Dressing for work is kind of like cooking dinner. You have to do it most days of the week, the options can seem limited and boring, and it is easy to get stuck in a rut. To help Calgary’s business people figure out what they should wear to work in 2017, we’ve enlisted the help of some experts: Brenna Hardy and Phaedra Godchild of Styleista, a Calgary-based team of fashion stylists; Whitney Titheridge, owner of Crabapple Clothing Company; Rob Nicholl, a custom clothing specialist at Supreme Men’s Wear; and Ketevan Gvaramadze, Holt Renfrew’s fashion director.
On the Top:
Hardy recommends a well-fitted blazer in a neutral colour. “It’s an investment piece and something you can wear for five years minimum, so don’t be afraid to spend a bit of money on a good-quality option.” Gvaramadze recommends a double-breasted version, which evokes one of the most important trends of spring 2017 – power dressing. “It can be paired with jeans and a tee for a more casual feel or it can be worn with more tailored pants for the office.”
Another item to include in your wardrobe is a classic collared blouse. “I believe it gives limitless versatility,” says Titheridge. “It can be worn under a sweater or cardigan so that we just get a glimpse, as a stand-alone piece with your ankle pants or pencil skirt, or on the weekend with some distressed jeans and a leather jacket.” Gvaramadze recommends an oversized, tailored collared shirt as another way to achieve the power look.
Good blazer options can be found at Judith & Charles, Holt Renfrew, Smythe or Theory. Sacai is a great shirting option and Whitney recommends Equipment for a collared blouse.
On the Bottom:
Hardy recommends a pencil skirt. “It is key as it is very versatile and flattering on most body types. It is feminine yet classically conservative.” She says it can be worn with a blouse (and blazer) or a sweater, and looks great with pumps, and stacked-heel or ankle boots.
Both Titheridge and Gvaramadze advocate pants. Titheridge likes a fitted-ankle pant while Gvaramadze recommends a pair of high-waist, tailored trousers. Regardless of the shape, Titheridge stresses that fit should reign supreme. “Alterations are sometimes necessary. A little taking in at the waist or sewing down pockets can make all the difference and is a worthwhile expense for staple items.”
Another thing to keep in mind with pants is proportion. “If you are wearing a slim bottom feel free to experiment with a more flowy or unstructured top. However, if you have a wide-legged bottom, stick to something more fitted or tailored for the top half.”
Good pencil skirt options can be found at Aritzia/Wilfred and Judith & Charles. Gvaramadze recommends Brunello Cucinelli, Theory and Vince for classic luxurious staples and Titheridge highlights Cambio as a great pant line.
On the Feet:
Hardy recommends a pair of good black leather (or patent leather) pumps. “They say you mean business and work day or night,” she says. “If you already have black you could branch into nude and/or grey.” They work with a suit, skirt, pants or jeans.
As an alternative to a pump, Titheridge says short booties, a dressier sneaker (depending on the workplace dress code) or an oxford can also portray a sleek vibe.
Changing your shoe gives any outfit a different look, explains Gvaramadze. “Be more sporty with a pair of sneakers or dress it up with a classic pump.” Titheridge says to have fun. “My advice is to play with your footwear, with proportions and with pant styles, but most importantly trust your gut and your inner fashionista!”
When choosing footwear, don’t sacrifice comfort for price. Hardy says Nordstrom, Nine West and J.Crew have some good, affordable options. For high-end footwear she recommends Stuart Weitzman and Ron White.
On the Body:
All experts recommend a tailored suit jacket and pants. “These are interchangeable in the wardrobe and can be worn more formally in the office or more casually on the weekend or evenings,” Gvaramadze explains. “A businessman can pair his suit jacket with a pair of tailored pants or even jeans.”
For colour, Godchild recommends charcoal and navy. “They are the most versatile colours. You can pair them with any other colour in your wardrobe.” Nicholl notes non-standard colours like rust, burgundy and forest green are increasingly becoming basics. “They can be worn with the same variety of colours as basic blues, greys, browns,” he says. “They’re not in-your-face but still fun and different.”
He also recommends suits that have details – contrasting stitch, patch pockets, buttons that pop and patterns – to add a fashion element to office-appropriate clothing. “These allow the suit to be worn as separates, creating more versatility. For example, patterned suit trousers go with blazers, vests and sweaters.”
Another item to include is a separate vest to add contrast to a suit. “A solid vest with a patterned suit or a patterned vest with a solid suit.”
Another key item is a sport coat. “Pairing a sport coat with cotton twill pants and a collared shirt works for meetings,” Godchild says. It can also elevate a casual look. “For instance, on a casual Friday it can be paired with a collared shirt and dark denim and it’s a perfect corporate casual look.” Nicholl agrees, “Sport coats are increasingly important in the business wardrobe. They can be dressed down as much as up.”
Both Godchild and Nicholl highlight the importance of versatile separates to mix and match for fresh combinations every day. “It keeps the wardrobe interesting so that the wearer doesn’t get tired of his clothes by wearing the same outfits over and over,” Nicholl explains.
Good suit options can be found at Supreme Men’s Wear, Harry Rosen, Henry Singer, Baldessarini, Berluti, Burberry and Barena. Godchild also recommends going the custom route with a bespoke tailor such as J. Yunger Bespoke Clothier. Supreme Men’s Wear, Holt Renfrew, Modern Menswear and Baldessarini offer good sport coat options.
On the Feet:
Godchild says every businessman needs a sleek lace-up dress shoe. “Shoes are very important in any man’s wardrobe. Stay clear of clunky square toe dress shoes and wear a sleek round or almond toe shoe.” While leather is a go-to fabric, Gvaramadze and Nicholl suggest suede as another option.
Nicholls says the selection of colours and details in men’s shoes has expanded beyond basic black, brown and tan. “Colours like grey, navy and two-tone add variety but are still versatile.” Godchild recommends cognac or dark brown shoes as the most versatile.
Depending on one’s work environment, Gvaramadze recommends a pair of white sneakers, which can help interchange traditional office looks with more casual pieces. “A knitted double-breasted jacket paired with a classic white shirt and a pair of white sneakers are the perfect blend of weekend casual and office attire.”
Supreme Men’s Wear, Gravity Pope, Holt Renfrew and Nordstrom have many good footwear options for men.