Grooming & Style
Business Casual on a Budget
By Michael Rovner
So the dress code at your new job is “business casual,” and you’re thinking, “What the … ?” Don’t fret, at least not about your wardrobe. Business casual is less straightforward than a suit and tie, but it’s not rocket science. And if you’re smart about it, you can look as sharp as the next guy for a whole lot less.
While it depends on the kind of office in which you work, business casual typically means crisp, professional and sober. “You don't need a tie, per se, but we're not talking about sweatpants. Think of the overall look and make the pieces work together,” says Khurshid Begum, creative director for Modern Culture at Oved Apparel and a fashion industry veteran who's worked for Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Giorgio Armani. Here’s how to do it:
Step No. 1: See What You Have
Step No.2: Fill in the Gaps in Your Wardrobe
Keep the following in mind as essentials: a nice belt, a good pair of leather dress shoes, a few pairs of khakis, a good sport coat, and several shirts (a couple of whites, a couple of blues and a couple of stripes to mix it up). Begum also recommends owning a half-dozen pairs of dark socks that come up to the calf. “The easiest way to look like an idiot is to show up in a great casual outfit and ruin it with white sweat socks," he says. If there’s still room in your budget, a couple of sweaters in different styles, while not necessary, can be useful extras: a cardigan that can be worn in place of a sport coat or under one if it's not too bulky, and a crew neck or v-neck or even sweater vest that can be worn in the same way.
Step No. 3: Put It All Together
Step No. 4: Shop
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Michael Rovner is a freelance journalist who has covered fashion for The New York Times Magazine, Details and the New York Post.
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