Have fun with formals

Have fun with formals

It is extremely important to present yourself well and create a good impression at work. In an office environment, your dressing choices can say a lot about your work and ethics. Ideally, work wear should be smart, comfortable and fuss-free such that you exude confidence.

Instead of dressing in boring neutrals, take some effort to bring out your personal style and add some flair without compromising your professional elegance. While most people find it difficult to walk the fine line between casuals and smart casuals, it is essential to understand dress codes.

Here’s an easy guide to slaying the workwear look each day of the week:

1. Formal business attire

For a strictly formal look, ensure that your outfit is tailored and fits just right. Ill-fitted clothes can make one look frumpy. For women, pantsuits, knee-length pencil skirts, crisp button-down shirts are office-wear staples. You could even pair a solid-coloured jumpsuit with a blazer for a chic and sophisticated look. A georgette ruffle blouse will work wonderfully well when tucked into a pair of pants or a fitted skirt. While neutral shades and dark tones like navy blue and emerald green are the best options, you could also go for pastels, peach and ivory.

For men, spruce up your 9-to-5 dressing in steel grey and navy suits. Pair a plain shirt with straight regular fit pants. Pleated pants look better if you are bottom heavy. You can try out different collars like the pinpoint, Chinese or cutaway.

2. Smart casuals

Smart casuals, which was initially restricted to Fridays, is fast gaining popularity and has even become the norm in most organisations. Ditch your suits and formal skirts and replace them with cigarette pants and casual tops. For a more relaxed look, put on a pair of flared pants, a fitted top or shirt and a statement jacket. However, distress jeans, clothes with fringes, logos and embellishments are not appropriate.

To achieve the right look, men can layer a full sleeve jumper over a collared shirt and wear it with chinos. Jeans have been accepted in many workplaces today but only wear raw denim in dark colours. You could team the jeans with a plain t-shirt and add on a blazer for balance.

3. Office party

Let your hair down and dress up for office parties in elegant dresses or solid jumpsuits. You can pair these with a formal jacket and a box clutch. Velvet is your go-to fabric for a classy look! You can go for dresses in deep shades with flattering silhouettes like a bodicon, wrap around or flowy skirts. Avoid plunging necklines and micro minis.


For all the men, this is your chance to clean up and showcase your true style. Wear a blazer or sharp jacket with a patterned shirt or crew neck t-shirt and plain trainers. You could also layer a waistcoat over a button-up shirt.

4. Shoes

Choose the right shoes to go with your office attire and keep in mind the nature of your work. If you have a desk job, you can pick classic black pumps or kitten heels. If your work requires you to be on your feet at all times or travel, put on more comfortable shoes like pointy toe flats or ballet flats. Casual sandals, flip-flops and sneakers are an absolute no-no.

Men can wear suede loafers, oxfords and derbies on a daily basis. Brogues and monk straps are dressier choices. Match black suits with black shoes and other colours with either black or brown. If your office follows a more relaxed dress code, minimal, clean cut sneakers may be allowed.

5. Accessories

Settle for classy and minimal accessories. Opt for a simple wristwatch in brown leather or silver. Avoid jewellery that clinks or needs to be readjusted constantly. Keep it subtle and avoid anything too big, flashy or in your face. Women can go for a single piece of statement jewellery like pearl stud earrings or a thin necklace with a pendant. It can add oodles of charm to your outfit without being too distracting. Leather or faux leather belts are a must for men’s formal dressing. Pick one with a plain, single buckle and match it with your shoes.

6. Bags

Do not take a slouchy and overflowing bag to work. Carry a structured bag that can hold all your essentials including your laptop and folders. This will give you an organised look. Get a structured tote or a boxy bag with a top handle in a size that meets all your needs. A messenger bag is a trendy and practical option for men as it can hold just about everything and comes in stylish designs and materials.

 Narendra Kumar

(The author is creative director, Amazon Fashion, India)


Business Casuals

Getting to work in this hot and sultry weather can be exhausting. Summers are all about comfortable and cosy fashion, we are here to help you dress light and look fashionable for a relaxing and pleasant experience at work.

The look you carry to work leaves a lasting impression on the people you interact with and how they perceive you. Irrespective of the degree of formality, we all want to get the office look right. The fusion of casual with formals has given birth to the latest range of clothing called “business casuals”.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you look your best at work:

* Prints & patterns

Stripes are the most easily incorporated prints when it comes to formal wear. Stripes give the perfect work-mode appearance when coupled with a pair of formal trousers.

* Colour code

You can never go wrong with pastels for your work shirts. Light shades not only help you tackle the heat but also add a touch of elegance to your work wardrobe.

* Fab fabrics

Cotton and linen are the most preferred fabrics in summers. Staying cool not just depends on the fabric but also on the weaving technique.

* Suit up!

Let’s be honest, suits and summers are not an ideal match. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear them and if you can pull them off. Make sure your summer jackets are made of lighter fabrics and are of lighter shades as well.

* Go white

For men who want to ditch their suits and jackets, there’s a lot in store. A solid white shirt worn with a tie that has some personality can make you look smart and office appropriate.

* Ace your accessories 

A tie that goes well, a pocket square, suspenders and shoes can add the dash of sophistication to the entire look. So choose them well.

Try to bring back the enthusiasm, zeal and excitement when you dress for work. Business casuals are no excuse for careless or dull dressing!

Ketan Pishe (The author is a partner, P N RAO)