Get your own personal stylist to help you find clothes you love. All online, completely free

Sign In

What goes with what

How to look more interesting at work

How to look more interesting at work

Photographed: Reiss chinos (£110); Paul Smith shirt (£160); Grenson boots (£230); Paul Smith rollneck (£360); Paul Smith polo shirt (£70); Burberry tie (£140)


The world of work has changed immeasurably in the last two decades, as has the way we’re expected to dress while we’re there. The suit has been supplanted as an office uniform by smart-casual or even, in some creative sectors, jeans and t-shirts. But one thorny issue remains; whatever you wear to work, odds are the rest of the office wears something similar.

This is both a challenge and an opportunity. By stepping up your style you immediately stand out. You become more memorable, appear more impressive and are able to convey a sense of yourself and your personality when you make a first impression. That doesn’t mean novelty ties or Hawaiian shirts. Rather, it’s about the little details. Even the most dressed-down offices often end up a homogenous array of black jumpers and navy jeans. If you master these three skills, you’ll find even small adjustments go a long way to creating a personal, distinctive style.


Muted colours dominate in every almost every office. So even a splash of something brighter immediately stands out. “If your office is largely suits or even the smarter end of smart-casual, then scarves, socks, ties and pocket squares all make for a great way of adding colour,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “To start, just choose one. Then as you get more comfortable, add tones that match.”

The less formal the environment, the bigger you can make your canvas. “Outerwear is another way to go,” says Freddie. “Granted, it’s slightly bolder, but it can have a huge impact on your look.” To navigate the line between personality and cry-for-help, focus on unobtrusive tones and classic styles. “Try bottle green, light blue or even more seasonal shades like burnt orange. If you stick to something like a macintosh, then it anchors the colour and becomes less of a statement.”


Most men have two poles with pattern: none at all, or everything at once. Chart the middle course and even restrained outfits can become eye-catching. “Woollen trousers are a great way to integrate patterns into your work look,” says Freddie. “Subtle checks, stripes, or things like houndstooth and herringbone work well within an office.”

Just make sure they’re not the trousers from a suit. By going for something designed to be worn unmatched, they become much more versatile, says Freddie. “They’re equally at home with a blazer and tie as they are knitwear and a short, casual jacket.”


If either of those seem a step too far, then texture is perhaps the easiest way to make a look memorable. “Winter is generally the best window for texture, but many brands have options that work year round,” says Freddie. “As with colour, accessories are an easy in-road – a ribbed beanie hat can immediately create depth even if you’re just wearing a sweatshirt.”

Then, build yourself up to the bigger pieces. “A flannel shirt can work in either smart or casual workplaces,” says Freddie, “while corduroy trousers can mix-up your look below.” And best of all, you can never have too much. The more texture you add, the more interesting – and more stylish – you become.