I love suits and am happy to wear them much of the time. They fit in well to my business environment and are easy to highlight with additional touches – socks, shoes, handkerchiefs etc. However, I also like to experiment with odd jackets and trousers, for the sake of variation and for the added complexity that the patterns and materials bring – harmonising ties or handkerchiefs with the bolder patterns of hacking jackets, for example.
So far, so good. The problem is that these odd jacket/trouser combinations can easily tip into looking too traditional or flamboyant for my work environment. The unkind would say they can look too fuddy-duddyish. This is particularly true, for example, when I want to wear a tie with these outfits – perhaps grey flannels with a checked jacket, brown oxfords and a woollen tie. That definitely tips over into something out of place on one my age, and certainly in this environment. Even switching to a silk tie, or going for a silk handkerchief, is probably too much.
As a result, I often resort to jeans with odd jackets. Again, perfectly acceptable in my office and a good counter to the flamboyance of a woollen tie or a handkerchief. The jeans are narrow, dark and not too long. It works ok, but I constantly feel pulled towards the more traditional, the smarter options. I just find it more interesting.
Jeans work ok, but they feel a little like giving up. So my question to the group is: what compromise can I find between jeans and the more fuddy duddy odd trouser combinations?
Is the answer khakis or chinos that look a little more casual? I have noticed that fellow-blogger Winston often opts for pale pink jeans. Or are cords the key?
The classic American option is blue blazer with chinos or white ducks, but I don’t think that would work in a London office, at least not regularly. Or is the secret to avoid extraneous details when combining odd trousers and odd jackets, such as ties or handkerchiefs? (So the outfit, casual vs traditional, balances somewhat.)
This is not a question for the true traditionalists in the audience, who will probably tell me I should pull my socks up (literally, above the calf) and ignore any suspicions of the fuddy duddy. But that is not really my taste and, more importantly, is not really the work atmosphere.
I think combinations of odd jackets, trousers and various accessories are the most exciting and intriguing for men dressing today. They require the most thought and sophistication but also the greatest possibility of individual, startling success.
I will be fascinated to hear what others wear and what they suggest for me.