As part of our series on power dressing, here’s your everyday guide to doing business casual for men.
In the Philippines, more often than not, offices adopt a business casual dress code for their employees. In this article, we’re giving you guidelines on how to do business casual properly without looking, on the one end, too casual, and on the other, too stuffy and pretentious.
1. As a general rule, the overall effect you should be going for is approachable but professional.
This is the main point of business casual. The first offices who adopted this dress code were composed of young people in emerging industries or start-ups, although it is becoming more and more popular everywhere. The idea is you want to balance the stiff and self-conscious look of formal business wear with the relaxed feel of street and everyday wear.
2. Limit your options for tops to the following: a short-sleeved or long-sleeved dress shirt, or a short-sleeved barong tagalog.
Never wear t-shirts please, unless you’re aiming for the “I-just-graduated-from-college-and-my-life-is-still-being-subsidized-by-my-parents” look. I understand that you want to look comfortable, but remember that the trade-off for such comfort may be your own professional growth.
3. Bring a cardigan or a sports jacket just in case.
You don’t need to wear this all the time, but it’s useful for those emergency meetings when you suddenly need to look a bit more professional.
4. Wear dress shirts with khakis, chinos or dress pants.
Since we’re aiming for business casual, chinos, khakis and dress pants are best for dress shirts. It makes you look approachable, but also put together and professional. Go for a flat front and slim version if you want to look updated and modern.
5. Always wear your barong tagalog with gray or darker-colored dress pants.
Mostly because the barong tagalog looks weird with khakis, chinos or jeans. Check out our comprehensive guide on the barong tagalog for more information.
6. Limit the use of jeans. If allowed by your office, opt for darker-colored ones.
The jury is still out on whether jeans are an allowable form of office wear. However, if your office allows its use, skip the light-colored ones. Jeans in darker shades of blue or gray look much more professional.
7. Always wear leather shoes. Never wear sneakers or flip-flops.
Wearing sneakers and flip-flops to work will only make you look inexperienced and out of your depth. Make sure you always wear leather shoes. Opt for those in the darker shade of brown, with rounded (not square-toed or pointed) tips. Here’s a comprehensive guide.
8. Carefully experiment with patterns and color.
The fun thing about a business casual dress code is that it allows you more flexibility with patterns and color. However, try not to go to work looking like something someone would see in a drug-induced hallucination. There are a ton of options for button-downs, dress shirts and the barong tagalog, so you can go a little nuts in that area (just don’t go overboard). For pants, limit yourself to darker and muted colors, although a lighter shade of brown for khakis should be okay.
9. Don’t over-accesorize.
Go for a nice watch or a bracelet, but don’t wear both at the same time. I’m not a fan of gold accessories (since it makes you look old and dated), so try to limit your options to silver or stainless steel. Dark brown or black leather watches are good too. The rule is to wear the bracelet or watch on your left wrist if you’re right-handed, and on the right wrist if you’re left-handed.
Cufflinks are okay, but wear with care. It might look pretentious since its use is not very popular in the Philippines.
Ties are optional, and might look good with a long-sleeved dress shirt. Opt for the more fashionable slim version. Avoid skinny ties at all costs.
10. Fit is still key.
This is still the most important rule. Clothes that fit properly will make you look thinner, more professional, and put together. Opt for a traditional or slim fit for your shirts and pants.
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