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How to Style in Formal Wear and Business Casual

Styling for formal events and workplaces can get confusing as men’s formal clothing requires a little knowledge about office wear. However, whether going for an interview or on your first day at work, you want to cast an impressive first impression. And for this, you must know how to style yourself for official affairs.

When it comes to men’s office wear, you would want to consider your organisation’s dress code. Companies usually have either a formal dressing policy, or they may also allow business casual attire. We have discussed how these two dressing styles differ and what you should wear exactly.

How Does Formal Wear Differ from Business Casual?


Men’s formal shirts often come in a relaxed fit or sometimes can be a slim fit if you are going to wear a waistcoat or blazer over it. The colours of your formal shirts should be lighter such as white, baby blue, soft pink, etc. These colours are easier to style with dark formal pants.

Shirts for a business casual look can be any fit, but they should be closer to formal. Darker colours like black, green, red, pink, or lavender are perfect. You can also go for printed shirts with subtle motifs that do not overpower the look.


Formal trousers are an ensemble that works well with suits. Like shirts, formal trousers also come with various fits: relaxed, slim, and skinny. Along with this, you can also choose from pleated or flat-front. Colours should be earthy and darker, like navy blue, black, or grey.

Business casual pants can be switched with chinos and cotton blends for comfort. They can be narrower fit and include weave patterns of checks and stripes. However, ensure the prints are not in more saturated colours and don’t highlight or contrast the tones.


Overlayer in formal wear consists of suits, blazers, and waistcoats. For example, a four-piece suit or blazer with a formal shirt would be considered formal wear. For overlayers, you would want to choose the ones with simple weave styles and saturated colours like navy blue, black, dark brown, etc.

In business casual, suits, waistcoats, or blazers can have patterns, but they should be in subtle colours that do not overpower the background. Linen or cotton fabrics make great choices for suits for men in the summer season.


When it comes to footwear, formal settings can be strict. In office environments that require you to dress up in formal attire, you will have fewer footwear options. In this case, Oxfords or leather loafers can be a suitable option.

When styling for business casuals, you have vast options. You can opt for loafers, oxfords, or plimsolls. You also get a wide variety of colours. But make sure you are creating harmony in your whole outfit by choosing the proper footwear for your business casual look.


In ties, there is little difference between formal and business casual wear. Formal ties can be in any colour or have a mixture of 2-3 hues. It includes patterns, prints, stripes, geometric shapes, dots, and more. But make sure there is a visible contrast between your tie and shirt.

Regarding business casual wear, you can wear the same type of tie in formal settings. However, here you can have a little room for experimentation. For example, go with multiple colours or opt for an isolated tie colour that does not look uncomfortable.


Lastly, accessories are subjective. When dressing in formal attire, minimalism is critical in accessories. A metal watch, a leather belt matching your shoes, tie pins, and cufflinks are essential and enough. On a different note, men’s wedding suits are perfect for trying every ornamentation you have in your cupboard.

The casual business style also includes the accessories mentioned above. However, in addition to that, you can also go for sports watches, but they should still match your shoes. You can also wear mufflers, suspenders, or scarves to add a stylish zing.

Some tips for your office styling

  • If you are going for an interview, it is a good idea to dress up formally.
  • Similarly, follow the formal dress code on the first day of your office and notice how your coworkers are wearing it.
  • In business casual wear, you can also wear polo t-shirts, as they are acceptable for their collar.
  • Dress up appropriately for the industry you work in. Some industries, for example, Marketing, banking, and finance require strict formal dressings, whereas the IT industry gives a lot of freedom regarding dress codes

The dressing is an integral part of your personality. And styling appropriately for your workplace indicates how dedicated and serious you are towards your company and the role you play. We hope the guide helped you understand formal and business casual dressing and helped you look more professional.

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