I’m not one to let things lie, especially if it is something that I know could have worked better. It is very often only the slightest changes that can mean the difference between the good and the not quite so good, and to leave said changes unmade would be a bit silly.
In this instance, I refer to a previous article – how to dress for a night on the town – which received mixed reviews and I said I would have another go at. I would like to point out however, that I still stand by the content of said article. I believe it was sound advice and represented the ideas I had perfectly, but I don’t feel I made the purpose clear enough, the intended demographic was not identified and I think we can all agree that it would have benefited from being called something like: How to dress for a student/chain club.
To try and overcome this issue, I have decided to break down the different angles that a night on the town might have and approach them one by one, ultimately creating what I hope is a comprehensive selection of ideas, relating to different scenarios, from which you can form your OWN outfits.
With that said, I think it is important to remember that this topic as a whole has an unbelievable number of variables; the town itself, the people around you, the people you are with, your chosen venue(s), the event, temperature, weather – almost anything else you can think will have an influence on what you could/should wear. What might be suitable in one place might not be suitable in another and it is important to approach things correctly.
But I cannot stress enough how this article is NOT the final word in what you should, could or might want to wear. It is nothing more than a suggestion, some inspiration. It is up to you, the reader, to put the ideas (which can be interpreted in different ways, improved upon and altered to fit) into practice.
So, what sort of things could you wear to look good down the pub?
In our quest to become the most sartorially elegant men possible, it is easy to lose our sense of proportion; there IS such a thing as being overdressed. Now I’m not talking about the obvious – a dinner suit in a bar is ridiculous – the point I want to focus on is how we can be tempted to make a drink down the local, watching the football with your mates or just having a bit of a razzle, a far more technical occasion than it actually is.
In such a straight forward scenario, standing out from the crowd isn’t always a good thing; sometimes it can be very bad. We talk about the importance of first impressions, and in your local pub being overdressed could make for some very negative assumptions. But neither do we have to be dressed up to the nines at every opportunity. Everyone should be able to relax their style when the situation allows; forgoing the blazer, shirt and shoes that we are all so fond of and opting for a look that is simpler.
Perhaps the only real variable you will have to face in this situation is the pub(s) you decide to go to. I will be covering the more upmarket venues in the next section, so let us assume you will be attending somewhere more low key, such as the pub at the end of your road for example.
In this instance you could take some cues from the first two looks in my ‘how to dress for a night on the town’ article. Dressing casually doesn’t immediately make you any less stylish than the next person and it is very unfair to say that wearing something as striped back as a pair of jeans, trainers and a Henley tee doesn’t work – it just shows you can relax.
For all of you gym goers out there, a knitted Henley top can be an excellent way of showing off your well earned body without resorting to an embarrassingly low cut scoop neck, but it can also work equally well for most body types. In my opinion, the Henley top is an under-used item and a great way to elevate a simple jeans and tee look to another level.
But if you still feel a little under dressed or too low key, a print shirt could very well be the way forward. By varying the impact of the print, stripe, colour or pattern based on the crowd and venue you can still show off your fashion consciousness, but cleverly avoid garnering the unwanted, overdressed burke status.
So before we start, I have collated a number of recent lookbook images to provide you with some inspiration as to how you can interpret the looks and ideas I have set-out below. You don’t have to follow my outfits or advice to the letter; small adjustments in colour, cut and individual garments can provide a slightly more relaxed or refined look, which will be dependant on scenario:
Choose your fit carefully and keep everything slim but not tight (especially if you are well built). Wear slim jeans (black, indigo or grey) and clean white trainers and you have a considered but contextually appropriate outfit, brought together for minimal cost and effort.
If you want to make more of a statement, why not try a pair of classic coloured hi-tops, an alternate wash of jeans (light or grey) or a statement piece of outerwear layered over the top.
By varying the severity of colour and pattern on top, you give yourself more room for movement. You can adjust the top to fit a particular crowd or situation – an evening of football can be very different to an evening of music, so bear this in mind.
Grey chinos are a great neutral piece that offers you a wide variety of alternative colour options, but you could equally go for another staple colour, such as stone, burgundy or navy.
Finish off with a pair of loafers for a great smart/casual aesthetic, and to help scratch the itches of any formal wear aficionados.
Of course, not all pubs are like the one at the end of your road, with its regulars (and irregulars), dark windows and sticky seats. Especially in up and coming areas, pubs are becoming much more upmarket. Whilst they are still perhaps not on a par with many of the more expensive and flashier bars, these kinds of establishments are certainly much more about serious socialising, meeting new people and embracing some youthful culture. Best of all, they offer you the chance to release your inner stylist and pull on your classier threads.
In this situation you are sure to face quite a few more variables, but this could actually be rather beneficial. The crowd will be more consistent in terms of age and attitudes (no racist old man in the corner for example). Everyone will be there for similar reasons, meaning the atmosphere will probably be more friendly, they will be more receptive to new ideas (including dress sense) and you will also find that people will be more interested in the way you dress as well.
You can use this scenario as an opportunity to experiment with or try out new looks. It is worth remembering though that you are still in a pub; you can still be overdressed.
I don’t think it is actually possible to go too far wrong with an outfit that focuses on refined simplicity and this is something I wanted to reflect in these next two looks. By mixing a shirt, jeans, loafers and a chunky knit cardigan you have yourself a versatile look that mixes a refined concept with a casual base and copes very well with our unpredictable weather.
But you could equally play the colour card with some bold chinos, a simple crew neck tee and an unstructured cotton blazer. This is a look that can transition seamlessly from day to night and with just a couple of accessories (the obligatory pocket square for one) you can create an outfit that shows your individuality and is still appropriate for the situation.
A blue shirt, slim indigo jeans and a pair of loafers is a classic combination that you won’t ever step a foot wrong in. A cardigan is a great way to add an extra layer without going too structured, and if you go sockless with a couple of hem rolls on the jeans you can really make this outfit your own.
Keep to solid leather or suede penny loafers to give this look some weight.
By wearing a pair of coloured chinos you will immediately make a statement, but it is also important not to throw that statement in everyone’s face – keep the rest of your outfit muted to allow the trousers to work their magic.
A plain white crew neck tee will work with any colour under the sun and stops the look becoming too formal, whilst an unstructured blazer will also help to create a more relaxed aesthetic.
So there we have my take on how to look good at the pub. I hope that this article has hit the mark in terms of purpose and content, and has been a development on the mixed success of the last one. Whilst you might not initially think an evening at the pub being particularly complex; when you really think about it, social interaction of any kind puts us under pressure and first impressions mean so much, so being appropriately dressed could make a big difference.
However, I will reiterate that these articles are nothing more than a guide. We are all individual in our tastes and style, therefore some of the combinations I have used here might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the concepts are still very relevant, it is up to YOU how you interpret this information. I can give you the reasons behind my choices – why you might want to wear such and such – but it will be YOU that puts those things into action.
Let me know what you think in the comments below (any feedback is welcome) and stay tuned for the next instalment, when I tackle the very top of the social scale.