The Essential Business Casual Details & Outfits

To me, business casual for men’s outfits is a loose definition, but it definitely has an upper and lower range of what’s appropriate. The only true way to determine what it means is by looking at it in relation to the current dress code of the company or function you’re dealing with.

Things to avoid in business casual

Ties

There are rare exceptions, but when in doubt, go without.

Shorts

These are too casual no matter how they’re worn and I’d argue that a man shouldn’t wear shorts in 95% of situations, anyways.

T-Shirts

While I love them, they have no place in a business casual outfit.

Not Tucking In Your Shirt

The sin of all sins for a business casual outfit, no matter your body type, is not tucking in your collared shirts. Polo shirts should only be worn untucked, but the exact opposite is true for collared shirts. It just looks sloppy.

 

Now let’s go over the typical outfits and when they’re appropriate to wear.

Standard Business Casual

For most companies, whether they require a suit (maybe no tie) or a blazer or collared shirt everyday, there are two types of business casual outfits. How close the dress code is to a full suit will determine whether you should wear a jacket or not. Also, depending on the time of year, you may go for lighter or heavier weighted fabrics for your jackets and pants. Hotter = lighter.

With A Jacket

If you are required to wear a suit and tie everyday, definitely go with this one.

Sport Coat/Blazer

Here’s another article I wrote about heavier sport coats/blazers for the Fall & Winter months. Please, whatever you do, don’t wear a suit jacket in place of this. The fabric is too thin and it won’t match the fabric weight of the pants you’ll be wearing.

Oxford Button Down Shirt or Semi-Spread Collared Shirt

Make sure either of these are tucked in to your pants. Definitely wear a belt that matches your shoe color, as well.

Wool trousers, Chino Pants or Dark Wash Jeans

The more formal the dress code, the more likely you should wear wool trousers. Chinos are a little less formal or more used during spring and summer, while jeans a little less so than chinos and typically used year-round. Never, ever – unless the suit pants are a very thick wool (similar to wool trouser weight) – should you wear suit pants without the accompanying jacket.

Oxford Dress Shoes, Monk straps, Brogues, WingtipsBoots (Dress or Chukka) or Loafers

The second you’re not wearing a full suit and tie, you can basically wear anything but sneakers with your business casual outfit. I’d default to Oxfords, Monk Straps or Loafers – either in suede or leather, but any of the options above are acceptable.

Without a jacket

If the dress code or occasion is slightly more casual, you can forgo the jacket and wear this business casual outfit, instead. There’s a few small points to consider.

V-neck sweater

If the weather is too warm, then definitely swap out the sweater for a blazer from the previous section, or, if it can be more casual, go to the next outfit, instead.

Shirt

Same as the previous outfit. You can wear a tie, like in the above picture, but it’s not necessary at all.

Pants

Wool trousers or dark wash jeans. Chino pants have a fabric weight that is too light to go well with v-neck sweaters.

Shoes

Same as previous outfit.

 

Casual Business Casual

This type of business casual outfit is appropriate if there’s a pretty casual dress code normally, or the event is very informal. If you see “business casual” as a requirement anywhere, this is the least formal outfit you can wear that is still appropriate for the dress code. Anything less than this is not business casual.

Harrington Jacket 

This is one of my favorite jackets of all time and fits this outfit perfectly. Obviously, only wear this if the weather is requiring a jacket.

Polo Shirt or Oxford Button Down

I’d probably default to a polo shirt unless you knew for a fact you were going to wear the Harrington Jacket or the weather is cooler. Unless you’re a slimmer guy, an Oxford Button Down worn without a jacket on top of it doesn’t look too good. No matter what, though, make sure the polo shirt fits like a glove or you’re going to look like a goofball and if you wear the oxford, please tuck it in.

Chino Pants or Dark Wash Jeans

Chino pants are the default in an outfit like this, but dark wash jeans are just as appropriate. I’d let the time of year or weather dictate whether I went with chinos or dark wash jeans. The colder it is, the more I’d lean toward wearing the jeans over the chinos.

Sneakers, Loafers, Dress Shoes or Chukka Boots

The more classy you want to make this casual outfit, the more I’d learn toward dressy shoes.

 

That’s it! Hope this is helpful!

The Dark Wash Jean

Jeans, Denim, Blue Jeans, whatever you call them – the bottom line is that they’re a staple in every man’s wardrobe. But that doesn’t mean most guys know how to choose the right pair.

Every day, I see looks of dissapoinment slapped across people’s faces as the men in their lives waddle around in poopy-pants, flop about in the moo-moo version of jeans or show off their twig and berries.

Let’s fix this.

Have questions? Curious what others think?

Join us in the comments section of the video above.

Every single man, no matter their size, age or body type should have a few pairs of dark washed jeans in their closet. They work for nearly all occasions outside of a formal setting and look good with virtually everything- especially my list of men’s wardrobe essentials. They’ll never steer you wrong and are likely the pants you’ll wear a majority of the time.

The 5 Aspects Of Jeans

1. Wash or Rinse

This dictates how light or dark the jeans are as well as how they’re treated. Light wash = lighter colored. Dark wash = dark.

My preferred wash is dark blue, sometimes called indigo, depending on the brand.

Because of the title of this article, you know I’m recommending that you own dark wash jeans. The reason is because this wash looks great on everybody, hides skinny or thicker legs better than any other color and can be dressed in a casual or less-casual way. I love them so much that I put them on every single one of my clients.

2. Style

This is also called the “cut” and sometimes also called the “fit” of the jeans. Depending on your body type, you should be wearing a certain style. We’ll get into that in a minute, but the most common styles are (in order of slimness):

  • Skinny
  • Slim
  • Straight
  • Boot Cut
  • Relaxed

3. Size

The waist and inseam (leg length) measurements of the jeans. Ex: 32×32 (inches).

If you’ve seen my Fit Guide, you know appropriate jeans sizing, but here’s a quick refersher:

  • They should fit your waist without needing a belt. They can even be slightly tight, as denim will loosen as you wear them.
  • The inseam (length) should leave a slight or full break where they meet your shoes. Anything shorter will look odd and anything longer will bunch at your ankles and throw off your proportions.

4. Denim Type Or Fabric Blend

Denim material can be blended with a variety of other fabrics. Some jeans may have two to three percent spandex and others might have polyester blended into them.

A quick thought if you go with spandex blends:

  • Spandex blends, while a little more comfortable and forgiving in the thighs, tend to stretch out and not retain their shape as well as 100% cotton blends. I’ve definitely seen some “poopy pants” as a result of this.

It’ll depend on what you prefer, I can go either way on this – some of my recc’s below are blends, some are 100% cotton.

5. Fit

I get asked all the time “How should men’s jeans fit?”

Here’s the the trifecta of how your jeans should fit, regardless of age or body type:

  • You should be able to pinch a minimum of 1 inch of fabric, but no more than 1.5 inches on either side of the thigh.
  • They should fit your waist without a belt.
  • They shouldn’t be too short or too long – having a slight or full break. 

Check out my Fit Guide for more in-depth info.

The Best Dark Wash Jeans For Your Build

A quick note about your height: It doesn’t matter. My clients range in size from 5ft 3in to almost 7ft and I’ve never put them in different jeans because of their height. These are the best jeans for short men, tall men, medium-sized men and so on. The only thing that matters is your build: slim/regular or larger.

Slim or Regular Build

You’ll want to get a “Slim” fit. Slim-fit jeans tend to slightly hug the thighs, knees, and calves while tapering down from your knee to ankle.

A lot of my slim & regular built clients initially believe this style will make them look too skinny. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just that they’re used to wearing super baggier clothes to try and hide their slimness, which, coincidentally, just makes them look slimmer. A proper fitting pair of jeans just looks right, regardless of your build, and doesn’t make you look one way or another – I promise.

Things to avoid:

  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking “Skinny” fit is the same as “Slim” fit. “Skinny” fit jeans are usually skin-tight and not appropriate
  • Avoid “Straight Fit” jeans. Like the name implies, the leg of the pants are looser and will be cut straight down from the knee to ankle. This cut will look terrible on you. 
  • If you can pinch more than an 1.5 inches of denim on either side of your thighs, you need to move down to a slimmer cut or get the legs taken in. If you can avoid it, don’t rush to the tailor. Try a size down first or another brand. This is costly for a tailor to do. Having too much fabric on your thighs will make you look smaller, shorter or wider than you are.

Designer

I’ve personally worked with and touched each pair of these jeans (in all sections) and they’re awesome. The fit is very accurate, the pocket placement and stitching is great. Diesel runs a little larger in the waist, so go down a size (ex: if you’re a 34 waist, get a 32).

Tom Ford Slim-Fit Stretch Indigo Denim Jeans
RRL Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans
JBrand Tyler Taper Fit in Rasalas
JBrand Taper Tyler Fit in Blue Hood
Diesel Buster Jeans

Budget Friendly

I love these because the quality in relation to the price is very good and you can never go wrong with a classic like Levi’s and I love Uniqlo’s wash and they also offer free hemming!

Uniqlo Stretch Selvedge Slim Fit Jeans
Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Stretch Jeans

Larger Build

The classic “Straight-Leg” fit is perfect for you. No matter a man’s build, but especially in your case, it’s all about balancing your body’s proportions to make sure your bottom half complements your upper half.

There are a few great brands out there that offer straight-legged jeans with a slightly roomier thigh area which will hopefully solve your frustrations with finding jeans that fit properly.

Things to watch out for:

  • Avoid any cut of jean (all pants in general, for your build) with a taper in the legs. A taper will make you look really top heavy.
  • If you can pinch more than an 1.5 inches of denim on either side of your thighs, you need to move down a size, go to a slimmer cut, try a different brand, or get the legs taken in by a tailor. Don’t get the legs taken in if you can help it, it’s costly for a tailor to do. Having too much fabric on your thighs will make you look wider than you are and completely throw off your proportions.

Designer

The wash, quality and fit of these are great and I use them all the time for my larger clients because it makes them look really sharp.

AG Graduate Jeans
JBrand Kane Jeans 

Budget Friendly

Just like I said for the slim to regular built options in this category: I love these because the quality in relation to the price is very good and you can never go wrong with a classic like Levi’s and Uniqlo’s wash is great and they offer free hemming!

Levi’s 514 Tumbled Rigid Jeans
Uniqlo Selvedge Straight Leg Jeans
Gap 1969 Straight Fit Jeans

3 Ways To Wear

Ashley-Weston-Dark-Wash-Jeans-Look-1-Full

Levis Sunset Pocket Tee
JBrand Tyler Taper Fit in Rasalas
Allen Edmonds Wide Basic Belt
Vans Authentic Sneakers

Ashley-Weston-Dark-Wash-Jeans-Look-2-Full Ashley-Weston-Dark-Wash-Jeans-Look-2-Detail

Brooks Brothers Suede Barracuda Jacket
J. Crew Garment-Dyed Henley
JBrand Tyler Taper Fit in Rasalas
Allen Edmonds Wide Basic Belt
Vans Authentic Sneakers

Ashley-Weston-Dark-Wash-Jeans-Look-3-Full Ashley-Weston-Dark-Wash-Jeans-Look-3-Detail-2 Ashley-Weston-Dark-Wash-Jeans-Look-3-Shoes

Modern Fit Travel Tailoring Virgin Wool Suit
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Spread Collar Sports Shirt
JBrand Tyler Taper Fit in Rasalas
The Tie Bar Knitted Tie
The Tie Bar Cotton Pocket Square dark Charcoal Tipping
Johnston & Murphy Fielden Cap-Toe Dress Shoe
IWC Portuguese Automatic Watch

Outfit Inspiration

 

The Semi-Spread Collar Dress Shirt

The Semi-Spread Collar Dress Shirt is *the* holy grail of dress shirts. When I was conceiving the idea of this series, this was the article of clothing that started it all because it embodies everything an Essential means to me:
  • It works for everybody – regardless of age, face shape or body type.
  • It works in all scenarios.
  • It will never go out of style.

A semi-spread dress shirt will look great dressed up or down, with or without a tie, with the sleeves rolled up, underneath a v-neck sweater or even a leather jacket.

In all your outfits, but especially when dressing up, you want to put your best foot forward, and a pillar of a sharp outfit is the dress shirt.

If you’re new to dressing, looking and feeling better, it’s extremely easy to get bogged down by the minutia. So let me save you the time and just say don’t worry about other collars until later on in your style journey.

What is a Semi-Spread Collar?

Let me show you via the simple image below. There are other types of collars such as the club, mandarin, tab and contrast collar, but those have extremely specific use cases and won’t work for most people, so let’s stick to the most common ones below:

DressShirtCollarTypes

Why A Semi-Spread and Not..?

The collar is very important. It makes or breaks an outfit. The collar of a shirt borders your face, so this is the first thing people see when looking at you since our natural tendency is to look at the face/head and move down.

Also, the type of collar informs the viewer, often unconsciously, what the rest of your outfit should be and how to perceive you.

Point vs Semi-Spread

A point collar, the most common one you’ll see in stores, simply doesn’t look good on most guys because it doesn’t fit most faces or body types. I rarely dress my clients in them because it’s just not worth the hassle when there’s something that looks good on all men. Whenever I see someone wearing a point collar, they almost always shouldn’t be wearing it because it’s not for them. I’ll do a more detailed post about this later, because I can go on forever about my dislike of the point collar.

Full Spread vs Semi-Spread

The full spread collar is similar to the point collar in that it is acceptable in only specific contexts and body shapes. These have gotten more popular over the last few years and I’d choose them over a point collar, if given the choice.

They’re great if you’re wider or broad shouldered, but I see a lot of guys wearing them who really shouldn’t be. These are also the same guys who have a full windsor knot to fill in the space of a spread collar, and on thinner guys, this is style suicide! Don’t do it!

What Colors Should I Get?

You’ll want to stick with white and light blue because like the gray suit, it’s a blank canvas that goes with anything you pair it with and you can easily add your personality via accessories (ties, pocket square, etc). Later on, you can play with the color and pattern, but for right now, these two colors are timeless, sharp, and don’t require any thinking when you put an outfit together.

How Should a Semi-Spread Collar Dress Shirt Fit?

I’m glad you asked. Head over to my Fit Guide for details about how all your dress shirts should fit.

The Best Semi-Spread Collar Dress Shirts

Budget Friendly

J Crew Ludlow Semi Spread-Collar Shirt
Zara Semi Spread Collar Shirt 

For the price and quality, I love J.Crew’s and Zara’s semi spread collar dress shirts. The collars are just the right spread and height, and the fit is nice and tailored. It’s a staple shirt that they always have year after year that I can always count on.

Designer

Burberry London Slim Fit Stretch Cotton Blend Shirt
Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Shirt 

My, hands down, favorite dress shirts come from these designers. The quality and fit is spot on. Burberry London and Emporio Armani’s collar height is perfect for most men, while Brooks Brothers’s tends to be a tiny bit taller so if you’re slim and under 5’7′, then I’d advise to go with the former brands. Side note, the Brooks Brothers dress shirt says it’s a spread collar, but it definitely fits like a semi-spread.

3 Ways To Wear

Ashley-Weston-Semi-Spread-Collar-Dress-Shirt-Look-1-Full Ashley-Weston-Semi-Spread-Collar-Dress-Shirt-Look-1-Detail

True Vintage Revival TVR504Burberry Lightweight Lambskin Bomber Jacket 
Brooks Brothers White Milano Fit Spread Dress Shirt
Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Plain Front Flannel Trousers
The Tie Bar Knitted Tie
The Tie Bar Brushed Straight Silver Tie Bar
Brooks Brothers Calfskin Belt
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Dress Shoe
True Vintage Revival Glasses

*NOTE: You choose the type of lenses (shaded, etc.) during checkout for the sunglasses above.

Ashley-Weston-Semi-Spread-Collar-Dress-Shirt-Look-2-Full

Ashley-Weston-Semi-Spread-Collar-Dress-Shirt-Look-2-Detail

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Grey Suit Jacket 
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Grey Suit Trousers
Brooks Brothers White Milano Fit Spread Dress Shirt
The Tie Bar Grenafaux Midnight Navy Tie
The Tie Bar Solid Pocket Square with Navy Border
IWC Portugieser Automatic Watch
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Dress Shoe

Ashley-Weston-Semi-Spread-Collar-Dress-Shirt-Look-3-Full

Ashley-Weston-Semi-Spread-Collar-Dress-Shirt-Look-3-Detail

Burberry Prince of Wales Virgin Wool Suit Jacket 
Brooks Brothers White Milano Fit Spread Dress Shirt
J Brand Tyler Taper Fit in Rasalas
The Tie Bar Solid Pocket Square with Burgundy Border
IWC Portugieser Automatic Watch
Brooks Brothers Calfskin Belt
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Dress Shoe

Outfit Inspiration

 

Model: Michael Tribby

The Holiday Party Series – Part 2: How To Dress For A Friend’s Party

In The Holiday Party Series – Part 1: How To Dress For The Office Party, we went over what to wear and how to act at this year’s formal or informal work party. In Part 2 of the series, we’re going to discuss how to dress for your friend’s holiday party.

A friend’s party is usually a more relaxed, but that still doesn’t mean it’s time to pull out the sweatpants and hoodies.

If you’re single, the holidays are a perfect time to meet someone special – for the night, the month, the year, or for life. And showing up like the well-dressed gentleman that you are, definitely helps your chances.

If you’re attached, your girl is going to love watching the other women ogle you from afar. I know that when someone looks at my man, I always think, “Yeah, that’s right, keep looking – he’s with me!” Any woman can appreciate a well-dressed man and they will, whether you’re attached or not.

Topman Dark Green Marl Slim Fit Sweater, $35
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Regent Fit Mini Pinstripe Dress Shirt, $92
JBrand Tyler Taper Fit in Rasalas, $228
H&M Leather Dress Belt, $20
Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Cap-Toe Oxfords, $395
Topman SELECT Homme Grey Salt and Pepper Wool Rich Suit Jacket, $220

Throw on a dark green v-neck sweater over a crisp, light blue dress shirt. Leave the top 2 buttons undone and make sure the collar tips are tucked underneath your sweater.

Finish with a pair of slim, dark wash jeans. Avoid jeans that have whiskering, fading, or holes because they’ll make your entire outfit look sloppy.

Don’t forget to add a black belt (making sure the buckle isn’t too large) and black leather dress shoes to complete the look.

Another option is to pair the above outfit with a sports coat. If you go this route, add a pocket square to finish it off. Remember: It’s all about the details.

If you missed Part 1 of The Holiday Party Series: How To Dress For The Office Party, I talked about the thing that’ll make or break this outfit is whether you’ve layered properly. So keep those layers on the thinner side!

 

Tips & Etiquette

  1. Bring a nice bottle of wine to thank the host/hostess for throwing the party.
  2. Bring a few business cards, just in case.
    You never know who you might run in to.
  3. Introduce yourself to every person in the room.
    Avoid only talking to the people you know. It’s not weird or inappropriate to go up to strangers at this party because they were invited by your friend/host, just like you were. So use the fact that you have a mutual friend to introduce yourself.
  4. Before leaving, make sure to say goodbye to the host(s) as well as the people you spoke with that night.
    In the adult world, it’s extremely rude to leave without saying goodbye.

How To Fix Long Shirt Sleeves In A Pinch

This is a really old post, but it luckily still holds up!

Here’s a scenario: You’re getting dressed for an event. Your suit’s been dry cleaned, shoes have been shined, your new dress shirt is ironed and you’re all set to go. You put on your pants, tuck in and button your dress shirt, buckle your belt, tie your shoes and throw on your suit jacket while giving yourself a once-over in the mirror.

But something looks off.

There’s too much shirt sleeve peeking from underneath your jacket! Most (sloppy) guys will shrug it off and continue their night like it’s no big deal.

PLEASE don’t be like most guys!

There’s a quick and simple fix called “The Rubberband Trick”

1. Grab 2 rubberbands.

Make sure they’re large enough to wrap comfortably around your forearm without cutting off your circulation.

2. Remove your jacket, if it’s on. Place a rubberband over your sleeve, onto your forearm.

Around the middle of forearm, where there’s the most meat.

3. Tug your shirt sleeves up until your cuffs hit your wrist (this is the appropriate sleeve length).

Your cuffs should end at the bend of your wrist. Bend your wrist up and your shirt cuff should be barely touching the top of your hand.

4. Repeat for the other arm.

5. Throw on your jacket, adjust as needed and you’re ready to go!

Make sure that only about 1/2 of cuff is showing from underneath your jacket. If your jacket’s sleeves are short, adjust your shirt sleeves to only peek out a half inch. It’s better to have shorter sleeves with proper cuff spacing, than the opposite.

The rubberbands will hold your sleeves all night long. Just make sure, that if you remove your jacket at some point throughout the night, to take the rubberbands off your forearms. You’ll get some odd stares if you don’t.