Are Men Dressing Too Casually These Days?
While urban/streetwear seems to be steadily headed in a cleaner, more mature direction, it seems business attire is becoming more relaxed. The lines are getting blurry between dress codes in the streets, the nightclubs and the office. Sneakers are being worn with suits, chinos and denim are replacing dress pants, blazers are translating into streetwear or being replaced completely by cardigans, and ties are being ditched.
Many may be counting their blessings with this transition: being more comfortable on the job, not having to go home to change after work before going out, saving money on two wardrobes. But is this shift doing more damage than good? Should dress codes be more segregated so we’ll take that lawyer in a suit we’re shaking hands with more seriously than the trendy unemployed dude who rode by us on his bike?
The economic downturn of recent years is said to be the blame for more casual attire. David Wolfe, creative director at the Doneger Group consulting firm, told cnbc.com: “There’s such an awareness that we need to be more realistic because of the economy. No matter what comes down the runway, it can look fabulous, but there is just the reality that we are a very comfort-driven society.” It’s safe to say both men and women are looking for simpler pieces that can be worn in different ways and layered instead of obviously blatant styles that cannot easily be recycled into their wardrobe.
In a way, this is all a breath of fresh air, as it allows people to express themselves more freely than being stuck in a stuffy suit. It’s fun to allow for experimentation with fashion. Plus there are those guys that just can’t seem to get their suits right—they opt for cheap ill-fitting tacky designs often paired with even tackier dress shoes.
Men—keep it polished, neat, respectable and educate yourself on fashion. Try fun fabrics like seersucker in the summer and tweed in the fall. It’s hard to argue with someone who looks as on point in a pair of modern moccasins as the guy next to him in fancy wingtip shoes.
Let’s look at examples of the fine styles which have contributed to this confusion:
Instead of formal blazers with matching pants, sport coats are made in more casual fabrics like corduroy, linen and twill. They are meant to be paired with anything from button downs to polos and tees, along with contrasting bottoms from tailored shorts to chinos and denim.
Button-down shirts have been dressed down with prints like plaid and stripes, and fabrics like chambray and flannel make these pieces easy to rock form your day job to happy hour drinks. Since these are often worn untucked, make sure they fit you well to avoid looking sloppy.
One of the biggest trends from last spring will surely trickle into this one: cuffed chino pants. Rolled up so they hit just above the ankle, these preppy pieces provide for a laid back nautical look and can definitely work in the office on summer days. Whether rolled or not, these bottoms (minus bells and whistles like cargo pockets) provide for a nice alternative to formal dress pants and super casual denim. Pair them with a pair of boat or oxford shoes, and you’re good to go.
Sneakers are a tricky one when it comes to the workplace. It’s safest to stay away from bold white soles and go for monochrome kicks, like the ones pictured above. As long as you steer clear from flashy details, materials, and chunky styles your boss may not even notice they’re sneakers!
What do you think—have casual Fridays gone too far?