A few years back I was sitting at my desk grading essays, nursing a cup of coffee and working my way through a rather prodigious chocolate bar (it’s my power breakfast). I made a quick jaunt to the copier to run off some more rubrics, came back, and managed to knock out a six-inch stack of work before my first student walked through the door.
Fast forward two hours to second period, and every time I circled the room, a low titter seemed to follow me. Finally a gracious student pulled me aside and told me it looked like I’d “had an accident.” It turned out that when I had gone to the copier, I knocked a piece of my chocolate bar onto my chair, and I didn’t see it…or feel it…when I sat back down. It was 9:30 in the morning, and I had to work the rest of the day with a chocolate stain on the rear seam of my pants. Shit.
Since that day, I’ve kept a folded pair of khakis and a boxed dress shirt in my filing cabinet (and I always look at my chair before I sit back down). To me, this is just good sense, but what about when you need sartorial backup at the office for more than just an unfortunate stain?
At Primer we love hearing from our readers, and our most recent correspondence posed a conundrum that myriad guys have most likely faced:
Hey. I just got a new job, and the office typically wears business casual. However, we are required to keep a jacket (blazer) and tie in the office should we have a VIP visit, or a similarly important meeting we need to attend.
What type of jacket/blazer would be recommended that can go with most color pants (I typically wear pants ranging from khaki-green-brown-blue-black).
I don’t know much about formal dress wear, and I’ve never owned a blazer, even for a dinner date, sadly. I could really use some help. Thank you.
This is an awesome question, Bryan. The challenge with a keep-it-at-the-office blazer is choosing a piece that is equally versatile, handsome, and within your budget (especially depending on whether or not you plan to wear it outside of the office, too).
There are two approaches to take in this situation.
- Buy an affordable blazer that will match as many things as possible and store it in the office in case of emergency, or
- Invest in a nice blazer and just store it in your office and hopefully remember/coordinate to bring it home any time you want to wear it otherwise
The first is to choose a budget-but-sharp blazer that can match as many different fabrics and colors as possible. Keep this blazer at the office at all times, and when your boss’s boss comes for a visit, you’ll be set. While it may seem like the navy blazer would be the go-to, this could pose problems if you’re prone to wearing blue denim that may be a similar shade. Olive, gray, brown, or a light blue are all excellent options for versatility.
Here are a few affordable options to consider
This lightweight wool-blend blazer from Amazon’s house brand, Goodthreads, has a great price, a slim silhouette, and because it’s a blend, it will stay soft without wrinkling. The herringbone pattern is the perfect complement to a solid sweater or button-up shirt, and it looks stellar with dark jeans.
This the same jacket but in dark tan. The tan has the added versatility of going with every shade of gray pants you have, where the charcoal may get too matchy-matchy if you wear a lot of charcoal pants. The pants featured above were also included in this outfit from Fall Getup Week.
If you work in a warmer climate, the wool blazer will make you sweat. This twill blazer is made from a dense cotton that will stay rugged but still allow you to breathe. And the two percent polyester gives it that hint of stretch that we’ve come to love in our casual blazers. Olive looks swell with lighter shades of denim and almost any color of dress pants you have: khaki, navy, black, gray, it covers them all.
The other approach to this situation is to pick up a high-end blazer that can double as your keep-it-at-the-office blazer, but also be your wear-it-after-work blazer. Just make sure you take it back to the office the next day! This is the blazer that can still match anything you might wear to work, and keeps you looking fresh on a date, a wedding, or some other event that requires you to be dressed up.
Here are a few options:
If blue is your jam, this wool-cotton blend blazer from Rodd and Gunn looks beyond handsome with dark jeans, will match khakis like a champ, and has a unique woven texture for a little added depth.
Bonobos has struck the perfect balance between simplicity and panache, and this Italian knit blazer is no exception. Soft Italian cotton, unstructured with patch pockets, and who knows, maybe when you put it on, you’ll grow a slick salt-and-pepper beard like the guy in the photo.
One of our best recommendations for any guy who needs a sportcoat. Medium gray tweed can be worn casually with jeans and boots or worn with dress pants to a dressed up occasion, and this one will last you a decade.
Everything Suit Supply makes is handsome. No, it’s beautiful. No…pulchritudinous. That’s the only word. This Havana jacket in brown is pure wool with a notch lapel and a tapered cut. It’s a force.