You know the story: Formal dress codes were already teetering on the brink, and the pandemic just gave them a hefty shove in the back. Now we’re working from anywhere and everywhere, transitioning from “on” to “off” and back again from one hour to the next. One question remains—has anyone figured out what to wear to do it all? Designers have answered with relaxed-yet-refined items that are the sartorial equivalent of a Swiss army knife: They’ll look good whether you’re chasing the kids, closing a deal, grabbing a drink or jetting cross-country.
The Reasonably Sized Bag
Picture the guy who appreciates the trends of small watches and three-inch-wide ties—he’s probably still toting a massive duffel. It must be evolutionary, this urge to feel prepared, but so is the compulsion to fill an empty bag with unnecessary stuff. Consider instead the Gearpack No. 4 from Ghurka, a crossbody upright tote small enough to force an edit but just big enough that it’s a light one. Thanks to a surprising amount of cleverly integrated storage, you can travel with a 13-inch laptop, books and magazines, sunglasses, a scarf, chargers and hard drives, a small camera—everything you need, nothing you don’t. Worn snug across the back, it’s even comfortable for bike commuting. For the opposite of an oversized “go-anywhere” bag, you’ll be pleased to find that you can take it everywhere.
The High-Rolling Tee
When does a T-shirt become something more than a simple underpinning? Rendered in a luxuriously soft and airy blend of cashmere and silk and constructed like a finely knit sweater, Connolly’s iteration is in an entirely different league than workout wear. A ribbed hem and cuffs give it more polish than its more athletically inclined brothers, but, like any good tee, this one offers ample versatility. Whether relaxing the formality of a suit or smartening up a pair of jeans, a knit T-shirt reliably strikes an effortlessly elegant note.
The Not So Basic Button-Up
In line with most other garments, shirts have grown bigger and more chilled over the past couple of years. The newfound popularity of military-inspired officer’s shirts, like this number from new British brand L.E.J, is a case in point. It’s cut in robust Japanese selvedge cotton Oxford with a roomy fit, epaulettes and handy pleated chest pockets—like a classic OCBD with a more rugged attitude. The shirt also has what you can think of as a convertible collar: a large Cuban job with a rich roll that sits up like a conventional spread collar when worn beneath a suit jacket or sport coat but can also hold its own when flying solo. Treat the shirt’s soft yellow color like you would a creamy off-white and wear with other earthy tones.
The Chino 2.0
These Officine Générale pants belong to an emerging breed of “tailored chino” that sits somewhere between casual flat-fronted slacks and formal trousers. A slightly higher rise, a pleated front, a wider leg and a self-belt add up to a pair of pants that feel understated but distinctly put-together and pleasantly free from the salaryman mundanity that plagues conventional khakis. Wear them with an unstructured blazer and a knitted polo when you’re in work mode, swapping in sneakers and a simple crewneck sweater on the weekend. In lightweight, pigment-dyed cotton twill, they’ll keep you cool from spring through to early fall.
The C-Suite Chukka
Few shoes can traverse the office, extra-curricular outings and everyday trekking as seamlessly as a chukka boot. Edward Green’s Banbury model does the job with particular style thanks to its gently tapered toe and sleek design, fortified with hard-wearing Dainite rubber soles. It has the practicality of a boot with the refinement of a dress shoe; in black leather, it skews formal, but in a more casual mink suede it’s well-suited to today’s fluid attitude. The ankle-grazing height can be worn in most any climes and the generous last ensures all-day comfort—an ideal shoe for any itinerary.
The Sport-Coat Sub
It might sound implausible, but in this new informal world of hybrid working, dress-down offices and casual everything, the blouson is challenging the blazer—particularly versions at the smarter end of the spectrum like this cracker from Brioni. Defined by a shorter hip length and boxy silhouette, blousons toe the line between sporty and tailored. Cut from supple nubuck with delicate topstitching, a rolling stand-and-fall collar and neat buttoning cuffs, Brioni’s jacket is altogether dressier than traditional bombers. In a classic color such as this chocolate brown, a sharp blouson will comfortably layer over everything from chambray button-downs to cashmere roll-necks—even, should you feel so inspired, a shirt and tie.