It is often asked whether casual dress can be stylish, or whether style requires a gentleman to be dressed in smart casual or even formal. There are countless examples of casual dress not being a stylish choice; the photo on the left is one such example. Occasionally this is because some casual attire is simply an excuse to dress lazily without thought, opting for any item that is comfortable and easy to put on. For some the epitome of casual dress is simply to throw on the nearest pair of trousers and t-shirt sitting at the top of their draw.
However this doesn’t mean that casual dress cannot be stylish, nor does it mean that it should be a lengthy and time-consuming process to dress casually. By following a few easy principles, anyone can learn to dress casually in minutes and still look like they have stepped out of Vogue magazine.
The colour wheel is the perfect assistant in adding colour to your outfit without becoming too flamboyant or being too bland. The wheel shows the relationship between different hues and colours, breaking down the contrasting and complementary colours. Contrasting colours are opposite one another on the wheel, while complementary colours are together.
White is a neutral colour that you can combine with almost any other colour. An easy way to have casual style is by having staples in your wardrobe upon which you can rely.
2. Have casual staples in your wardrobe
By having casual staples in your wardrobe you can quickly establish a foundation upon which to build. I find that trousers are the easiest base to build from, so a few good pairs of dark blue or black jeans are an essential item to any gentleman’s wardrobe. These can then be combined easily with a white t-shirt and sneakers for spring or summer, or dressed up slightly with a casual shirt that is a little more colourful and vibrant. Either way, a good pair of jeans allows you to dress easily for a Sunday afternoon, complementing any simple upper garment you wish.
3. The Secret’s in the Shoes
So you now know how a basic pair of jeans can be joined with t-shirts and shirts alike to make a stylish yet casual appearance. Shoes are the next hurdle to overcome; jeans and a t-shirt will work well with most pairs of shoes. A pair of clean white sneakers will give the attire a young trendy feel, alternatively a pair of dark drown boots will produce a sophisticated look that makes young men appear mature, and older men established.
Obviously the styles I am discussing are established classic looks that all men can pull off, however some of you may be thinking that these outfits are too simple and want to know how to take them to the next level. Layering is the easiest and most effective way of adding unique touches to classic outfits. By adding in other layers such as checked (plaid) casual shirts to go over plain coloured t-shirts, or utilizing knitwear to add bulk, you can transform the simple white t-shirt and jeans into an outfit that looks stylish and is just as quick to throw on as your regular casual wear.
Think of adding in different coloured jumpers and shirts to mix up the look, to keep it original and unique. You can also add more than one layer to create even more sophisticated looks. Some of the best modern autumn style I have seen is built on a classic such as t-shirt and jeans with a modern coloured thin jumper and jacket to create a multi layered look that oozes sophistication.
5. Avoid the most common casual mistakes
– Ripped or destroyed jeans
Distressed jeans are very hipster and can look edgy; unfortunately it is a thin rope to walk. It’s easy to pick a pair of jeans that are too damaged and will appear out of place on older gentleman, or over worn on younger gentleman. It is best to stick with plain jeans and trousers. If you want to add distressed jeans, go for a style that only has damage or tears above the thighs and in small quantities.
– Dirty shoes
Shoes are one of the first items of clothing that a person notices when first meeting you. Supposedly there is a sub-conscious connection with the cleanliness of ones shoes and the state of one’s life. Therefore, regardless of casual or formal wear, it is essential to have clean shoes, just because you have white casual sneakers it does not mean you can allow them to become dirty or discoloured.
– Colour clash or too many complementing colours
There are a select few who make it a personal challenge to put as much colour in to an outfit as possible, seemingly attempting to become human rainbows. A little colour is stylish, a lot of colour can be overkill. Stay on the safe side and, if in doubt, stick with the rule of three. The rule of three states that you wear a maximum of three colours (not including shoes), and of those three only two should contrast with each other.
I strongly believe that with five minutes thought and a wardrobe stocked with a few basic items, there is no excuse for anyone not to be casual and stylish.
Are you ready to take the casual style challenge? Send your casual style pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @ThePGentlemen