Archives: Dress Tips

How to wear a sportcoat to the office (when no one else does)

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:

Start conservative

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.

scottsdale mens clothing pocket square

Be consistent

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!

Take it off when at your desk

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.

Wrap up – wear a sportcoat to the office

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.

Resources

Style lessons from the French

The French have a reputation for all things luxury, don’t they? Wine, cheese, espresso, perfume, and certainly, style. But what exactly does men’s style look like in France? And what style lessons from the French should we borrow?

To find out, I recently spent some time in Paris. It was my first trip to France and simply put, I loved it. If you haven’t been, you need to book a flight right away. It’s an incredible city that’s best seen on foot. The food is spectacular, whether you eat a nice meal in a restaurant or eat a typical French breakfast of a croissant and coffee, you won’t be disappointed.

From a sartorial perspective, yes, Parisians do indeed dress well. Whether they are enjoying some wine at a bistro at 10:00 pm or commuting to/from the office, Parisian men are dressed pretty sharp. Fortunately, adopting their style doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. And doing so will certainly help you to stand apart from the crowd here in the Denver and Scottsdale areas.

Let’s break it down:

Wear a scarf

In Colorado, we have a very frontier attitude. That’s partly why we see so many mountain rain shells being worn all over town. When the temperature drops, we have a tendency to just zip up our jackets and tuck our chins down to stay warm.

A far better option for the city is to wear a jacket and a scarf.

On the drizzly days that I was in the French capital, the daily highs were in the mid-50s and believe me when I tell you, almost every Parisian man was wearing a scarf around his neck. It wasn’t a heavy wool scarf, but a much more fine and soft silk or woolen/silk blend, so far as I could tell.

style lessons from the french

style lessons from the french

Stick to dark colors

To some extent, I think that this is a stereotype on French style, and New York style, for that matter.

Turns out, it’s true!

But it’s a good thing because everyone looks great in black. Many of the Parisian men that I saw around town were wearing varying hues on black, charcoal, and grey. Not only does dressing in dark colors make matching easy, but it’s a very classic and sophisticated look.

french style for men

dress in dark hues in Paris

 

 

Carry an umbrella

In the Colorado area we have a tendency to wear our mountain rain coats when the sky looks like it will turn to rain. But in the city, a better option is to wear a dressier jacket and simply grab an umbrella.

Carrying an umbrella is an instant style upgrade for any gentlemen. French men obviously know this.

men's style in france with umbrellas

 

Style lessons from the French — Wrap up

Are there more style lessons from the French that we can adopt? Of course! This is just a small sampling of what I saw while I was visiting the city. And obviously, my knowledge of French style spans only three days and only in Paris. Nevertheless, adopting just one of these style techniques will help to elevate your own look in a hurry!

Check out our lookbook for some more inspiration here.

Style lessons from James Bond

Bond has always been a sharp dressed gentleman, there’s no denying that. But what can we learn from him, sartorially speaking? Why is it that he always looks so sharp? Let’s break it down and see what style lessons we can learn from Bond.

Tailoring

Obviously, tailoring is a big reason Bond looks the way he does in his clothes. He’s certainly not wearing anything off the rack. From Connery to Craig, Bond has always worn a well-fitted suit. Even though Daniel Craig’s suits have been almost skin tight, there’s no denying the fact that they are bespoke.

Now you certainly don’t need to wear a very slim suit (and honestly, it’s not a good look for all body types), but if you want to improve upon your style, you need to wear a tailored suit. Be that MTM or true bespoke, a suit or jacket that’s made to your body’s contour will look far better than anything else.

Lesson: There’s no substitute for custom.

Stick to the basics

Throughout the Bond films, there was always a nod to present day fashion. For instance, Roger Moore wore a large lapel on his suits, as was the trend in the 1970s. Similarly, Daniel Craig is wearing very small (maybe too small!) suits in Spectre and Skyfall. The latter being an accentuation of modern day fit, that is slim and reminiscent of the mid-century look.

However, Bond keeps his overall style relatively low key. He is never wearing bright colors and taking any “fashion risks.” I would say that his overall style is relatively conservative, actually. But moviegoers never feel this way about Bond, right? They can just tell that he’s well dressed. I think that this is in large part due to the fact that he sticks to the basics and does them very, very well.

Lesson: Stick to a neutral color palette

Wear a pocket square

Bond almost always wears a pocket square. And it’s almost always a clean fold, with about 1/4 inch extending beyond his chest pocket.

I think many guys tend to think that pocket squares should be reserved only for weddings. After all, that’s where we usually see them, right? However, as Bond shows us over and over again, a crisp white pocket square, or some other soft tone, offers up an understated elegance that is never distracting nor flamboyant.

Lesson: Wear a pocket square already!!

Never worrying about being overdressed

For years, I would always dress down to suit my surroundings. For instance, when going to get a haircut, I would leave my sport coat at home and just wear a dress shirt and pants. I was worried about being overdressed. In the years that BE has been in operation, I have fortunately kicked this habit and embraced my passion to dress sharp everywhere I go.

I may not walk into a business meeting at a coffee shop wearing a tuxedo, but I do wear a suit, or at least a sharp sportcoat. Yes, I may be the only guy dressed up in a jacket, but you know what? The other guys are probably wishing that they wore one.

Lesson: There’s nothing wrong with being the best dressed man in the room.

Always having your jacket buttoned

This is something that you may not have noticed watching the Bond films, unless you’re a suit guy, like me. That Bond always has his jacket buttoned when standing or walking, as he should. He doesn’t leave it unbuttoned in some misguided effort to appear casual. It’s a subtlety, but one that really contributes to Bond’s elegance in menswear.

Lesson: Button your jacket anytime you’re standing.

Style lessons: Further reading

Here’s an excellent blog on all things related to James Bond style — well worth a read for some additional style lessons: The Suits of James Bond.

How to wear a pocket square in the office

how to wear a pocket square in the office

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, pocket squares are a lot of fun. I can’t think of a better way to add a little personality to your wardrobe than by artfully adding a little color into your chest pocket. While many guys don’t see any problem wearing one at a wedding, they get a little timid when it comes to the workplace. Do you know how to wear a pocket square in the office?

It’s easier than you think. And with this article, I hope to give you some guidance on choosing a great looking pocket square.

In a nutshell…

How to wear a pocket square in the office:

  1. Pick the right material by matching the fabric to that of your jacket.
  2. Choose something with a pattern for a stylish look.
  3. What you need to know about matching is that your pocket square should refer to and complement the rest of your wardrobe, as opposed to matching it exactly.
  4. Fold your pocket square with the puff method (described below).

Let’s go a little more in depth.

paisley pocket square

Material

Pocket squares come in all shapes and sizes. They are most commonly silk, and made up in a 12″ x 12″ square. But we also see linen and cotton pocket squares. If you look real hard you can even find flannel and cashmere(!).

How do you know what to choose?

The rule of thumb when choosing a material is that you want to match the fabric of the pocket square to that of your jacket.

For most office use, you’ll be just fine sporting a silk pocket square because you’re probably wearing a nice woolen suit. Whereas, for linen and cotton suits, you will want to consider choosing a more textured pocket square fabric, like linen or cotton, because silk will look a little too refined for a more casual suit.

Consequently, a cotton or linen pocket square will always be more casual than a silk pocket square. A notable exception is a crisp white cotton pocket square that always looks great for black tie events and when you’re wearing a white dress shirt.

a cotton pocket square and how to wear a pocket square to the office

Patterned or solid?

Solid is obviously the easiest to match, right? But a patterned pocket square is so much more fun!

That being said, there are many different types of office environments and therefore many different answers to how to wear a pocket square in the office. If you’re in a creative field, then you’re probably OK sporting a colorful pocket square with a unique pattern. However, for a more conservative environment, it’s always a safe bet to stick to a nice crisp look — a pressed cotton pocket square that extends just a quarter to a half inch above your chest pocket.

Which brings us to…

blue check pocket squares and how to wear a pocket square in the office

Matching

If you only remember one thing after reading this article, I hope it’s this: That your pocket square should refer to and complement the rest of your wardrobe, as opposed to matching it exactly. The standard approach is to pick up some of the colors in your necktie. If you’re not wearing a necktie, then pick up some of the pattern in your dress shirt. You can even look to your socks!

If you’re just starting out learning how to wear a pocket square in the office, stick with some very basic patterns, like simple stripes or a check pattern. And something in only a couple of colors. As you become more comfortable with matching your pocket square, maybe you want to try some more unique patterns…

skull and bones pocket square and how to wear a pocket square in the office

Folds

There are many ways to fold a pocket square, but you already know that. In fact, I’d argue that the internet has made it a relatively intimidating endeavor to learn how to fold a pocket square, there are just so many options that it’s easy to feel like you won’t get it right.

In my opinion, there are two basic folds. And guess what, they’re super easy.

They are the puff and the reverse puff.

How to wear a pocket square in the office: Wrap up

Remember, in the early twentieth century, a well dressed gentleman would have never left the house without a pocket square in his chest pocket. It’s a great piece of tradition that’s certainly worth bringing back to the office.

Further reading

Our favorite summer pocket squares

Should you wear a cotton or silk pocket square?

When should you be wearing a pocket square?

elephants pocket square

nautical themed pocket square