Barkers Ask the panel style advice

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Unless the invite explicitly states casual or ‘smart casual’, leave the jeans at home. A lot of kiwi guys think they can get away with wearing jeans to a wedding as long as they have a shirt and dress shoes, but we would definitely advise against this. At the bare minimum go with a dress pant, dress shirt and dress shoe. Grey is a good choice for the dress pant, as black has the potential to encroach on the groom if he is in a tux. A dress shirt is usually very simple – no button up sleeves for example. Be sure to match your belt colour with your shoe colour.
A summer wedding often has a slightly more informal feel to it, particularly if it is during the day. Opt for a navy or light grey suit pant/suit, and pair it with a pastel shirt and brown brogues. A grey pant could be paired with a navy blazer and a white or pastel shirt. We would advise brown shoes/belt over black to avoid feeling overdressed in 26 degree temperatures. Short sleeve shirts should be left for the BBQ the next day.
This is totally up to you – these days’ groomsmen are dressed in anything from tuxedos to dress pants and shirts. However, we would recommend that as the groom you always make your look slightly more formal than that of your groomsmen. If you are wearing a black suit, try putting them in charcoal. If you’re all in charcoal – you could be the only one wearing a tie or a pocket scarf for example. We would recommend you opt for matching shoe colours across the board.
As the groom, you may have minimal input into what you’re wearing. However, if you do get a say, our advice would be “It’s all the details”. Make your outfit that extra bit special by adding a tie pin, pocket scarf or cufflinks. Be sure to match your belt to your shoes, which incidentally should be in mint condition.


Better safe than sorry in these situations. We would always suggest a suit, shirt and tie in a corporate work environment. However, feel free to bring some style into your work outfitting with knitted ties, patterned dress socks, or a brown brogue in place of the classic black oxford. In winter, layer up your look with a trench and scarf overtop of a suit, or a fine merino underneath your suit jacket.
It really is a matter of opinion, but black suits are often thought to be a bit formal for day time wear. We would typically suggest dark grey as your day time black, and to save the black for evening events. However, if you do have a black suit you are wanting to utilise in the office, you could always dress it down a bit by opting for a white shirt with a spread collar and either no tie, or the more casual knitted tie. Another good way to get more wear out of a black suit is to mix it up. A black suit jacket looks great paired with a white shirt and a lighter grey dress pant, or depending on how strict your office dress code is you could pair the jacket with a pair of chinos in say a camel. A black dress boot is always a great way to add a more casual element to a suit, while still being acceptable for almost any occasion.
Think beyond shirt and jeans in this situation. Try a chino with a dress shirt and a blazer, or pair a blazer with your jeans. A dress pant with a contrasting blazer is also a great look – navy and grey works well. In the colder months layer a merino over your shirt, or try a merino cardi in place of a blazer. Peacoats and trench coats are essentials when it comes to outerwear.
Unless your office is a casual one, we would suggest no. Short sleeved shirts should be strictly paired with jeans or chinos, so if your job requires dress pants, we would advise a long sleeve dress shirt.
We would advise you err on the side of caution when it comes to casual Friday – it is still a professional environment. Try and retain some element of your weekday work-wear, a brogue paired with jeans and a shirt, a dress shirt with your chinos, or a blazer with your Converse. Leave the jandals, sweatshirts and t-shirts for the weekend.
Find out as much as you can about the place you are going to interview at, and emulate their dress code as much as possible. Even then, we recommend you dress up a little more i.e. if they tend to wear dress pants and dress shirts, add a tie or a blazer to your outfit. When it doubt, being overdressed is certainly preferable - a suit, dress shirt and tie can never hurt your chances. Make sure your shirt is ironed; your shoes are polished, and have a shave on the day.


This really comes down to personal preference – buttoned up gives a slightly more formal feel. If you are wearing a double button blazer, it is commonly practiced to do up the top button only.
Absolutely – a tie is not necessarily required whenever a suit is worn. Ties add a more formal touch to an outfit, but are not essential in many occasions. We would recommend a tie for a corporate office setting or an interview, but other than that feel free to go tieless, or with a knitted tie for a more casual look.
Here at Barkers we believe style is subjective – there a few hard and fast rules. However, for those requiring guidance our recommendations would be as follows: Navy suit – brown shoes, black suit – black shoes, grey suit – brown or black shoes, charcoal suit – brown or black shoes, brown suit – brown shoes, blue suit - brown shoes.
We would suggest no. Typically, dress pants will always be worn with a leather belt in a colour matching your footwear.
A suit jacket often serves the purpose of taking dress pant and shirt to the next level in formality. A suit jacket can be appropriate in corporate office environments, for interviews, at weddings, and at events with a ‘formal’ dress code. However, a jacket is also a great way to add style to your outfit - try a contrasting blazer for a fashion forward approach, such as a grey jacket with a black dress pant, or a navy blazer with a grey dress pant.
Short answer – no.
A peaked lapel is the most formal of all lapels – it is also the most difficult for a tailor to construct. The peaked lapel has twin peaks which point towards the shoulders and help provide definition to to the torso. A notched lapel is the most classic and common lapel on a suit. A notched lapel works well for any body type, and compliments men of all shapes and sizes.
It really is a matter of opinion, but black suits are often thought to be a bit formal for day time wear. We would typically suggest dark grey as your day time black, and to save the black for evening events. However, if you do have a black suit you are wanting to utilise in the office, you could always dress it down a bit by opting for a white shirt with a spread collar and either no tie, or the more casual knitted tie. Another good way to get more wear out of a black suit is to mix it up. A black suit jacket looks great paired with a white shirt and a lighter grey dress pant, or depending on how strict your office dress code is you could pair the jacket with a pair of chinos in say a camel. A black dress boot is always a great way to add a more casual element to a suit, while still being acceptable for almost any occasion.


Obviously this one is completely dependent on the event – but we have put together a few scenarios and outfit ideas to give you some inspiration on ways to impress. Most of all – make sure you’re wearing something you’re comfortable in, the night will be endless and intolerable if you don’t! Casual dinner/drinks: Chinos or tidy jeans and a shirt. Add a casual blazer or a knit cardi for cooler evenings. Pair this look with chucks or a suede/desert boot. Restaurant/fancier dinner: If it is a pretty high scale restaurant, we’d suggest a dress pant, shirt and a contrasting blazer. A full suit may be a little intimidating, whereas the contrast blazer delivers the formality in a fashion forward way. Try a brown shoe instead of black, or a black dress boot. For a mid-range restaurant swap the dress pant for a slick jean or chino. Outdoor activities (night markets/ice cream/outdoor cinema/evening walk): Stylish and practical is what you’re after. Pair some denim with a knit jumper or a sweatshirt and throw an anorak or canvas jacket over top. Go for a casual shoe such as a pair of Converse, or a desert/suede boot. If it’s extra cold throw on a scarf as well. The more you can offer her when temperatures drop the better. If you’re heading somewhere a little dressier, try a puffer vest over a shirt with a jean or chino.
While the shirt/jean combo is always a winning one, there are a few things to put a more style oriented spin on your outfit. Try a chino or a coloured jean, as opposed to classic denim, and consider adding a knitted tie or a casual blazer over your shirt. A desert boot or suede shoe make for good footwear options.
Race Days are a good chance to get wear out your suits. Take the excuse to dress up and go all out. Accessorize your suit with a knitted tie (the perfect day time/casual tie), a pocket square, a belt, and a pair of sunglasses. While black and brown footwear both work, brown is often nice for day time wear. For summer races a cotton blazer will team perfectly with a dress pant or a chino.
Semi–formal is a fairly common dress code in New Zealand. Often tidy jeans paired with a shirt and leather/suede footwear will do the trick. A coated jean or a chino is also a good option in this situation. Try adding a knitted tie or a casual blazer for a more stylish approach.
Too many men misinterpret the dress code formal. Wearing a dress shirt and shoes with your jeans will not cut it if your host has specifically request formal dress. At the very least dress pants and a shirt are required. A full suit and tie would also be acceptable, or a blazer with a contrasting dress pant. Be sure to wear a dress shirt – not a casual shirt. Typically dress shirts are plain – no button up sleeves for example. Make sure your shoes are polished and in good condition, and that they match your belt.


Nailing the basics is the key to putting together any good look. Just because it’s casual, it doesn’t mean it should be old or worn out or of poor quality. If you have a pair of high quality, well-fitting jeans and a pair of relatively new chucks then the foundations of a stylish casual wardrobe is there. Think crisp tees, polo shorts and jumpers for day wear, and casual shirts and cardis for evenings. A canvas jacket or an anorak is the perfect outwear choice for casual wear.
You can get away with almost anything a step above a track suit here. The key is to make sure everything is clean and in good condition. A solid pair of jeans with fresh Converse or a casual boot will save you in almost any situation. Polo shirts and short sleeve shirts a key for summer, and in winter a knit jumper will also hold you in good stead. Don't worry about being over-dressed, it's always preferable to look too good as opposed to too shabby.


Ties are typically reserved for more formal occasions – however, when in doubt of ‘how formal’ an occasion it, is of often safer to just add one. If you are really border line, opt for a knitted tie, a slightly more casual take on the traditional tie. We would always suggest a tie for: An occasion where ‘formal dress’ is requested on the invite. When you are getting married. In a formal office setting. In an interview.
It is true that a most people will judge you almost immediately on your footwear. Fortunately we believe a few decent pairs can cover you for almost any occasion. Every man should own a classic black oxford or black dress boot for formal occasions, a brown brogue (great for both dress and for casual), a desert/suede boot for informal occasions where style is required, and a pair of canvas/leather sneakers such as the Chuck Taylor for casual/weekend wear.
A leather dress belt should be worn anytime a dress pant is worn. While a belt is not required with chinos or jeans, details can really make an outfit. A simple canvas belt can add a great amount of style to a simple shirt/chino combo.
A French cuff requires the use of cufflinks, and is typically appropriate in more formal settings such as a wedding, interview, black tie, evening events, or a corporate office environment. A French cuff should only be paired with dress pants and dress shoes, as opposed to jeans or chinos.
There is pretty much just one rule when it comes to socks. Don’t get caught with your ankle showing. The one exception would be when wearing a boat shoe and a chino, otherwise – dress socks pulled up to full length should be worn at all times. We personally prefer a pattern at all times, but classic black is always a safe item to have in the wardrobe. Don’t be afraid to cuff your chinos and jeans to show an inch of your sock choice.
Sunglasses worn with formal wear are acceptable for Race Days, daytime/summer weddings and on your lunch break. However, refrain from wearing them past 5-6pm, and refrain from wearing them on your head when indoors/when the sun goes down.


When a dress pant is being worn you should always tuck your shirt in. Apart from this it really comes down to personal preference. Shirts and chinos, and shirts and jeans, either goes, it just depends on what kind of look you are going for – un-tucked is always going to look a little more relaxed, and tucked a little tidier. If you are going to tuck, we would recommend adding a belt to finish off the look.
The cuffing of jeans and chinos is a common look as of late, and one worth trying if you are keen to add a bit of style to a casual outfit. Simply fold the hem of your trousers 2-3 times, with a fold that is around an inch high. Aim to have around an inch of ankle showing, and be sure to have a dress sock worn underneath.
Jeans – Getting your jeans right is the key to almost all good outfits. Make sure your denim is crisp, well fitted and genuine. Raw indigo denim ticks all the boxes, and looks great with almost anything (plus you don’t have to wash it). Tees – every man should have at least one well-fitting, good quality t-shirt in grey, white and black. These will be the foundation of many a good casual outfit to come – whether it’s layered under an open shirt, a sweat, or worn alone. Chinos – A nice alternative to jeans, chinos pair with almost anything and are easily dressed up or down with anything from a tee to a dress shirt and blazer. Cuffed or not cuffed, we’d recommend owning a few pairs in multiple colour ways. A white shirt – this will see you through almost any occasion and is equally good paired with a suit, as it is with a pair of jeans. Soft wash shirts – These casual shirts will cover you spectacularly in any uncertain occasions - team them with a chino or jeans and they will take you from a lunch date, to the pub, to a night out. A suit – Popular to contrary belief the suit is NOT just reserved for the businessman. One carefully chosen suit can be broken up and utilised for multiple occasions. For example – a charcoal suit will provide a pair of dress pants for a wedding, a funeral, or for the office, and a blazer that can be paired with jeans or chinos for an on trend smart/casual look for nights out, the races, in the office or out on a date. The whole suit can be worn together for interviews, weddings and occasions where more formal dress is required. Merino knitwear – Merino knitwear is not only exceptionally warm, but retains its quality look over time, and layers fantastically. Wear it by itself with jeans on the weekend, or layer over shirts and under suit jackets. A trench or a peacoat – These styles are ideal in their ability to easily take the wearer from day to night. They can be thrown over anything from jeans to suits, and offer a timeless, classic sense of style.
The key to mixing prints is to not get caught up on things matching – numerous runway shows have proven that there really are no rules. The trick is to own the look and act like you know what you are doing (even if you don’t) To help we’ve put together some rough guidelines below: 1. Always wear one solid colour. We recommend using a plain suit as a base and then opting for interesting shirt and tie combinations. 2. Try matching different prints e.g. stripe shirt with polka dot/printed tie. 3. Less is more; aim for to mix one subtle print and one bold print so they complement one another. Fashion is about having fun– so don’t over think it. Feel free to improvise and remember to incorporate a bit of your own personality into each look.