By Ryan on May 20th, 2017
Do you want to wear a sportcoat to the office, but you’d be the only guy wearing one and you are worried about rocking the boat? I know exactly what this is like.
When I was working as an engineer back in the day, there was a very standard, but largely unspoken, dress code. Officially, it was deemed business casual, but what it really meant was that you couldn’t dress too sloppy. Most guys would wear dockers or something similar with either a polo shirt or a simple button down dress shirt. And always tucked in. Jeans were OK too. Throughout my seven years as an engineer, I only knew two colleagues who wore a necktie and one that ever wore a sportcoat.
As you can probably imagine, I always dressed a little sharper than the average engineer. I only wore jeans on Fridays. Every other day was a pair of slacks and a nice dress shirt. But even I never wore a blazer or sportcoat to the office for fear of the impending gossip around the watercooler. I wish I could tell you that I was the trailblazer that didn’t care what other people thought about how I dressed, but I can’t. It was quite common knowledge that to dress too nice (i.e. with a necktie or jacket) was to imply that you were gunning for upper management and “trying too hard,” whatever that means.
That being said, I’m completely emphatic to all of you that may work in a similar office environment, one where it can be a bit of a risk to break the mold and walk through the front door tomorrow morning with a sportcoat on. Your colleagues are going to notice and probably ask you with a smirk, “when is the interview?”
Hindsight is 20/20 and I wish I would have worn a sportcoat like I wanted to. Because the truth was (and is) that I have always felt good in a jacket. Plus, I like wearing things that have hidden pockets to put all of my things in. And let’s be honest with one another — conference rooms can get cold.
But here’s the thing: No one really cares if you suddenly start dressing better. If wearing a sportcoat is important to you, then I think you should do it!
Here’s how you make the transition without rocking the boat too much:
This is a no-brainer, right? If you work in a conservative work environment, it’s smart to keep your clothing somewhat conservative too, at least at first ;).
What this means for men’s jackets is that you’ll want to keep your sportcoat relatively traditional. Stick with earth tones. Your greys, tans, and browns will be a lot easier to pull off than anything real colorful and attention grabbing. Also, stick to a notched lapel, as opposed to the more style-forward peaked lapel.
Furthermore, if your intention is to wear a sportcoat to the office, then you may want to stick with a conservative dress shirt too, like a white or a similar earth tone.
If you need inspiration, take a peek at our lookbook here or on Pinterest. And of course, a great example of what I would call a conservative and versatile jacket is the one in the featured image, above.
Depending on your office environment, you may want to start wearing that sportcoat between one and three days a week. It may not seem like a lot, but keep at it. And maybe you only want to wear a sportcoat once or twice a week anyway. That’s perfectly fine. But whether your goal is once a week or everyday, stay consistent and ramp up your frequency over time.
Consistency is key. After about a month or so, your colleagues won’t even notice you wearing a jacket!
Here’s a practical tactic: Start out by treating your sportcoat like a traditional jacket. That is, wear it to the office and when you get to your desk, take it off. Either hang it over your chair or, ideally, use a hanger and give that lonely hook in your cubicle something to hang.
This way, if any of your style-challenged office neighbors give you a hard time, you can say something like, “oh, this thing? It’s just my new jacket.”
Then start wearing your jacket longer and longer before you take it off in the morning. After about a month, no one is going to notice that you’re wearing your blazer for the majority of the day.
What do you think? Does this sound doable? I think you can do it!
If you’re like me, then you know that it’s fun to wear a sportcoat in the office and that there’s nothing wrong with being the sharpest dressed guy on the team.