This article was produced in partnership with Cole Haan.
A guy’s wardrobe has to cover all manner of situations, from sunup to sundown, and dressing for work is no exception. These days “heading to work” could mean just about anything: A day at the office, a full schedule of meetings, an evening networking event—it’s all on the table.
What’s today’s modern man to do? Build the perfect “ready for anything” work outfit from the ground up, starting with some go-to footwear: Cole Haan’s American Classics Longwing Oxford. The goal is to achieve a look that can carry you through from your commute to your cubicle and beyond. And the best way to do that? Focus on pieces you can mix and match with versatile style in mind, says Cassandra Sethi, a New York City-based stylist and image consultant at Next Level Wardrobe.
A chambray shirt works as an ideal starting point for today’s slightly more casual—but still polished and stylish—office looks, Sethi tells Men’s Journal. Depending on how you wear it, a chambray shirt hits both the rugged and refined ends of the style spectrum. For the office, wear it buttoned up, preferably untucked with a pair olive chinos.
In contrast to more standard, expected colors, the olive chinos and blue chambray combo comes together in a way that’s visually interesting, and it shows you’ve put some effort into your look. It’s never a bad idea to have a few tricks up your sleeve, footwear included (more on that in a moment).
It also acts as a perfect post-work top layer no matter what’s on your plate, be it a networking shindig or a company happy hour. Simply throw on a textured heathered grey tee underneath your chambray shirt (unbuttoned for a more casual look post-work) once 5 o’clock strikes.
“When it’s hot out, the last thing that you want to wear is layers, but sometimes you need them for work,” Sethi says. “The most important thing is to keep your layers light to keep you cool.”
Plus, layers give you options that you can tweak based on the scenario you’re stepping into. Confidence is key, of course, but so is being dressed appropriately, Sethi says.
“If you’re going to an after-work event that’s super casual, take off the layering piece and wear just your tee, pants, and shoes,” she says.
To pull together your chambray shirt, breezy tee, and classic olive chinos and make them office-appropriate, your footwear has to set the tone.
Cole Haan’s American Classics Longwing Oxford quite literally toes the line between office-ready and weekend-minded—think fresh and modern, not stuffy. The classic Dark Chocolate brown leather is richly crafted and dressy in appearance, but these shoes are anything but boring.
Modern shoes for the modern man? A pair designed with that goal in mind never fails.
The Longwing Oxford nods to classic dress shoes through a variety of considered accents, including a storm bead welt, brogue detailing, and textile heel detailing inspired by men’s suits. At the same time, Cole Haan’s trusted technology makes it easy to wear all day. With its responsive EVA midsole, the shoe offers springy comfort, and ruffed tread on the outsole keeps you upright even in slick conditions.
“These Oxfords are the right footwear to take you from day to night,” Sethi says.
A few key accessories will help you finish off your look in a way that’s sharp and precisely put together. One key consideration before you put on your shoes: Don’t forget the socks.
“Be sure to wear them with a no-show sock like Cole Haan’s Casual Cushion Sock Liner for a cool, more modern look,” Sethi says.
Keep your details on point—particularly if you’re picking up the tab at a company happy hour—with a Cole Haan leather wallet made from textured, eye-catching leather. It’s the kind of piece that only gets better with age, and one that’s sure to stand out as a marker of good taste.
When you start your outfit off with a tried-and-true classic like a chambray shirt, then pair it up with olive chinos and Cole Haan’s versatile American Classics Longwing Oxford, you’re setting yourself up for success, Sethi says.
“This outfit will work for guys of all body types and ages. No matter where you live, it’s timeless.”[Cole Haan American Classics Longwing Oxford in Dark Chocolate, $170; colehaan.com]
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!