The Office Catwalk

Conor Collins

Conor Collins is an expressionist painter, Opera singer, actor and former Southern England Irish Dance champion. He has recently completed his undergraduate at the Royal Northern College of Music and has had his art shortlisted for the Outside in National Art Prize as well as the Saatchi Showdown 2011 drawing prize. Follow @Conartworks

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Now in all likelihood anyone who has read my articles, been to my exhibits, or follows me on twitter probably won’t realise that outside the opera, art and fashion I am actually a businessman. Subsequently my life has recently led me into a new role, one which I am keeping under wraps to keep head-hunters at bay, but easy to say I am very pleased to find myself there. However, having worked as a stylist for so long before my new role I was used to wearing what I liked, how I liked.

But now I am in an office.

This is bold new territory for me and for anyone sartorially minded it can be a couture minefield. So this week I’ve decided to devise a men’s guide to office style.

When I look round many an office, I see many a fashion crime. Generally this means:

A visible round neck t-shirt under a formal shirt always looks more treadmill ready than meeting ready. Some people might have been working out, but no one can tell if you are wearing baggy armed long sleeve shirts. You might be a busy man but never EVER wear a phone and a bunch of keys on your belt, you’re not a Texan Sherriff. Unfitted trousers? Congratulations you look 10 pounds bigger and unless you’re 7 and it’s back to school week…don’t you dare consider wearing square-toe shoes.

Now here is what I advise:

  1. A tailored jacket gives every torso some much needed shape—not to mention an acceptable place to keep your mobile and wallet without you looking like an oil trucker. But do you know why it is guys always look better in a jacket? Because a good jacket does all the work for them. Trust me. Put it on and even if your shirt isn’t perfectly ironed and your trousers fit a little too snugly the jacket smooths out all visual imperfections. A navy blazer is perfect for all. You can wear it formally, or stick on a casual t-shirt, fitted dark jeans and some nice trainers…then the blue blazer and bam…you have turned casual into sexual. Ideally keep it fitted with high armholes and slim sleeves which reveal just a little bit of your shirt. Trust me, put one on and you will want to wear it forever.
  2. Keep your laptop and papers in a bag that’s as clean as you want the rest of you to look. Ideally have a messenger bag. The general rule of thumb is that if you were to see your bag in the street would you call the bomb squad or steal it? If it’s the latter then it’s the bag for you.
  3. Slim-cut wool pants give you a leaner silhouette if you’re small or big waisted.
  4. Brown loafers anchor any outfit with an easy sophistication. They are comfy enough for you to be on your feet all day at work, but also formal enough for any after work drinks you might have in nice places.
  5. Now admittedly not everyone likes blazers and in this weather it can be nice to be a little more snug now and then. So a good V-neck jumper with a formal shirt underneath can be comfortable and chic, whilst still appearing controllably professional. The V of the neck should be big enough to expose some of the shirt but not too much. When paired with a good dress shirt it actually has the ability to flatter a face and make a jawline better. Roll up the sleeves just a little so that a little peek of the shirt cuff is revealed and if you are feeling flash it lets you show off your watch. The body of the jumper should end at your waist…any longer and you will look like you are wearing a woolly poncho.
  6. Speaking of showing off, your watch, a business-casual watch, shouldn’t be something you’d wear to the gym, but neither should it be some precious heirloom your grandfather passed down to you. Aim for one that’s a cross between casual and dressy, like a black-faced watch with a plastic band, a stainless-steel watch with a link bracelet (hold the bling, you’re in an office not chilling in a Jacuzzi in LA) ,or a leather-strap watch with a profile so slim you’ll forget it’s on.

If in doubt, just think of the style icons you have loved in your life. Be they footballers, movie stars or maybe even big sellers in the office. What do they wear? How do they wear it? And can I steal their accessories from their drawers without anyone noticing?