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Fashion & Style


There isn’t always enough time to head home from work to change into function-appropriate attire. In this U.Mi-1’s fashion blog post, we describe how you can choose outfits that will suit you in both scenarios. We also discuss modern shifts in acceptable workwear, and the ‘Cool Biz’ movement’s influence on workwear in Japan and beyond.


• Modern work environments have become more welcoming of smart casual attire.
• The workwear attitude of tech industries has greatly influenced other industries in the 21st century.
• The ‘Cool Biz’ Movement in Japan disrupts conventional thought on clothing required to do efficient work.

The age-old dilemma of what to wear to work, when you know (or don’t) that you have a function right after. This dilemma is as relevant today, as it was when the first working man couldn’t decide what to wear after work, and went out with work clothes out of indecision.

What to Wear to Work: What After?

You don’t want to be the guy in a bar wearing a pinstripe suit while your polo and sneakers clad friends socialize with freedom. And when you’re not being self-conscious about getting alcohol on your expensive suit—and the cost of a trip to the dry-cleaner’s—you’re telling yourself how you’re never going to let this happen again. Easier said than done though.

Many men inadvertently become this guy. Your friends inform you about a spontaneous happy hour at a bar near the office, but your already at work. Or you have a dinner date, but you have an important business meeting before. Going home to change would’ve been the obvious solution, if the date wasn’t in 10 minutes, and your commute home didn’t take an hour.

It’s not always plausible to go home to change before an after-work function. After a few awkward over-formal situations, you learn to expect the unexpected. Fortunately, modern fashion provides options for outfits that can be what to wear to work, as well as what to wear after work.


Swapping and Swirching

Swapping individual pieces of an otherwise business formal look with one or two casual items is a neat way of maintaining business, or smart casual looks. A blazer, shirt, tailored trousers, and shoes, is a standard formal look. 

Switching one or two of these pieces e.g. a less formal shirt or plain t-shirt, patterned trousers, or trainers, will keep you sharp enough for work, and loose enough for a function. Eschewing the typical business blue and selecting suits with interesting colours, patterns or a looser silhouette is an option for suit lovers. Last U.Mi-1’s fashion collection can be a good source of inspiration.

Outfits Before and After Work

 Sweaters, cardigans, collarless shirts, chambray shirts, are other smart casual pieces that can be incorporated with formal wear. You could also lose the Oxfords for loafers, Chukkas, Chelsea boots or smart trainers.

Darker colors, and textures like suede are perfect for work, and as what to wear to a work dinner. The function you’re attending should also be considered when choosing outfits, as some people or places call for more, or less casual.

The connected world we live in has blurred the lines of work in general, the ability to Skype a colleague a continent away makes for more flexible work-times. Organizations are satisfied as long as you get the job done, whether from home, coffee shop, or office. This being so, the idea that work can only be done in business formal wear is becoming less prevalent.


Workwear: Casual Is The Solution

 Casual attitudes to workwear have been common in Silicon Valley before other places gradually began to follow suit. The current crop of young tech CEOs—Mark Zuckerberg et. al.—sporting hoodies and trainers to the offices of their billion dollar companies, greatly influenced the perceptions of ‘dressing for success’.

The finance industry was the previously beaming portrayal of success, but as tech became a bigger industry, the spotlight on workwear shifted its focus.

It’s difficult to see that focus changing soon, due to the tech-powered digital world of today. The fun in this age though, is that exponential change can happen in very short periods. Who knows what the future of workwear holds, for now, smart casual is taking a solid position.

What to Wear: Decide with Style

In conclusion, we hope we’ve been able to avail you of future worries about what to wear after work to your friend’s impromptu plans.

Choosing to mix trainers and a t-shirt with a blazer and tailored trousers will have you formal enough to work without disapproving glances, and casual enough to let off steam with friends or colleagues.

Dress down culture simplifies our choices for work and casual wear, making it easier to decide on the outfits appropriate enough for both scenarios.

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