A Week of Business Casual feat. Marwan Helal

February 12th, 2011

After strong reviews for “Corporate Style” featuring Gabe Schulman, we decided to do a similar feature for all of our “business casual” readers out there.

As I’ve written in the past, because I work as a stylist, I am not bound by traditional dress codes. Therefore, to take an authentic look at “business casual” with style, I decided to feature one of my best friends Marwan Helal for the second time. From nine to five, Marwan, who is employed by a pharmaceutical distributor, keeps a great balance between professional and stylish.

In our shared opinion, business casual is all about treading the line between looking presentably conservative and expressively stylish. It’s a term that is thrown around often, and has a number of different meanings from one office to the next. Therefore, it’s very important to understand the expectations of your superiors, the strictness of appearance in your office and the overall culture of your place of business.

We shot Marwan going about his business in our hometown Windsor Ontario Canada, from Monday to Friday.

    Monday

    DSC_0312-580x866

    Windsor is in southern Ontario. It’s one of the most southern cities in Canada, directly across the Ambassador bridge from Detroit Michigan. Although we do get a good amount of snow and cold weather – it’s not a tundra (as some ignorant people often suspect).

    “There are beautiful, sunny days in the winter here. The kind of days where a midweight wool cardigan is all I need as outerwear – especially since I’m not outside much, usually just to walk to and from my car. This is my ‘flying under the radar’ look. The concept (washed plaid shirt + cardigan + chinos) is simple and appropriate for just about any occasion, although the pants are an olive green (a neutral, versatile and underrated color that Dan often recommends) and the socks have a little pop (and a little King of Pop).”

    Bonus Tip: if you’re going to try a statement sock at the office, make sure the shoe means business, like these sleek lace-ups.

    Bonus Tip II: “I like the symmetry of a cuffed sleeve + cuffed pant”. (Yes, this is how much thought our crew puts into this sh-t, hah)

    Bonus Tip III: Buttoning a three-button jacket: top sometimes, middle always, bottom never. Buttoning a cardigan sweater: top sometimes, bottom never.

    Tuesday

    DSC_0332-580x866

    “If you don’t have a chunky shawl cardigan – get one. It’s the perfect midweight layer and it works for everything – from kicking it on the couch, to a dinner date, to heading to the office in a hurry. When I’m in a rush to the office, it’s breakfast to-go in one hand and chunky cardigan in the other”.

    The other thing is, in most office places, this is a style-forward piece that is easy to “accept”.

    Bonus Tip: a colorful plaid shirt is a great accent to a monochromatic look, it’s also a “safe” way to slide a casual/colorful shirt into your weekly rotation.

    Bonus Tip II: chinos aren’t just for the Spring/Summer. They come in all weights, for all seasons. A dark pair in a sturdy brushed cotton, like these, are actually heavier than a typical worsted trouser, and thus work great in winter.

    Wednesday

    DSC_0104-580x866

    Other than the fit of his clothing always being on point, it’s the little subtleties that Marwan does really well.

    “The tan stripe on the charcoal scarf compliments the khaki chinos well, just as the blue striped socks accent the blue gingham shirt (which is also a very subtle way to mix patterns). You don’t want to be too ‘matchy matchy’ but subtle combinations like that help tie together an outfit”.

    Bonus tip: a short sleeve shirt is less bulky and more comfortable under a slim sweater. It also keeps you moderately cool when Frigid Fannie keeps turning up the office heater.

    Bonus tip II: Marwan, like me, wears his chinos with little to no break – it’s a personal preference. Before having your tailor chop them, I suggest trying them rolled first. It’s non-commital and gives you a chance to try-out the shorter, more streamlined look. Then, if you do decide to pull the cropped hem trigger, make sure your tailor folds a couple inches under the hem (rather than cutting it off) in case you decide to go back to the break side.

    Thursday

    “Our office doesn’t require us to wear ties, but sometimes I want to. I actually find that it helps my work ethic at the office. Since I’m wearing it by choice, I often loosen the top button, for a more comfortable, and less ‘try hard’ look”.

    Bonus tip: “sometimes I go beltless, even on trousers with belt loops. I like the streamlined look, and it accentuates how well-fit the pants are. I know it’s ‘against the rules’, but if you’ve been reading this site you know that can be a good thing – provided you know the rules'”.

    Bonus tip II: if you have tan skin, like Marwan, you can pull off bright colors better than pale guys, like me.

    Bonus tip III: these classic burgundy penny loafers by Bass, if you haven’t noticed, go with just about anything.

    Friday

    DSC_0594-580x866

     

    “Although our office doesn’t offically have ‘casual friday’, my co-workers tend to be a little more laid back on Fridays, in attitude and dress. Therefore, it’s a great day for a down vest, corduroys and chukka boots – a look that can easily transition to the begining of the weekend. To sharpen the look I paired it with a slim wool tie and a pair of smart frames.”

    Bonus Tip: even though this look is a little more casual, it isn’t sloppy – the pieces here are still tailored.

    Bonus Tip II: “you never know what can happen at the office. I keep one tie (solid navy – which works with just about all of my shirts) and two blazers (solid navy and khaki cotton – one of which would work with just about any of my outfits) at the office, just in case I have to get buttoned-up for a last minute meeting”.

     

     

    Thanks for reading.

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier

     

    Photography by Ryan Oozeer. 

    • Anonymous

      All of your pants are too short

    • http://www.dresslily.com Dresslily

      These are all perfect for my workplace!

    • Haha

      Nice white socks….really? Totally lost all credentials seeing those.

      • http://tsbmen.com Dan Trepanier

        light grey

    • http://www.fitcustomshirts.com Custom Dress Shirts

      Certainly its an authentic look.

    • http://www.modusman.com/ Outfit For Men

      Great ideas here…That’s true. Although you wish to be expressive of your own style, you must still consider the nature of your work and the culture in your company. Wearing classic outfits with modern twist could be the best option for your daily wear to office.

    • Anonymous

      Nice concept of business casuals! I found it very different and appealing.

      • http://thestyleblogger.com Dan Trepanier

        Thanks. Marwan has awesome smart style.

    • Rajan Ryan

      Well, at least I can be a little casual on Friday and just ensure that my clothes aren’t sloppy and it must be tailored.

    • Gazman

      Love the first look and the second one…but not enamoured of the rest. He’s got a great figure so can pull off these looks but for men with less flattering physiques it’d be a challenge to wear same style outfits. The no-break pants style I see a lot these days but only in photos; yet to see on the street, but then again I live in Australia and fashion and men are rarely mentioned in the same sentence. Terrific blog; keep up the great work!

    • Chad M.

      1&2 are impeccable and the rest are solid looks too. Keep up the good work. -CM

    • Anonymous

      Thank you so much for sharing this post. Your views truly open my mind.

    • Ryan Yozamp

      Love the look fellas, looking good.

    • rothcomilitary

      Hi…I honestly believe there is a skill to writing articles that only very few posses and yes you got it. This is really informative and I will for sure refer my friends the same. Thanks……

    • Mr.Rogers

      Seriously, no matter how hip or trendy, its not 007 to be showing your socks in highwaters.

    • E. Honda

      God, ignorant is tossed around so much these days. Just because someone is UNINFORMED does not mean their “ignorant”.

    • Disappointed

      All I can say is, “Crap!” All those outfits look ridiculous. The first one is some kind of “Mr. Rogers crossed with a pedophile” look…and the colors…can we try coordinating the colors maybe?

      • http://www.thestyleblogger.com SB

        We all have our opinions. I would love to see a picture of how you dress.

        Thanks for reading,
        Dan

    • Men Suit Tailor

      Awesome, entertaining and full of informative good stuff!!

    • steve pham

      The pair of long wing brogues in the 3rd look are not Florsheim by Duckie Brown. They are the Veblen in the rust color, from Florsheim’s limited Fall ’11 collection. I know this because like Marwan, I own pairs in the rust & gray colors (I know he has a gray pair too because I’ve seen some other posts with him. Yes i am a fan haha). I don’t know if Mr. Helal does, but I also have the black, brown, & wine colors. Strong looks, good stuff

    • Pakistani Lawn Collection

      This collection is perfect for business man nice and descent colors.

    • Gavin

      Marwan’s down puffer vest from Gap looks great! Can’t find one online – any info on how long ago it was purchased? Much appreciated. Keep up the good work.

    • Paul Butler

      Very nice! More men should spend time reading blogs like yours. Keep it up!

      Thanks- paul

      http://www.butlerway.com/

    • Erica

      Honestly, I was feeling Monday’s outfit until I saw the white socks. That, to me, is a no-no unless he’s on his way to the gym.

    • Pusat Tas Branded Impor

      nice!

    • afteam

      Beautiful Collection !!! -Revathi

    • afteam

      Beautiful Collection !!!

    • afteam

      Beautiful !!!

    • Maurice

      Great style

    • Arron

      Really good style. Wears a lot Of affordable clothing and makes it look expensive, Great post!

    • book fotografico

      I’m extremely impressed your blog is very much good. Truly amazing it’s a wonderful. So taleted!! In our shared opinion, business casual is all about treading the line between looking presentably conservative and expressively stylish. The latest range has been developed to meet the needs of the contemporary man who is after both style and added functionality. I appreciate your work and hopping for some more informative posts. Again thanks

    • William from Maxwell Scott Briefcases

      Love this post. The ‘business casual’ look is great, effortless yet with a touch of sophistication! Love the Hugo Boss shoes too! http://www.maxwellscottbags.com

    • max

      What model is the loafers from Bass?

      • Marwan H.

        The Bass Dover model.

        • Jourdan

          How tall are you Marwan if you dont mind me asking?

    • Kenny

      Dan and/or Marwan,

      The grey cotton chinos from J. Crew in the Tuesday look, are they the urban slim fit or the classic fit broken in chino? Thanks

      • Marwan H.

        Kenny, they are the urban slim-fit, broken in chino.

    • Mills @ simplebutelegant.tk

      Your Style is uniquely impressive. I and a group of my high school friends have started a blog, simplebutelegant.tk please check it out and contact me if you could. You’re part of our inspiration. Twitter= @mills_sbelegant facebook: Mills SoWavy

    • Chante

      Lookin good boys ;)

    • PP @ jadorepp.blogspot.com

      Love! Marwan’s business casual look has this kind of style that while not appearing to be way over the top, would definitely let people think that he has a great personality and his fashion sense exudes it consistenly, notwithstanding the different pieces that he wears and the kind of layering that he does. It’s like variation meets familiarity!

    • Craig

      Favorite Blog post of All-Time!!! Finally Get some style tips for my work days

    • Anonymous

      YUP!!!!! this guy looks to freshy

    • MrThOmAs313

      I ABSOLUTLEY am diggin this site and this post. Dan,as I am from Michigan(Detroit), it is refreshing to see a kat from here with great style. It seems to be a dying breed here in Michigan, especially Detroit. I always come to this site to get my style inspiration. I also got that Olive toggle coat from Club Monaco like two weeks ago right before “snowmeagdon”….lol Keep up the great work bro. Nice Post Marwan I’ll look out for u in Canada

    • Marko

      Great looks. I have a similar frame as the model but I can’t seem to pull off pants with such a high hem. I always feel like I’m wearing floods. Still get my pants hemmed with the back meeting the ground.

      Keep up the great work

    • MK

      Making life in Canada look even better! We may not quite believe Marwan will survive the photo shoot without a heavy parka, but that is not the point–his clothing choices show that the “busines casual” concept does not mean forgetting about the role that color, texture, fit and function play in convincing clients that a man means business.

    • Titus

      Not sure about the white socks :S Think its a bit off balance. Plus isn”t it a bit of a taboo anyways?

      Otherwise great posts!

      http://shoesdepierre.blogspot.com/

      • Anonymous

        Wool cardigan, plaid shirt and olive chinos all by Club Monaco. Belt by DKNY. HEATHER GREY SOCKS by American Apparel. Brown plain toe lace-up shoes by Hugo Boss. Zipper tote by Filson.

        • Titus

          My bad,
          though they do look pretty white

    • Terry

      Awesome post SB!!! I always come here for great style advice. keep it up.

    • Rei Fernandez

      Dan,

      Another great post. Love the GAP down vest featured in the last 2 photos. That color is great. I’m still bummed about passing on the same jacket for $14.97 a few weeks ago. A size too big unfortunately.

      Great job Dan. Great job as well, Mr. Helal.

      -Rei Fernandez.
      http://www.thecommongrounds.blogspot.com

    • NastyNate

      used to live in walkerville this is dope.
      thanks for the post.

    • Anonymous

      Dan,

      Really good post. Quick question, did your friend have those pants taken in down the leg? I’ve never seen a pair of jcrew or club monaco pants that slim.

      • Marwan H.

        Yes, they have been tapered from the knee down.

        Thanks,

        Marwan

    • http://MensStylePro.com Sabir P.

      Hey Dan,

      I am a big fan of the RL Khaki chinos. Ive found my self drawn more to the no break look because I am 5’9 and it definitely gives the look of more height for me.

      Bests,

      Sabir

    • Britt

      Nice post – would love to see a bus cas post for women….

    • Stephanie

      Thanks so much for the great post. I really enjoyed reading it. I’m so glad for more information on Casual clothing.

      http://www.clothingobsession.com/

    • Jared W.

      Really appreciate this post! Business casual is the dress style required at my office, and on top of that, Marwan’s personal style is very similar to mine. He’s made a lot of the same choices in his look/wardrobe that I’ve made in mine…it’s always affirming to see that a lot of the details/choices of your personal sense of style are mirrored by someone else out there.

    • Felix

      Nothing looks so slack and simply lazy as putting on what appears to be white athletic songs. Other things about this guy got me going: if it’s cold enough to wear leather gloves, why is your top few buttons undone on your shirt (see tuesday). Thursday? The look was striking at first, and made me withdraw a bit but I think I quite like it. The bold colours work together well, and while first seeming a tad overdone, the whole outfit works. I’d probably do up the tie though. As for down vests? Blurgh.

    • Jizzy

      Great post as usual. I like that the last time Marwan was on the site is was during warmer months of year, and we saw drivers, polos, light colored chinos, etc. With this post we see how Marwan gets down (no pun-vest) during the colder months with appropriate fabrics and layering.

      The tip regarding the 3 piece suit is such a fundamental, and I like that in the first look you point out that the approach applies to cardigans. I was actually wearing a cardigan the other day in a similar way, and friend said, “Your bottom button is undone.” Right away I buttoned up the bottom button and asked which looked better, to which I heard, “Point made.”

    • Christian

      cool post, although not so sure about loafers in the snow…

      Best Wishes,

      Christian
      http://www.stylesage.co.uk

    • Carter

      SB,
      Your right-hand man is killing it! His last look has to be one of my all-time favorites. I can be found wearing some sort of rendention of this at least twice a week. A classic mix of urban prep.
      Be Well!

    • S.

      Great post! This guy needs his own blog! I love it!

    • Richard

      SB, you got me going again. Now you just make me wanna destroy my workplace with style..haha

      Great idea using a different model. Neat.

    • Economically

      Love the white socks…..you have done again it you handsome Canuck. You are a genius in your own way.

      • http://www.thestyleblogger.com SB

        Thanks! Although the socks are heather grey, wool blend that looks lighter because of the lighting of the photo.

        Cheers,
        Dan (and Marwan)

    • Preplee

      Dan,
      Cool stuff as always. I have a similiar blog to yours, but the additive editorials here and there. I’m always looking for constructive criticism… I know you busy, but take a look if you have a chance.

      J. Prep Lee

      http://preplee.com/

    • Robin

      Thank you for this!!!! Business casual always confuses me

    • Michael

      I’m sorry, as “high fashion” as it may be, I’m just not into the ankle showing thing. I like a slight break, slight, but not none at all! Great post though.

    • Jen Smith

      I noticed that in all of these outfits, his pants are just a little border line highwater….is this a new trend you are seeing?

      jen
      http://blankwhiteframes.blogspot.com

      • Anonymous

        If by new, you mean closing on mainstream for almost five years now, then yes, this is a new trend.

    • Francesco

      Just got the Bass “Dover” Weejuns in the mail…they are great!

    • Windsorite

      First pic = my best friend’s house…and its a beauty! Thats my old stomping grounds (went to walkerville)…this blog continues to impress!

    • KLEE

      Absolutely love this post. Quick question again.

      Does your friend tailor pretty much everything he gets? I’ve bought shirts/chinos from JCrew and they don’t fit anywhere as well as all of the clothes Marwan has on. Shirts are still a bit loose and chinos with a lot of break and big leg openings even though they say slim fit

      • Marwan H.

        Klee,
        All of the pants in these pictures have been tailored (tapered), with the exception of the Friday outfit. I have a hard time finding pants that fit to my liking straight off-the-rack.

        Best regards,

        Marwan

    • Fred

      I wouldn’t ruin my shoes in the snow!

      • Anonymous

        What, you’d go bare footed?

    • erick

      I love that you used someone else as a model. Really changing things up and keeping this site interesting as always.

      Keep it going guys

      -your fan

    • JMRouse

      Solid post all around. I am willing to bet the majority of your readers work in a business casual environment so it’s good to see this.

      Do those loafers get more comfortable when they break in? I tried some on a couple weeks ago and thought the leather felt very stiff and not that comfortable.

      • JMRouse

        The Bass loafers, I mean.

        • Kin

          I have those same bass loafers and gotta say first time trying them on they are rather stiff but after 2-3 wears it really breaks in good.

    • http://www.universityfashion.blogspot.com University Fashion

      I didn’t think this site could get much better but it just has!

      This is an awesome post and one that I can connect with. When ever I am unsure about something it only takes a quick trip here to sort out any of my style concerns.
      So glad I found your site.

      Keep up the GREAT work!

      http://universityfashion.blogspot.com/

    • shaqueeda

      hay booboo your friend’s cute a hell too

    • Norman

      Warm ankles or stylishness – pick one.

      • Anonymous

        You’re on the STYLE blogger website!

    • Harman

      Were any of these pieces tailored/altered or were they all off-the-rack?

      • Marwan H.

        Harman,
        All the pants with the exception of the navy corduroys have been tailored.

        Thanks,
        Marwan

    • cam

      perfect post here…i really like to see how he incorporates some less expensive brands and still looks great…i typically associate chinos to warm weather…your thoughts?

      • cam

        Reread post and caught your response to chinos in winter. Thanks Dan

    • James

      Dan,

      GREAT POST! This really gives me some inspiration for the work place. That’s why I love your blog lol.

      Keep it up!