How can I dress hipper than I do now?
April 26, 2006 8:13 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find or where do I look to find ideas, resources or stores that carry 'hip' business casual clothing?

I am 36 and I am just not starting out in my first 'corporate' full-time (with benefits) gig. Right now I'm wearing the traditional business casual attire; Khakis and a button-up collard shirt, and it's killing me. I work in a very large corporation but I work in creative services as a multimedia designer and I would like my attire to reflect my position without getting too crazy. I have a couple of Ben Sherman and Calvin Klien shirts but it still falls into sort of the traditional.

Help me please not look like a drone!
posted by Botunda to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It might help if you mention where you live (i.e. near major urban area--and if so, which one--or more dependent on online ordering).
posted by availablelight at 8:22 AM on April 26, 2006

Response by poster: The setting is mostly suburban, but about 40min outside of NYC and I can get away with alot. I mean this place doesn't even have casual fridays, eg; no jeans. But I regulary come in with jeans on Fridays. Just not an everyday thing.

Online or walk-in matter not. I will buy from anywhere.
posted by Botunda at 8:45 AM on April 26, 2006

First, you need to get a sense of your firm's dress code. Since you're just starting I wouldn't try to push any boundaries. Is anyone wearing jeans? If not, dress pants and a dress shirt may be the rule with the exception of casual Friday (if your firm has that).

My personal style is to mix dress shirts with thin long-sleeve sweaters of all types. You'll need snug fitted dress shirts to make it work since you don't want a puffy dress shirt underneath. Having the collared dress shirt underneath allows you to get more casual, edgy with the sweaters. Alternatively you can mix brighter pinstripe dress shirts that you wouldn't normally wear solo and mix them with more conservative sweaters. I have a closet full of thin zip-ups, V-neck, crew, and vest sweaters. Mix your top with various styles of dressier pants - really dark jeans, pinstripe black pants, dress pants in black or white.

The Sartorialist - fashion photographer snaps pictures of people on the streets of NYC - check out the articles and runway shows but take with a grain of salt since there's a lot of casual wear as well - search around for articles on business attire
posted by junesix at 8:49 AM on April 26, 2006

My wife sees the show "What not to Wear" on TLC. Some episodes feature men.. It can be helpful.
posted by narebuc at 9:00 AM on April 26, 2006

Try this thread. There are many many more, and most point towards Ben Sherman, Zara, the various department stores (NM, Norstrom's, Bloomingdales, even Macy's..).. or Banana Republic and the like if you're of that taste.

There's two parts here - what YOUR style is, and where to get it. The first part is the hardest.. there's a lot of men's clothing out there (really!) but you need to know what looks good on you. Bring a friend, preferably well-dressed and/or female, and just spend a day trying on stuff at those stores without buying. You'll sort out what you want. Then, you can even try online places like Bluefly and Revolve Clothing .. at least when they're having sales.
posted by kcm at 9:04 AM on April 26, 2006

I forgot to include my snark with my real answer: this is my favorite Satorialist entry, ever. if he can do it, so can you!
posted by kcm at 9:05 AM on April 26, 2006

Response by poster: This is kind of what I'm thinking:

Cool shirt, some nice and hip sneaker shoe thangs. More along those lines.
posted by Botunda at 9:59 AM on April 26, 2006

H&M, French Connection...
posted by echo0720 at 10:05 AM on April 26, 2006

Great looks for the conservative office:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 (skip the shaggy beard on #11)

Tie optional. Also a nice suit jacket lets you get away with a multitude of sins, ie. while a non-collared shirt may not work, the same shirt with a nice jacket is usually OK. Throw in some casual shoes - lately I've really been digging the stuff from Medium.

On preview: I see the photo but is that look kosher in your office? In my office, the no collar and baggy pants combo would be frowned on.
posted by junesix at 10:06 AM on April 26, 2006

H&M is definitely NOT recommended. Their clothes look OK but they fall apart very quickly. Even for the prices they are not worth it. Zara is along the same lines but much better quality - at least in Europe where they started. I don't know if the US stores are the same still.
posted by kcm at 10:13 AM on April 26, 2006

Response by poster: I'm looking for psuedo-urban-media white boy hip
posted by Botunda at 10:26 AM on April 26, 2006

Response by poster: @JuneSix:
Well that but with a collar and not some much on the baggy. a little baggy.
posted by Botunda at 10:30 AM on April 26, 2006

Upscale department stores. It's all about the upscale department stores. I can't give you specific recommendations because I'm in Canada, but that's where you'll find the labels: Lacoste, Burberry, Etro, D&G, Jack Spade, John Varvatos, Prada, that sort of thing.

I went through a lot of "fashion rut" thoughts recently myself and posted some principles I wanted to remind myself of.

One thing, though: It's not about the kind of pieces, it's about the pieces themselves. Nicer dress chinos and a nicely fitted, hip sport shirt with a blazer isn't very far from what you're unhappy with now, but it'd be an entirely different look. It's really hard to get a runway look daily, but it's easy to look more stylish than the rest of the office.

This book by Carson from Queer Eye is unbearably cheesy but contains a lot of good, practical advice. Much of the problem of business casual is that there aren't enough limits, and Carson sets good ones.
posted by mendel at 12:14 PM on April 26, 2006

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