Pssst, we’re back! Get real, we haven’t had time for a holiday – but we’re finally ready with the male version of our ‘Introduction to Outfits for Work Occasions’ article.
For those who are just about to enter the workforce, you really can’t get away with the typical school t-shirt, shorts and slippers gig – no matter where you go in the real world. And for those who are still as confused even after a few years, we got you. What this might mean, is that it’s time for you to go… shopping!
The thing to remember about dress codes is that you should always try your best to follow it. That being said, when you are still unsure, the best way to decipher a dress code, is to just ask. When even that doesn’t work, we hope our article will shed some light on what it means to be in smart casual, business formal and cocktail attires for that special event.
What is Cocktail attire?
It is the go-to dress code for evening social or work events. It usually calls for a mash-up of your personal style and the formal suit. Now, that definitely doesn’t mean always donning the same black, fitted suit – so look out for something that’ll get you remembered by not only your colleagues, but your boss as well.
Tips for Cocktail attire:
- Invest in a tailored suit that’s fitting and comfortable, ensure that it isn’t too tight. Your blazer should be figure-hugging and pants altered to rest right above your shoes. If you’re bored of the conventional blazer, try on a double-breasted blazer instead! When it’s time to choose a colour, go for the darker tones – they’re always a winner.
- If you’re feeling a little daring, go for a bright or patterned shirt. That slight edge will guarantee to get you noticed – as long as it’s not too much, of course. However, if you’re staying safe, a white or light blue shirt works wonders. Just make sure it complements your suit.
- Formal and shined shoes – does that give you flashbacks of your time in NS? It’s important to note that the colours should definitely be dark (think: brown, black, navy), and don’t forget to wear visible socks. A leather Oxford would generally be acceptable at a cocktail event.
- Ah, the great tie, cufflink and pocket square combination. Against all the solid colours of your outfit, a pop of bright, bougie patterns wouldn’t hurt. Play with different textures and colours to stand out!
What is Business Formal attire?
For us, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a matching suit. At the bare minimum, it’s work pants and a collared shirt, paired with leather shoes that match your belt. Just remember to keep your outfits neat, ironed and muted in terms of colour.
Tips for Business Formal attire:
- Keep both your dress belt and shoes in the same colour. Shoes have a variety of brown tones, so the key here is to match your belt and shoes as closely as possible! If you’re more adventurous, play with varying textures.
- Although it’s best to opt for subtle cufflinks when attending formal occasions, don’t let that restrict your personality. Opt for simple but bold cufflinks in muted colours like silver, black and blue with small crystals.
- Avoid wearing clashing patterns on your shirt and tie – it may draw your client/colleagues’ attention from your presentation. Pair a plain shirt with a printed tie, and vice versa.
- Always remember to iron your attire the night before, to avoid that last-minute mad rush on the morning of your big presso.
What is Smart Casual attire?
This deceptively simple dress code often leaves people confused – both in and out of the workplace. So don’t worry, you aren’t alone in feeling that way. It isn’t your typical ‘work attire’, but it doesn’t automatically mean t-shirts and polo tees all the time! To simplify it, think… professionally relaxed. You could probably get away with an ironed, casual shirt, dark coloured bottoms and covered shoes.
Tips for Smart Casual:
- If you’ve noticed, this article is peppered with reminders of tops, or shirts needing to be well-fitted. Well, that’s the key to looking professional – even in a t-shirt. Go for solid and muted colours at first, but don’t be shy to experiment with brighter and patterned shirts too.
- Opt for a slim-fit bottom – jeans, trousers or chinos. And as much as ripped jeans are super trendy, those are a definite no-no in the office. Get dark and muted colours that do not attract too much attention from your colleagues, and always make sure they’re comfy.
- Depending on your industry and office, sneakers may or may not be appropriate for the work. Keepin’ it safe, go for the good ol’ boat shoes – you’ll be the perfect mix of casual and professional.
- When it comes to accessorising in the office, less is always more. Don’t overdo it with fancy cufflinks or a tie (unless necessary). Match a sleek watch with your outfit, or get a simple satchel to carry all your necessary items around, especially when you have to go to external meetings.
Read more: Here are some other resources and infographics for you to step up your dressing game:
- How to fold a pocket square
- Visual guide to matching suit with shoes
- How to choose a vest
- How to tie a tie
- Guide to men’s shoes
- Guide to shirts
With that, you’re well on your way to acing the many work events and appointments that are inevitable in the future. But hey, if that doesn’t work out – at least you know you look good!