This is a sharp, easy winter business casual outfit perfect for the modern office made up of a balance of budget-friendly and investment pieces. It’s not flashy, effortlessly neutral without being boring, thanks to a couple of very specific principles. Not only that, it’s modular, meaning you can strip it back and get a very different outcome for a different type of venue. The cardigan is only $30, and the Oxford is $21.
The first thing you probably notice is it’s a lot of layers: Three plus the overcoat…and two of them are sweaters? You’re telling me to wear two sweaters? Yes, and it works for two reasons.
Shawl Collar Cardigan
Upgrade: Banana Republic Supima Shawl-Collar Cardigan Sweater, $150
First, the crewneck is a thin slub cotton. It doesn’t add a ton of bulk to either the outfit or how hot you feel. Second, the shawl collar cardigan, one of my absolute long-term favorites for a smart casual wardrobe is tapping in for a blazer. Why? Well, increasingly so over the last 20 years, but hit into overdrive in the last two, what is considered commonplace for a business casual workplace has become much less formal.
The trouble is, for most guys, when they think, “Ok, I don’t want to wear a blazer because it’s a little overdressed,” they just default to taking it off and not replacing it with anything because they assume there’s no middle ground. The chunky shawl collar cardigan is perfect for this. You can wear it with a tie or on the weekend, throw it on over a henley with some sneakers.
Wearing two sweaters doesn’t seem weird here because the knits, colors, and weight are different enough from each other.
The sweater plays a huge roll in this outfit: You can completely alter the overall vibe by mixing up the color to match your personality:
Start the look off with a crisp white Oxford button down shirt for a pop of white at the collar and wrists for that classic business foundation, or skip it for a more minimalist, almost Scandi-inspired work style.
The hero of this look, of course, is this brown herringbone overcoat. It’s got a thick brown texture, and unlike a lot of dressier topcoats and peacoats you’ll come across, this one has a normal flap collar, not a suit-like lapel collar. This provides it more of a car coat vibe which is slightly more casual, ideal for what we’re going for with this modern winter business casual outfit.
Shown: J.Crew Thompson Pant, $90
Upgrade: Suit Supply Trousers, $199
These dress pants from J.Crew Factory have a subtle Glen Plaid pattern, which adds a little personality and a whole lot of visual texture. Wear them hemmed with no break for a clean, smart casual style.
Shown: Thursday Cavalier, $190
The shoes of any outfit define a lot of the look. Here, I’m swapping out dress shoes for a suede Chelsea boot in a rich brown color that complements the tan herringbone coat as well as the natural white shawl collar and burnt orange sweater. A Chelsea’s lack of adornment and streamlined appearance give them a formal enough aesthetic for the office, while also being super comfortable. And unlike a dress shoe, you’ll get full use out of these for more casual outfits too. You could also swap these for a crisp white sneaker if you’re editing this look for the evening or a weekend outing.