How To Do (Creative) Business Casual

January 5, 2017

How to Do (Creative) Business Casual

Sadly, despite me having spent all Tuesday writing a post about how to do business casual, some readers were disappointed. Some thought sneakers should never be worn with sport coats; others felt I wasn’t creative enough with my ideas. One reader wrote: “these are all just generic blah biz casual uniforms.” SAD!

To me, this just illustrates the ridiculousness of modern office dress codes. Everyone has to ride this vague line between looking professional and casual, which can mean any number of things depending on where you work. One person will interpret a look as not traditional enough; another person will see the same thing as being too boring.

Not wanting to disappoint anyone, however, I spent this afternoon coming up with five more ideas on how to dress for the office. Ways that are professional, casual, AND creative – all at the same time.




True traditionalists don’t stop at suits. Why not bring back a bit of 16th century dress with a ruff? These elaborate, face-framing collars were once worn by wealthy European men and women alike. An upside of wearing one today: a good, large ruff can catch any dribbles from your Chipotle burrito as you eat alone at your desk. For an affordable option, fashion one from supply-cabinet coffee filters.





Nothing says professional like a tie, and nothing says creative and casual like wearing it upside down across your face. These actual, real life Thom Browne accessories were made in collaboration with milliner Stephen Jones. Wear two at the same time, like horse blinders, so you never get distracted during client meetings. Currently on sale at SSENSE at 70% off.




Good business casual is about looking relaxed and serious at the same time. This jersey robe from Barney’s is styled like a martial arts uniform. One moment, you’re ready to be hand-fed grapes while relaxing on Italian cashmere throws; the next, you’re about to karate chop your way through Excel spreadsheets and Powerpoint presentations. Comes in navy, the most professional of colors.




In my original post, I recommended wearing an interesting knit as a way to dress down tailored trousers. However, true creativity comes through with swants – a portmanteau of sweaters and pants. Just shove your legs through the sleeves for a hybrid drop-crotch-plus-joggers look, or get them tailored for something more form-fitting (Stephen West has a guide). Worn alone, these are probably too casual for the office, but you can dress them up by wearing a pair of gray flannel trousers over your head (just be sure to cut a hole for your noggin).




It’s crazy how fast trends move. Last year, it was all about cloaks; this year, it’s all about capes. Wear one to the office to show you’re not only a creative professional, but a SUPER creative professional. Pro tip: a poncho is just a cape for your front and back, so cut one in half and you’ll have two back-capes.