Casual wear has poor branding. It sounds like it's something you shouldn't think about. Just throw on that hoodie and any old jeans and forget about it, right?
That's one way to go—if you want to look like every other guy out there. Or you can put in slightly more effort.
Even a little bit of extra effort can mean a lot. The small improvements you make add up to form an elevated casual outfit that's as comfortable and effortless as it is elegant.
It's not as hard as it sounds. As long as you start with foundational pieces that make sophisticated casual look easy. And there's no better place to start than the essential shirts you need in your closet.
The Shirts that Elevate Your Casual Style
Starting with a shirt comes almost automatic in the morning. Reach for a henley, a polo, or a good ‘ol fashioned t-shirt to match what your day looks like. But getting a quality shirt? That's another story.
Shirts in neutral colours look great, and they're easy to mix and match with your other clothes. The fit can get tricky, though. Make sure it's not too tight. You want it to lay on your body comfortably and move with you, not tug against you.
And avoid any garish designs or over-the-top branding. It looks tacky, and it undermines a timeless style.
For an elevated casual look, it's hard to go wrong with a great Oxford shirt. Get it in classic colours like white or navy. Wear it untucked with chinos or a great pair of dark wash jeans.
Speaking of jeans and chinos...
The Trousers that Give Your Casual Look a Boost
A great shirt and a classic Oxford make up one piece of your elevated casual outfit. Pair either one with chinos or jeans. But not just any chinos or jeans.
Choose chino trousers in khaki, grey or navy. Neutral colours make it easy to pair with several different pieces.
A good pair of chinos will fit slimmer than your dress trousers (but make sure they're not too tight). And say no to pleats since they can add additional girth that you don't want around your waist.
As for jeans, you can't go wrong with a pair of slim-fit dark wash jeans. They'll look stylish with an Oxford shirt for date night. But they'll look equally great with a nice t-shirt and sneakers.
Shoes that Raise the Bar
Classy low-top sneakers like Jack Purcells or Stan Smiths look great with casual outfits. But to lift your style above the other guys, find yourself leather sneakers. Get it in white or light brown to give you the versatility to mix and match with your foundational pieces.
For a more rugged casual look, a pair of brown leather boots will do the job. Wear them during the day exploring the city or to an evening at the pub with friends. Just stay away from square-toed boots. They look chunky and will ruin a slim silhouette that makes you look better than the guy next to you.
The Cherry on Top: Amazing Outerwear
We've put together a solid outfit so far. Now it's time to top it off with a great jacket. And it doesn't get better (or cooler) than a Harrington jacket. A Harrington (or blouson) has fitted cuffs and an elastic waistband. It features a tailored fit and a classic collar that you can dress up or dress down depending on your plans.
If you want a less tailored look, the classic bomber jacket has you covered. For a bomber that's a notch above others, get it in suede or leather.
The upgrade in quality makes a difference the same way cut does. It's the details that raise your style above everyone else around you.
Find out what other jackets you should own: Jackets Every Man Should Own (Or the Jackets YOU Should Own).
Quality Always Rises to the Top
No matter what, choose high-quality materials, classic fits, and neutral colours. That's how you build a cool casual wardrobe that endures fads.
Yes, with some extra thought and effort, building the proper foundation for your casual wear will make sure you're always in style no matter what the trends say.
Read about putting these foundational items together in part two of Elevating Your Casual Wear series (coming soon). In the meantime, read about topics that will develop your timeless style in our Journal.