Professional success often has a lot to do with your personal appearance. Fortunately, it’s easy to look put together, as long as you have all the basic essentials for a work wardrobe.
Read on to find out the 30 clothing items every working man needs to make a great impression in the office.
White Oxford Shirt
Every man needs a well-fitting white oxford shirt in his wardrobe. It can be dressed up or down and paired with just about anything you already own. The Nordstrom Men’s Shop Trim Fit Solid Oxford Dress Shirt features a button-down collar and rounded, adjustable button cuffs.
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Striped Dress Shirt
A blue-and-white striped dress shirt like the Bonobos Jetstter Slim Fit Stripe Stretch Dress Shirt is just as classic and versatile as a plain white oxford, but the pop of color gives it a little more visual interest.
Checkered Dress Shirt
Don’t shy away from patterns. A checkered dress shirt pairs nicely with work pants or dark jeans, and looks great under a blazer or sweater. The Nordstrom Men’s Shop Trim Fit Non-Iron Gingham Dress Shirt comes in a variety of classic colors and, as a bonus, is super easy to care for.
A polo shirt is a summertime essential and can be worn in more laid-back offices or on casual Fridays. The Lacoste Slim Fit Piqué Polo will never go out of style and instantly adds a touch of sportiness to your outfit.
Gray Crewneck Sweater
A crewneck sweater is the perfect layering piece for days when it’s not quite cold enough for a jacket. The Nordstrom Men’s Shop Cashmere Crewneck Sweater in grey driftwood is perfect to throw on over a dress shirt, and pairs well with just about any pants. Plus, it’s a great staple to have for weekend wear.
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Like a crewneck, a half-zip sweater is a layering piece that’s dressed up enough to wear to the office. The Nordstrom Men’s Shop Half Zip Cotton & Cashmere Pullover comes in a variety of colors that will complement whatever dress shirt you wear underneath.
If you work in an office that doesn’t require you to wear a suit, it’s a good idea to have a full-zip sweater to keep at your desk for days when the office air conditioning gets cranked a little too high. The BOSS Bacco Full Zip Wool Sweater Jacket is warm, yet lightweight.
Well Fitting Blazer
When you don’t want to wear a full suit, a well-fitting blazer is a safe option. Visually interesting yet classic, the Ted Baker London Herringbone Blazer will go with any dress shirt and pants combo.
If you’re meeting for an informal work lunch, a sport coat is a good alternative to a more formal blazer or suit jacket. The FLYNT Classic Fit Suede Trim Jersey Sport Coat is made from an Italian-wool blend and features suede elbow patches for added interest.
Black Flat Front Pants
A pair of classic black flat-front trousers, like the Nordstrom Men’s Shop Flat Front Wool Trousers, is a must-have for any working man. Pair with a dress shirt and a leather belt, and you have an outfit that automatically looks professional.
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When you want a pair of pants that’s more casual than flat-front trousers, but more dressed up than jeans, khaki-colored chinos are your best bet — especially during the warm months. Chinos, like the Nordstrom Men’s Shop Wrinkle Free Straight Leg Chinos in dark khaki, look great with both dress shirts and polos.
Dark Wash Jeans
A pair of dark-wash, slim-fit jeans like the AG Graduate Slim Straight Leg Jeans is appropriate to wear for informal business meetings and casual Fridays. Avoid ripped or baggy jeans, which are too informal for work settings.
Tailored Navy Suit
A navy suit looks less formal than a black suit, but is still formal enough for those work occasions when you really want to impress. The BOSS Huge/Genius Trim Fit Navy Wool Suit will make you look sharp at your next big meeting or presentation.
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Make sure to have at least one solid-colored tie in your wardrobe, whether it’s a classic black or navy, or a more colorful blush or teal. The Tie Bar Solid Silk Tie comes in eight colors, and automatically dresses up any work outfit.
If you’re wearing a solid-colored dress shirt, add more visual interest to your outfit with a patterned tie, like the Nordstrom Men’s Shop Basketweave Silk Tie.
A trench coat is as practical as it is fashionable, and a classic trench like the London Fog Trench Coat never goes out of style. Keep in mind that during cold seasons, your coat is often the first thing your co-workers and clients see, and it’s important to come off as put-together from the start.
A peacoat is an essential piece of outerwear for any working man: it looks sophisticated while keeping you nice and warm. The Michael Kors Wool Blend Double Breasted Peacoat fits the bill of a classic peacoat and features a broad collar and modern cut.
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Top off your winter work look with a cashmere scarf. The Nordstrom Men’s Shop Gingham Check Cashmere Scarf is more exciting than a solid-colored scarf, but its muted palette makes it go with anything. Plus, it’s made out of an ultra-soft cashmere.
A classic watch pulls an outfit together — and you look a lot more professional glancing at your wrist for the time rather than checking your phone. The BOSS Ultra Slim Leather Strap Watch is understated yet elegant, and at under $200, it’s a great price for a high-quality timepiece.
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Black Leather Dress Shoes
High-quality leather dress shoes are an investment, but they’ll last you a long time if you take proper care of them. A pair of black leather dress shoes, like the To Boot New York Brandon Cap Toe Oxford, goes great with black trousers or a black suit.
Brown Leather Dress Shoes
A black shoe won’t match with navy or brown pants, so you should have a pair of brown leather dress shoes, as well. The Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Cap Toe Oxford comes in a sophisticated, dark-chili shade and is highly rated.
Derby shoes are perfect for work days and events when dress shoes seem too formal — or for days when you want to wear something a little more comfortable. The Cole Haan Original Grand Plain Toe Derby offers an updated take on the classic derby shoe and is super comfortable for running around.
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For days when you don’t want to wear dress shoes, loafers are a good alternative. While casual, they are more dressed up than sneakers and especially handy to have for warm months. The Sperry Authentic Original Boat Shoe is ever-popular, thanks to its comfort and quality.
A sturdy and stylish messenger bag is useful for days when you have to carry a laptop or files to and from the office. The Vince Camuto Tolve Leather Messenger Bag is large enough to fit a laptop, and has lots of inner compartments to help keep your belongings organized.
Keep your cash and credit cards organized in a classic leather wallet, like the TUMI Delta ID Lock Shielded Slim Single Billfold. Pulling out a high-quality wallet at a lunch or dinner with business associates is much more impressive than pulling out wads of cash from your pocket.
Cuff links dress up any outfit, and can be used to add more personal flair to your work wardrobe. They are typically worn in formal business settings. A classic silver cuff link, like the Cathy’s Concept Monogram Oval Cuff Links, will complement any suit-and-tie ensemble.
Black Leather Belt
Unless you work in a very casual office, shirts should be worn tucked in, which means you should probably be wearing a belt. A classic black leather one, like the Nordstrom Men’s Shop Leather Belt, pairs well with any color pants and black shoes.
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Brown Leather Belt
A brown leather belt, such as the Johnston & Murphy Calfskin Belt, pairs well with navy and khaki pants. Keep in mind that your belt should match your shoes, so pair this one with brown dress shoes or loafers.
Make sure you have a high-quality umbrella for rainy days, because coming into the office sopping wet is simply not a good look. The ShedRain WindPro Auto Open & Close Umbrella is sure to keep you dry.
Ray-Ban Original Aviator 58mm Sunglasses never go out of style, and they’re great to have on hand for outdoor work lunches or meetings on the golf course.
All prices were accurate as of Dec. 1, 2017 and sourced from Nordstrom.com. Prices are subject to change at the retailers’ discretion.
About the Author
Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert.