FashionBeans: Men's Fashion & Men's Style Guide
10-12-2013 10:02 AM
Mixing smart and casual
I would like to experiment a bit more with mixing casual elements into my smart wardrobe. My work place is smart, to smart-casual, so I can get away with it to an extent, especially on a Friday.
What do you think of the following outfit? I have paired a black leather jacket and desert boots (the casual bits) with a wine merino knit, blue gingham shirt, and grey wool trousers. Do you think it works ok? And why?
And to make it a more general thread, what other ways can you successfully mix smart and casual, in a context-appropriate way?
Btw, I bottled it, and wore a peacoat and tan brogues instead!
10-12-2013 11:10 AM
It doesn't quite work for me; I think it's the black jacket and brown shoes. It comes across as an accidental clash rather than a conscious one.
I think when mixing smart / casual it needs to be a smart outfit with a casual twist, rather than a sort of 50/50 balance like you have there.
Indeed, your "casual" items probably aren't that casual in most people's book. I don't think there's enough contrast there to achieve that juxtaposition that makes the look work.
If I was trying to do this I would probably go for:
smart grey coat
navy cable knit crew neck jumper
pale blue oxford shirt
Skinny sand chinos
Nike running shoes
So closer to the suit-with-trainers end of the spectrum than the desert-boots-with-wool-trousers vibe.
Last edited by ICA; 10-12-2013 at 11:16 AM.
10-12-2013 02:01 PM
I think it looks really nice. The colours work very well together, and I don't see any clash between the black leather jacket and the desert boots. Black shoes would have completely changed the tone of the outfit, and quite frankly made the look less interesting. Also, one has to remember that the jacket won't be worn at the office and so won't be an element in the look for most of the day.
I could easily see myself wearing this.
On the negative, I'd say that there's no real edge to the look, except maybe for the style of the leather jacket (I like that jacket!). Then again, you might not want that in an office environment.
I would like to have seen you with the brogues and peacoat as well, for comparison.
10-12-2013 02:46 PM
Thanks for the comments, as always.
@Ivan - I've never really thought that a leather needs to match desert boots. Looks ok to me. Also, I'm not sure I am getting your distinction between "smart with a casual twist" and "50/50 balance". Could you explain? I thought this was smart with a casual twist!
And you're right - these elments probably aren't that casual! You know I am on the conservative side...
@Marc - thanks for the positive feedback. As you say, "edge" wouldn't really be appropriate for the office. But in your opinion, what would give this outfit more edge? How can I kick it on a notch?
As for the peacoat/brogues, I can post a pic later. Just my standard office getup really though.
10-12-2013 03:01 PM
Those are all some nice combos I don't think I can compete with them but I can give a suggestion
I would say if you went with:
Brown/grey or just brown varsity jacket
Wear it with a nice tight fitted denim shirt underneath, button up to the neck
With a brown/hazel tie in the inside.
Wear a good pair of skinny denim pants
Wear brown leather boots to boost the outfit
If you want to add more style to it wear some wide glasses to add a preppy look
Although I don't think my outfit would compete with the others, thank for hearing me out
10-12-2013 04:25 PM
The outfit doesn't really have any statement piece. Adding something bolder would give it a bit of that "something".
Originally Posted by Nat
Perhaps a bolder shirt, or a shirt with a more distinct check. An acquaintance of mine showed up the other day with a similar outfit to yours, but with an extreme, 1970's like floral patterned shirt. The shirt on its own would've looked awful, but when under a v-neck sweater, only showing the collar and a little nit of the cuff, it looked really nice!
You could get a sweater with more pattern - like my hounds tooth sweater, as worn here. imgur: the simple image sharer
Perhaps some more eye catching shoes? While nice, desert boots are rarely statement pieces. I guess the brogues you wore would've done that job. But you could go even further, like:
Just examples, they might not actually work with the outfit you showed.
10-12-2013 05:54 PM
I'm saying I would prefer to see a full smart outfit, with one item that creates the juxtaposition, rather than an outfit that combines multiple items from each aesthetic.
Originally Posted by Nat
I just think that with a more defined contrast your intention would be more easily read. As I mentioned, something like a suit with trainers, or to be less obvious a preppy ensemble with a rugged biker jacket over the top.
10-12-2013 06:57 PM
The look's OK, but I agree with Ivan that the desert boots don't suit the look. (Not that leather jackets should match the shoes, that's definitely not the issue)
I think you could wear jeans and brogues with this look, to achieve a contemporary, nice smart-casual look.
You could also pair brogues, jeans and a leather jacket with a shirt and tie. That provides a nice contrast. If that's too chilly, you could add a shawl collar cardigan, so you'll stay warm and still be able to show off your tie...
10-12-2013 07:01 PM
At second viewing of the picture, I believe the issue stems from the fact that your eyes are drawn to the shoes because they're the lightest part of the picture. I think in this look it's best to keep the attention to your top half. Also, desert shoes in a light shade remind me more of summer.
(Not trying to be too critical, just helpful )
10-12-2013 07:23 PM
Is a shirt required to work?
If it were me, I'd pair that jacket with a crew neck sweater, pale oxford shirt, wool trousers and brogue boots. (Not too sure about the shirt and jacket combo though)
The problem with your outfit is that the V neck sweater, wool trousers, and the shirt are "smart" items while the shoes and jacket are casual. What really throws me off is the shirt-maybe it's too smart for the outfit? And yeah, like others have said, the desert boots are too light so the eye is immediately drawn to them. Maybe a good ol' brogue/brogue boot would remedy that. Just my 2 cents.