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Fashion & Finance: Classic and cool menswear for the office

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October 14, 2011

My recent honeymoon travels brought me to Ireland, among other fabulous places. While there, I was completely inspired by the gorgeous menswear I saw on the high streets and in luxury shops like Brown Thomas in Dublin, and even by the small-town country farmers we saw while riding the train cross-country.

Throughout gorgeous green Ireland, I spied thick and creamy wool sweaters with flecks of oatmeal, heather and gray; earthy tweed jackets with leather and suede patches; corduroy pants; and high Wellington rain boots.

Now, while some of these country inspired looks may not be appropriate for the office, I thought I’d pull together a few inspirational recommendations for men to try this fall and winter. Looking at some of the fall runway trends shown back in January, this season menswear designers have prescribed a fashion cocktail of tried-and-true conservative staple items tied with a bit of stylish flair and panache. Men can stand out with their apparel and accessories too, and make an impact on their clients and prospects.

Accessories

Hats, briefcases and bags: When I watch the TV show "Mad Men," I am absolutely in love with all of the clothes I see on each of the characters. To me, men’s work-wear in the 1960s just had an amazing air of elegance and style like no other era, and I am inspired by the sharp fedoras that men wore to and from the office, along with stylish briefcases held against snappy suits.

Here are a few "Mad Men" inspired looks that men can try out to and from the office, just to add a bit of personality and style to their look.

Hats

Dorfman Pacific STW14-GREY3 Large Stetson Plaid Fedora - Grey  – A new take on the classic fedora hat.

JF J.Ferrar Twill Fedora – Under $20!

Briefcases and bags

Brooks Brothers Tweed Briefcase – A classic fabric for fall.

Brooks Brothers Single Gusset Classic Briefcase – An amazing splurge that will stand the test of time and trend.

Marc by Marc Jacobs "Folksy" Large Square Saddle Bag – Love the gently weathered rich brown leather.

Apparel

Unique sweaters and vests: According to insider reports detailing last year’s retail sales, these items were big sellers last fall. Good news is, this season will offer shoppers even more styles and price points to choose from. Look for sweaters for men with distinctive details like leather and suede patches, stylish buttons and grommets, cozy cardigans, military inspired features, unusual knits and bright colors. I was just in my local H&M and saw a selection of stylish men’s sweaters that could be paired perfectly with a dress shirt and pant, perfect for weekday work-wear at the office. Check out some of my favorite picks:

H&M Sweater and H&M Cardigan – Both under $35.

Burberry Cashmere Sweater – A designer splurge, but so stylish!

Club Room Sweater Vest, Textured Fair Isle – Currently on sale!

Stealing the UK/Brooklyn style: Seems to me that many designers have been inspired by music and tech-geek hipsters along with the modern Englishman. In their fall and winter collections they have united nerdy looks with classic military details, pairing riding boots and jackets with bright unexpected colors like purple, shades of orange and green, along with the traditional plaids, knits and tweeds of fall. I saw a lot of this look throughout Ireland on both the streets of cities and throughout the country, and loved this unique modern style for men.

Rain coats: Just like Inspector Gadget, men can collect a closet full of stylish trench coats and rainwear for the fall season, which when pulled over a layered look can be stylish and functional with the changing weather. Paired along with a rich leather briefcase or satchel, the trench and rain coat style jackets are a staple item that will be able to be worn time and time again. Here are a few of my favorite looks this season:

Banana Republic Classic Belted Trench – Currently on sale!

Calvin Klein 'Alford' Coat – Love the button for show and the hidden zipper for ease!

Armani Collezioni Wool-Blend Hooded Trenchcoat – A bit better suited for colder weather rather than rain, but inspired by the classic trench silhouette.

Plaid: Seen throughout the years on many fall fashion runways, plaid will always be a classic choice for the season. Now, while a kilt as seen in “Braveheart” is likely not appropriate or allowed in your corporate dress code, men in the office can integrate this pattern trend into their work wardrobe in many different ways. Try a beautiful and colorful plaid scarf to accentuate a coat or fall jacket. You can also look for plaid details on dress shirt cuffs, collars or pockets and on sweaters, and even as the lining of your trench coat. Plaid is classic preppy and au courant!

Menswear can be beautiful and stylish instead of boring and drab in the office, and fall is one of the best seasons to explore new stores, designers, colors, fabrics and cuts to stand out as a successful accounting professional.

Emily Alexandria Burns is a State University of New York Fashion Institute of Technology graduate and started her career in New York City working for companies including Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni, Christian Dior and Jones Apparel Group. She is now e-marketing communications specialist for Freed Maxick & Battaglia CPAs in Buffalo, N.Y., and recently named the Association for Accounting Marketing's 2011 "Rookie of the Year." Follow her on Twitter @FreedMaxickPR or email her at emily.burns@freedmaxick.com.

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