Eric Jennings

VP Fashion Director MenswearHome & Beauty Saks Fifth Avenue

Desirables: Looking the Part

No matter where your office is, here are seven essentials of the ideal business wardrobe

In the third of a four-part installment, menswear, home, and beauty trend-spotter for Saks Fifth Avenue Eric Jennings provides his insight into styles that will elevate your fashion-based executive decisions.

Style for the Season

With so many big companies recently announcing they are updating their corporate dress codes to allow more casual attire, many of us are faced with rethinking our business wardrobe selections. So I asked myself, what does a C-Suite office even look like in 2016? For many of us, it certainly is a corner suite. But more often than not it’s a train, a plane, the back of a black car, an airport lounge, a café or even a couch at home. So how does a professional guy dress in this fast-paced 21st century work environment that runs 24/7? And without the old “suit-shirttie” uniform to fall back on, what do the new, more casual options even look like? It’s a daunting proposition for most guys. So I’ve narrowed it down to seven essentials. If you can master these, you’ll be in good shape. And even though you may not be wearing a suit as much, the suit is certainly not dead!

The Sporty Suit

What Is It?
Think of your suit as an extension of your sportswear. Look for modern fits with soft construction— light shoulder padding with half-lined or even unlined jackets. Fabrics should be sporty. Depending on your climate, think seasonal: cotton in the spring, linen in the summer, corduroy in the fall, and flannel in the winter. Remember, you are a top level executive; the all-year fabrics are for the entry-level boys!

Modern fit sporty suit

Gray Wool Taormina Chalkstripe Suit by Canali, available at Canali, Beverly Hills

What to Avoid
Sloppy, boxy cuts and pairing suit jackets with non-matching bottoms like jeans or chinos.

The Easy Layer

What Is It?
I call this the essential third piece. It’s what makes you look like a sophisticated pro. Basically, the “easy layer” is something versatile in a neutral color to wear over your shirt. Your best option Looking the Part is a lightweight sport coat made of knit or jersey fabric. You can also try vests, cardigan-jackets, and lightweight sweaters.

UNCLBOB Micro Check Linen Shirt by Ted Baker

The Dylan by AG Jeans, available at Neiman Marcus, Westfield Topanga

What to Avoid
Casual hoodies, loud prints, and boxy sport coats.

The Refined Top

What Is It?
A long- or short-sleeved button down shirt, fine gauge knit (such as a turtleneck) or dressy polo with a fit tailored to your body. The look should be polished. There is nothing worse than a blousy ill-fitting shirt with a collar that falls flat around the neck. In terms of patterns there are certainly more options than checks and stripes. Consider a textured solid or a micro-print pattern. And if you opt out of a tie, a pocket square looks great worn with your sport coat.

Knit Short-Sleeve Sportshirt by John Varvatos

Navy Geometric Shirt by Eton available at Eton, Santa Monica Place

What to Avoid
Cheap T-shirts, loud prints, and overly roomy dress shirts.

The Perfect Pant

What Is It?
When it comes to trousers, it’s all about the fit. You can wear almost any style as long as the fit is correct. Look for slim-fit chinos, 5 pocket twills or even dressy cargo pants. Denim can be ok too—as long as it’s in a dark, clean wash.


Trim Fit Cotton Blend Blazer by Z Zegna, available at Nordstrom, The Grove

What to Avoid
Old fashioned pleats, casual sweatpants, and ripped/distressed denim.

The Dress Shoe Hybrid

What Is It?
This type of shoe looks dressy on top but has a casual sole on the bottom so you get the best of both worlds. Look for shoes with classic uppers such as loafers, dressy boots or brogues in leather or suede with performance soles that hold up well and are comfortable to walk on city streets.

Chambray Collar Polo

Horsebit Leather Loafer by Gucci available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Beverly Hills

What to Avoid
Sandals, square-toed shoes, and anything overly-embellished or flashy.

The Clean Sneaker

What Is It?
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a clean, unembellished sneaker in classic neutral colors.

abc pant by Lululemon

Leather Lace-up Sneaker by Brunello Cucinelli available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Beverly Hills

What to Avoid
Gym shoes, bright colors, embellishment, and anything worn-out. No matter where your office is, here are seven essentials of the ideal business wardrobe

The Leather Bag 

What Is It?
This finishing touch for the professional man is a great leather bag. Look for a soft portfolio for your tablet or laptop, a dressy messenger bag for larger documents or even a business backpack if you want to free up both hands for your mobile devices! The key is that it be in leather with a well-defined shape.


Men’s Chocolate Leather Tote Bag by Bally, available at Bally, Beverly Hills

What to Avoid
Slouchy shapes, cheap materials, and gym bags.