Why This Outfit Works for a Modern Casual Office

Why This Outfit Works for a Modern Casual Office
Losing the office uniform has proven harder than it should be.

Dressing for a modern casual office can be surprisingly challenging. In some ways, the old business casual dress code made things easier. You want to dress well, without standing out in a bad way from others who may dress, in your opinion, too casual. How do you look like, “I got ready on purpose,” and not, as Tenacious D says, “It's gig time, what t-shirt am I gonna wear?” But also not like a time traveler from a 1998 business causal office? This outfit combines tactical choices and clean lines to strike that balance.

A collage displays a men's outfit with items aligned along a dress code scale from 'Casual' to 'Dress', marked slightly less formal than 'Smart Casual'. The outfit includes a denim button-up shirt with white buttons and two chest pockets with a red logo tag on the left pocket, paired with light grey trousers. Adjacent to these, a dark grey t-shirt, a black leather-strapped watch featuring a white face with both standard and military time indications, and grey suede lace-up boots are shown. Above, color swatches in various shades of blue and grey match the outfit items.

Dark Denim Button Up Shirt

The dark denim button up shirt is the backbone of this outfit. Its structured design offers a more refined appearance than a casual t-shirt alone, while still maintaining a casual vibe. Worn open, it doubles as a light jacket in spring, perfect for those in-between days when a heavier layer is too much. In many modern offices, where the norm leans towards t-shirts and polos, the denim shirt strikes the right middle ground. The unique details, like chest pockets, add a rugged touch that pairs well with the chinos.

A man wears a dark grey t-shirt under an unbuttoned dark blue denim shirt  and chest pockets over a black pocket t-shirt. His outfit is completed with grey trousers and dark grey suede boots. He has short blonde hair, and he poses with one hand in his pocket.

Light Grey Chinos

The lighter grey chinos are particularly helpful to counter the other dark tones so the outfit doesn't become too dark and heavy, which would still be a great look, but might be better suited for evening events.

Simple Black Pocket T-Shirt

Under the denim shirt, a simple black crew neck t-shirt adds a casual layer and tricks your casual colleagues into thinking you're not more dressed up than they are. Mine is an off-the-rack faded black color, and is the darkest of the neutrals in the outfit.

Classic Black Leather-Strap Watch


A classic black leather strap watch is an understated touch of refinement without being flashy. This 3 hand hack watch is inspired by military field watches.

Dark Grey Boots

Sticking to a monochrome palette with varying shades is an easy way to make the outfit feel cohesive and put-together. This approach simplifies the process of looking stylish without relying on bold colors or patterns. It's an easy method to appear refined and thoughtful in your style.

See more outfit and style ideas in our Getup collection.

Andrew Snavely

Andrew founded Primer in 2008 and brings 15+ years of men's style expertise. Known for his practical, relatable approach to style and self-development, he has been a recognized speaker at conferences and has styled work for top brands. Off-duty, he loves photography & editing, and enjoys road trips with his dog, Leela. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, educated in DC, and living in LA for nearly 20 years, Andrew's diverse experiences shape the relatable and real-world advice that has helped millions through Primer. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.