A Guide To Modern Office Attire

Office dress today is not the straightforward affair it once was. Depending on your industry (and often your city), business attire has evolved beyond the obligatory dark tailoring, solid tie and white shirt, with individuals now dressing to suit their profession and express their personality.

In part one we covered modes of dress for the City Slicker and Creative Urbanite. Today we take look at a further two office characters that place strong emphasis on tradition and functionality.

The Modern Media Exec

The Modern Media Exec likes to look sleek and smart without appearing overdressed. He’s the digital marketing coordinator or editor of a lifestyle publication and often finds himself in client-facing situations, building business relationships, deal-making and rolling out inspiring ideas and strategies for his brand.

Fusing tradition and modernity, he appreciates considered craftsmanship with a touch of contemporary styling. Not one to shy away from tailoring, he knows the importance of a well-cut jacket and will opt for a fine cloth in a slim-fit for a more modern feel. Brands such as A.P.C., Reiss, COS, Suitsupply and J.Crew strike just the right balance with their clean-lined, high quality tailoring.

  • J. Crew Ludlow Sportcoat In Mini-houndstooth Cotton
  • A.p.c. Cotton Blazer Beige
  • Reiss Nassau B Three Button Textured Blazer Rose
  • Reiss Nassau B Three Button Textured Blazer Light Blue
  • Oliver Spencer Wardour Slim-fit Unstructured Linen Blazer
  • Copenhagen Blue Plain

Forgoing the tie, which he perhaps perceives as a little stuffy, the Modern Media Exec may opt for a piece of fine-gauge knitwear in merino wool or cotton, swapping for a double-layered tee or knitted polo on a warmer day, with John Smedley, Uniqlo and Kilgour all go-to brands.

  • John Smedley Belvoir Rollneck Merino Wool Sweater
  • Uniqlo Men Cashmere V Neck Sweater A
  • John Smedley Bobby Merino Wool V-neck Sweater
  • Reiss Imperial Raw Edge Crew-neck T-shirt White
  • Sunspel Cotton-jersey Polo Shirt
  • He By Mango Textured Knit Polo Shirt

Not someone to neglect the bottom half of an outfit, the Modern Media Exec will favour a pair of slim-fitting tailored trousers or heavyweight twill chinos in a dark shade, which complement his sharp upper half.

He knows he’ll find something that fits the bill in Reiss, Jigsaw, Paul Smith or Massimo Dutti.

  • He By Mango Slim-fit Suit Trousers
  • Cerruti 1881 Paris Flat-front Tailored Trousers 189904
  • Burberry London Slim-fit Cotton Trousers
  • Reiss Aspley Lightweight Formal Trousers Light Blue
  • Paul Smith Tailored Cotton Trousers
  • Mini-oxford Structured Trousers

Footwear is a core investment for the Modern Media Exec, as he knows shoes can make or break an outfit, and imparting the right impression is of the utmost importance in those face-to-face client meetings.

Northampton-made shoes from brands such as Joseph Cheaney & Sons, John Lobb and Loake are all sensible bets, alongside more contemporary brands such as Armando Cabral, Mr. Hare and Tim Little.

  • John Lobb Lopez Leather Penny Loafers
  • Mr. Hare Leather Double Monk-strap Shoes
  • Loake Brown Plain Derby Shoes
  • Groundhog Blues Burnt Pine
  • Loake Black Double Buckle Shoes
  • Cheaney Hubert – Slip-ons – Blue

Accessories are just as important to this office character – he’s acutely aware they can be the perfect finishing touch to a look. A sleek tablet case and buttery-soft leather folio/briefcase will be on the agenda to store his numerous gadgets and stationery. Favoured brands may include Valextra, Want Les Essentials de La Vie, Ted Baker and Troubadour.

With a fickle climate on the cards, an umbrella is the final component to ensure his pristine outfit remains immaculate while dashing from train to office or desk to car. London Undercover, Fulton and Fox Umbrellas’ hand-crafted creations will provide exceptional shelter when Mother Nature shows her dark side.

  • Portfolio Case
  • Want Les Essentiels De La Vie Heathrow Leather-trimmed Organic Cotton-canvas Messenger Bag
  • Valextra Leather Briefcase
  • Rs1 Ash Crook Solid Umbrella
  • Huntsman-2 Weave Print Khaki
  • Agi & Sam X London Undercover Check Mate Umbrella
Lookbook Inspiration

Nordstrom 2014 j crew april 2014 austin reed ss14 jaeger ss13 reiss zara man august 2012 he by mango aw13 he by mango summer 2014 tommy hilfiger tailored ss14 de fursac ss13 de fursac ss14 he by mango ss14 digel ss12 reiss aw13 reiss ss14

The Professional Gadabout

The Professional Gadabout is accustomed to an on-the-road work life, dashing to and from an office base. He is perhaps responsible for event coordination, or works in an outdoors capacity as a surveyor, messenger or scientific researcher. Owing to the nature of his out-and-about habits, a more unconventional code of professional dress is required – one that prioritises function and practicality.

He needs to be able to move freely, whether on his feet or two wheels, and his choice of attire needs to afford some kind of protection against the elements. The use of his hands is key to his profession, so a hands-free approach to his outfits is an important consideration.

A utility or field jacket with multiple pockets for storing vital business equipment such as tech devices, stationery or tools is a good starting point. A splash-proof outer shell and perhaps a hood are added bonuses. Constructed with a durable profile and able to withstand the rigours of fieldwork and life on the go, this worker jacket is his go-to piece. Brands such as Barbour, Woolrich John Rich & Bros., Journal Standard, Private White VC and Jigsaw are all wise choices.

  • Barbour International Bede Lightweight Cotton Field Jacket Black
  • Jigsaw Cotton Canvas Workwear Jacket
  • Private White V.c. Garment-dyed Cotton-twill Jacket
  • Lockwood Navy
  • Ben Sherman Plectrum Field Jacket
  • Ben Sherman Memory Field Jacket kelp

Knitwear is also important, providing insulation against chilling breezes. A textured wool-rich pullover for cooler days and a loose-knit cotton or linen sweater for more temperate months are imperative investments, with labels like NN.07, John Lewis & Co. and Albam on the cards.

  • Ripple Stitch Sweater
  • Nn.07 Milton Waffle Knit Cotton Sweater
  • John Lewis & Co. Moss Stitch Linen Crew Neck Jumper multi
  • John Smedley Luke Sea Island Cotton Sweater
  • Reiss Elm Lightweight Crew Neck Jumper Airforce Blue
  • Reiss Nerve Ribbed Knit Jumper Ox Blood

Footwear needs to be either sturdy or lightweight depending on the situation. A robust pair of leather lace-up boots will provide superb traction and support whether pounding the pavements or traversing challenging terrain, while a well-made trainer offers the perfect grip for pedals when sprinting around the city on two wheels. Bootmakers like Fracap, Loake and Timberland are worth a look, as are trainers from Eytys, Vans, Nike and Geox.

  • Fracap M120 Ripple Vibram Sole Scarponcino Boot Arabian
  • Timberland 6 Boots
  • Loake Wide Fit Brown Wharfdale High Top Brogues
  • Vans Authentic Plimsolls
  • Eytys Mother Suede Trainers 196463
  • Geox Idol Cup Sole Trainers Navy

As denim was originally invented as a durable alternative to fabric trousers for 19th century miners and navvies, jeans are a sensible option, as are twill chino shorts on warmer days. Both should be constructed from thick, robust fabrics and come in straight cuts to allow freedom of movement. The original purveyor of the workman’s jeans, Levi’s, is still an exceptional choice for denim and their recently launched Commuter Cycle range is ideal for the Professional Gadabout.

  • Levis 508 Commuter Regular Tapered Jeans Grey
  • Levis commuter 508 Jeans
  • Levis Commuter Water Resistant Shorts pine Green

Of course, something substantial needs to be considered to carry all the Professional Gadabouts’ equipment, and a backpack provides the most stylish and functional solution. Enabling the wearer to stay hands free – while ticking all the boxes on the style checklist – a well-made canvas or leather rucksack from the likes of Mismo, Hershel, Filson or Sandqvist are worthy investments, and will offer a range of storage options for all the Gadabouts’ bits and pieces.

  • Sandqvist Stig Backpack
  • Mismo Leather-trimmed Cotton-canvas Backpack
  • Herschel Herschel Little America 23.5l Red Rucksack
Lookbook Inspiration

he by mango ss12 jigsaw ss14 he by mango summer 2014 barbour heritage he by mango aw12 barbour he by mango summer 2013 tommy hilfiger sportswear ss13 Samsoe & Samsoe ss14 ovadia & sons ss13 h&m ss14 he by mango ss13 espionage ss13 espionage aw13 club monaco ss12

Final Word

With dress codes in a constant state of evolution, it’s clear that the traditional white shirt and tie combination doesn’t always cut the mustard for today’s modern office environment.

Business dress has become a much more personalised genre, with gents kitting themselves out in a fashion that befits both their profession and practical needs.

Whether you’re an out-and-about office gent, a slick man of numbers or an artful creative type, contemporary brands offer a rich array of functional utility wear, design-led separates and sharp tailoring to help construct your own bespoke working wardrobe.