Running a business is tough. You're tired, stressed, and that pair of trousers you threw in the laundry basket yesterday is probably going back on you tomorrow. Getting stuck in a fashion slump is easy when you're busy, but let's face it--what you wear and how you present yourself can make a lasting impression on your customers and employees.
To spice up your office wardrobe, we found a team of style experts to put together an easy guide to business-friendly fashion. From casual office wear to client dinners, we've got you covered with Entrepreneur's spring fashion guide.
Say goodbye to loose, baggy cuts and broad shoulders. This year's suits create a narrow silhouette that's sharp and modern-looking.
"Business looks are more fitted, but not to the point of making one feel body-conscious," says Mario Bisio, owner of luxury apparel store Mario's.
Jeff Horowitz, co-founder of DressMonkey, agrees. He cites the following three trends to look for this spring:
- European cuts: Unlike the boxy shape of American blazers, the European cut has a sharper shoulder, narrower arm and nipped waist, making it an ideal fit for formal blazers.
- Narrow lapels: For a slimmer, more modern fit, look for a suit with a narrow lapel. These lengthen the torso and add height; they also pair well with slimmer ties, which are back this season.
- Side vents: Vents add functionality and ease of movement to the traditionally rigid structure of a blazer. While American blazers generally rely on a center vent, the European style of side vents covers more while bending or sitting, thus keeping a more crisp appearance.
Business Looks for Important Meetings
When in doubt, a dark suit always makes a sharp, professional statement.
And while solid colors rule in the boardroom, Bisio says a faint check in the shirt or subtle stripes on suit coats are suitable light touches. He adds that this year's look for ties is a solid color or subtle print.
Thankfully today's office attire doesn't necessarily mean a suit and tie.
- Go sharp. For a polished casual look, pair a crisp, collared, button-down shirt with a pair of dark denim jeans and a casual leather, slip-on shoe. Don't just throw on any pair of jeans, though; find a pair that's tailored to your body shape and wrinkle-free--which might mean dragging the dreaded iron out.
- Go retro. "Male professionals should take advantage of the return of the cardigan," says Erica Easley, author of Rock Tease. Easley suggests jewel colors such as red or emerald green, which play nicely with traditional office colors such as gray, black and navy. He adds that slim cardigans--particularly ones with a luxury logo, like the Lacoste alligator--are extremely hip this spring and pair well with tailored trousers.
Evening Looks for Client Dinners
Client dinners are less formal situations that allow you to be more self-expressive in your clothing choices. According to Horowitz, the predominant spring fashion trend is personalization. Young professionals, in particular, are eager to wear something that says, "I'm different."
- Go bold. "Express yourself by choosing a bold color or print on the inside of your blazer such as red, white silk or printed designs based on Chinese textiles," says Horowitz. "Try pairing a neutral gray or camel blazer with a shirt in one of the neon colors that are back this spring, such as orange, yellow, green, blue, pink and purple."
Shoes and Accessories
Here's a little secret your female counterparts have known for years: Shoes can make or break any outfit. Invest in at least two pairs of expensive, well-made shoes--a pair that's dressy and pair that's more casual. A good pair of shoes can pull any outfit together and make you look sharp and orderly.
When it comes to choosing shoes and accessories, follow these three rules:
- Pay attention to details. Do your socks match the trousers? Does the belt coordinate with the shoes? Does the pocket square match the shirt?
- Lighten up for spring. Spring's lighter color palette calls for men to trade in their basic black shoes for brown suedes.
- Pull it together. If there are belt loops, always wear a belt.
A good haircut is an investment in style that's worth making.
"To me, it's always interesting when I see men with the mentality that a haircut should be $15," says Julien Farel, celebrity stylist and owner of Julien Farel Salon. "You're going to spend a lot of money on your suit, a lot of money on your car or your house, and then at the same time you're going to be cheap on your hair?"
Farel believes the most important accessory a man can have is his hair.
"You're going to have it for the next 30 days. If you don't like a suit you can change it the next day and it's OK--you don't have to wear it again. For the hair, you can't. You're stuck. Truly, most of the time, you'll look like you have a $15 haircut."
To change your look, find a professional stylist who will give you a cut based on the shape of your head, neck and body. Get the most out of your money by getting a haircut that can go both ways: sleek and conservative during the day, and spiky and trendy for after work.