The one rule you need to master business-casual

There are some skills the modern working man can’t do without: ninja-like multitasking, tea-break small talk and — the big one — the art of business-casual.

With ever more workplaces embracing a culture of dressing down, nailing the sweet spot between office-smart and not-too-casual is a growing concern for many of us.

Thankfully, we have the answer: the half-and-half rule.

Top-half smart
There’s a big meeting looming. Everyone who’s everyone will be there. It’s essential you make the right impression. So what do you wear?

A suit is guaranteed to look dapper, but what if everyone else arrives in more casual attire? The risk of looking stuffy and straight-laced may be too great to take.

Go too casual, though, and you could lack that professional vibe and authority you need to deliver your big speech on that game-changing idea.

This working scenario is the perfect time for a top-half-smart ensemble. For this, you need jeans below your waist and trainers on your feet. This says, ‘I’m a modern and forward-thinking man,’ but that’s only half the story. Bring it back to serious business by going all-out smart with the rest of your look.

When sat around a boardroom table, the top half of your outfit is what most people will see, so make it sharp. What better way to do this than with an elegant blazer, shirt and tie combo? This relatively old-school choice up top contrasts your laidback lower to bring perfect balance to a winning outfit.

Bottom-half smart
Looking good and feeling great go hand in hand. When these two elements combine, it can provide that extra boost of confidence or focus we need to produce our very best work.
The key to achieving it? Self expression.

Even in a workplace where the dress code is restrictive, you still want to feel and look like yourself, not some identikit manager.

An important question you should ask yourself before turning up to the office in your 1994 Wu-Tang tour tee is, ‘What part of myself do I want to express?’

It’s all about picking the right bits: focusing on your current strengths with a mind on where you want to be in the near future.

For those aspiring to make a step up or cement their position at the top, opt for bottom-half smart. We suggest a traditional foundation below the waist: something along the lines of a chino or trouser in a safe colour like navy or black, paired with a classic shoe.

With this as your base, you’re free to experiment with your top half. This could be as simple as a casual but good-quality T-shirt or polo, or as extravagant as you feel comfortable taking it.

Here, we’ve gone for a rugged work shirt and tee combo and used navy to bring everything together into one tight look. Why not ask your Chapar stylist for similar styles and give it a go yourself.