Office Dress Codes Sorted

We all know the struggle of dressing for the office, especially since our workplaces are expanding beyond the corporate skyrises and into our kitchens and living rooms. Many of us are now getting down to business in our weekend best, while some still require the perfect business suit to attend a more formal office.  

The good news is that dressing for your workday doesn’t have to be difficult. We’ve prepared a simple guide on how to navigate modern-day dress codes for the office. Read on as we break it down.

Your workplace dress code, sorted.

Corporate attire

Corporate attire, or business professional attire, is the most formal dress code you'll encounter in an office setting. It’s about clean lines, classic cuts, and a timeless aesthetic. It's usually reserved for special occasions like important meetings or a more formal or corporate office setting.

What you’ll wear:

  • Suits: Well-tailored ones in classic colours like navy, charcoal grey, or black. Some companies allow subtle patterns in their corporate attire, like pinstripes or very fine checks. Check your company's dress code policy or observe your colleagues' dress code for work before incorporating patterns into your corporate wardrobe.
  • Dress shirts: Crisp, well-ironed dress shirts in light colours like white, blue, or light pink. Solid colours are the most appropriate, but subtle stripes or pinstripes can work depending on your company culture.
  • Ties: Anything that compliments your shirt and suit. Avoid overly loud or graphic patterns.
  • Shoes: The go-to office shoes are polished leather like Oxfords, Derbys, or loafers in black or brown.
  • Socks: Dress socks made from fine materials like cotton, merino wool, or silk blends. Choose solid colours that complement your suit and shoes. Black, navy, and grey are always safe choices. As for the length, crew socks are the most appropriate option. They reach mid-calf and ensure your socks won't be visible when you sit down.

MSW have a range of Business Suits that will work for this dress code. Here are some suggestions.

Gibson French Cuff Archie Shirt 

ellis mens black leather lace up business shoe

Relaxed business attire

Relaxed business attire, sometimes called business professional without a tie or relaxed corporate attire, offers a welcome break from the formality of traditional corporate dress codes. This option allows for a more relaxed and comfortable approach while maintaining a professional image. 

What you’ll wear:

  • Suits: Still the foundation of this office dress code, but you can explore lighter fabrics and subtle patterns like pinstripes or checks.
  • Shirts: Button-down or dress shirts remain a good choice, but you can also experiment with polo shirts in neutral colours. T-shirts are a risky option, so proceed with caution. If using one, opt for a well-fitting, high-quality T-shirt or Polo in a neutral colour like white, black, or navy. Ensure it has a clean and professional appearance, avoiding logos, graphics, or offensive messages.
  • Pants: Men’s business pants, aka dress pants in neutral colours like navy, grey, or black, are still a safe choice. However, some workplaces might allow well-fitting chinos in similar colours. Avoid jeans, even dark wash, unless specifically permitted by your company.
  • Shoes: Dress shoes are still preferred as office shoes, but some workplaces might allow clean and stylish sneakers. 
  • Socks: While dress socks are still preferred, you might have more flexibility here. Thicker socks made from materials like cotton or wool blends can be acceptable. You can still opt for solid colours like black, navy, and grey, but subtle patterns or textures might also work depending on your company culture. Length-wise, crew socks are still the safest option, but ankle socks might be acceptable if you're wearing longer pants and your socks won't be visible when you sit down.

There are a great range of more relaxed Business Suits available in store. 
Here are some suggestions.

 mens loafers online
A Smart Casual Loafer finishes this look well. 

Smart casual office attire

Smart casual or business casual is the most relaxed option in the office dress code spectrum. This option allows for your own personal style to shine while maintaining a professional image, striking a balance between comfort and professionalism.

What you’ll wear:

  • Blazers and sports jackets: Not always mandatory but can add a touch of formality to your outfit. Neutral colours like navy, grey, or beige are your best choice. Avoid overly casual styles.
  • Shirts: Button-down shirts are a great choice, but polos or even well-fitting t-shirts (without logos or graphics) can work in some workplaces.
  • Pants: Chinos are the go-to option for smart casual office attire. Dark jeans might also be acceptable in some workplaces, but ensure they are well-fitting and free of rips or distress.
  • Shoes: Loafers, clean sneakers, or casual office shoes are all appropriate options. Avoid sandals, flip-flops, or athletic shoes.
  • Socks: Cress socks, crew socks, ankle socks, or even no-show socks are all acceptable. Solid colours, patterns, or even bold colours are also okay, depending on your company culture and personal style. The length of your socks depends on the type you choose and the length of your pants. Ensure your socks are only visible when you sit down if it's part of your intended style.

Try our range of Mens Sports Jackets to keep a professional but laid back look for the office.

navy blue mens chino pant
Daniel Hechter Chino Pants

mens navy business shirt
Hardy Amies Mens Shirts have a great variety of mens shirt colours.

Reminders for every professional dress code

Whichever business dress code you choose, always remember that fit matters. Avoid baggy or overly tight clothing. At Mens Suit Warehouse, our friendly team of dress code experts can guide you towards the ideal office attire to help you dress appropriately.

If accessorising, do so minimally. A simple watch and cufflinks are enough. 

Most importantly, maintain good grooming: Even in a casual setting, maintain a clean and polished appearance. If it's your new job and you're in doubt, dress slightly more formally until you get a better feel of the office culture.