3 Hidden Secrets to a Terrific Business Casual Outfit

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…And how to turn it into a remarkable Smart Casual outfit in 3 easy moves…

Business Casual and Smart Casual are two ambiguous formulas. Nobody can tell you exactly what a Business Casual outfit is. Some have speculated that a Business Casual outfit is basically a Casual Friday one. Some others claim that a jacket (or a blazer), a shirt (possibly button down), a pair of trousers (five pockets, dockers, or chinos) and leather shoes constitute the globally “safe” Business Casual attire. Notice there’s no mention of neckties or pocket handkerchieves.

As per Smart Casual, we have the same dilemma: there is no agreed upon definition of a what should constitute a standard Smart Casual outfit. Although we all agree about the fact that a Smart Casual outfit is less formal than a Business Casual outfit.

In this field and in this case, it is at least safe for me to appeal to the motto “Italians do it better.”

I think that you can’t put together a proper business outfit without at least a necktie. You want it less formal? Let it be a knit necktie or a bow tie! It’s what I call “Advanced Business Casual”, it’s the Italian way.

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But let’s be practical:

It’s Saturday afternoon and, even so, you must show up at the office… Regardless of the fact that you would rather kill yourself. Moreover, the 7 P.M. aperitivo is still waiting. What do you do?

We are dealing with two different situations and venues, that should require two different outfits. You can’t dress Smart Casual for the office and you can’t attend the aperitivo in Business Casual, either.

Don’t despair, that’s why I’m here!

First of all, remember that even though nobody expects you to dress as formal as usual on Saturday at the office, Business is still Business. You will do anything that needs to be done to close the deal, including being the best-dressed man in the room.

At the same time, you want to be more elegant than usual for the Saturday night out with your friends.

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So, let’s strike a balance.

I’ll start from the appropriate fabrics for the season. A Gentleman’s wardrobe should always be filled according to the four seasons. As I write, we are in the middle of February and, to be honest, it’s already Springtime in Rome. No, seriously: it’s 16 Celsius degrees outside (60 Fahrenheit). Yet, you must still take into consideration the diurnal temperature variation. Take the sun out of the equation and that 16 will soon become 8. You’ll catch a cold if you don’t cover yourself properly.

Here’s what you should do: use a combination of wool and thick cotton. Also, carry an overcoat with you —or a jacket— plus a scarf. That’s why you need the handbag. Don’t forget one thing: you should be wearing wool socks, too. I know: I’m sounding a lot like your mother…

Now, for the colors and the patterns. This may sound easy for many of you: you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “I’ll wear whatever I feel like wearing”. And you would be so wrong! It is time for me to reveal to you the 3 Hidden Secrets to a Terrific Business Casual Outfit. The point being: You need to pick your colors and patterns based on three different factors.

1) Your overall complexion and body type.
2) The occasion at hand
3) The venue.

This is how you do it: I am a fair-skinned caucasian with green eyes. I shave my head because I don’t have much hair left, that counts for blonde. Yet, my beard is light brown. So, let’s do the math: pale skin, blonde, green eyes, light brown beard, that’s four pale elements out of four! I need to create some contrast with dark colors. I could also use some neutrals.

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Body type: I’m 1.80 meters exactly (that’s 5.10 inches). That means I’m taller than the average European. Yet, in general, that’s still considered “normally tall”. But I’m also broad shouldered and quite brawny. I can’t wear any sort of bold pattern. Solid colors and delicate patterns work best for me. If you are also broad shouldered and muscular, you should avoid horizontal stripes —for example— because they would make you look even larger. Also, my body type is a good reason to avoid bold contrasting or big geometric patterns in general because they would make me too visible. I can’t dress like one of those Pitti men-ginas you see peacocking around among the streets of Florence. Good. All I need to think about is point 2 and 3 now…

Since the occasion at hand is and office meeting plus an aperitivo, I would normally need to make a compromise. But that would mean being not exactly well-dressed for the office, neither for the aperitivo. That’s why I came out with a solution so you won’t have to compromise.

We can pretty much say the same thing about the venue in this case. The office and the pub couldn’t be more different from one another. A possible solution could be wearing neutral colors and virtually no bold patterns. In this way, you’ll play it safe, but your look would be rather dull. So, bear with me for a moment…

I picked a Black Rock gray Tombolini two-buttons wool jacket to go along with a Navy blue V-neck Levi’s wool sweater. The Mosca ’54 cotton shirt is white, with light blue stripes – classic Italian collar. No button-down. The colors of the knit necktie by Tie Shop Rome are: dark blue, light blue and white. The pocket handkerchief is in Jordy Blue, the pin dots are white. The tweed driver cap is in Jambalaya brown. I got it from Spada Roma (I wear the same cap HERE). The Dockers are in Squirrel brown. Notice how they are striped, though, and the cut is classic, not skinny. The shoes are dark-brown Oxfords by Ame Delan. The Florence Moon handbag is in Mocaccino brown.

Now that I have established the parameters and picked an outfit, let’s work some magic. The subtitle of this blog post is “…And how to turn it into a remarkable Smart Casual outfit in 3 easy moves… “ and I’m not kidding you. Here’s the magic formula: just take out the necktie, the pocket handkerchief and boutonniere and you’ll be ready for your pint! Take a look at the difference!

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Check out also this post, for further inspiration on how to transform your formal outfit into a casual outfit.



Published by

Andrea Loquenzi Holzer

The truth will set you free

2 thoughts on “3 Hidden Secrets to a Terrific Business Casual Outfit

  1. Brilliant! It’s definitely an Advanced Business Casual move and a great number for the drinks. Bravo Andrea! I think that the daisy is a good proof of “Italians do it better” rule 🙂 Only you could do it!
    (And lucky you about the weather…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you like it, Caroline! And yes, I don’t like boutonnieres, and I prefer real flowers, instead. It’s how the whole thing started anyway. And we still use the expression “Fiore all’Occhiello”(A Flower in the Eyelet). And what a beautiful daisy! It was big and perfect… I have to say, you’re right. we Romans are blessed to have this weather, in fact. You should come visit! 🙂


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