How To Go Business Casual With Sweaters

How To Go Business Casual With Sweaters

Let's talk sweaters. To some traditionalists, sweaters are a no-go in the workplace or at events that require dressier attire. While it's true that you're not going to get away with a sweater in some settings, we're here to tell you there are plenty of ways to achieve a business casual look with the right sweater.

Sweaters are a comfortable, functional and, dare we say it, sharp article of outerwear that can bring together just about any outfit, especially during winter. When part of a layered approach, certain sweaters can quickly transition from casual to business casual.

We've collected a few sweater tips and recommendations for how you can stay warm with a good-looking wardrobe.

Workplace sweater rules

Although the right approach can make a sweater appropriate in the workplace or in other business casual settings, there are still a few rules to follow.

1. Avoid bright colors

In most work environments, bright colors are frowned upon in general unless used as a subtle highlight. As with any other article of clothing you'd wear to work, avoid bright-colored sweaters.

2. Go with simple patterns

By no means do you have to stick to solid colors with sweaters, but you're not trying to win an ugly sweater party, either. Unless, of course, you're actually attending an office ugly sweater party.

In general, though, keep it simple. Avoid sweaters with logos and complicated patterns. Think argyle or solid stripes here. If the pattern looks OK under a sport jacket, then you're likely OK.

3. Wear something that fits well

Yes, one of your goals with sweaters is warmth, but so is appearance. Leave the bulky, thick sweaters for off-the-clock activities. Keep an eye on the length and bagginess, too. You want a sweater that fits and complements you.

4. No hoodies

Need we say more? It doesn't matter if they're solid-colored. Hoodies say I don't really care. That's not what anybody should be shooting for when dressing business casual.

5. Know your workplace

While hoodies are a definite "no," some other sweater styles may be in more of a gray area. They can look sharp in the right setting, but out of place in others. This includes cardigans, button, polo and zip neck sweaters.

Again, these styles may work well in your office, but you should first consider whether you'll look out of place compared to what others may be wearing.

V-neck sweaters

Here's a business casual sweater look you've likely seen before. V-neck sweaters work well in the office because they pair so well with a well-chosen layer underneath.

It's the bottom layer where you have so many options. In some work environments than lean a little more toward the relaxed end of business casual, all you might need is a button-down dress shirt underneath to look sharp.

However, you can still make this work in dressier offices by adding a tie. With the knot and just enough of the rest of the tie above the V of your sweater, you're going to look great.

While the rule about solid colors or simple patterns applies to the V-neck sweater, feel free to add a little more color with the shirt and tie combo. Stick to simple patterns for the shirt underneath, though.

Ties are especially great for adding just the right amount of highlight to a sweater vest look, too.

You can apply these tips to many other styles - such as button, polo and zip neck sweaters - if it's proper for your workplace.

Crew neck sweaters

Like V-necks, crew neck sweaters can be dressed up to fit the business casual style. Add a collared shirt and you're good to go. You can choose whether to leave the collar tucked underneath the sweater's collar or pop it over.

Crew neck sweaters look great when paired with a sport jacket. If you've got a sport jacket or blazer over the sweater, then you could add a turtleneck under the sweater, too.

However, although most V-necks are meant to be worn a little dressed up, there are plenty of crew neck sweaters that shouldn't be worn in the workplace. Avoid anything with text, prominent logos or complicated patterns. Leave those for when you're running around town or lounging at home.

Sweater vests

Here's a sweater style that's definitely been popular in office settings for some time. Sweater vests are an incredibly versatile option for the workplace.

Sweater vests have necks of varying shapes and depths. When you've got a V-neck sweater vest, you can treat it like you would V-neck sweater - except you can show off the sleeves of your button-down dress shirt. Add a tie to a sweater vest look to dress it up even more.

Consider going with a solid pattern for your sweater vest, especially if your shirt has any sort of pattern to it.

Heavier knit sweaters

For the most part, heavier knit sweaters will tend to look more casual. If your workplace is a little more relaxed, though, there are even more options to explore here.

A good cable knit or shetland crew neck won't be too bulky to pull off indoors and can be dressed up for a more business casual appearance. As with the other sweater styles, as long as you have a sharp layer underneath, you should look great in most workplace settings.

Browse our sweaters to find your next look

Hansen's Clothing has selected a collection of beautiful men's sweaters from brands trusted for their exceptional quality. Our collection features Peter Millar, Pendleton, Harley of Scotland, Peru Unlimited, St. Croix, Robert Talbott and Viyella.

The Hansen's Clothing name has been known to deliver men's clothing of only the highest quality for more than a century. From our roots as a men's clothing store dating back to 1898 in Spencer, Iowa, to a go-to online store for men across the country, customer care has remained a top priority.

We're proud to offer free shipping on all U.S. orders of $150 or more.

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