8 Essential Business Casual Accessories for Men
Welcome back to the Gentleman's Gazette. In today's video, we'll be discussing some of the best accessories to choose when working within the business casual dress code and how you can wear them to their fullest potential. [Gentleman's Gazette theme song plays] [8 Essential Business Casual Accessories For Men] The business casual dress code is one of the most ubiquitous dress codes in menswear, and really, in society today, and we've discussed it numerous other times on the channel. If you'd like some basic information, you can start with our overview video here. But when it comes to accessorizing a business casual look, one should keep in mind one of the essential qualities of this dress code: its breadth. As we've stated before,
the meaning of business casual can vary widely from industry to industry and company to company. So, knowing how to best accessorize a business casual outfit starts with knowing just how formal or casual said outfit should be. But, in fact, the great virtue here is that you don't need to purchase many, many outfits for the subtle variations of business casual. Rather by using your accessories to make an outfit more formal or more casual, you can more effortlessly traverse the various levels of the formality scale. And, on that note, for a more in-depth look at the formality scale and just what it means, you can find our video on that subject here. So, in today's video, we'll explore a wide range of accessories that you can use to dress up or dress down different broadly business casual outfits and how to make sure you're making smart choices for your business casual and accessory arsenal moving forward. As a reminder, the business casual dress code has its origins in the relaxing
of what was considered business appropriate throughout the course of the 20th century. Once the business suit was no longer mandatory in every office, workers began experimenting with looks that would be more comfortable for everyday wear such as substituting the suit for a sport jacket and odd trouser combination and skipping the tie to go with an open collar. But, especially today, some industries consider business casual to be so casual that a gentleman really has carte blanche when wearing it. And, as the business casual dress code can encompass so many different kinds of outfits, you can approach it from different lenses; for example, this video where Raphael builds multiple different business casual outfits from just a few garments.
And, of course, while business casual originally referred solely to outfits that would be worn in an office setting, it can now be applied to social events and situations as well. With this seemingly limitless variety, should come a bit of caution however. Remember that it will always be up to you to determine just how formal your outfit should be, and if you're ever in doubt, it's always better to err on the more formal side than on the more casual. So, one more note here before we get into specific accessories to wear. Today's video won't be touching on
seasonal pieces like hats, gloves, scarves, and the like because wearing these will often depend on the season or where you live more generally. To learn how these more outerwear-based accessories can best be incorporated into business casual outfits, you can find our videos on seasonal accessories here. With all that said, let's now get started looking at the accessories themselves starting with belts. While business casual can encompass a wide range of overall formalities,
we're not aware of any business casual dress code that's so casual it would involve foregoing trousers altogether. And, except for those rare occasions where you might be wearing suspenders or a pair of trousers with side adjusters, chances are most often when wearing trousers, you're probably going to be wearing a belt. Belts are an often overlooked accessory that, in addition to their overall utility, also serve to easily scale the formality of an outfit. A leather belt in black or in shades of brown with a simple buckle in a silver or gold shade can complement almost any outfit, business casual or otherwise. The elegant simplicity and understated charm of such a belt will help to accentuate the rest of the outfit as the belt won't draw too much attention to itself. To still remain somewhat on the formal side of business casual while adding a bit more variety though, you could also consider lightly brogued or tooled belts or, perhaps, a woven leather belt. Belts like these will provide a bit of additional
visual interest without looking too busy. But, keep in mind that a heavily brogued or tooled belt may draw too much attention to itself. And, in general, the lighter the color of the leather, the more casual a belt is going to be overall. And, on the more casual side of business casual, you could consider wearing a fabric belt instead. Fabric belts come in a variety of textures and colors ranging from the subtlety of a monochromatic or two-tone belt to something more bold like a madras pattern belt. With the exception of these more casual fabric belts,
best practice is usually to match the color of your leather belt to that of your leather shoes. For a guide on how to do this effectively as well as when considering your metal accessories, you can find our video on that subject here. And, as is often the case with most garments in menswear, investing in a high-quality belt featuring hand stitching is probably going to be your best investment in the long term as a cheaper belt will become frayed and tattered more quickly. For such a level of quality and also for added versatility, you could consider a modular belt system of interchangeable belts and buckles such as the one we now offer in the Fort Belvedere shop. Finally here, as a general rule to keep in mind, the larger the buckle of a belt,
the less formal the belt will be overall. Next up are socks. which like a belt, in addition to their utilitarian purpose can also be a vehicle for personal expression in a gentleman's outfit especially in the business casual dress code. The right pair of socks will serve to tie your outfit together as well as providing needed visual interest to the bottom half of an outfit.
Because socks are often plain and have something of a uniform appearance, wearing socks with color or pattern can easily... And there's the bus. Okay. [Black and white clip on "bus" plays] "Now it's goodbye to Mr. Thompson and goodbye to George. Let's hope we'll take a bus trip together again."
Because socks are often plain and have something of a uniform appearance, wearing a pair of socks that incorporates more color or pattern is an easy way to alter the formality level of an outfit. To keep things generally formal yet slightly playful, you could consider a pair of two-toned shadow-striped socks. Select colors that will either complement or directly contrast the other hues in your outfit for a unified but stimulating look. And if you'd like some more general guidance on how to incorporate different colors into your outfits, you can find our video on using the color wheel in menswear here. Meanwhile, if you're feeling a bit more audacious, you could perhaps try wearing socks featuring clock patterns in different colors. Socks with more unusual colors or patterns like these are an easy way to slightly dress down an outfit that might otherwise be too formal as the detailing will be somewhat unexpected.
Setting aside pattern for a moment, even wearing something like a simple sock in a brighter pink color is a strategy employed by well-dressed men going back decades to add a dash of color and personality to an outfit. And while there may be a time and place to wear novelty socks with more outrageous patterns, these are probably going to be too casual for business casual outfits. We'd stick to them in other applications. For more information on whether or not we think a gentleman should wear crazy socks, you can find our video here. Remember also when buying socks to consider the durability of the construction, the quality of the materials, and the precision of the fit. And if you're in the market for new socks, we'd suggest you take a look at the Fort Belvedere shop. Staying within the realm of footwear, our next pick: shoelaces are another way for a gentleman to easily change the look of his footwear without having to buy too many more new pairs of shoes. And since the business casual dress code offers many opportunities
to experiment with different colors, doing so in your shoe laces is another smart choice. So, when selecting different shoelaces to insert into your shoes, try finding a color that is featured somewhere else in your outfit but that also contrasts a bit with the color of the shoe. This way the laces will harmonize with the other outfit element overall, but provide a bit of pop against the contrasting color of the shoe itself. Of course, for a more formal look, you would want to
minimize the contrast between the color of the shoe and its laces. And for a more casual look, maximize this contrast. And although we've spoken today about both socks and shoe laces, we won't specifically be covering business casual shoes as we've got an entire video on that subject, which you can find here. As we often mention at the Gentleman's Gazette, a pocket square is a great way to add more color and visual interest to any outfit and this holds true for business casual as well. This is why pocket squares are our next pick. Generally speaking, the more formal you'd like for your ensemble to be, the more plain your pocket square should be. The most formal pocket square, of course, would be a plain white linen design. Moving up from there, you could work with
contrast edges or edge stitching, and then, start incorporating both colors and designs. You could go with a micro-pattern design or small paisleys for something more formal, a larger paisley or geometric design for something more casual, or to really turn heads go with something like our art deco Egyptian scarab design or our rabbit motifs - both available in the Fort Belvedere shop. Of course, how you fold your pocket square will also impact the look and formality of your overall outfit. So, for eight different ways to fold a pocket square, our video here has you
covered. And if you'd like to learn more about pocket square construction and what determines quality in a pocket square, we've also got you covered there, too. Next, while the business casual dress code often means that neckwear isn't required, it's almost always within your right to wear neckwear as part of business casual if you so choose. As you may have guessed then, the hallmarks of business casual neckwear are exciting colors and interesting textures. And, as is usually the case, darker colors for neckwear are going to be more formal overall, whereas lighter colors are going to be more casual. And contrasting colors or unexpected combinations in something like stripes or mottled designs are a great way to add even more visual interest. The caveat here would be to avoid overly shiny or neon
colored ties as these will most often look cheap and are typically made from cheaper materials like polyester, and instead, to go with brighter or pastel tones but still have a lustrous finish. And, as with pocket squares, patterns like repeating geometric motifs or paisleys can work particularly well for business casual when incorporating interesting color choices. Heavier or denser patterns especially in darker colors are going to be more formal. Whereas, patterns like florals in light colors are going to be more casual. Keep in mind though that florals are generally going to be more fashion-forward and can clutter a look somewhat. So, for smart ideas on how to incorporate florals into classic menswear, check out our video here. Long time viewers of the Gentleman's Gazette should also be aware that we're large fans of
textured ties, and knit ties are a great example of this. They'll work especially well within business casual. Again, solid or two-toned ties in darker colors are going to be more formal. Whereas, lighter colored designs will be more casual. And, while retaining texture but also keeping a bit more formality, you could also opt for a grenadine tie. These are also available in solid or striped patterns. And to learn more, our video on grenadine ties is here. Of course,
all of these guidelines can also be applied to bow ties, which are another good way to add a slightly whimsical element to a business casual ensemble as non-evening wear bow ties are typically going to be a bit less formal overall. Again, just avoid colors that are overly loud and go for patterns and colors that are more subdued yet elegant. Next up are watches. If you do choose to wear a wristwatch with your business casual outfit, you'll find that you have a great deal of leeway here as well. Many different styles of watch should work well within the business casual dress code with the exception being watches that are overly large, have chunky metal bands, or excessive or bejeweled detailing as this heaviness and intricacy will be somewhat at odds with the lighter overall feeling of business casual. Echoing our advice for belts, you could go with a simple leather band here, or if you'd prefer to wear a metal watch band, going with something lighter and finer would be a better bet. In the same general realm of men's jewelry,
wearing a pair of cufflinks with a business casual outfit can also be a smart choice. Overall, cufflinks do tend to create a slightly more formal air. But, this can be toned down somewhat by selecting a bit more of a unique cufflink design. As an example here,
we can look at the two types of cufflinks we currently carry in the Fort Belvedere shop. Our monkey's fist knot designs in silver, yellow gold, and rose gold, given that they are all one color with just a subtle amount of texture, make them more formal overall. This is why we've also introduced shirt studs with the same design to wear with black tie and even white tie ensembles. Our eagle claw cufflinks, on the other hand, are somewhat more organic and certainly more dynamic; featuring the eagle claw gripping the differently colored natural stones.
The bright pops of color that the stones provide add a bit more of an informal quality to the cufflink so it might be more at home with a business casual outfit. Though our monkey's fist knot designs could certainly be worn as well. And, of course, should it be of interest to you, vintage shops and online retailers will often have a wide selection of vintage cufflinks to choose from. So, you can find beautiful designs and patterns from a bygone age. Finally today, while they may be a bit bold for most office settings, the elegance of a boutonniere should be right at home in business casual social settings. In general, the smaller the bloom and the more subdued the colors of the petals, the more formal a boutonniere choice is going to be. In conclusion then, the best accessories to choose for a business casual outfit
are ones that will allow you to adjust the relative formality of the outfit, depending on just how formal or casual your interpretation of business casual needs to be. Remember to keep color combinations, scale and size of patterns, and the overall formality in mind and you should be good to go. In today's video, I'm wearing a business casual outfit that actually features several different color tones that are still all working harmoniously together. My herringbone pattern tweed sport coat generally features colors of gray and black, but also features subtle tones of brown, and even green in its weave. My French cuffed shirt features a micro-grid pattern of pink and blue on a white ground, and it's further accented by my silk knit tie from Fort Belvedere featuring stripes in dark and light blue. Also from Fort Belvedere are my pocket square, which is in a silk wool blend featuring green rabbits on a medium blue background and my boutonniere, which is a prototype design.
My cufflinks are one of our eagle claw offerings in platinum plated sterling silver featuring blue lapis lazuli as the stone, and my shadow striped socks are in tones of navy blue and royal blue. My trousers are in plain brown, but they do have a warm reddish undertone. And this works well with both my shoes and my belt, which are in burgundy leather. The shoes are cap-toed Oxfords, and my belt is from our modular Fort Belvedere belt system in Bordeaux burgundy calf, featuring the jasper belt buckle with a rounded design in a silver color. With the exception of the prototype boutonniere, you can find all of the Fort Belvedere accessories I'm wearing today, including the socks, belt and buckle, pocket square, tie, and cufflinks in the Fort Belvedere shop here. [Bloopers of today's video] Welcome back to the Gentleman's Gazette. In today...
Not too often I mess up the intro. It's not like I haven't done that eight thousand times. [Preston laughs at failing the intro take] [Gentleman's Gazette theme song plays]