This post originally appeared on Details.com.
The line between on-call and off-the-clock has never been blurrier. Not surprisingly, the same is true of what constitutes appropriate, good-looking office attire (whether your desk is at a museum or a hedge fund).
Consider suit separates (like the slate-grey silk pants and pale-blue two-button-jacket combo by Ermenegildo Zegna shown on the right) the new godsend, as they make buying off the rack easier than ever (though you’ll still need a tailor, which is why we’ve included some of the best in the country who just happen to make desk-side calls).
Of course, on the following pages you’ll see less-formal options, too — dark-wash denim, a bold, bright tie, and even a leather jacket should and can be incorporated into the daily and evening grind. How you dress for the job will always leave a lasting impression.
1. Dress up your denim with a pop of colour
The key here is choosing a vivid shirt-and-tie combo in complementary shades and a blazer. Try an unstructured one in a can’t-miss neutral.
2. Wear a suit without the tie
Get even more mileage out of a well-tailored suit. A fine-gauge crew neck knit sweater strikes the perfect note of refined yet relaxed.
3. Mix and match patterns
Keeping these pieces in the same colour family means that a subtle pattern on the jacket effortlessly introduces some visual texture.
4. Remaster the button down shirt
You should own a fail safe white shirt, but you can also pair a spread collar with a skinny knit tie makes it easy to do casual Friday right. Also, a soft linen blend in a light cream is both unexpected and elegant.
5. Upgrade your briefcase
Carry a sleek and streamlined case if you’re a modern minimalist. Other classic options include a bag with structure cut from preposterously soft leather, and one just big enough to double as a weekender.
6. Broaden your footwear options
Yes, classic lace-ups are always office-appropriate. But so are other, less-conventional shoes, from leather slippers to suede boots. Look for shoes at Black Fleece by Brooks Brothers, Bruno Magli, Church’s, John Lobb, Gucci, Grenson, Cole Haan, Tod’s, Hermes and J. Crew.
7. Less fragrance is more
No one wants to be the guy whose enthusiasm for eau-de-whatever makes sharing an elevator with him unbearable. It’s hardly unprofessional to hit the bottle — in fact, the right fragrance can get you noticed in a good way — but the secret is to find something understated.
Opt for a cologne with strong base notes (the woody, musky, earthy molecules that most easily bond with your skin), and use as you would REPLY ALL: judiciously.
Here are some good ones.
Bulgari Aqua Amara: With its blend of bitter mandarin and orange oils, this is the scent your girlfriend is most likely to steal. But those citrus aromas are balanced by patchouli essence (less Woodstock-y than woodsy), resulting in a strong finish.
Arquiste L’etrog: Perfumer Carlos Huber describes his creation (inspired by the Calabrian countryside) as “very herbal; a bit of pine needle, a bit of rosemary.” Think Mediterranean fields that go on forever.
Dior Homme Eau For Men: Fresh and floral, Dior’s classic for men gets an update in which the original’s signature iris notes mingle with grapefruit and coriander to create a clean, just-out-of-the-shower vibe.
Malin + Goetz Dark Rum: This mix of plum, leather, and patchouli is a strong representative of the subset of fragrances with a boozy bouquet; after an initial hit of spice, it dries to a warm, sweet finish.
Ermenegildo Zegna Haitian Vetiver: Proof that simple doesn’t have to mean basic: The star is high-quality vetiver, a lemony grass that’s a common crop in Haiti; bitter hints of neroli and orris root add depth.
8. Wear a low profile watch
Leave the Garmin for the gym. Classic and sleek, look for a leather-strap timepiece. They are the professional’s ultimate accessory.
9. Travel with first-class gear
Luggage with extra padding: A handsome roller, perfect as a carry-on but big enough for a longer trip, is sleek and streamlined while still offering a padded compartment for your laptop.
Try the first foray into luggage by Montreal-based Want Les Essentiels de la Vie and a signature example of its point of view: traditional style, subtly subverted. The unexpected element is the rich chocolate-brown leather, a sophisticated alternative to the business traveller’s standard-issue black nylon.
Comfy-chic sweats: Mastering the art of looking good on (and after) a red-eye flight means finding those elusive pieces that are elegant yet comfortable.
Thanks to two new labels, you can: Los Angeles — based LongJourney’s relaxed black mesh drawstring pants get a luxurious upgrade by way of swatches of suede on the front (think elevated sweats).
And a just-boxy-enough white French-terry sweatshirt from Smith & Smith‘s debut collection will keep you warm when the air-conditioning is blasting from on high. Once you touch down, throw your topcoat or a classic trench over it and you won’t look like you’re wearing pajamas or, worse, yesterday’s outfit.
Pre-flight Tiger Balm: Invented in the 1870s by a Chinese herbalist and perfected by his sons (one of whose name meant Gentle Tiger), Tiger Balm has long been a multitasking standby for headaches and sore muscles.
Our style director, Eugene Tong, swears by it; before takeoff, he puts some on his temples to ward off airsickness.
10. Hire the best help
Tailors, barbers, and bootblacks to put on speed dial. Most make desk-side calls, so you’ll never have to blow a lunch hour again.
Chicago: Since 1990, Tailor’s Touch has been a Gold Coast mainstay, altering suits (working buttonholes are a specialty) and jeans alike. Be sure to ask for head tailor Raymond Vasquez.
Born into a family of stylists, Miguel Betancourt picked up a pair of scissors at 13 and has found his niche offering on-call services for the guy with a demanding schedule, making himself available 24 hours a day.
Altman’s Shoes for Men has been an institution for businessmen in the Loop in need of a quick shine.
Dallas: A former alterations manager at the Barneys New York Dallas outpost, Orland Morales counts boutiques like Alexander McQueen and hotels including The Joule as clients. He runs The Tailor Shop Dallas.
With three locations citywide, the Osgood-O’Neil salon empire is manned by 18 stylists (some of whom have prepped clients for Good Morning America and New York Fashion Week), which means you can usually get an appointment a day in advance.
In addition to shining or repairing your kicks, Deno’s of Highland Park also works on small bags and belts.
Los Angeles: Taline Mazlemian’s family has owned Paragon Cleaners for almost half a century; regulars include the Los Angeles Opera and the vintage boutique What Goes Around Comes Around.
The stylists at Hair Room Service by Michael Dueñas offer a full slate of treatments, including beard trims and light facials. They have even spiffed up celebs like Adrian Grenier and Aaron Paul. Bonus: They’re on-call after hours.
Shoe Lab, a Beverly Hills spot, is known for its resoling skills on designer shoes.
New York City: Request a fitting with Wilfredo Rosario himself when you go to Wilfred’s Tailoring. He learned the trade from his father and older brothers as a kid. He regularly makes alterations for Helmut Lang and Costume National and often leaves the shop to provide services for A-listers like Will Smith and Denzel Washington.
Marcos (Reggae to his friends) Smith has groomed models and cut hair for Usher, Jason Derulo, and top execs at Atlantic Records, but extends the VIP treatment to all his clients.
Leather Spa regularly takes on repairs for Gucci, Fendi, and some of the Big Apple’s most demanding clientele.
Washington, D.C.: If you want the best, call Hamza Simrick, the man who wrote the book on tailoring, literally. Simrick is the author of The Art of Tailoring, and with stints on Savile Row and at Burberry under his belt, he knows how a suit should fit.
After 32 years in the business (with Armani, Valentino, and Milan Fashion Week on his résumé), Luigi Parasmo recently opened his eponymous salon in Georgetown, but Beltway insiders know the pro gives the finest in-office cuts in town.
Back when he was a senator, Joe Biden was a regular at Union Station Shoe Shine. If you don’t have time to leave the building, avail yourself of its pickup and delivery service.
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