When Goldman Sachs circulated a memo to its employees last week announcing the induction of a new “flexible” dress code, it made headlines even outside the banking world. While such shifts in corporate policy don’t usually warrant attention outside of the office, much less a story in The New York Times, the news tapped into anxieties brewing in executive suites across the country. A blue-chip bastion of Wall Street endorsing casualwear? Is this the end of the suit?
Goldman Sachs is only the latest in a string of traditionally conservative corporations, including JPMorgan, General Electric and IBM, that have loosened (or altogether abandoned) their neckties. With Millennials and Gen Z-ers making up over half of the workforce, and tech companies orchestrating billion-dollar deals in jeans, the definition of “business-appropriate” has evolved—and it’s vaguer than ever. Where a man’s workweek wardrobe was once comfortably formulaic (suit + shirt + tie = dressed for success), the options now abound.
Variety can be freeing, but it can also be overwhelming. If the prospect of dressing for a casual workplace leaves you paralyzed with doubt, we’ve rounded up nine essentials to build the foundation of a decorous wardrobe sans suit and tie. Welcome to the new rules of power dressing.
Dunhill Glen Plaid Coat
While the absence of a suit jacket may leave some men feeling naked, a tailored topcoat is an equally natty alternative. In glen plaid wool-and-cashmere, that icon of traditional menswear, this Dunhill coat ($2,795) makes a polite first impression—an ideal topper for relaxed ensembles.
Church’s Polished-Leather Derbies
Sneakers may be an easy way to take the starch out of a conventional suit, but when everything above the ankle skews casual, a proper shoe is in order. Rather than a standard dress shoe, these polished-leather derbies ($655) from Church’s deliver a fashion-forward boost (literally) thanks to their chunky crepe soles.
Brunello Cucinelli Silk-Cotton Dress Shirt
The monotony and tiresome upkeep of a perfectly pressed white shirt is a thing of the past. Instead, try a classic spread-collar dress shirt in a more laid-back fabric like this silk-cotton jersey ($745) from Brunello Cucinelli. As comfortable as an old T-shirt, but a whole lot more elegant.
Ermenegildo Zegna Couture Turtleneck
Officine Générale Unconstructed Blazer
For those occasions when a blazer is required, trade stiff suit jackets for something with unlined, unconstructed ease. Officine Générale’s lightweight wool jacket, with its patch pockets and soft shoulders, is as effortless as a cardigan (or, for those Silicon Valley guys out there, a hoodie). $685, officinegenerale.com
P Johnson Chambray Dress Shirt
From afar, this shirt looks like a classic French blue dress shirt — a very traditional choice, indeed. But, closer inspection reveals that this shirt from P Johnson is actually a fine denim chambray. It’s a subtly irreverent twist on an office-wear staple. $250, pjt.com
Le Mont St Michel Stone-Washed Twill Jacket
There are plenty of casual jackets that are easily dressed up to office standards. Paired with a button-down shirt and tailored trousers, Le Mont St. Michel’s stone-washed twill chore coat strikes a perfect balance between off-duty cool and 9-to-5 propriety. $320, bergdorfgoodman.com
Mansur Gavriel Leather Tote
Staid, old-school briefcases seem out of place with today’s relaxed workwear. A clean-lined tote in sumptuous leather, like this one from Mansur Gavriel, is a refined choice for the modern man. Plus, it’s big enough to pull double duty as a gym bag. $675, mansurgavriel.com
PT01 Beltless Wool Trousers
To be clear, casualwear does not equate to jeans. Rather, a well-tailored trouser can anchor, and elevate, any outfit. These pants ($445) from cult-favorite Italian brand PT01 have a sharp, modern silhouette rendered in a suiting-grade wool. The beltless waistband and adjustable side-tabs lend a polished counterpoint to more casual fare.