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Weekday wardrobe

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Stitched Up

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How to dress for work if every day is casual Friday.

Those who work in corporate environments tend to know the score when it comes to dressing for the office, but what about those who work in more relaxed environments?

Personally, I’ve worked in all of them and each has its own specific freedoms and suffocating hells.

The worse things about being booted and suited are the stifling heat and humidity of an Australian summer and the endless cleaning bills and juggling your schedule to ensure you get to the dry-cleaners before closing. Beyond that it’s pretty much a cakewalk.

Navigating the casual or creative workplace is decidedly trickier. Being spoilt for choice is not always a good thing, especially when you’re running late the morning after a night on the turps and managing a shower was obstacle enough.

Here, then, are some simple suggestions when it comes to dressing down.

A casual approach
While most guys look great in a suit, not having to wear them day in and day out can be a blessing when it comes to comfort and the budget of those who can’t afford having more than one in their closet.

But if you’re punching in at a casual office it’s still good to create a cyclical wardrobe, with a range of items that are kept for work and only work. Not only does it make it easier when choosing what to wear, it helps to make a distinction between the real you and worker-bee you.

A few dress shirts on rotation are always a safe bet. You can team them up with jeans – always dark blue or black – and either dark-coloured sneakers or boots. You can also wear them with pants or chinos when you want to feel a little more dapper or have that performance review coming up.

T-shirts are fine in some environments, but make sure they’re clean and pressed. It’s also better to wear them with boots if you’re working in a semi-corporate environment. And if your boss is a suit wearer, a T-shirt and trainers might be kicking it down a notch too far.

Ditto for thongs. Never wear them. It’s not the beach and your workmates don’t want to see your hairy toes.

If you want to dress to impress, go for gold. It might signal that you’re serious about your job and can never hurt promotion opportunities. Though it’s best not to jump from T-shirts one day to shirt and tie the next, because you don’t want your manager wondering if have a lunchtime job interview.

Getting creative
Working in a creative environment doesn’t mean you can slouch around in tracksuit bottoms and old T-shirts – unless you’re under a certain age and both are clearly designer and cost the better half of your weekly wage. No, you need to up the ante considerably in what is basically a fashion forward twist on corporate wear.

Though you may get away with a T-shirt that looks as if it’s the accommodation of choice for moths, it should be contrasted with a smart, tailored jacket and modern take on a dress pant.

Basically, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to an art-directed wardrobe. From baseball caps to trilbies, hi-tops to brogues, as long as it’s considered and offset with something that ensures you don’t look like you’re off to the gym or taking part in an old-timey, historical reconstruction you should be fine.

This is also a good choice for casual Fridays in corporate jobs, sans the hi-tops and baseball caps. A friend who works in finance once told me: “No one actually dresses casually, it’s more of an opportunity to show everyone how stylish you can be outside of a business suit. At my office we wear casual suits and nix the ties.”

Homebody
Working from home is a whole other beast entirely. Considered the Holy Grail among disgruntled office workers, and rightfully so, being liberated from the eyes of the public can lead to some interesting fashion and hygiene choices.

Some days you’ll fire up the laptop to “check a few emails” before showering and all of a sudden it’s seven pm and you’re still in your underpants when your partner gets home and looks at you with mild disgust.

Other times you’ll have washed and started dressing when you get a work call that distracts you and it’s only later that you realise you’ve been wearing shirt, socks and a fetching 'towel dress' for most of the day.

So here's rule number one - head straight to the shower upon waking.

It’s also a good idea to remain groomed at all times: shave daily, trim your nails and wear cologne if that’s your bag. Of course, most won’t at first, but get back to me in six months when you catch sight of yourself in a mirror and see what looks like to be a greasy-haired yeti staring back at you. It’s better to maintain a little dignity from the get-go.

The best advice I have to offer for fellow at-home freelancers is to dress like you would if you were meeting your grandmother for lunch. Not necessarily fancy, but at least resembling someone who has their lives in order. Not only will it be better for your self-esteem, you’ll also be more productive as a result.

Do you have any tips or tricks when it comes to dressing down?

 

 

7 comments so far

  • I work from home and can absolutely agree with the advice at the end. Get up, get showered, get groomed, get dressed, then work. The thing that helps me the most and that I really notice if I don't do it is wearing shoes.

    Commenter
    nukethewhippet
    Date and time
    June 23, 2012, 1:07PM
    • I am and expat here in Thai for many years now - and I 100% agree with the plan to kick off the day early and smartly at all times!
      BUT when I read an article such as this - what I want is ideas for improving my wardrobe - not looking at a handful of pics of 190cm 23yo's with chiseled jaws and the perfect body! Good grief - how about helping the other 99.9999999999999% of the planet? because believe it or not most of us look nothing like your models - and nor could we wear the stuff they are wearing....and not just because each outfit probably costs more than the we ordinary peoples annual salary!
      Please get real and do a well-researched article on men 35yo to 55yo with pictures to show classic clothing combinations for casual wear - then I would be really impressed! I know this article is for the Australian humid period - and that here we live with this for 12 months give or take a few days - so any real advice is gratefully accepted :)
      Thanks.

      Commenter
      peterthailand
      Location
      bangkok
      Date and time
      June 23, 2012, 4:17PM
      • the images do not relate to the subject of this article.

        99% of people do not wear those clothes to work, anywhere in the world, on friday or the rest of the week, with thongs or otherwise.

        Commenter
        gladi'mnot paying
        Date and time
        June 24, 2012, 7:46PM
        • ahem……dare i say that i like looking at "pics of 190cm 18-23yo's with chiseled jaws and the perfect body!"……keep it up……keep them coming…...;-)

          Commenter
          sadness
          Date and time
          June 25, 2012, 12:33AM
          • hehe
            i know i know - its simply sheer jealously on my part :)
            but having said that...i still want to learn more about clothing that a mere mug like me can wear! ...then again...this is just the kind of article that has been annoying women for far longer then we shorter, older and less perfect men :)

            Commenter
            peterthai
            Location
            bangkok
            Date and time
            June 25, 2012, 2:43PM
        • Ok, I'd like to parrot a comment made by someone else on a similar article about women last week - why was an article about women's workwear written in the 'Life and Style' section, while an article about men's workwear written in the 'Executive Style' section?

          Good advice for men here. I always feel like the necessity to wear a tie most days is just unnecessarily restrictive and casual fridays are a minefield for everyone.

          Commenter
          Sally
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          June 25, 2012, 9:06AM
          • I think this is great advice. The way we dress is particularly important for confidence and self-esteem, but also the way people perceive us.

            Rocking up to work in tracksuit pants -looking like you've rolled out of bed and kept rolling straight into work -makes for a slow day of inefficiency and podding along- as you would, if you were at home (in those same trackies).

            For those that do take pride in their appearance, it really does leave an impression on other people that you have your house in order. Moreover, the ability to regularly maintain clean, fresh appearance may translate into telling others that you can be relied upon to do a job well, every time.

            Commenter
            AACAR
            Location
            Melbourne
            Date and time
            June 25, 2012, 9:35AM

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