You open your wardrobe. You’ve got a busy day ahead at work: meetings all morning, a conference call over lunch and then drinks with the new boss. You look at the shirts hanging in front of you. A comfortable tee-shirt sounds perfect, but is it too casual? Maybe that nice new collared shirt you got for Christmas then. Or, perhaps a polo-shirt. The options are endless for corporate wear these days. So, how do you know what to wear and when? Here are our secrets to shirt success!
Traditional and Tailored
A button-down collared shirt is the ultimate corporate uniform. A staple of the working world since the late 1700’s for men and the 1920’s for women, the business shirt is a must-have in any wardrobe. There are many variations available. From rolled cuffs to spots and stripes – there’s a shirt for everyone.
The classic collared shirt is a stiff cotton shirt often in a plain fabric, traditionally white in colour. It has a medium sized colour and is a tailored fit – not to tight, not to loose. This shirt is still a winner in the corporate world. Where it under a suit for that big meeting and you’ll be sure to bring an air of sophistication with you. If you work in banking, finance or certain management positions – this could be the perfect everyday option. But, it isn’t appropriate everywhere anymore. Depending on your industry, it may be too formal or lack interest. If this is the case, save it for the corporate ball or important meetings.
This is a broad definition. From a subtle stripe to a bold floral print, patterned shirts are increasingly popular. Checks and stripes look good on almost everyone, so for a classic look with some added interest go for one of these prints. Add a pop of colour if you’re feeling brave! If you work in a more causal or creative environment go wild and try a more dynamic pattern – tropical and pastel prints are in this season.
For a more traditional corporate look, a starched cotton or polyester is the fabric to look for in a collared shirt. However, for more casual events, try a linen or soft cotton. For women, a nice silk or organza can be a feminine twist on the collared shirt.
A great casual corporate, for both men and women, is the polo-shirt. It is elegant and smart but comfortable as well. When is it appropriate to wear? We suggest checking your corporate dress-code. After that, think about the office environment you work in and what outfits you can put together using a polo-shirt. If your work environment is relatively active or outdoors focused, a polo might be the perfect choice. Alternatively, if your work environment is more relaxed and your role doesn’t involve meeting with major partners or investors – then a polo could be right for you too!
The great thing about polos is that they are easy to dress up or down. For a more work appropriate look, try pairing a polo with smart trousers or a business skirt. Add a blazer or jacket over the top and watch your simple polo shirt be transformed into a great corporate look!
Let’s Talk about Tee-shirts
As workplaces become more and more casual, the tee-shirt is sneaking into uniforms everywhere. Is this a good or bad thing? Depending on the rest of your corporate look, we think it can be a great option! Dressing up a tee-shirt is a fashion forward move guaranteeing you style and comfort – if you do it correctly. For example, waitstaff in a trendy cafe can use a tee-shirt as part of a wonderful uniform. Or, an office worker can pair a simple white tee-shirt with a traditional suit to give a bit more ‘vogue’ to their everyday corporate look. Here are our top tips for making a tee-shirt work for work:
- Quality counts. Always opt to spend a little more on a high-quality tee-shirt. A well-cut tee-shirt made of high quality cotton will look much more appropriate and purposeful than a cheap shirt which doesn’t fit properly.
- Be bold. Choose bright colours and bold cuts to make a corporate tee-shirt look work.
- Mix and match. Be sure to counter the causal look of a tee-shirt with some more formal items, like a great pair of shoes or a good quality blazer.
Next time you open your wardrobe, don’t be afraid to try something new. In order to always look sharp, make sure you think about your work environment, your dress-code and the rest of your outfit! Whether you’re after a traditional collared shirt or a printed polo – the choice is yours.
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