I wanted to show how the same base elements of an outfit could be mixed with different pieces and accessories in order to create multiple moods for separate occasions which may have varying levels of formality. If done creatively, you can use a limited clothing palette to maximize and stretch your wardrobe for many outings.
For this experiment, I am going to start formal and work my way down. Now, because I am going to keep some of these pieces for even the most casual of outfits, I cannot start with evening wear or a tuxedo. Or maybe I could! That will be for next time. This time, however, I am going to start with something business formal, especially since this is for the Dapper Professional. I shall start within the realms of what I consider acceptable formal business attire.
Just for background, I work for a litigation consulting firm. In the legal world, I do sit in on formal meetings as well as formal court proceedings. Since I am hired in a creative capacity, I can dress a bit more artistically and get away with it, unlike my clients or even some of my peers. That said, this is not a guideline for what to wear to every meeting or on how to dress to nail that interview. This is purely an exercise in stretching the boundaries of my clothing in ways that I would actually dress.
For my first outfit, which will also set up the basics for my concurrent ensembles, I started out with the professional classic of classics – The Navy Blazer. If you are just starting to build your professional wardrobe and you do not have a large budget, buy a navy blazer. You can dress it up or down (as we will see!) and you can actually get away with wearing the blazer daily so long as you swap out your shirt, tie and pants. But I will reinforce this along the way, so let’s move on!
This blazer may be dark in color, but is still summery, as it is constructed from a loosely woven linen fabric and has no lining. The seams inside are finished with red piping and the buttons have monograms on them. This should provide a good framework for whatever look I am shooting for.
Since I wanted to wear the same shirt in every photo, I chose something that will work formally as well as casually. I chose a spread collared banker’s shirt, which can be very formal, but chose a very fun, vibrant striped pattern instead of something more plain and conservative. This will liven up my casual outfits when the time comes. I also wanted to go with barrel cuffs as opposed to French cuffs, so as not to get trapped into wearing cufflinks with a beach ensemble. Yes, I could wear braided knot cufflinks, but I thought I would try to keep things as unchanged as possible between outfits. In fact, I eliminated all male jewelry, just to keep things simple. But again, I digress!
Because this is a formal summer outfit, I wore a repp stripe silk tie in a double Windsor knot. Playing off of this conservative and formal knot, I wear a crisp linen pocket square, folded and pressed in a traditional way. A very formal double-breasted waistcoat in scarlet paired with white linen pants completes the look. I would feel comfortable wearing this to any summer meeting as well as to a formal garden party, luncheon or even dinner.
Keeping the same blazer, shirt, and pants, this next step down in formality is only a small step, as I am still wearing a tie with a full double Windsor knot as well as a waistcoat. But both tie and waistcoat are far less formal and traditional than the previous ensemble. The floral pattern and woven fabric of the tie mixed with the paisley pattern of the pocket square add elements of intricate whimsy, while the linen waistcoat with flapped patch pockets adds a more country and less city feel. Unbuttoning the top button of the vest also adds a slight bit of informality to the otherwise same outfit. Ready for strolling/picnicking in the park, drinks on the rooftop, or perhaps a summer wedding on the beach.
Stay tuned for the release of Part 2 of 2!
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