Summer Business Casual feat. Marwan Helal

June 22nd, 2011

After receiving mucho positive feedback for February’s “Business Casual with Style featuring Marwan Helal”, we decided to make it a seasonal feature.

As I explained last time, Marwan and I share the opinion that 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.

“These looks are acceptable in my office, which leans slightly toward the more laid-back side of “business casual”. However, with some minor tweaks I think each of these looks could also be appropriate in an environment with a more strict  business dress code – by adding socks or changing to a more formal shoe, for example. As Dan always says, you shouldn’t be copying the looks, but using them for inspiration for how you can make it work for you.”

Here, we followed Marwan for a week in my hometown of Windsor Ontario to see how he handles his business in style during the Spring/Summer season. This time accompanied by a fellow stylish business casual regular, as well as a fellow reader, the beautiful Pearl White.

Monday

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“I like to wear a tie on Mondays, it helps me get into work mode after a nice Spring weekend”

Bonus Tip: “The secret here is that this is a short sleeve shirt. It’s cooler, more comfortable and perfect for an early morning commute.”

Bonus Tip II: “I go sockless for most of the Spring and Summer. It’s just my preference. I find it more comfortable, and I have no problem getting away with it at my office.”

Bonus Tip III: “This is probably my most versatile shirt. Get a white and blue simple mini check shirt – there won’t be too many pieces in your closet that won’t work with it”

Tuesday

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“I love wearing lightweight unstructured blazers to work in the Spring and Suummer. They give you the look and sophistication of a jacket, but without the bulk or restriction.  This unlined cotton number hardly feels like a jacket.”

Bonus Tip: “If you don’t already own one, I strongly recommend investing in a navy or khaki cotton jacket for the warmer months. You won’t regret it. This navy one is another piece that goes with just about anything in my closet… On a side note, I’m convinced that with a properly curated closet, you could essentially get changed in the dark.”

Bonus Tip II: “I typically leave at least one of those two blazers in the office in case something comes up where I need to look more presentable. No matter what I’m wearing one of them usually works.

Bonus Tip III: I try to have my lighter-weight pants hemmed a little shorter, as I find it more appropriate and comfortable for the warmer months. My trousers may seem short to some, but hey, they’re my trousers, not yours.”

Bonus Tip IV: Here’s an example of how to quickly tweak this look for a more strict office dress code: change pocket square to white cotton, add light brown socks, change shoes to dark brown captoes or wingtips.

Bonus Tip V: “This gingham cotton pocket square is ‘made’ (folded) from the sleeve fabric of an old shirt that I cut into a short-sleeve. The shirt was too short in the sleeves anyway. Win/Win.”

Wednesday

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This is one of my more straight-forward, straight-to-business looks. Sometimes you want to slide under the radar a little”.

Bonus Tip: Light shirt, dark tie, black lace ups, not much room for error.  Personally I like brown shoes more, and  wear them more often, but wanted to show that black is cool from time to time too.”

Bonus Tip II: Beltless. More in the warmer months. Thought I had enough horizontal lines already.”

Bonus Tip III: “With a horizontally striped tie, I put the tie bar directly on one of the stripes. Again, I like my outfits to read clean, sharp and minimal.”

Thursday

“From time to time I wear a suit – mostly because I want to. I usually dress it down a little, like here with an open shirt and driving mocs.”

Bonus Tip: “As I mentioned, I love the versatility of my khaki cotton jacket – which is part of this suit. I can get plenty of use out of it, whether it’s the full suit, just the blazer, or just the pants.”

Bonus Tip II: A dark navy belt is a great example of a subtle way to “stand out” while “fitting in”.

 Friday

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“On casual Fridays I usually wear jeans. In the warmer months they’re usually a light wash, subtle pale color or white.”

Bonus Tip: Denim can work with jackets, dress shirts, even ties. Just make sure they fit properly at the waist and their cut and silhouette is cohesive with the jacket – in Marwan’s case that means low rise and tailored slim & straight.

Bonus Tip II: “It’s all about fit. As Dan has said in the past, you’re better off having a well-fitting $200 jacket than an ill-fitting $2,000 jacket.”

Bonus Tip III: “A lot of guys seem shy about pocket squares at the office. Of course, white cotton folded flat is your safest bet, but silk in a pale color is a subtle touch to an otherwise neutral outfit. Especially in the summer when everyone is a little more open to color.”

Thanks for reading, and special thanks to Marwan & Pearl for participating!

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Photography by Alex Crawford.