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The time has come for the official reintegration of office life. With so much time away and rumours swirling that dress codes have been chalked off, how is one supposed to dress accordingly with confidence? Here at The Rake, we're here to assure you that the pandemic's acceleration towards a whole new dimension of workwear wasn't the death knell for the suit, but merely a trigger to be more creative in how you wear it.
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"Sell in May and go away and come back on St. Leger’s Day" is a well-known financial-world adage. If children back in school, the end of Parliament’s summer recess and the Queen returning from Balmoral isn’t the signal for back to business, the moment the winning horse passes the post in Saturday’s St Leger at Doncaster, is the time to officially reimpose your business mindset. Admittedly, this year less people will be commuting to their office desks, but that is no reason for remote workers to disregard the day. By now, in a normal year, folk will more or less have their work wardrobe sewn up. However, one might be at a point of disquiet when inspecting their options. Suits have gathered dust, your trousers no longer fit, and there’s the small matter of no longer syncing with the uncertain dress code in front of colleagues and bosses, that you’ve only met on zoom. Each industry desiderates different types of dress, but whichever part of the formality spectrum your firm falls into, now is the time to assemble suitable outfits. Even before the devastating virus gripped the world, Wall Street giants Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan announced to staff, that time-honoured banking uniform of suit and tie can take a back seat to business casual. Dress has now become even more democratic as a result of the pandemic, which makes the whole working attire picture increasingly perplexing and opaque. The trick is to not get too wrapped up in the casual bravado. With well thought out tailoring combinations, that comprise a level of versatility there are unstuffy ways to emerge into the working environment.
Steve McQueen
Sir Anthony Eden (Photo via Getty)
Jack Nicholson in Chinatown, 1974
Michael Douglas in Wall Street 1987
Robert Ettinger CEO of Ettinger
Terence Stamp, 1983 (Photo by ITV / Rex Features (690893by)
September is actually the most pleasant month to dress in. The oppressive inner-city heat has subsided, the weather is still mild enough to enjoy an after-work drink without an overcoat, and you still have license to be bold with pattern and colour. No outfit comes close to the power that a well-cut pinstriped three-piece suit emanates. Don’t be put off by the ‘banker’ stigma it now seems to bear - a pinstriped suit has been donned by gangsters, sportspeople (Jesse Owens) and relished on the American Frontier, so have no hesitation in rocking one, but make sure it’s cut by an adept tailor in an appropriate fabric. Unlined and rendered in a lightweight wool, B Corner’s blue pinstriped single-breasted three-piece suit is a knockout option for late summer and early autumn. With razor-sharp wide peak lapels, and flat-fronted trousers featuring a split-backed waistband, B Corner’s version is about as classic as it gets. Don’t undo the maturity of the suit by wearing brown shoes, stick to black Oxfords, brogues and more masculine loafers from distinguished Northampton shoemakers such as Gaziano & Girling and Edward Green. Donned by lawyers in Lincoln's Inn, hedge fund managers in Mayfair and underwriters of Lloyd’s of London, Edward Green’s Piccadilly loafer is an excellent footwear choice. Pinstriped suits and a white shirt go hand in hand. Add a discreet touch of flamboyancy by opting for a pin collar design from Edward Sexton, and don’t refrain from wearing a fun paisley tie from Vestrucci and Rubinacci. As the suit trousers come without belt loops, it’s worth investing in a pair of classic braces from Sera Fine Silk. Denizens of financial districts, will also likely need something refined and classic to house their laptops and documents. Crafted in the old-school briefcase style, Ettinger’s and Asprey’s luxurious versions are what you should take with you to an important business lunch.
A policeman saluting Mountbatten as he arrives at 10 Downing Street in 1956 for the Suez crisis talks (Photo via Getty)
Not everyone will feel comfortable wearing a suit to work. Of course, there are many ways to dress it down (think rollnecks, trainers and casual models of shirt collar), but you might be looking for a garment that is a nudge under the corporate line of work. Houndstooth, Glen Check and herringbone tailored jackets are the perfect diffusers to this outlook. With Huntsman’s stunning navy and orange linen houndstooth jacket being lined, you might be able to get away with wearing it until mid-October, but have a coat handy. When the temperature plummets, move on to Byrne & Burge's green herringbone wool jacket, which is cut in an elegant English style. One of the main attributes of this type of separate is that you have endless scope when it comes to choosing a pant. Wear with a Manny trouser from Rubinacci, a Hollywood top trouser from Edward Sexton or a pleated Aleksandar model trouser from Kit Blake: patterned jackets do give you the freedom to have fun with your trouser choices, whilst maintaining a smart-yet-unstuffy appearance. The vagaries of today’s work climate orchestrates an uneasy sense of what is acceptable. Are denim jackets and casual boots too informal for a Soho advertising firm? Judging the mood is of course important, but say you do roll into your advertising office in Richard Anderson's Kurashiki jeans and brown suede Kerouac Balmoral boots, partnered with a lightweight bomber jacket from Valstar, you’ll realise quickly due to the complimentary response of co-workers, that the sheer coolness of the look takes informality out of the equation. You will have added some much-needed style to the office environment, and as Cecil Beaton once said: “Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.”
Mad Men characters Don Draper, Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove rock bold checks in Season 5 of the hit series set in 1960s New York.
Michael Douglas and Daryl Hannah, Wall Street, 1987
Author Gay Talese looking over manuscript as he sits in his sub-basement office at home. (Photo by Marianne Barcellona/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
If you’ve been withholding your lust of wearing bold checks and resplendent colours for most of your working life; ditch all of that apprehension – and embrace it confidently. The same goes for the people firmly in the camp of dressing up again, don’t hold back. Cordone 1956’s red flannel Spina shirt is a cosy option to wear on its own in late summer, whilst you can channel fictional character Pete Campbell in Mad Men by donning the refined-yet-flamboyant green and beige check silk, linen and wool jacket from Lardini. And don’t forget to wear a vintage-looking tie from a specialist tie maker. Understandably the lines between workwear and leisurewear have become more blurred. Classic-cut pants with a drawstring waist, mastered by brands such as Rubinacci and Kit Blake are here to stay, and with good reason due to their smart-yet-relaxed attributes. But don’t get too complacent in the work environment. Instead mix traditional elements with casual items, and find ways to creatively adapt/accessorise a suit in accordance to formality. Buying into the calibre of artisans that congregate the will certainly help you achieve that smooth and stylish work transition.