What does business casual dress mean? Chances are, if you ask ten people you will receive ten varied answers. That is why this particular brochure is probably the most important one, at this time, in Norton Ditto’s Library of Dress.
For most of Houston’s business environments, we recommend wearing a sport coat for the majority of the work week. Some individuals have expressed concern about wearing sport coats because they do not want to appear to be “overdressed” around their work mates. It is important to remember that a person should never apologize for displaying good manners or dressing properly. Besides, “following the crowd” is not a substitute for good taste.
Nevertheless we realize that the dress code for many offices is a sport shirt and trouser. If that is the situation in your office, then we encourage you to follow the guidelines and suggestions listed below. But firstÉ.why should you wear a sport coat?
There are four reasons for wearing a sport coat to work.
1). It helps to communicate your serious attitude and respect for the work place.
2). It will help to distinguish you in a tasteful manner.
3). It will enhance your personal appearance. (This is not all bad!)
4). It helps to promote your leadership image*.
*Although casual attire is accepted in many of Houston’s corporations and businesses, a suit or coat, to many people (consciously or sub-consciously), still represents an authoritative image.
Selecting a Sport Coat
In selecting a sport coat it is suggested that the garment’s pattern reflect a small or solid design. A smaller design gives you the flexibility to wear a variety of trousers and accessories with the coat. Large or busy designs, unless carefully selected, may give off negative images and could be difficult to accessorize.
An important part of selecting a coat is to choose the correct model. Pay attention to the shoulder structure and shape of the coat’s waist to make sure the model is complementary for your body’s build.
Select sport coats which have four basic features:
1). The color along with the pattern is easy to match with trousers and accessories.
2). Choose a color and weight that is acceptable year round, which is smart for Houston’s climate.
3). Decide on colors that are complementary to your skin color.
4). Unless you have an extensive wardrobe, go with colors and patterns that permit multiple wearing during a short period of time.
Selecting a Trouser
The trouser plays an important role in contributing to the proper business casual attire. If you decide not to wear a sport coat, the trouser plays a more significant role because it becomes increasingly noticeable.
Year-Round – In Houston, lightweight gabardine and 8-9 1/2 oz. worsted wools are recommended. Also, these fabrics are preferred for dressier occasions. The new micro fiber material can be made into a nice trouser. If choosing one for the office make sure you pick a lightweight quality micro fiber. They are great for traveling.
Spring/Summer – Quality linens and high-grade cotton fabrics are important. If you desire a khaki cotton trouser choose a quality pant and have it cleaned and properly pressed after wearing. The problem with most khakis is that after several “home” washings, they begin to look a little rugged, like nice yard pants!
Late Fall/ Winter – In Houston there are only a few days where you can wear a flannel trouser comfortably. If you travel to colder climates then a flannel makes good sense. An additional choice is heavier, worsted wool that weighs over 10 oz. Fabrics such as cashmere are elegant and great for special occasions, but be aware that endurance is not one of the benefits.
Trouser Details – If your trousers have a pleat then the bottoms of your trousers should be finished with a cuff. If your pants have a plain front then a “no cuff” (plain bottom) is recommended. Trousers with belt loops are still in vogue. Stay away from any western or fad pockets.
A dress shirt and tie for most business situations are always appropriate, however, there are numerous other combinations that can be attractive and in good taste.
Collared shirts – 100% cotton collared sport shirts in short or long sleeves (short sleeves only in spring and summer), designed in solid or tasteful patterns are great. Bold patterns are not recommended for most work places, plus they are difficult to match. Other fabrics, such as a quality silk, Tencelª, and micro fiber rayon in fine finishes are permissible. The collar of the shirt may be button down or regular collar.
Knit Shirts – When it comes to wearing a knit shirt to the office the safest thing is the “collar” knit shirt. V necks, crew necks, mock turtle and turtlenecks can be very tasteful, but discretion is advised in conservative environments. In our brochure “Evening Casual” we strongly recommend all of the above for dressy evening casual wear for most gentlemen.
Suits (No ties)- Wearing the right suit with the proper sport accessory is a smart and fashionable look. In Houston’s more conservative establishments, one might use a little caution about wearing this ensemble to work. Make sure the suit has the proper texture. In other words, a traditional lightweight worsted wool blue pin stripe suit would not be the first choice. Preferred accessories are long sleeve woven shirts, crew necks, mock and turtlenecks worn under the suit coat. Make sure your shoes and belt are not overly dressy, however, at the same time they cannot be too casual. This can be a great look, but, if in doubt seek help!
Sweaters – Sweaters are generally a sound addition to the business wardrobe. Pullovers, cardigans and sweater vests are acceptable. Remember, in Houston sweaters need to be lightweight. Wovens, such as Merino Wool will surface, Alpaca is comfortable, but cotton probably has the most flexibility. Sweater vests in pullover or cardigans add a smart touch to a shirt and trouser combination.
Leather Coats – During the fall and winter in Houston lightweight leather coats with a sport coat style, dyed in traditional leather colors may be appropriate office wear. Accessories used to compliment regular sport coats may be utilized to complete the outfit.
Belts – Belts are an important accessory in sportswear because they are so visible. In many cases, the belt makes the outfit. When choosing a belt the first step is to select the correct color. The most popular colors are black, brown or cordovan. The color of the belt should compliment the color of the clothing. The wrong color belt can destroy an outfit. There are significant differences in a sportswear belt versus a suit belt. For example, the buckle of a dressy belt can be elegant but rather simple. The skin generally has a polish finish. The casual belt may consist of a variety of buckles, finishes, leathers, and fabrics that are offered in a variety of widths If you become a bit confused don’t feel bad… ask for assistance. Regarding the proper fit of a belt: securing the second or third hole from the tip is proper.
Shoes – The best recommendation is dressy loafers because of the wide selection for you review, from tasseled, to plain front, to woven and more. The dressiest loafer will be the high polished leather with a clean look. Don’t wear shoes designed for suits or sportswear! If lace-ups are your style, be aware that the wrong choice may ruin the outfit. If in doubt, please ask an experienced shoe person who understands quality shoes and is familiar with your clothing goals. Here’s a tip – Always keep a white shirt and conservative tie in your office drawer for the unexpected call for lunch or a meeting where the client will be in a coat and tie.
Business Casual Dont’s
We advise you not to wear the following: Suit belts with casual or sport pants; Suit coats worn as sport coats unless they are designed for multi-wear; Shoes that are designed for suits; Suit trousers as sport pants; Banded collar shirts (they are not “in” at this time except for some western type events.); Dress shirts that have fabrics, designs or styling that are too dressy for casual wear; Outer jackets designed for event activities; Too much jewelry.
Absolute No’s – Never wear to the office: Tank tops, tee or golf shirts with event or vociferous logos; jeans or shorts unless worn for special occasions; collared shirts with unattractive logos or designs; sport shoes unless for special occasions; knit or tee shirts if you have an extra large stomach or chest.