Smart-Casual. For some reason, although deceptively presented on many an invite as a laid-back alternative to formal dress, these two words can cause fear to rush through the male psyche. Throwing on something that’s casual enough to pass the pub-test, yet smart enough for the Sunday-best-test, should be easy. But as we all know, it’s often anything but.
As winter bites, there are more layers to consider, more hoops to jump through. It doesn’t have to be this hard. Take note of nuance in texture, fit and styling and this enigmatic dress code is suddenly unlocked.
From Power Meeting To Pub Quiz
It’s possible to please both your employer and your drinking partner. Start with a lightweight knitted blazer. This River Island jacket’s light colouring and woven texture lends it a laid-back seasonal appeal, while its notch lapel and slim cut ensures you’re taken seriously in the office.
Pair with a wool trouser, thick enough to brave a sub-zero beer garden, and a sturdy Derby shoe with a Dainite sole that will give much needed extra purchase on icy ground.
The piece de resistance in this look is the Oxford shirt. Wear it with a knitted tie from nine for those all-important meetings, then toss the neckwear and undo the top button come five.
A matching jacket and trousers will up the formal ante in the workplace – as the old saying goes, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. But a two-piece suit, shirt and tie combo might be a little OTT when meeting friends for a post-shift meal.
Instead, inject some contemporary flair by layering a merino or cashmere V-neck jumper with white crew neck tee, finishing off the ensemble with a chunky black Derby shoe, for a look that says “I’m a style-conscious young professional” as opposed to “I sleep under my desk”.
UK Winter Weekend Break
Booked a romantic winter cottage with the other half? Time to embrace the unfortunate truth then: it will rain. Lots. You’ll be shivering as soon as you step outside, too. But don’t let a bit of icy drizzle dampen your spirits.
First of all, no winter weekend would be complete without a chunky cardigan. This thick, textured knit by S.N.S. Herning will protect against the elements, but it’s Nordic charm denotes a high rating in the style ranks too, particularly when teamed with a granddad collar shirt.
When the inevitable precipitation does come, ensure that you’re armed with a waterproof jacket that’s hardy enough to keep the rain out but lightweight enough to still look sharp. On the bottom half, slim-fit selvedge jeans and chunky work boots marry both form and rugged function perfectly.
Private View Panache
Heading straight from work to a swanky exhibition viewing or networking event and want to imbue a suggestion of arty aloofness with your look, rather going all-out Grayson Perry? The roll neck has been a go-to item for Andy Warhol types for decades now and the high neckline makes it season-appropriate too.
Don a light-gauge version with a blazer during office hours, then check your jacket at the door upon arrival and you’ll blend in effortlessly with stock brokers and chin-strokers alike. Adding the weighty textured fabric of a wool flannel trouser will bring modernity to your outfit, swerving milk tray man territory in grey instead of black.
Finish with Chelsea boots – these will not only ensure your ankles avoid the chill when waiting for a cab, but a lack of laces make for easy removal after a little too much complimentary champers.
Visiting The In-Laws
Essentially, you want your better half’s mum and dad to think that this is how you look all the time: respectable and neat, without foregoing style. A knitted polo shirt is a refined alternative to the try-hard ‘going out shirt’ mistake that so many guys make; wear it with a tailored, cropped jacket for just enough modish charm to impress Mrs Jones without the rock ‘n’ roll connotations that might concern Mr Jones.
On the bottom half, a tailored cargo pant – a hard-working winter alternative to jeans with a sharper silhouette to traditional cargos – ensures that you won’t be sporting the same clobber as uncle Kev, while minimal white trainers are a smart yet comfortable choice.