When it comes to going from the office to a night out on the town, your typical trouser suit hardly translates into evening wear. This is especially true if you work at a company with a strict dress code, meaning that you and your co-workers are most likely working in blue, gray, or perhaps black suits paired with light dress shirts and formal shoes.

But if you show up at the bar dressed like that, everyone is going to assume you’re some junior analyst.

Evening dress should be relaxed. As far as I’m concerned, the ideal outfit for after-work drinks is a pair of slim-fit jeans with a tailored jacket and dress shoes. But if you have to transition from your work suit to your booze suit in a rush, there are a few things you can do to make the evolution effortless and attractive.


Dial Down Your Office Attire

Essentially, the key to shifting from work to evening involves using aspects of your on-the-job attire in ways that are after-hours appropriate. Use these three tips for an easy transition:

Invest in the right attire. Start by owning a well-tailored, slim-fit suit. In terms of color, any shade of blue, especially navy, is a good option, but you can also go with dark gray. Some people like black suits because they indicate sophistication, but a black suit can also come off as overly authoritative. Instead of black, consider a charcoal gray. A khaki suit isn’t a bad idea, either, as the jacket makes for an effortless transition into evening wear.

Make small changes. Once you’re off work, changing your look is simply a matter of slipping into a pair of dark jeans and trading out your dress shirt for a polo. Or put on a seasonless plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and ditch the jacket altogether. Here are a few other small tweaks you can incorporate:

  • Carry a pair of jeans in your briefcase to change into at the end of the workday.
  • Untuck your polo shirt for a casual, put-together look.
  • Get rid of your pocket square by simply folding it down into your breast pocket.
  • Don’t worry about your shoes — it’s acceptable to wear wingtips with jeans.

Spice it up. If you don’t have time to change out of your suit, remember to at least lose the tie and undo two buttons once it’s party time. Put on a pair of loafers, and don’t wear socks. If you’re feeling adventurous, try throwing on a ribbon belt, but don’t go too crazy. You should avoid shiny fabrics at all costs. Rather, wear wool suits such as merino, cashmere, and angora for a timeless, year-round look.

Bottom line: Once the day is done, it’s time to relax. Loosen that tie, unbutton that collar, and roll up your sleeves. You still want to look stylish and professional, but you also want your appearance to reflect your mood: laid back and ready to have a good time.

From there, what you do with the night is up to you.