As tempting as it may be to ditch your business shirt for baggy casual pieces after a week of wearing suits, certain calendar events on the weekend (and even post-work) will require you to dress sharp.
However, putting the ‘smart’ in smart casual need not involve the typical collared shirt. With menswear getting more adventurous and dress codes dressing down a little, these five pairings are proof you can certainly look damn fine this season, without even wearing a shirt. But we don’t mean topless, of course.
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Breaking It Down
Going shirtless does require certain outfit additions to chic-up your pared back top. Your look needs to include some sort of tailoring — be it, a blazer or luxury casual jacket and tapered trouser or jean. Emphasis should be placed on the fabric and cut of the pieces too, ensuring the fit be snug (never tight) and the colour palette be tasteful and classic — neutrals and traditional prints like stripes and check are all winners.
Finally, footwear will interchange depending on the occasion. Minimal leather sneakers or suede loafers for a more casual interpretation of smart, while a brogue or derby is much better for dressier events — always with socks.
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#1 T-shirt & Suit
When the weather warms up, popping a t-shirt under your suit blazer keeps you cool, without limiting the smartness of your look. A t-shirt pairs chic-ly with a more traditional dark wool, two piece suit and statement peak lapel, as well as a classic cotton blazer and chino combination.
Think about contrasting the layer underneath. Charcoal suit? Try a t-shirt in white, or a Breton stripe. Light-coloured suit? Go darker with a dark green tee or burgundy polo shirt. Make sure the tee is basic — no garish graphic prints — and is fitted, so it doesn’t add unsightly bulk beneath the jacket.
For a smarter result, tuck your tee into your suit trousers, eschewing the belt for cleaner finish.
#2 T-shirt & Bomber
A step down from the suit, the bomber jacket’s utilitarian heritage makes it a smart casual contender, even with a t-shirt. The key here is sticking to a snug fit on the shoulder, with the jacket’s shape draping naturally down the torso, before a neat crop at the waists (nothing longline or oversized).
And look to matte fabric jackets — think black leather, brown suede or a dense cotton version in a neutral hue — nothing satiny and sports-esque to maintain that dressy vibe. Complete the look with a pair of minimal trainers or sophisticated suede loafers.
#3 Sweater & Trousers
Temperature dropped? Don’t sweat it. The humble sweater has had a reworking in recent seasons, with plenty of slim fit, quality made ones to pick from. Far from gym-inspired, look to a knitted wool/cashmere blend or a loopback cotton varitety with a simple crew or v-neck.
Keeping it smart, pair the sweater with tailored chinos or trouser separates, depending on the ocassion, working texture into the outfit with a grainy wool or cotton twill.
RELATED: 5 Smart Ways To Wear A Sweater
#4 Roll neck & Blazer
Want a more streamline, Euro-inspired alternative to the stuffy shirt and tie? Look to the roll neck. Worn with classic tailoring, it’s a far less fussy and more comfortable meat layer under a blazer. Or try layering one under a biker jacket for a faultless high-low combination.
Stick to a fine gauge variety — one that’s lightweight and snug, adhering to the quality fabric rules once more: cashmere, wool or pima cotton for something that’s soft and durable. This fine weight option may not be so great for the larger gent. Got a belly? Stick with a denser sweater, which can be worn roomier and is thus, more forgiving on a protruding tummy.
#5 Tank & Tailoring
Like your favourite tee, the tank is an even better summery option as a layer under a jacket. It should fall just below your belt line and hang about half an inch away from your body, so not hug your torso tightly. For ‘smart’ purposes keep the straps wide, and the neck line crew or scoop, so it looks like a tee when under a linen blazer. Adding a buttoned waistcoat, like Justin O’Shea will keep it smarter still.
Again, fabrication and quality is everything. Your tech-fabric gym singlet won’t cut it here; nor will a cheap poly version found in most fast-fashion stores. If you’re going to wear one under your suit, stick to soft cotton and a gauge that is thick enough so that any nipple outlines will be obscured . Don’t be rude.