Well before ring lights and Zoom conferences became standard business practices, office dress codes were evolving. Pre-pandemic, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and other firms known for pinstriped propriety officially loosened their protocol to condone casual Friday five-days-a-week. Now, after a year-plus of anything-goes WFH attire, what to wear to work is murkier than an offshore bank account.
A suit and tie—the de facto uniform of professionalism for a century—isn’t the be-all, end-all it once was. Yet, on the other hand, how else to look like you’re the boss (or aiming to become one)? The key is to soften up the suit and, most importantly, relax the underpinnings. Tailoring can still confer executive polish while adapting to the casual vibe of our current moment. As these looks demonstrate, the lessons learned from lockdown’s laidback fare can be carried with you as you head back to the IRL office.
Investing in a few fine-gauge turtlenecks will pay dividends for your smart-casual wardrobe. The neckline does the same job as a shirt and tie but, particularly when paired with rugged, lug-soled shoes, offers a more casual take on corner-office class.
Stefano Ricci cashmere suit, $7,800; Loro Piana cashmere turtleneck, $1,375; Petronius wool-silk pocket square, $75; Montblanc fountain pen, $605; Crockett & Jones scotch-grain derby shoes, $650.
No Tie, No Problem
Losing the tie is one of the simplest ways to loosen up your typical, straitlaced business attire, but only if you’ve traded your standard dress shirt for something softer, like a well-worn pearl-snap Western. And, just like that, chalk stripes go from Wall Street stiff to downtown cool.
Brunello Cucinelli wool-silk-cashmere blend suit, $7,895, and silk pocket square, $245; Ralph Lauren Western denim shirt, $595.
Tip The Scales
Living in the modern digital world, one needs to carry only the essentials. Pare back and trade up at the same time with a streamlined portfolio featuring the subtly luxurious texture of python—the only kind of snake that’s welcome in the workplace.
Louis Vuitton python portfolio, $5,650
The Band Plays On
Double-breasted may be the most conventionally formal suit silhouette, but it relaxes significantly when rendered in a cotton twill that’s two degrees away from chinos. Follow that lead with a band-collared shirt, which layers effortlessly under a crewneck sweater.
J. Mueser cotton-twill suit, $1,295; Officine Générale wool sweater, $395; Budd Shirtmakers cotton-poplin shirt, $243, and cashmere scarf, $250; Santoni double-monk leather loafers, $895.