Of course I mean the best you can afford. But if you find yourself wearing fewer sports coats and even fewer ties (don’t even get me started on the scarcity of suits these days…), you are going to have to abide by a couple of rules if you still want to look sharp. The first rule is buy the best. Find the best-fitting off-the-rack brands and combine them with the best tailoring you can afford. Or have it made. I like to have even my casual clothing made. The difference in the shirts alone will make you see the light.
Rigorous tailoring is required since there will be fewer distractions from the cut of your shirt and trousers. Please don’t resort to baggy shirts and ill-fitting khakis. Casual doesn’t mean sloppy. As a matter of fact, I’d skip the khakis unless they are part of a trimmer cut cotton suit. Leave them for the weekend.
That said, the brand that I find fits me best is J. Crew. They offer a trim cut, narrower leg in a lightweight cotton that is very cool wearing in the heat of Virginia summers.
For me, the most useful trouser I own is in grey. Grey flannel for winter, worsted and very lightweight wool for warmer months. Varying the shades of the fabric keeps things interesting. If I don’t have them made, I prefer the cut and fit of Incotex trousers, although many find the rise is too low.
I haven’t been as lucky with shirts. Hackett and Dunhill do well, and for polos, I’m beginning to prefer Sunspel’s Riviera polo shirts. I have yet to try their piqué version.
When you are business casual, opt for tailored fits to stay on the elegant side of the equation.