10 Work Wardrobe Upgrades Every Man Can Make In 2024

Image Credit: Pini Parma

What is appropriate to wear to work is always evolving. Gone are the days of office attire solely consisting of staid grey suits, tired white shirts and patterned ties. Today, the work wardrobe has loosened up, with many companies accepting soft polo shirts in place of starched collars, and lightweight jackets and jeans in place of a suit. Some workplaces have done away with dress codes altogether. This means your work wardrobe should be updated too.

Whether you work in a corporate or more creative office, what you wear to work can be upgraded in a number of ways. There are simple things like buying a better-fitting jacket or paying more attention to colour, but you can also level up in more subtle ways, like upgrading your daily bag or going for a softer, more luxurious fabric for your knitwear.

If you want to start out-dressing your colleagues, or you simply need to sharpen up your 9-5 outfits, here are eleven ways to update your work wardrobe.

Merino/Cashmere Rollneck

The virtues of luxurious materials like merino wool or cashmere are immediately apparent when you feel them against your skin. Cashmere, especially, is one of the softest fabrics around; pick up a rollneck made from it and you won’t want to take it off, even after a long day.

If cashmere is outside your salary range, go for merino wool. Soft and comfortable, merino is ideal for thin, smart rollnecks you can wear under blazers. It also naturally regulates body temperature, so you won’t feel the heat, no matter how hard you’re grafting.

Unstructured Summer Blazer

You won’t regret dividing your tailoring into summer and winter collections. Summer blazers and suits are typically made from lightweight fabrics like linen or cotton, while winter ones are cut from heavier wool or corduroy.

For the former, an unstructured blazer is among the most versatile pieces of tailoring around. Go for one in navy cotton and you can wear it with everything, from jeans through to suit trousers, all year round.

Patterned Blazer

Forget gaudy patterned blazers, we’re aiming for understated here. Think seersucker blazers with discreet stripes, or herringbone wool blazers cut from soft, breathable fibres.

Go for one of these and you’ll instantly upgrade your office attire, with the fabric’s pattern adding a tactile feel and visual interest to office-appropriate separates.

Textured Winter Suit

The same principle applies to your winter tailoring rotation. Get rid of any old boring, flat navy or grey suits. Instead, level up your cold-weather business attire with a heavy flannel suit, or something with a faint check or chalkstripe.

Dressing in the colder months is fun precisely because of these textural opportunities. Heavier fabrics typically come with far more texture than lighter-weight summer ones, so keep this in mind next time you’re looking for a warm winter two-piece.

Briefcase 2.0

Unless you want to look like a Victorian city worker, avoid hardshell briefcases entirely. Instead, seek out softer, hybrid styles, which combine all the practicality of the classic briefcase but update it using durable canvas and messenger bag detailing.

These softer, more functional and far more stylish bags are ideal for carrying laptops, documents and even personal items like phones and wallets thanks to their numerous zipped pockets. A little utilitarian, yet sophisticated and sharp, the briefcase 2.0 is the only bag you need during the working week.

Quality Pen

You might not ever need a quality pen. Chances are you spend 99% of your time typing out emails and texts rather than writing anything down. And for the occasions that do call for the written word, you would get by just fine with a simple plastic ballpoint.

But then you’ll miss out on the pleasures of writing with a beautifully crafted tool that’s designed to last a lifetime. Investing in a quality pen, made from aluminium, brass or sterling silver, is a simple upgrade that will bring you pleasure every time you use it. It’s the simple things in life.

Goodyear-Welted Shoes

We’ve waxed lyrical about the benefits of Goodyear-welted shoes before. They are significantly better than fused-soled (aka ‘glued’) shoes, with this method of manufacture signifying quality and a handmade approach to shoemaking.

Yet from a practical standpoint, it also means they’re repairable. A Goodyear welt can be untacked, so when you’ve worn through the sole you can have it replaced, rather than having to buy an entirely new pair, guaranteeing a high ROI on your initial investment.

Textured Tie

With the relaxation of dress codes, many blue chip companies have now ditched the tie. But for those offices and professions that still require one, investing in a small selection of stylish, minimal designs is a worthwhile pursuit.

One easy way of separating yourself from the shiny silk tie brigade is to opt for a textured tie. Whether it’s wool, seersucker, linen or just knitted silk, picking a design in an unconventional fabric will bring personality and interest to what is typically considered a stuffy signifier of formality while staying on the right side of professional.

Camel Overcoat

When it comes to a winter coat, navy, black and grey are foolproof choices. But for something a little jazzier, yet no less classic, consider camel.

A preppy staple beloved by brands such as Ralph Lauren and AMI, a camel overcoat will set you apart from a sea of dark outerwear. It looks particularly great with black, blue and earthy tones layered underneath.

Canvas Lightweight Jacket

A cropped canvas or waxed cotton jacket is a surprisingly good choice for business-casual office wear. More laid back than a blazer, it’ll add a utilitarian feel to chinos and Oxford shirts, but it can also be dressed up with a rollneck and tailored trousers for a sharper, more sophisticated look.

Charlie Thomas

Charlie Thomas is a writer and photographer, contributing to publications including The Independent, The Times, The Rake and Black + White Photography magazine. His photography has been exhibited by Photofusion, Central Saint Martins and Photo Co-Op.