How To Dress Business Comfortable: 5 Tips To Nailing A Stylish And Sharp (Yet Cozy) Look

by Barron Cuadro  |  in Style Tips

Thanks to Collars & Co. for partnering with us on this article.

Business comfortable is a term that’s used more and more nowadays. I’ve even seen it on TikTok, with Gen Z leading the way. But what exactly is business comfortable, and how does it apply to us older—millennial, Gen X, etc.—men?

With today’s work attire landscape, and the way casual and dressed up looks can often blend together, where exactly does “business comfortable” fall? And most importantly, can you really dress this way at work?

Short answer: YES, but let’s get into the specifics about business comfortable in this article! Keep on reading for all the deets.


So, what exactly is “Business Comfortable” attire?

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“Business comfortable” is a dress code prioritizing personal comfort and well-being without sacrificing an overall professional look. It’s a relatively new (and newly accepted) dress code that goes beyond traditional Business Casual attire.

Expectations around office attire have changed in industries across the country. During the pandemic, we’ve grown accustomed to the comfort of working from home in joggers and T-shirts, only throwing on a button-up shirt and jacket for Zoom meetings.

Comfortable attire that you can still do business in has proven to have staying power, years after the pandemic. And with the transition to remote work and hybrid office models, we’re looking for ways to maintain that level of comfort while still looking polished and presentable. 

Business Casual vs Business Professional vs Business Comfortable… What’s The Difference?

In contrast to business casual or business professional attire, business comfortable offers more flexibility and puts a greater emphasis on personal comfort. While business casual may still require dress shoes and a tucked-in shirt, “business comfortable” allows for more relaxed footwear options and untucked, yet polished, tops.

Similarly, business professional attire often includes suits and ties. Business comfortable can include similar items, but swapped out those formal elements for more laid-back alternatives like soft knit sport coats instead of traditional blazers, tailored jeans or joggers for trousers, and polo shirts and T-shirts for button-up dress shirts.

So “How do you dress business comfortable?” is probably your next question. Am I right? Keep reading for a few helpful tips.

How To Dress Business Comfortable: 5 Tips To Make Sure You Get It Right

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Business comfortable is the new era of business casual. Yes, sometimes you’ll have to step it up in terms of formality (we cover this in the next section, so keep reading), but for the most part, a business comfortable look works just fine most days.

Tip #1: Choose Soft, Breathable Fabrics You Can Move In

Embrace the comfort factor by opting for clothing made from soft, breathable materials that allow for easy movement throughout the day. Think about how the fabric feels against your skin and how it drapes on your body.

The Dress Collar Polo from Collars & Co. is a great example of the ideal business comfortable shirt, and even Business Casual, tbh. They look like dress shirts when layered underneath a jacket or sweater because of the sharp collar, but you get to enjoy the comfort of a stretchy polo on the body. (More on these in a minute.)

When selecting items for your “business comfortable” wardrobe, look for natural or performance fabrics that offer breathability and stretch, such as cotton, linen, or Tencel blends.

For example, choose well-fitting chinos and jeans made from a cotton blend featuring at least 2% stretch (if not more). Wear a knit sport coat instead of a traditional wool blazer. Consider straight fit or relaxed fit pants instead of slim or skinny.

These fits and fabrics not only provide comfort but also maintain a polished appearance for the office.

Tip #1b: Get The Dress Shirt Look Without Wearing One

Look, it’s no surprise that traditional dress shirts are uncomfortable.

They’re a pain to wear with sweaters (the sleeves and body get all bunched up underneath). And without a tie, it’s easy for your dress shirt collar to flop or slip under your sweater or jacket.

Not to mention, they’re way too dressy for the business comfortable aesthetic.

That’s where Collars & Co.’s Dress Collar Polo comes in. You get the look of a crisp collar dress shirt, but with the body of a short sleeve polo. We’re talking wrinkle-resistant, breathable, 4-way stretch material that’s perfectly comfortable on its own, or under a sweater, sport coat, or jacket.

They’re also great when traveling for business—you’ll look sharp on the plane and when you get to your destination, not a wrinkle or floppy collar in sight (not on you, at least).

Forbes Magazine says Collars & Co. is changing the men’s shirting industry. Mark Cuban invested a cool million in the brand on Shark Tank. That, plus thousands of orders and reviews can’t be wrong!

Ready to grab your own dress collar polo? Use code GENT for a special limited time discount off your Collars & Co. order.

Tip #2: Comfortable, Stylish Footwear Is Key

Shoes can make or break the outfit, so it’s important to align your footwear with your overall look. Luckily, with a business comfortable dress code, you have many more options that combine both style and comfort.

A leather loafer is probably the most “dressy” you’ll need to go. A good way to maintain that level of dressiness while still coming off more casual is to find a loafer with a cushy Vibram sole or a chunkier lug sole. And if you want to stick to the more polished end of the business comfortable spectrum, you can go with standard penny loafers or Venetian leather loafers.

Another option is the (somewhat standard) minimalist tennis sneaker silhouette made famous by brands like Common Projects, Koio, Greats, etc. A pair of high-quality leather sneakers can provide ample support, keep you comfortable, and still look sophisticated and well put-together.

Tip #3: Athleisure’s Okay If You Do It This Way

Here’s where it may get a little dicey, and you’ll have to be observant and pay attention to what’s acceptable and what isn’t in your office.

But you can incorporate a few upscale athleisure items into your business comfortable wardrobe, provided they fit well. When done in the right mix (meaning not a full sweatsuit), you’ll achieve a stylish yet relaxed look that can work really well in a workplace that’s business comfortable-friendly.

Some examples of what I’m thinking:

  • Tailored joggers made from refined fabrics.
  • Knit blazers that offer the appearance of a traditional blazer but with added stretch and softness.
  • Ribbed hem polos that hit at the hip like a sweater (and are perfect under that knit blazer).
  • Chore coats instead of sport coats.
  • Crisp T-shirts with a substantial, well-draped fabric.

When choosing athleisure or athleisure-adjacent items, make sure they’re well-fitting and made from high-quality materials to maintain that professional aesthetic (while maximizing comfort, of course).

Tip #4: Layer with Purpose

Two great benefits to layering: 1) Your outfit is more interesting and visually appealing (when done right, of course), and 2) It’s much easier to regulate your body temp throughout the day.

closeup of man wearing a green vest and grey peacoat
Winter Layering: Grey T-shirt under a shawl collar sweater under a quilted vest under a wool peacoat

So consider adding versatile layers like soft merino wool sweaters, simple crew neck sweatshirts, lightweight cardigans, chore coats and overshirts, or casual blazers made from stretchy fabrics. These will provide the warmth you need as well as extra style and flavor to that day’s look. The bonus, of course, is that you can take them off if you get too warm.

Related: How To Layer Clothes For Winter (Stay Warm And Look Sharp)

By layering strategically with both style and comfort in mind, you’ll ensure that you stay comfortable and look cool in any office setting.

Tip #5: Fit and Functionality Are Your Friends

Ensure your business comfortable attire fits well and offers practical features built in, such as substantial pockets, wrinkle-resistant fabrics, or dressy elements that give you just a bit of formal edge. This helps create the functional, practical, polished look you’re going for.

The French Blue english spread dress collar polo

Collars & Co’s polo is the perfect example of a functional, comfortable item with a dressy element that matters most: A crisp collar! Definitely worth having in your business comfortable / business casual arsenal.

Also pay attention to the fit of your clothing. You want to wear items that are neither too tight nor too loose. Gone are the days of all slim everything. Choose jeans and chinos that are a bit looser with a slight stretch for that added comfort.

What does “a bit looser” mean?

Rule of thumb: If you typically buy “skinny fit” jeans, try that same brand’s “slim fit” model. If you normally wear slim fit, try a straight leg fit. You’re basically moving up one

Your shirts need to have enough room for movement without appearing baggy. It’s a fine line, but not too tough to achieve.

Roomy, but not too baggy. Huh?

Another quick rule of thumb: Make sure you can still pull your shirt away from your body while you’re sitting down. If you can’t, or if the buttons look like they’re about to fly out of their buttonholes, your shirt is too tight.

testing how your shirt fits while sitting down
Test the fit of your shirt by sitting down. You should be able to pull it away from your body easily

By prioritizing fit and functionality, you’ll create a “business comfortable” wardrobe that seamlessly combines style, comfort, and practicality.

Keep This In Mind If You’re Dressing Business Comfortable

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So you probably understand this by now: Wearing what works for the office doesn’t have to mean uncomfortable or restricting. But here’s the thing, it also can’t be unkempt or sloppy. You want to be comfy, but not too comfy.

Think of business comfortable as a blending of your work and after-work / weekend wardrobes. Another version of the high / low look. Something you can wear to the office, but also works when running errands on a Saturday.

  • Pajama pants? No.
  • Jeans are fine, but ripped and torn jeans? No.
  • Flip flops or slides? If you work as a lifeguard, sure. If you’re in an office, then no.
  • T-shirts? It depends. You’re safe with well fitting plain Ts—no graphics, and in a menswear neutral color
  • The beat up boat shoes you wear around the yard? No. The 15-year-old Js you play weekend pick-up games in? Also no.
  • Sportswear: Again, it depends. Overly baggy? I’d pass. Smart, sharp sportswear? Joggers that look as tailored as creased trousers? For business comfortable, of course.

Two Important Things to Consider

Knowing how to put together a business comfortable outfit takes a bit of skill and brain usage.

You have to know what the baseline acceptable mode of dress is for your office, and your industry in general. And then from there, you can deviate based on what’s acceptable at the office and what you have planned that day.

For example, if you’re doing desk work at the office all day, it’s okay to go the more comfortable casual route. But if you have client-facing meetings that require a bit more professionalism, you can lean towards the more business casual / business formal route.

Make sense?

In general, you have to use your best judgment.

Again it’s about knowing the baseline for what’s acceptable for 1) your office and 2) your industry, and then making decisions based on that.

Style Inspiration for Business Comfortable Attire

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If you’re starting to (or already have started to) return to the office part-time, you might be seeking ways to maintain the comfort you’ve grown accustomed to while working from home during the pandemic.

All the more reason to really embrace the “business comfortable” dress code and find inspiration from various places to create a wardrobe that combines great style and stealthy comfort, helping you feel at ease and look polished in the workplace.

A Few Business Comfortable Outfit Examples for Different Job Roles

Creative / Tech Industry: If you’re a creative or work in tech, one easy outfit is to pair tailored joggers with a high-quality, soft merino wool sweater and sleek loafers. You have the most leeway in these types of industries.

Finance / Law: In more conservative settings like finance or law, opt for well-fitting chinos, a fine knit button up dress shirt made from a breathable fabric, and a knit blazer. Warmer weather? Swap the long sleeve button up with a Collars & Co. dress polo.

HR / Admin: When you’re responsible for running the biz behind the scenes, try a pair of denim, a solid T with a chunky cardigan, or a cotton polo with a chore coat or overshirt. Finally, finish off the look with a pair of leather sneakers or lace-up boots.

The key is to adapt your outfit choices to your specific industry and role (and your companies’ rules of dress) while prioritizing comfort and style.

Draw Inspiration From Style Icons, Colleagues, and Online Resources

Look to style icons like David Beckham or Ryan Reynolds, who often master the balance between polished and comfortable attire. I mean, have you seen Ryan’s Mint Mobile commercial outfits? That’s business comfortable, if I’ve ever seen it.

ryan reynolds wearing business comfortable outfits
Ryan Reynolds in a field, Ryan Reynolds on a sound stage, both great Business Comfortable looks

Observe colleagues who excel at the “business comfortable” dress code and take note of their clothing choices, fit, and styling techniques. Sometimes the best way to learn is to imitate and copy what you like from their outfits, and simply ignore the rest. Give it a try and if you do it enough times, you’ll have a style that’s your very own.

Don’t forget to browse online resources like fashion blogs (like Effortless Gent, of course), Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube tutorials for outfit ideas and tips that cater to the “business comfortable” aesthetic.

Adapting Your Personal Style to a Business Comfortable Dress Code

Incorporate your favorite colors, patterns, or statement pieces into your “business comfortable” outfits to showcase your personality.

For example, you might choose a camp collar shirt with a subtle paisley pattern or a pair of vibrant socks as a subtle way to express your personal style. Really, it’s all about balancing comfort, individuality, and professionalism, that ensures your attire remains suitable for your workplace environment.

Now You Can Look Professional AND Comfortable

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So now you know the deal with “business comfortable”—it’s a (somewhat new) dress code that allows you to look sharp while still feeling super comfy. The best of both worlds.

To nail this style, pick clothes made from soft, breathable materials and make sure they fit just right. Keep an eye on stylish celebs, your well-dressed coworkers, and the internet to get fashion inspo and see how other guys are doing it, and once you’re comfortable with it, don’t be afraid to put your own spin on it.

(But of course, always within the realm of what’s considered appropriate (in this post-Covid era) for your industry and your specific workplace.)

Oh, and definitely treat yourself to some cozy, good-looking shoes—you’ll thank me later. Play around with layering too, so you can stay comfy all day long. Trust me, you’ll rock the “business comfortable” look and feel awesome doing it.

Got any other questions about the business comfortable dress code? DM me on Insta.

Thanks to Collars & Co. for partnering with us on this article. We were also provided shirts to check out, but are under no obligation to positively review them. You can read more about our sponsorship policy here.