Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dressing Styles III - Formal Wear (Part 1)

As a continuation of the previous posts (Men's dressing style I - Casual Wear) (Men's dressing style II - Clubbing Wear) , this entry will be my take on what guys should wear for work.

For starters, it really depends on the kind of work environment you are in. Some creative industries might be flexible and would allow a smart casual dress code. But for the purpose of this post, let’s assume that we are talking about a corporate environment.

While it is easy to say: “just wear long sleeved shirt and business pants”, there are so many styles as well as sartorial rules to observe. And in doing brief research, I’m totally overwhelmed by the different cuts and styles available. Who knew that suit, shirt and pants can be so complicated? But aside from it all, I think the rule of thumb is to be creative and willing to experiment – that will make you stand out from the millions of guys wearing what seems to be the same thing.

Formal Wear - Shirts and pants

While most guys will just drop by at department store and just buy a shirt of their favourite colour and pattern, it is important to learn some of the different options available.

Firstly, there is the choice of collar to think about. If you were to walk into some of the upmarket boutiques such as T.M. Lewin, you will be flooded with shelves of shirts classified according to the type of collars. While there are very specific names for the numerous collars, one should decide on the collar based on the way you tie your neck tie and body build.

[Basic collar types]  

If the knot of your tie is broad such as the Windsor knot, choose the spread collar lest you want to appear choked. With regards to the body build, those with thicker necks should choose wider collars and the converse is true for those with thinner necks.

Another aspect of shirts is the choice of cuffs. They broad categories are divided into buttoned (single or double), single cuff and French cuff. The decision on the type of cuff is really up to one’s own tastes but do note that single cuffs and French cuffs requires cufflinks (more on that on the next entry). The difference between the single and French cuff is that the French cuff is folded into two layers and fastened by cufflink while the single cuff , as the name suggests, is only a single layer.

As for the sartorial rules in wearing a shirt, buttoned down collars are considered informal as it originated out of the game of polo as players wanted to avoid being distracted by flapping collars as they race down the pitch on their horses. Additionally, the shirt cuffs should end at the wrist but it has been noted that some gentlemen want it slightly over their wrists in order to let their shirt peek out of their suits. As for patterns, extravagant patterns are considered informal though some industries are fine with it.

Place to get them: - major departmental stores such as Robinsons or Metro
Price range: - $30 - $100+++

[Midnight Blue suit and pants from Tommy’s Tuxedoes]

When it comes to pants, it is a simple affair. Pants should match the shirt and shoes. Having said that, there are more colours for business pants out there than just black! So to all the men out there, be creative. Having looked at pictures, I’ve really grown to love the colour of midnight blue! It really adds a whole lot of style to the overall look and it matches more colours than black!

As for the rules, there are many who consider black pants and brown shoes a fashion faux pas. So to be on the safe side, avoid that. Also, the length of the pants should stop at the top of your shoe’s heel.

Place to get them: - major departmental stores such as Robinsons or Metro
Price range: - $30 - $ 70+++


I will talk more about the suits, shoes, and accessories in another entry for easy digestions.

I hope y'all like this. 

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