Office outfit: dress code for the office – all the rules and taboos

19. July 2022

Black shirt, black pants, sneakers – is this a top office outfit for successful men? The famous Silicon Valley has established this look for the office. So, everything easy? Unfortunately no!

Dress for success!

After many decades of men having a pretty easy time reaching for a suit in the morning, today even gentlemen are faced with the question, “What do I wear?” This much is said: you can do a lot wrong with the office outfit, woman too!

But today let’s turn our attention to the dress code for men. In contrast to the ladies, they were long considered fashionistas, but today, especially in the big cities, a completely different trend is emerging: beards are top groomed and even men stand in line for hours after the latest sneakers. Gucci’s lace blouse is worn confidently by men and women on Ku’damm and in Zurich’s Bahnhofsstraße. Have jeans and blazers or jackets had their day in the office as a dress code or are they now a fashionable business outfit? What does it look like, the future of business clothing? Will birds of paradise or normals prevail? Let’s take a look at the wide world of what makes the look and outfits of successful men.

Sir Richard Branson shows the way.

Sir Richard Branson is one of England’s most successful entrepreneurs and is known for his “business casual look”. Scoop neck shirt and a relaxed jacket and pants combo make up his outfit. “Suits and ties are just another way of wearing a uniform, but in an environment where uniforms no longer serve a useful purpose, they have had their day,” he said. For Branson, the suit is completely out. “In the past, a suit showed that the wearer could spend a lot of money on a noble fabric, that is, was successful. Today, in an individualized, globalized society, our successes speak for us, not a uniformed outfit. Suit and tie are an anachronism!”. What Branson is trying to say is that we no longer have to submit to fashion dictates, that we can free ourselves from suits and ties today. Our activities and successes should distinguish us, not the choice of (expensive) suit. Should you be inspired by Branson and want to try the relaxed “business casual look” for the office, go for a cotton or linen blend V or crew neck shirt, chino pants and loafers. If they don’t want to give up their suit altogether, another good option would be to simply take a Branson break on a few special days and slip back into a chic business outfit. After all, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable in your clothes. And this applies equally to both men and women.

Is the suit finally out?

To avoid having to face the big dress question every morning, Mark Zuckerberg has a very simple solution for his office outfit. Because although the inventor of Facebook & Co has significantly changed our everyday lives, he is less experimental in his choice of business outfits. Casual must be his business outfit. You can also call him the champion of gray T-shirts, because his closet consists of gray T-shirts in all shades. Add a pair of jeans and sneakers. When it’s colder, he chooses a gray hoodie. “I want to simplify my life and focus my questions entirely on what best serves my community” says Zuckerberg of his minimalist wardrobe approach. However, unlike Branson, Zuckerberg has no problem changing his business outfit and slipping into a suit for official occasions, such as a meeting with Barack Obama or court dates. Zuckerberg’s everyday dress style falls into the “casual” category. Casual in English means something like: free, comfortable. It is clearly the loosest but also the most difficult look when it comes to business outfits. Because where almost everything is allowed, there are also many opportunities to go wrong. If you still like an office-ready Silicon Valley style, there are certainly some combinations that work well in Europe. So, the gray t-shirts can be combined with black or gray fabric pants instead of jeans, and the sneakers could be swapped for booties. All this in a very good quality and – in contrast to Zuckerberg – well and fitting cut, are not only in the creative industry a feasible “smart-casual look”.

The Tom Ford look

For the “business attire look” category, which translates simply as “business attire” but has a formal touch, we looked for a role model about whom everything has actually already been said. Tom Ford is considered the master of the chic, modern suit. His look has little to do with the classic three-piece, although it also consists of a jacket, vest, pants and shirt. At Tom Ford, it’s the body-hugging cut that has caught on around the world. Investment bankers, management consultants and entrepreneurs who move on the international stage love this style. Black two-button suit, combined with a white, tight-fitting shirt, black leather shoes and – here it comes – his trademark 70s sunglasses of his label “swagtastic” make the outfit perfect. Tom Ford has remained true to this look for years, it has been copied many times and even Karl Lagerfeld has lost many kilos to fit into a Tom Ford suit for once. What you can learn from Tom Ford is to always stay true to your style. If you like the business attire look of Tom Ford, you can of course leave out the sunglasses. Buy them a smart, slim-fit black suit, a white shirt and quality black leather shoes. Alternatively, a dark blue suit with a white shirt and as accessories a brown belt and brown leather shoes will work. Generally, the darker the color the more important the occasion. By the way, in the past it was reserved for the high gentlemen to wear black suits. Fortunately, things are different today.

Are white tennis socks really taboo?

Now let’s move on to the taboos of business attire in the office. Here, too, fashion has changed a lot. In the past, white tennis socks were considered an absolute “no-go” when it came to dress code for both men and women, but today things are different. White tennis socks tucked into now office-appropriate sneakers are totally fine for a business casual look! However, combined with open sandals – which you should never wear in the office and anyway – they still do not go at all. Colorful, wildly patterned shirts also don’t belong in a chic office environment, such as one of Satellite Office’s casual-luxe workspaces. What is also not at all in line with the dress code is too tight shirts or pants. If something doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit you, that can be a rule of thumb. Polo shirts under jackets also belong, if at all, rather to the golf club than to a business casual look in the office. Also not recommended are large prints on shirts or, even worse, “funny” sayings on tops. However, if you want to make a statement pro-environment or for a social cause with a saying, that is of course something else. This always works, because it serves a good purpose. One important no-go has been true for many, many years and probably always will be: Clothing, no matter what style you follow, must be clean and neat. That is the be-all and end-all. For ladies and for men.

“Elegance is the punk of today”.

A suitable office outfit today no longer has to be the classic three-piece suit. The outfit is much more a question of personality. Men with style pay attention to the occasion. Also very important: the fit. The decisive factor is “how you move in your clothes,” says Bernhard Roetzel, style consultant and author of the book “The Gentleman.” In general, the trend is towards “casualization” in outfits. “Everything you wear has to be comfortable,” reports Outfittery buyer Jens Bastian. So, for example, chinos and jeans with stretch. However, you should pay attention to the right combination for the casual look: “Otherwise, casual quickly becomes careless.” A good compromise is the smart casual look that lives on small, classic details and clearly enhances the casual look. Although the smart casual look is relatively casual and built around a shirt with long sleeves, white sneakers are too casual for this look. The smart casual look stands for a long-sleeved shirt without a tie, jeans or better chinos and leather shoes or dark sneakers. When casual business looks become a mass phenomenon in the office, “dressing up” becomes the exception: “Elegance is the punk of today,” Roetzel summarizes.

Our tips for a good office outfit:

1. keep it simple!

2. find a style that you like well.

3. choose clothes that fit you well.

4. always go for quality, you can see it on the fabrics and you feel better.

5. match their look to the occasion.

6. timeless trends and outfits are always fashionable.

Good help through the clothing jungle can be found in specialty stores – online or offline. Here, special reference should be made to the online portals, which not only inspire, but also provide valuable tips. For men, two portals in particular have convinced us:

Book tip: Men’s fashion guide by Bernhard Roetzel: “The Gentlemen”:

BLOG: Gentlemen Blog:

YouTube: 2019 CFDA Fashion Awards: DVF and Tom Ford Share a Moment on Stage

By the way, we are dedicating one of our next blogs entirely to women’s business outfits. Dress codes around business outfits for ladies, around business casual ladies style, around blouses, blazers, accessories and their perfect combination. To do this, we will talk with the famous fashion designer Uta Raasch and get tips and tricks for you. Stay tuned!

1 Source: ICONIST, Ten Fashion Rules for Today’s Man: