Men's Fashion Basics - Part 16 - A Casual Round-Up

OK guys, one more article on what has gone before and then I promise we’re moving straight on to suits and other kinds of formal/work place related attire. But what I want you to do right now is cast your mind back to all the articles that have gone before or if it helps go back and read them now to refresh your memory. What I need you to do now is have a think about what kind of casual ‘person’ you are. It is great to have tips and advice at your fingertips but if you don’t know what kind of casual image you want to project, then you’ll just end up wearing all the clothes in your wardrobe as one big uncoordinated mess.

It’s completely fine being a ‘jeans and t-shirt’ guy or a ‘shirt and tie’ guy or even somewhere in-between. What matters is what style you feel most comfortable in and therefore allows you to ooze confidence in your outfit each time you leave the house. By following the men’s fashion basics article series and experimenting with different items each week, you should naturally now know your personal casual style. As I said, it’s fine wearing jeans a t-shirt but what will separate you from the masses is what kind of spin you put on it. For example, why not wear a cardigan over your t-shirts? Maybe in the summer evenings keep the cardigan neutral and have a brightly coloured Tee to through a bit of life into your standard attire. Or if you need to look a bit smarter, maybe for a night out or date, try throwing on a polo shirt with your jeans and blazer as well for a more formal look.

What follows are three look books for three major casual styles and a few other pieces you can add to the look to add a unique and individual spin as well:

Lookbook 1

The Jeans and T-Shirt Guy

Tees:

Ecru and Blue Crew Neck T-ShirtWhite Basic V-Neck T-ShirtBlue Contrast Crew Neck T-Shirt

Jeans:

Dark Blue Ringspun Tapered Slim JeansBlack Selvedge Skinny JeansPEOPLES MARKET DARK GREY JEAN

Additional
Jackets:

Black Leather Look Bomber JacketAcid Wash Denim Western JacketBlack Cotton Baseball Jacket

Cardigans:

Navy Utility Pocket CardiganBLACK WITH GREY PLACKET CARDICream Utility Shawl Neck Knitted Cardigan

Polo Shirts:

White Tipped Placket PoloLighT GREY TIPPED POLO T-SHIRTDEXTER WONG LAURENT POLO TEE

As always the key here is going to be fit and personal preference. As long as you get the right proportions for your jeans and your t-shirts then you can build absolutely anything you want around it. The way to help the look be more original and stylish is to always be trying to add pops of colour. So if your jeans are in a neutral colour like the ones above, why not go for a coloured t-shirt. Or if both the jeans and tee are in neutral tones try some eye catching footwear or a coloured outer layer like a cardigan or jumper.

When trying to smarten up this look, reach for a polo shirt or a cardigan with your jeans or a blazer over your t-shirt. You can still wear trainers when going for a smart casual outfit but try to keep a pair of adult trainers in your wardrobe for such an occasion – that’s right I’m talking Adidas Stan Smiths or Samba’s again! I thought you guys would’ve got the hint already…

Lookbook 2

Shirt and Tie Man

Shirts:

White 100% Cotton ShirtBlue And White Stripe Tailored Fit Shirt With TieSky Blue Royal Oxford Premium Shirt

Ties:

Black Knitted TieASOS Stripe TieASOS Slim Tie

Black Acid Wash Check Slim TieNavy and Burgundy Striped TieBlue Check Square End Tie

Bottom Half:

Navy Coated ChinosStone Cotton Carrot ChinosGrey Slim Chino Trousers

Additions

Full Circle Battle Biker Leather JacketNAVY CRISP SKINNY FIT JACKETCream Shawl Neck Jumper

Grey Utility Shawl Neck Knitted CardiganBlack/White Gingham Bow Tie

The main theme behind this look is staying casual while still looking smarter than your average bear. That’s why the shirts are either solid or striped colours and the jeans are being replaced with chinos. Think of them as your more relaxed, casual young brother of your suit trousers. The tie isn’t must but will definitely help lift the look above others out there (see my article on ties for more hints on how to wear them). But in the end it will all come down to the details. This is still a casual look so loosen that tie, lose a few top buttons and roll up those sleeves! Never be more than half tucked in and for the hotter months cuff those chinos like crazy.

If you do want to add little twists to this otherwise regimented look, try a mini-check gingham shirt with a bow-tie (a la Doctor Who) and the above blazer. Or why not try the leather jacket with the white shirt and the plaid tie? For night out add the jumper or the cardigan, they’ve both been picked because of their thicker knit and interesting detailing and will work great with any shirt and tie combination. If you really feel the need to bring jeans in keep them dark, raw and well fitting. Always wear them with a belt that matches your shoes… which should always be lace up shoes (especially Brogues), loafers or for casual days pick up some Desert boots.

Lookbook 3

The Middle Man

Grey Basic Crew Neck T-ShirtNavy Basic Grandad Neck T-ShirtGreen Twill Check Shirt

ASOS Check ShirtASOS Flannel Check ShirtBlack Leather Look Bomber Jacket

Black Knitted TieASOS Long MacGrey Faded Denim Shirt

White Check Scarf

So finally the man who wants the best of both worlds! Here you can wear either jeans, chinos or whatever with this looks just so long as they stay classic, neutral and fitted. The key is what you wear up top. I’ve gone for a basic tee or long sleeve in a neutral colour with an interesting plaid shirt over the top. Leave the top and bottom buttons undone to show a bit of the layering underneath and your away. Increase the layers with the leather jacket, the Mac or the scarf too.
Alternatively, keep the shirt in a solid colour like black, grey or navy and try a printed t-shirt underneath. But try and keep more buttons open to show off the design. Have your pick of shoes but I really recommend going for some military boots because they show confidence and go so great with these clothes. Just make sure they suit the occasion that calls for them. Finally, I left the denim shirt in there because they are getting really popular and will be everywhere this coming summer but they’re just too formal for the casual man and too relaxed for the formal guy as well. It would go perfect with this look – just remember to check out the lookbook dedicated to it to get it just right. Avoid the denim suit at all costs!

So there you have it guys, three looks that pull together all the articles that we’ve covered so far. Feel free to go back over them though because there are plenty of other great ideas in them, as well on how to piece clothes together. Maybe by reading through this article, you have figured out exactly which of the above you are and now want to add some unique spins to the outfits? Again, have a re-read and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of cool twists to add.

The real key is to stick to what you decide and really develop your own personal style. If you turn up to the pub in jeans and t-shirt one day and then in chinos, shirt, Brogues and blazer the next it’ll seem like you can’t decide on who you are. Know what makes you feel comfortable, know what your look is and know what else you can add to it to take it to the next level. Then start thinking about what fashion-forward and on-trend one-off pieces you can incorporate each season just to keep yourself ahead of the game.

Until next week guys,
Matt Allinson