Julie Rath: Bringing Your Style A-Game in a Casual Work Environment

There’s nothing better than a well-dressed man in a suit. And yet, while  suiting is one of my favorite things to style, many Rath & Co. clients work  in casual environments and don’t have the need or opportunity to wear dressy  clothes very often. For these clients, the challenge becomes how to be  well-dressed and get noticed without looking out of place among their peers. There’s a fine line between putting some effort into your appearance and  seeming like you’re trying too hard (which can often result in getting  busted on by coworkers – never fun). Those offices where jeans, t-shirts and  sneakers are more common than a jacket and tie can range from tech startups to  laboratories.

With these challenges in mind, I’ve created the below list of 8 tips  on how to step up your style just enough so that it improves your   self-image and the way you’re perceived by others, but not to the degree that  you overdo it and become the object of skepticism or even ridicule.

Men's Style: Converse Jack Purcell1) If you’re wearing sneakers, make sure  they’re not ones you’d actually exercise in but rather what I call “social  sneaks.” These are sneakers you wear for every day, not working out.  They should be clean and fresh-looking. Wash or replace them as soon as they  start to look grungy. Converse Jack Purcell’s are a great choice.

 

Men's Style: Avoid hybrid dress shoes 2) Same goes for any other kind of footwear you  might find yourself in: keep it classy and avoid anything with the word “hybrid” in its description. The place where the sneaker meets any  other kind of shoe (i.e., dress shoe, boot or sandal) is like a dark alley late  at night — nowhere you’d want to be.

 

Men's Style: Socks3) Just because you’re wearing a casual shoe, you  don’t need to wear white gym socks or plain black dress socks. In fact, wearing more interesting socks is a great way to inject style into your  look without going over the top. Try different colors or patterns, like  those above from Drumohr. And even simply switching from black to navy or  grey is a big improvement.

 

Men's Style: textured tie4) If you’d like to wear ties but  aren’t sure where to start, go with one in a fabric with texture as opposed to a  more business-y silk. It can be cotton, wool, cashmere or silk knit.  Texture makes you look approachable, so this gives you the added effect that  comes from wearing a tie, done in a toned-down way. Pierrepont Hicks makes a number of good choices with  texture, like the one above.

 

Men's Style: Glasses5) Just because you wear glasses does  not mean you have to resign yourself to life (visually) as a nerd. In  fact, I get really excited (maybe too excited) when I have a client who needs  glasses. There are so many terrific frames out there, and wearing glasses is an  excellent way to improve your look – even if you sit behind a computer all day.  The other nice thing about using glasses to step up your look is that wearing  them is utilitarian, and unless you choose something that’s really wacky or  overly-stylized, you won’t be perceived as trying too hard (assuming you  actually do have a glasses prescription!). Here’s a guide I wrote on how to choose. One of my  favorite resources for glasses in New York City is 10/10 Optics, and they were kind enough to offer the $100  discount above for my readers (Offer good on complete pair of frame and  Rx only. Not valid on existing orders, contact lenses, Maui Jim or Ray-Ban Rx  Eyewear).

6)  Are untucked shirts more common in your office than tucked?  If so, there’s a right way to do this – and several wrong ones. Done  correctly, the shirt length should hit about halfway down your pants fly and no  longer than that. Also, the bottom of the shirt should have a straighter and  shallower curve than the tails you see on a traditional dress shirt (which are  designed to help stay tucked in). If you buy a shirt and decide you’d prefer to  wear it tucked out than in, take it to your tailor to have it adjusted  accordingly.

7) Keep a sportcoat or blazer in your office – one that fits well and  is easy to match like a solid navy or grey. That way, if you’re heading  to a networking event after work, all you have to do is throw it on (but note,  if your button-up shirt is untucked, switch to one that you can tuck in; you  don’t want to wear a sportcoat with an untucked shirt).

 

Men's Style Help: Dark Denim 8) For those of you in jean-friendly  environments, keep your denim crisp and polished. Hint: these  are not your weekend knockaround/football-watching jeans. Look for dark rinse,  straight-leg styles with no holes or excess whiskering and detailing on the back  pockets like those above from Bonobos.

Working in a casual environment is no excuse for giving up on the possibility  of looking pulled together or stylish. By paying attention to a few details like  those above, you can easily manage your appearance so that it enhances, rather  than detracts from your overall appearance.

How do these tips strike you? Do they seem doable for you? Leave me a comment  below.

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