A Guide To Modern Office Attire

For many of us, gone are the days when pulling on your work uniform was a simple process: dark suit, white shirt, hard briefcase, black shoes.

OK, so men who work in corporate environments will still regard this as the basis of their nine-to-five looks, but modern office wear has become a much more individual affair, with style-conscious gents now likely to dress in a manner that reflects their profession.

At the same time, with this relaxation of the rules, company dress codes have become a minefield – is the boss going to show you a red card for donning a pair of tailored shorts on a hot summer’s day? Is it ever acceptable to wear a sweatshirt to the office?

In this two-part piece, we examine four types of office worker in an attempt to decode today’s on-duty garb…

The City Slicker

Probably the most conservative of our four office workers, the City Slicker inhabits the glass-walled, sparkling skyscrapers of the financial district, or perhaps the hallowed halls of a law institution. He keeps the country’s economic and justice conveyors in motion, pushing numbers or legal formalities for establishments with double or triple-barrelled names.

The City Slicker’s attire is the one which bears most resemblance to the traditional business wear that has dominated offices for the past century. Here, tailoring rules the roost, and a freshly pressed shirt and sharp accessories are key.

The Suit

A well-made two-piece suit, or for those wishing to up their game a little, a three-piece, will set the foundation of your look. Always opt for the finest fabric you can afford: pure wool cloths and linen-blends will last much longer if looked after well.

With this in mind, aim to dry clean your suit every three months – more frequent cleaning will shorten the life of your suit, as the chemicals tire the fabric and seams.

Look for slim-fit or tailored-fit cuts to cast a sleeker, contemporary silhouette around the office. Make sure you have a good selection of suits to rotate as, like people, tailored garments also need their downtime. T.M.Lewin, Reiss and Austin Reed offer a superb selection of suiting for the City Slicker at wallet-friendly price points.

Men's Boardroom/Corporate/City Slicker Suits

suitsuply ss14 suitsuply ss14 suitsuply ss14 reiss jaeger ss13 debenhams hammond & co ss14 comodo square ss13 jaeger aw13 barneys new york aw12 Gieves & Hawkes aw13 moss reiss aw13
  • Austin Reed Regular Fit Grey Birdseye JacketAustin Reed Regular Fit Grey Birdseye Jacket
  • J.crew Slim-fit Glen Plaid Wool-blend Suit JacketJ.crew Slim-fit Glen Plaid Wool-blend Suit Jacket
  • T.m.lewin Wilson Light Grey Cool Wool 2-button Slim Fit SuitT.m.lewin Wilson Light Grey Cool Wool 2-button Slim Fit Suit
  • York Blue PlainYork Blue Plain
  • Reiss Lennox Modern Suit With Notch Lapel Dark NavyReiss Lennox Modern Suit With Notch Lapel Dark Navy
  • Napoli Dark Grey PinstripeNapoli Dark Grey Pinstripe
The Shirt

A crisp shirt is your next port of call – again, avoid synthetics as they will make you sweat. High quality cotton styles from Jermyn Street shirtmakers are your best bet, whether you opt for a clean poplin or textured herringbone design.

Turnbull & Asser have been making shirts since 1885 and claim that their buttons are so well stitched they don’t need to supply spares with their shirts – that’s quite a statement to live up to.

Other key shirtmakers include the previously recommended tailoring brands as well as Eton, Charvet, Jaeger, Charles Tyrwhitt and Richard James.

  • Reiss Discovery Bluff Point Collar Shirt BlueReiss Discovery Bluff Point Collar Shirt Blue
  • Turnbull & Asser Pink Double-cuff Cotton ShirtTurnbull & Asser Pink Double-cuff Cotton Shirt
  • Eton Classic Fit ShirtEton Classic Fit Shirt
  • Sky Bengal Non Iron Slim Fit ShirtSky Bengal Non Iron Slim Fit Shirt
  • Charvet Slim-fit White Royal Cotton Oxford ShirtCharvet Slim-fit White Royal Cotton Oxford Shirt
  • T.m.lewin Slim Fit Plain Lilac Double Cuff Non-iron ShirtT.m.lewin Slim Fit Plain Lilac Double Cuff Non-iron Shirt
Ties & Pocket Squares

Usually, most City Slickers will opt for sober colours for both their tailoring and shirting, so spruce up those muted tones with a creative accessory – a colourful printed silk tie from Hackett or Marwood and a natty pocket square from Drakes will round off your look with an elegant flourish.

Bear in mind our advice on shirt and tie matching and you will not go wrong.

Men's Boardroom/Corporate/City Slicker Outfit Inspiration - Shirt, Ties and Pocket Squares

he by mango ss14 Brothers ss13 sarar ss14 etro ss14 sarar ss14 m&s aw13 ravazzolo ss14 austin reed ss14 moss
  • Dogtooth Check Formal TieDogtooth Check Formal Tie
  • Floor Tiles Tie – Mint Dust/ RedFloor Tiles Tie - Mint Dust/ Red
  • Charvet Embroidered Silk TieCharvet Embroidered Silk Tie
  • Reiss Abyss Chain Print Silk Pocket Square CherryReiss Abyss Chain Print Silk Pocket Square Cherry
  • Drakes Printed Silk Pocket SquareDrakes Printed Silk Pocket Square
  • Mp Di Massimo Piombo Printed Silk Pocket SquareMp Di Massimo Piombo Printed Silk Pocket Square
Finishing Touches

Of course, we can’t forget shoes – the City Slicker has to have a decent leather on his soles, and formal refinement is the correct approach. Clean-lined Oxfords, monk-straps and understated brogues will make the perfect style partners to your immaculate tailoring.

English shoes, handmade in Northampton, are a must. The centuries-old shoe manufactures of Northamptonshire produce the world’s finest shoes, complete with hand-stitched, Goodyear-welted soles that will withstand the rigours of the daily commute and the inevitable dashes to and from board meetings.

Brands such as Church’s, Grenson, Cheaney, Loake, Barker and Crockett & Jones are all exceptional names of the British cobbling tradition, and will have something to suit every taste.

A sleek, structured briefcase should be the City Slicker’s choice of bag for storing his all-important tech gadgets and essential paperwork – opt for a luxe leather number from brands such as Oppermann or Valextra, which will only get better with age.

Men's Corporate/City Slicker Outfits - Tie Clips, Structured Briefcases

reiss tailoring feature he by mango ss14 crombie ss14 brunello cucinelli ss14 he by mango aw13 joop aw13 suitsupply 2014 sarar aw13 m&s xmas 2013
  • Churchs Tokyo Leather Monk-strap ShoesChurchs Tokyo Leather Monk-strap Shoes
  • Grenson Toby Eyelet Derby Shoes blackGrenson Toby Eyelet Derby Shoes black
  • Loake Jones Leather Brogue Oxford Shoes TanLoake Jones Leather Brogue Oxford Shoes Tan
  • Ted Baker Lozzen Push Lock BriefcaseTed Baker Lozzen Push Lock Briefcase
  • Reiss Holt Leather Briefcase BlackReiss Holt Leather Briefcase Black
  • Oppermann London Vallance Cognac BriefcaseOppermann London Vallance Cognac Briefcase
  • Austin Reed Semi Plain Tie ClipAustin Reed Semi Plain Tie Clip
  • Brooks Brothers Engraved Sterling Silver Tie ClipBrooks Brothers Engraved Sterling Silver Tie Clip
  • Next Wedding Tie ClipNext Wedding Tie Clip
The Creative Urbanite

This gent has an artful disposition and dresses to reflect this. Freelance styling, photography and editing are all the Creative Urbanite’s professional territory. A stickler for contemporary dressing, he’s very much a guy on the go, so comfortable, non-restrictive clothing is essential.

The Creative Urbanite knows that an expression of individuality in the clothes he selects is important, and believes that certain sartorial rules are made to be broken: sweatshirt in the office? Not an issue.


Relaxed knitwear and sweats are an important part of the Creative Urbanite’s uniform. Combining comfort and style, these should be loose-fitting so as to aid freedom of movement when working in the studio, or dashing to a shoot.

Brands such as YMC, Folk, Kenzo and River Island are all great ports of call for the Creative Urbanite:

  • Ymc Sweatshirt In Giraffe PrintYmc Sweatshirt In Giraffe Print
  • Allsaints Revda Crew JumperAllsaints Revda Crew Jumper
  • Loop Sweat – Mud BrownLoop Sweat - Mud Brown
  • River Island Blue Geometric Jacquard SweatshirtRiver Island Blue Geometric Jacquard Sweatshirt
  • Reiss Temple Contrasting Weave Jumper GreyReiss Temple Contrasting Weave Jumper Grey
  • Incotex Zanone Striped Shawl-collar Cotton CardiganIncotex Zanone Striped Shawl-collar Cotton Cardigan
  • Gant Rugger Shirt In Tartan CheckGant Rugger Shirt In Tartan Check
  • J.crew Printed Cotton ShirtJ.crew Printed Cotton Shirt
  • Topman Navy Off-white Baroque Print Long Sleeve ShirtTopman Navy Off-white Baroque Print Long Sleeve Smart Shirt

For legwear, denim and perhaps a luxe track pant are key purchases, with slim, solid styles considered choices that can be easily paired with printed shirts or sweats. When selecting denim, the country of origin and brand is important. The Creative Urbanite will know his favourite selvedge brands for their fit and fabric, and loyally returns to them season after season.

Opting for thick, raw selvedge from brands such as Edwin, A.P.C. or Evisu will ensure durability and longevity. For a more wallet-friendly alternative, Uniqlo offers exceptional Japanese denim at prices that won’t plunder your pay check:

  • Edwin Ed-55 Unwashed Rainbow Selvedge Jeans In BlueEdwin Ed-55 Unwashed Rainbow Selvedge Jeans In Blue
  • A.p.c. New Standard Regular-fit Dry Selvedge Denim JeansA.p.c. New Standard Regular-fit Dry Selvedge Denim Jeans
  • Uniqlo Men Selvedge Slim Fit Straight JeansUniqlo Men Selvedge Slim Fit Straight Jeans
  • Asos Skinny ChinosAsos Skinny Chinos
  • He By Mango Slim-fit Cotton ChinosHe By Mango Slim-fit Cotton Chinos
  • Dolce & Gabbana Drawstring Cotton Sweatpants 190182Dolce & Gabbana Drawstring Cotton Sweatpants 190182

Comfortable footwear in the form of statement trainers are the Urban Creative’s favourite choice of shoe, with some gents spending a substantial portion of their hard-earned pennies on the latest kicks, often amassing an assortment to rival their girlfriend’s heel collection.

He’s likely to own several pairs of New Balance and Saucony runners, alongside some contemporary Maison Martin Margiela hi-tops, Nike Airs or a set of Valentino camo treads:

  • Valentino Full Leather Camo TrainersValentino Full Leather Camo Trainers
  • New Balance 574 Nature Pack TrainersNew Balance 574 Nature Pack Trainers
  • Nike Pegasus 83 Suede And Mesh SneakersNike Pegasus 83 Suede And Mesh Sneakers
  • Saucony Men’s Navy Blue Grid 9000 SneakersSaucony Men’s Navy Blue Grid 9000 Sneakers
  • New Balance 996 Suede And Leather SneakersNew Balance 996 Suede And Leather Sneakers
  • Maison Martin Margiela Patent-leather Suede And Twill High TopsMaison Martin Margiela Patent-leather Suede And Twill High Tops

The Creative Urbanite may favour a streamlined folio to stow his essential tablet and smart phone, with brands such as Zara and Want Les Essentiels De La Vie on the cards:

  • Oppermann London Goswell Black Leather BriefcaseOppermann London Goswell Black Leather Briefcase
  • Want Les Essentiels De La Vie Peretola Foldable Leather-trimmed Canvas PouchWant Les Essentiels De La Vie Peretola Foldable Leather-trimmed Canvas Pouch
  • Comme Des Garçons Embossed-leather PouchComme Des Garçons Embossed-leather Pouch
Lookbook Inspiration

Creative Urbanite Outfit Inspiration

he by mango spring 2013 zara man aw12 h&m ss14 reiss ss14 jigsaw ss14 he by mango summer 2014 selected homme ss14 uniforms of the dedicated ss12 club monaco ss12 bwgh ss14 he by mango spring 2013 massimo dutti march 2014
Final Word

Even though we’ve only covered two dress codes so far – and we promised four – it’s already glaringly obvious that kitting yourself out for the modern office is a more complex affair than it once was.

In part two, we’ll be taking a look at a further two sartorial office types: The Modern Media Exec and the Professional Gadabout. Make sure you check back tomorrow and tell us which one of our gents you relate to most in the comments section below…