanky Stripe 5 Pack Socks
  • Reiss Hampton Micro Polka Dot Pocket SquareReiss Hampton Micro Polka Dot Pocket Square
  • Mixed Pique SocksMixed Pique Socks
  • Ymc Men’s Yellow Argyle SocksYmc Men’s Yellow Argyle Socks
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Mix Things Up

By ‘things’, I mean patterns. The key to any sartorial man’s success is his ability to mix and match what is available to him.

In the office it’s always difficult to fully incorporate prints and patterns without seeming too outlandish, but I tend to find that as long as you stick with two rules, you’ll be fine:

Firstly, remember only two out of three pieces in your look should be patterned. In other words, always have a least one solid item anchoring your outfit.

Secondly, as long as the patterns differ in size, then they shouldn’t clash. For example, try pairing a pencil check shirt with a wide striped tie and solid suit, or a pinstriped suit with a solid tie and a plaid dress shirt.

Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Business Outfits Pattern Mixing Examples

h&m modern classicsh&mDom Bagnato ss13/14he by mango aw13barneys new york aw12Dom Bagnato SS12windsor ss12drykorn aw13tom ford ss14
Final Word

So there you have it, a few quick and easy tips to help boost your business style this autumn/winter.

As always, I’m interested in hearing what you have to say. Was there something you do that I missed off? Do you disagree with any of the advice provided?

Let me know in the comments section below…

Matt Allinson