How to Master the Casual Office Dress Code

A relaxed office dress code is great, but there's a fine line between casual and careless.

We have a million reasons to love the more laid-back office dress code that’s taking over the corporate world. No more torturous ties? Hell yeah. But the relaxing rules do bring with them one major issue in the mornings: What, exactly, is actually appropriate to wear? Instead of rejoicing in our endless dressed-down freedom, we’re left staring blankly into our closets as we try to figure out how to do that whole I’m-in-command-but-still-effortlessly-casual thing.

Our take: even when you can wear whatever you want, it’s still important to look sharp, both for your own ego — this is your career, man! — and your overall professional demeanor. And since no one wants to end up coming off like the office novice, we’ve got a few simple tricks up our perfectly rolled sleeves to help you master the casual office dress code and look like a million bucks.

Fit is Everything

The real key to pulling off the new business attire is to tailor everything and tailor it well. Seriously. Baggy shirts and billowing pants immediately poison any ounce of professionalism you’re going for.

Buying more slim clothes are the easiest option, obviously. But if you don't want to go shopping or drop a bunch of money at the tailor, you can still make it happen by learning to tailor your own clothes. We're not saying you have to go skin-tight, of course, but a nip here and a tuck there will drastically help you look sharper. Start with a few trim button-downs and a couple pairs of fitted pants (dark washed denim and neutral-colored chinos are always a safe bet).

Lace Up

You can tell everything you need to know about a man by his shoes. Ok, maybe not everything, but a good pair instantly classes up even the most laid-back guy.

You really can’t go wrong with a polished leather pair of bluchers, or wingtips if you want a bolder visual appeal. A slightly more relaxed pair of suede bucks is a safe bet, too, if it's sunny outside. Try them with everything – even jeans and a tee can come together with a surprisingly put-together vibe.

If you’re more of a sneakers guy, stick with simple, leather low tops. And unless you're a style pro who's mastered the high-end athletic wear look, steer clear of running shoes.

Sock It to 'Em

A pared-down dress code is a prime place to up your sock game – casual office environments are what bold printed socks were made for. In addition to adding a slightly rebellious style to your outfit, brightening up your sock choice shows you pay serious attention to detail.

Opt for Sweaters Instead of Sweatshirts

Want to upgrade your outfit's polish while still managing to keep things cozy? Swap your sweatshirt for a sweater – it makes a world of difference. A button-down and jeans with a baggy hoodie makes you look like you just rolled out of bed. A button-down and jeans with a soft, slim sweater makes you look like a man who knows how to get things done.

Spruce Up Your Accessories

When you’re skipping a tailored rig in favor of a more deconstructed look, accessories can make or break your look. So consider this your excuse to treat yourself to that watch you've been lusting after.

Pocket squares, watches, belts, and even some simple jewelry (try a simple bracelet or a necklace tucked into your shirt) will make your outfit look a whole lot more deliberate.

Get Your Grooming On Point

Yes, a casual office dress code does give you license to skip the shave routine. But whether you’re going for a few days of scruff or a full on beard, keep it tight – a lax wardrobe policy is no excuse to roll into the office with bed head and an overgrown beard.

Like your clothing choices, mastering this is all about looking intentional, not careless. Comb your hair, apply some cologne, and trim your neckline into a nice, neat fade if you've got a beard.

Hit all those, and you'll be in the clear for your nine to five. And remember: when in doubt, dress it up. It’s always better to come off as being a little too polished than embarrassingly underdressed.

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