How to dress for work

Nowadays many workplaces tend to apply more ambiguous dress codes. Even though fewer guidelines open for more creativity, it may also lead to uncertainty. This naturally leads to the question – How to dress at work?

How you choose to dress at the office is a way of showing respect to your colleagues, clients, and profession. At the same time dressing correctly gives you the respect you deserve in your profession. Regardless of whether you work in a formal or semi-formal workplace, some guidelines can help you choose the right outfit in the morning.

In this article, we will walk you through formal-, casual-, and semi-formal wear for men. We will do our best to both guide and inspire you through different levels of formality that makes your mornings easier.

Formal wear for men

Even though many tend to have a more casual style at work nowadays, some occasions and workplaces requires formal wear. To be honest, few garments make you feel more prepared and ready for a challenge than the core piece of a formal wardrobe – a well-fitted suit. 

When it comes to formal wear, you should go for more elegant fabrics with less structure. The amount of luster in a fabric will determine the level of formality, more luster equals a higher level of formality. For suits you should look for weaves like twill, plain weave and herringbone. The same logic can be applied for shirts where twill and poplin weaves are the most formal ones.

Classic business suits are often darker blue or grey and the midnight blue herringbone suit is a perfect suit if you ask us. We like to refer to it as the modern chalk stripe. Iron your white shirt, tie a four-in-hand knot and polish your black oxfords and you will be ready for today’s meetings. Choose between notch or peak lapels, where often, the peak lapel is considered to be slightly more formal. The choice of what pockets to get is also something that will effect the level of formality. A flap pocket is more formal than a patch pocket for example. 

For your second suit in the formal wardrobe the grey plain weave is a great option. The fabric creates a nice drape, and you can wear it all year round. It is easy to wear with both white and light blue shirts as well as striped ones. 

Formal Shirts

When it comes to formal shirts, whites and blues are the true classics. For a formal expression you should go for shirts with a nice luster, and little or no structure. Therefor weaves like twill, poplin and royal oxford are perfect for all formal wear.

If we had to pick only one formal shirt to wear it would be the white twill shirt. It is a true classic that you can wear for all formal occasions. Design it with a cutaway collar and a single cuff to create a shirt that is great both with, and without, a tie.

Luckily, we don’t need to pick just one shirt. A white and light blue stripe shirt is a great way to complement your white ones. It is versatile and quite easy to combine and at the same time it adds some variation to your shirt closet.

A perfect formal suit outfit

Semi-formal menswear

For a semi formal dress code you can take on a more casual approach when tailoring your wardrobe.

The term semi formal, or in our words smart casual, can be difficult to define, but it is basically a style that balances between a formal and a casual attire. 

The type of fabrics that you chose, in combination with the type of product, contributes to the semi formal expression. What is important to keep in mind is that you should go for fabrics with structure and little or no luster. This is a key aspect to bring down the formality and increase versatility.

Some of the key pieces and suitable fabrics of a semi-formal wardrobe are: 

  • Hopsack, flannel & moleskin
  • Chinos
  • Fresco jacket
  • Knitwear

Brown wool cashmere polo and mid grey flannel jacket

A fabric that fits perfectly in the balance between casual and formal is hopsack. Thanks to its structure it can be worn in most situations, both as a suit or a jacket.

The structured jacket is perfect to combine with a pair of selvedge denim. The jeans are made of a heavier denim fabric, which contributes to optimal trousers when the temperature drops a few degrees. A crisp white shirt in royal oxford fabric completes your outfit. You can also choose to dress it down even more with a chambray shirt.

It is impossible to talk about semi formal wear without including a blue jacket combined with beige cotton trousers. A Fresco jacket is comfortable to wear and has a matte surface that makes it easy to combine with other garments. When wearing an odd jacket we always recommend that you keep the upper piece of your outfit darker than the trousers.

Another garment we have to mention when talking about semi formal menswear is the chino. Our chino trousers are the casual option to the classic formal trousers. The heavy cotton fabric enhances the casual expression, gives it a nice drape, and contributes to the versatility of the garment. You can easily combine the chino with other semi formal clothes.

If you want to wear a full suit but feel like it’s a little bit too formal we highly recommend switching the classic shirt for a knitwear piece to wear underneath the jacket. A good way to dress down a formal outfit but still look elegant. 

Thanks to its brushed surface, flannel garments are both versatile and a great way to bring down formality. For a semi formal outfit, flannel is a key piece. Combine the flannel suit with a knitted cashmere crew neck or wear the trousers and jacket as separates.

Moleskin is an even more casual alternative to the flannel trouser. It is a cotton fabric with a rugged surface which creates one of the most comfortable garments to wear. Moleskin is soft but with a casual tailored expression.

Utility jacket moleskin dark olive

Casual wear for men

Many workplaces are becoming more and more informal when it comes to office dress code. However, dressing casually does not have to mean that you are not professional. With a crisp white shirt and a pair of well-fitting trousers, you give both a relaxed and professional impression.

A trick for casual wear is to choose the right colors. Avoid the classic business tones like midnight blue and dark grey and go for earthy tones instead. Brown, beige and green garments are a great way to bring down the formality and are easy to combine.

Here are some of the key pieces we believe as staples in a casual but yet well-dressed wardrobe:

  • Denim
  • Chinos
  • Knitwear
  • Shirt jacket

A pair of well-fitting jeans is a key piece in everyone’s wardrobe. For maximum comfort, choose these washed denim trousers. This mid wash pair is perfect for autumn but can of course be worn all year round. All our denim jeans are manufactured by hand in Veneto, Italy.

A great way to bring down formality is to skip the jacket and instead go for a shirt jacket. As the name might reveal, the shirt jacket is a hybrid between a shirt and a jacket. Combine it with a shirt or knitwear and wear it as a layering piece at the office.

To complete the outfit, a white cotton flannel shirt is a perfect choice. The shirt’s matte expression enhances the relaxed feeling and fits well with the jeans. Matte texture is often more suitable for a casual outfit. 

Few garments are as associated with autumn as flannel in general and flannel trousers in particular. A pair of beige flannel trousers fits just as well with the white shirt as with your favorite jacket. Choose a higher waist for a classic and comfortable look.

Another key piece in the casual wardrobe is the chino trousers. They’re easy to combine and have an obvious place in every man’s wardrobe. 

We like to combine the chino trousers with a flannel shirt. The soft, matte fabric makes for the perfect autumn shirt. Design it with double chest pockets for a playful casual look or keep it simple yet elegant without any pockets at all.

Another great alternative is a white piquet shirt. The fabric creates a shirt that is incredibly comfortable to wear. You can choose to either do it with full buttoning like a classic shirt, or with pop-over buttoning for a sportier look.

Nothing says relaxed and elegant at the same time like a pure cashmere sweater. With a pair of denim you’ll get a super casual yet elegant look. And it is obviously the perfect layering piece for any season. 

What to wear for a job interview?

One of the trickiest situations when it comes to balance the formality, is knowing what to wear for a job interview. The situation itself can be stressful, and your clothes should not increase that stress. Therefor we will share useful tips.

  • Know your audience
  • Do some research
  • Keep it simple

Our recommendation here, that works for other occasions as well, is “know your audience”. Is it a formal, semi formal or casual workplace? In which industry are you applying for a job? Do some research and try to find out as much as possible. To be overdressed can be as bad as being underdressed.

When in doubt, play it safe. A job interview is not the place to make a statement with your outfit. Muted color tones balanced with the right formality will take you far. Once you know the level of formality of the workplace you can just scroll up this guide to get help with finding the right outfit for you. If you have any questions or need any help don’t hesitate to reach out! You can always email us at or book a free digital consultation and we’ll do our very best to help you out.

We wish you the best of luck!