Whether you’re looking to embrace a capsule wardrobe or simply want to float effortlessly from work to play, filling your closet with workwear that doubles as casual clothes is the answer. However, knowing what to look for in these double-duty pieces and what to pair them with is key—fashion certainly doesn’t have to take a backseat with this type of attire!
Here is what to look for in these versatile pieces to get the most bang for your buck. As well as the top 4 garments you need to add to your wardrobe today.
What to Look for in Adaptable Work Clothes
Adaptable work clothes get more wear than your average business suit since you won’t be rearing to get them off as soon as you step out of the office. Therefore, quality should be a top priority. This not only ensures these garment’s longevity—saving you money over the course of time—but higher quality will also help keep you looking crisp from morning to night. A few things that affect quality include:
Where It’s Made
The fast-fashion market is supported by foreign countries churning clothing out of factories. To keep costs low and production high in these settings, quality is often compromised. Therefore, it pays to shop local. American made clothes tend to be of better quality than these outsourced pieces. Plus, they have the added benefit of supporting the local economy.
Quality of Notions
You will want to inspect the zipper, buttons, and any other embellishments on the piece. Metal zippers are ideal since they are less likely to break compared to plastic. You will also want to test it to ensure it tracks well and glides easily. Does the garment have buttons? Give them a small tug. They should feel fairly secure. One feature of a higher quality piece is that it will also come with an extra replacement button or two.
Type of Fabric
There are over 100 types of fabric out there, but they can all be categorized as synthetic, natural, or a blend. Synthetic material is man-made and includes fabric such as polyester, nylon, and spandex. And while these fibers can undoubtedly be of good quality, natural materials like wool, bamboo, and cotton are tried-and-true for standing the test of time. There is a reason that wool peacoats from the mid-century are still worn today!
The 4 Double Duty Garments You Need
- Button Down Shirt
It is no secret that a button down shirt makes for great workplace attire. But did you know that it can quickly transition to a casual piece? The trick is how you wear it. To transition from work to play, untuck the shirt from your pants and undo a button or two at the top. If you want to make it extra casual, wear a basic T-shirt underneath and completely open the shirt up. A white T-shirt is excellent for creating a dynamic contrast with dark pieces and vice versa.
For an extra casual look or a country chic vibe, try a denim button down. It’s a bit more unconventional, but it strikes a great mix between work appropriate and just plain casual. Pair it with some slacks instead of jeans to avoid looking monotone or overly matched.
- Khaki Pants
Perhaps the most versatile of all the pants, there are many ways to style khakis in order to dress them up or down. In an office setting, these pair well with everything from dress shirts to polos. Or, to toggle this wardrobe staple to a more casual aesthetic, simply pair with a V neck sweater or t-shirt.
Now let’s talk colors! Khakis traditionally came in a tan color and continue to do so today. However, you can find khakis in just about any color nowadays and they all inject a bit of a twist on the classic. For example, if you want a more contemporary look, try a pair of navy blue khakis. Want a fresh take on a classic look? A pair of darker tan khakis paired with a pastel-colored shirt is just the ticket.
The ultimate bridge between formal and casual workwear is also perfect for everything from lounging around to hanging out with friends. To keep a polo shirt from looking overly done up for informal settings, the key is to be mindful of what you pair it with and color combinations.
The easiest thing to do is to swap your bottoms for a pair of jeans. For an extra laidback look, aim for a distressed pair of jeans or well-fitted sweat pants. Here is also a great place to play color. A baby blue shirt worn with a pair of white or beige pants will have a fresh vibe with a touch of coastal elegance. Pair that same shirt with dark blue jeans to achieve a casual date night feel—dressed to impress, but not over the top.
Heading right from work to drinks? Consider undoing a button or two on the polo for both comfort and aesthetic. If you combo this with untucking your shirt, the outfit will take on a whole new feel. Some even like to take it the extra mile and pop the collar, but it certainly isn’t necessary. The idea is that whatever combo you do, it will be a quick and practically effortless transformation.
- Leather Jacket
Sometimes it isn’t about what you swap or undo, but rather what you add. A leather jacket is a timeless piece that excels at taking an outfit from workplace appropriate to fashionably laid back. Black is a go-to for its slimming effect and the fact that it truly goes with everything. But if you are opting for a timeless look, traditional brown leather is the way to go.
When shopping for the perfect piece, keep in mind that a quality leather jacket can last decades when regularly treated. If you are opting for faux leather instead either due to personal ethics of your budget, note that this material is more prone to peeling and cracking. To maintain faux leather, you will need a good conditioner to protect it from UV rays and other harsh conditions.
Going from work to play is easy when you have the right clothes. By using key pieces with proven garment combinations and various color combos, you can go from work to casual in a pinch.