Drinking & Dressing

Sometimes, being into men’s fashion can be a real pain. Whether it’s slowly becoming more and more obsessed with the way your clothes fit, a steady lean towards luxurious fabrics or a body shape that just doesn’t match off-the-peg tailoring, things really start to take their sartorial toll.

After spending a few years immersed in the menswear community you may find yourself realising that, in certain situations, being the best dressed man in the room can actually be more trouble than it’s worth. And by trouble, I mean a rather large dry cleaning bill.

Because when I go out in the evenings, I like to have a good time. I’m no stranger to alcohol spills, burger sauce stains and the occasional ‘stacking it outside the club’ moment. And let me tell you from first-hand experience, these situations and high quality clothing do not mix. Yet I just can’t bring myself to compromise on either of these activities.

Which raises the following question: is it possible to drink and dress well at the same time without spending even more of your hard-earned cash? I believe the answer is a firm yes, but only when you strike a comfortable balance – which we will look to try and achieve today.

Practical & Stylish

But first, let me clarify a few things. You don’t have to be a borderline alcoholic (like me, apparently) to benefit from this article. Even teetotal men run the risk of experiencing these sartorial-based horrors when they head out into the night.

After all, drunk people are everywhere and they are crazy, clumsy and chaotic! Accidents are bound to happen and they will happen to you. So, what can you do to soften the blow? Well, I’m glad you asked…

1. Don’t Be So Precious

A motto for life: try not to take yourself too seriously. If you do end up wearing your fanciest clothes to a club, then except that something may go awry. Take it on the chin and visit your dry cleaner the next morning guilt-free.

After all, nobody likes the person who stands by the wall afraid to bust a move for fear of a few spillages. Let yourself go once in a while and you won’t regret it.

2. Dress Down But Better

Or what I like to call, ‘casual confidence over stuffy style’.

I used to go out each night with the aim of being the best dressed guy in the room, and things soon got out of hand. Wearing a suit to a bar with a shirt and tie, or layering a cashmere jumper under a blazer, just became too much.

Firstly, these items were tailored to skim my body, which made it difficult to move around as freely as I would’ve liked or raise my hands in the air (top tip for getting your drinks away from the bar spill-free).

Secondly, as soon as I got inside the club/bar I wanted to take off all these layers due to them quickly becoming hot and stifling. In the end, it seemed like overkill. And, in truth, it was. So I traded these refined pieces in for slightly more casual items such as indigo jeans, neutral t-shirts, chinos, cardigans, casual jackets, leather chukka boots and penny loafers.

But what I did focus on was making sure that everything fit me perfectly – slim, but not restrictive or uncomfortable – and that each piece complemented each other. The result? I felt more comfortable, which led to me having more fun and being more confident in my surroundings. Never a bad thing.

Men's Casual Going Out Outfits Lookbook

jigsaw ss14zara man aw12massimo dutti march 2014he by mango ss13massimo dutti february 2013house of fraser ss14pull & bear ss13calibre aw14burton ss14zalando aw12allsaints aw13jigsaw ss14
3. Embrace Monochrome

This is the perhaps the easiest tip I can give you. Learn to love black, grey and blue, especially darker tones of navy.

Not only are they great at concealing any accidents that may happen but they’re also extremely classic and versatile colours. Black and grey are particularly good because they are quintessential evening wear shades that look even better under artificial lighting:

Men's Monochrome Going Out Outfits Lookbook

reiss ss14zara man February 2013massimo dutti march 2013jigsaw ss14Samsoe & Samsoe ss14bohemian ss14reiss aw13allsaints aw13balmainben sherman aw12he by mango ss14massimo dutti december 2013
4. Refocus On Your Basics

Simplicity is often the most elegant form of sophistication.

There’s a reason why so many menswear geeks love old black and white photos of gents from the 1950s and 1960s – it’s because their style is as relevant today as it was back then. Pieces that never go out of fashion will always be your best option for a night out.

You can go full on James Dean with a pair of indigo jeans, white pocket tee and bomber jacket, channelling Rebel Without A Cause, or you could step it up a notch and pair some khaki chinos with a grey polo shirt and an unstructured navy blazer for a preppy-inspired look straight out of the Ivy League.

If you stick to the classics, your clothes will simply add to what you already possess – i.e. your personality and confidence – rather than detract from them. If you were hoping to use your clothes to distract from your personal shortcomings, then we have another problem to deal with altogether:

Men's Going Out Outfits Lookbook - Using Wardrobe Basics

falconeri ss14zara man february 2013he by mango winter 2013allsaints ss13zara editions 2013selected homme 2014jigsaw ss14he by mango september 2013he by mango ss13farah 1920 ss14reiss sports luxbally aw14
5. Learn To Love The High Street

The great thing about sticking to slightly more relaxed and basic items of clothing is that they can be found at every single price point.

You’ll be surprised how little you care when that £4 t-shirt from UNIQLO gets ruined at a foam party:

  • Asos Slim Fit Blazer With Mock Horn ButtonsAsos Slim Fit Blazer With Mock Horn Buttons
  • Asos Denim Shirt In Long Sleeve With Rinse WashAsos Denim Shirt In Long Sleeve With Rinse Wash
  • Asos Harrington JacketAsos Harrington Jacket
  • Asos Slim ChinosAsos Slim Chinos
  • Next Smart Dark Wash JeansNext Smart Dark Wash Jeans
  • Desert BootsDesert Boots
  • Uniqlo Men Packaged Dry Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-shirtUniqlo Men Packaged Dry Crew Neck Short Sleeve T-shirt
  • Uniqlo Men Supima Cotton V Neck Short Sleeve T-shirtUniqlo Men Supima Cotton V Neck Short Sleeve T-shirt
  • Uniqlo Men Linen Cotton V-neck CardiganUniqlo Men Linen Cotton V-neck Cardigan
  • Lambswool Knit JumperLambswool Knit Jumper
  • River Island Black Slim ChinosRiver Island Black Slim Chinos
  • River Island Light Blue Long Sleeve Oxford ShirtRiver Island Light Blue Long Sleeve Oxford Shirt
  • Premium Cotton Button Down ShirtPremium Cotton Button Down Shirt
  • Topman Green V-neck JumperTopman Green V-neck Jumper
  • River Island Brown Lace Up BroguesRiver Island Brown Lace Up Brogues
6. Know Your Audience

In other words, consider where you’ll be going on any given evening. Is it just down the local for a couple of pints or to an upmarket bar and then onto a fancy club?

Your environment will help set the tone for what you wear. For example, if you’re heading to an establishment that won’t let you in wearing trainers, why not step it up a little bit? Add a pair of penny loafers and a soft shouldered blazer to your usual jeans and t-shirt combination for an instant upgrade.

The same principle works when going to the pub with your mates. Think of all the needless banter, shots and drink spiking (no, just me?) that could be avoided if you just decided that chinos and a chambray/flannel shirt were a better idea than a full-blown Glen plaid double-breasted suit.

Final Word

So there you have it, a few tips that I’ve learned on how to go out in style without ruining your best clothes and/or creating huge dry cleaning bills.

Obviously, these techniques may not be for everyone so I’d love to hear what you think. What do you wear when you go out for the evening? Do you prefer casual and confident or elegant and refined? What top tips do you have to share with us?

Let me know in the comments section below…

Matt Allinson