Office Trad

Office Trad

It is no secret that I am an advocate for the traditional American look. I think that it is a way of dressing that will serve one well for the duration of their life. I also think that is a look that will serve one especially well in the workplace. I  have listed just of few of these reasons below.
The UniformMy Uniform – I think that this is a good example of the look that could be applied to most business casual settings.

1. Be seen, but not heard. – The look is conservative. It does not draw attention for being extremely colorful (I suggest keeping GTH gear outside of the office. At least at first), inappropriately tight, or revealing. It is not too casual nor is it cuff link and Windsor knot fancy. These are good things. It also demonstrates a neat professional appearance that is generally appreciated by companies. In summary, your clothes will not speak louder than your work.

2. Always appropriate. – This is not a style that changes much. Sure lapel widths, collar points, and the rise on trousers have changed a few times over the last 65 or so years, but not much else. The upshot here is that you won’t have to buy a new wardrobe and change your style every few years, because your clothes are no longer cool. While the look may not always be fashionable it will always be appropriate. I wanted to say that it is more economical as well, but all my trads know that is probably not true!

3. Ready, set, go! – The look is simple, easy to learn, and looks great on almost everyone. My biggest decision in the morning is deciding what color Shetland or tie to wear and any of them would work. Someone once told me that this style will allow you to clothes your eyes, pick your clothes, and still look good. Maybe not great, but good!

The look can be an asset to you at the office as long as you apply it to fit within the parameters of your workplace. It won’t overshadow your work and your boss will never have to worry about if you will look professional, it will never be outdated (at least in our lifetime), and it is a simple style that is easy to learn. Long live penny loafers, chinos, and the OCBD!

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

12 Comments on "Office Trad"

  1. CAY says:

    Nice post. I really like that olive surcingle. That pulls your rig together perfectly. Is it from Leatherman?

    With respect to your point #1, I actually think you are heard. In general, when you wear trad attire you are heard as someone who is likely to be stable and reliable, I think it sends an overall positive message. That being said, I think your personality will always come through regardless what you wear. If, for example, you are very quiet, not particularly ambitious, and tend to keep to yourself, others might see you and the trad clothes you wear as rather dull. In contrast, if you have an outgoing, sparkling personality, one that is concerned about others and has no qualms about stepping in and helping others out when needed, then you and your clothes will be seen in that light. When you wear a colorful tie or watchband, that will seem to fit you and your outgoing nature perfectly. Personality will be more important than clothes, but the clothes you wear will add to others’ impression of you.

    I had this point brought home to me in grad school when a female student called me a “stuffed shirt” Me? I was totally deflated. I got her to tell me about some of my unflattering personality characteristics and then she summed it all up by saying, “And, you wear those button-collar shirts, too. You’re a stuffed shirt.” The fact that she connected my tendency to let my ego run rampant and what I wore made me realize that the two are intimately linked.

    • James says:

      Cay I can’t say I agree that an OCBD makes you look like a ‘stuffed shirt’ I think a dress shirt with stiff collar and french cuffs makes you look like a ‘stuffed shirt’.

      I’ve worked in three offices where there has been no particular dress code (loosely business casual I guess!) and the standard of dress is usual very poor. It has detracted from my opinion of certain co-workers even though there work has been very good. The uniform above is great – it allows you to dress a notch above those who turn up in old t-shirts, jeans and athletic shoes yet in the same way it doesn’t look like you are dressing to impress or show off.

      My own uniform is similar to yours Jerrod however I prefer a slimmer fit chino and tend to vary the colour of my chinos a bit more. Not very trad but I also sometimes wear a polo to the office on casual days during summer as no AC in the office!

  2. oxford cloth button down says:

    Thank you Cay. The belt is from Leatherman.

    What I mean by “seen not heard” is very close to what you are saying. You will be seen as professional (stable and reliable), but ultimately you will be seen for who you are which I summed up as work, but this certainly includes your personality. By “not being heard” I mean that your clothes will not set a negative precedent.

  3. Billax says:

    Excellent advice, Jerrod! Perhaps I am alone in this, but I believe the apparel you recommend also breeds Trust, a quality in short supply these days.

  4. Tweeds says:

    Your clothes combinations are great. I like you canvas leather bag. Where can I find one like that?

  5. CAY says:


    I agree we are singing off the same song sheet. You are clearly right on your last statement: trad “clothes will not set a negative precedent.”

  6. oxford cloth button down says:

    Billax – Thanks! Glad to see you around here. I really liked your Ogee curve post. Educational as always.

    Tweeds – Thank you. The bag is from Billy Kirk.

  7. Fred Johnson says:

    Words to live by. Although my shirt/tie/blazer days are mostly behind me now, being self-employed, an OCBD, chinos and loafers are my basic daily uniform and I always feel well dressed wherever I go. Yes the seasons vary, with chinos being replaced with tan chords, Shetlands added and the occasional tweed but the basic easy going, casual look stays the same. Probably why I won’t invest in any new pennies except Bass, as with the rest the look cost per wear becomes so low that its almost free over a lifetime.

  8. Ezra Cornell says:

    I absolutely love that first shot: classic. Do you really work that collar into place to get that beautiful curve, or have you “trained” your shirts to do that now after you’ve worn them a time?

  9. oxford cloth button down says:

    Ezra – They must be trained as I don’t fuss with them throughout the day, but I do give them a little assistance after putting on my tie.

  10. A solid, classic look that breeds quiet confidence (self-confidence and confidence in you on the part of others), conveys reliability, and suggests a man is ready for the business of the day. Well done!

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich von B.

  11. Charlottesville says:

    Thanks, Jerrod. This is a perfect classic look. Taking khakis and an OCBD, and adding or subtracting a tie or blazer, tweed sport coat or sweater can take you from office to date, from movie to church, from restaurant to shopping to wherever. And as you point out, while never exactly in high fashion (which is a good thing), you are always comfortable and stylish and can wear the same items for years. In the office today, I am wearing a tan poplin sack suit today that I bought from Brooks 20 or more years ago. And if I took off the tie and jacket, I would be dressed much as you are in the second photo above, ready for a more casual atmosphere after work.

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