Making the cut

Are these looks corporate cool or fool?

Following the impassioned commentary that sprang forth on a previous blog about the possibility of an office short becoming commonplace, it got me thinking about other subtle no-goes when it comes to corporate style.

The time I rocked up to work in a short-sleeved shirt certainly comes to mind. In the middle of a particularly humid summer where I’d spent much of the time rolling up my sleeves I decided to go the whole hog and invest in some actual short-sleeved shirts. Boy, oh boy, the commentary it caused.

Everyone from the most fashion-conscious gent to the quietest intern felt compelled to throw in their two cents about whether or not it was an acceptable wardrobe choice or, conversely, super nerdy and more suited to the primary school playground.

Whatever, I still like them. Here are some supposedly suspect style options that I think deserve a pass in the corporate world.

Short and sweet
Not solely the domain of science teachers or blue-collar types, short sleeves are a great option for summer and look sharp when perfectly pressed and tucked into slacks or casual Friday chinos.

However, you might want to avoid wearing it with your suit unless you want to look like a door-to-door salesman.

Tied up
Ties are an unfortunate part of the professional world. And though style scribes often debate the appropriate knot, width and length, they usually overlook the fabric. Enter: the silk knit tie.

Casual when worn without a suit jacket but corporate cool when paired with, it’s a simple way to freshen up the sea of similarity when it comes to necktie choices.

Buttoned up
Conversely, when you don’t want to wear a tie you should head for a button-down shirt. Whereas a regular shirt can look unfinished without one and like you’re slowly strangling yourself when buttoned up, a buttoned-up button-down shirt can still look professional sans tie.

Considered a casual shirt by some, when done all the way up it can more than make the grade in an office setting. And then just pop the top when you head for after-work drinks. Too easy.

Sock ‘em one
My hands-down favourite way to inject a bit of personality into an otherwise drab CBD uniform is adding a little bit of colour into the mix. And the best way to do this is with your socks.

Whereas your dad’s generation might have mixed things up with some novelty cufflinks, adding a bold block colour or bright argyle, stripe or polka dot more than does the job of lifting your black suit from obscurity today.

Getting carded
Sometimes you don’t want to be weighed down with a woollen suit jacket when walking around the office, but some guys feel naked when dressed in only their shirt and tie. For those gents I say it’s time to gramps it up with a little cardigan action.

Not for the 70 and older set anymore, a slim-fit cardigan in a medium grey marl is a great way to inject a little bit of modern style into an otherwise pedestrian workday.

What other borderline looks do you think deserve a permanent place in the office?