As men’s wear continues to look to the ‘street’ for style inspiration, the lines between casual and formal attire are blurring.
That’s not to say blazers and chinos can be worn with thongs (or flip-flops for our American friends). Nor can distressed denim and a tee be worn to the corporate office (even if they come worn with Italian leather brogues).
In 2015, the style rules governing what’s formal and casual in fashion aren’t so absolute anymore; serving more as a guide to be tweaked or dare I say, broken – once in a while. Here are five ways to mix casual and formal pieces, for looks that will take your casual Friday conservatism well into the dapper weekend.
Embrace The Tee & Suit Combo
Made cool by creatives and fashion types, the tee-under-suit look may not be possible at work for some but can most definitely serve anyone for those nights out and strolls on the weekend. Above all things, I say to thee: the suit needs to be well-tailored, with a slim-fit jacket and trousers that are streamline, running along the lines of the leg without being skinny.
Then, look to the colour. This parred-down tailored look is all about minimalism, so opt for a neutral block-coloured suit (think grey, brown and black) and don’t be afraid to play around with hues; opting for pastels for a summery look. Going tonal (matching the t-shirt colour with the suit) works super well with navy and charcoal, blending the look and playing down the absence of a traditional button-up shirt.
Otherwise, go monochrome – contrasting the dark with the light; a black tee under a pastel grey suit or a dark navy suit over a crisp, white tee. Finally, keep the t-shirt length to waist-height or casually tucked in. Then, go without a belt, and no socks with your leather lace-ups – accentuating the casual chic.
Try A Blazer Over Your Denim Jacket
I can explain. Let me set the scene: the denim jacket needs to be a perfect fit (no vintage, oversized arms here) and in a raw or classic wash (nothing acid, please). Now, the blazer. Unstructured, slim fit blazers work best with this look and stick to lightweight linen, pure cotton, and polyester-wool blend fabrics with minimal pocket detailing.
Layer the blazer snugly over your denim jacket, which should always be worn with a button shirt, undone (the crisp collar of the shirt and the denim sitting nicely like peaks). Keep the blazer unbuttoned always, and sway between buttoning or opening the denim jacket, depending on your mood. If the denim is closed, just do-up the third and fourth middle buttons, for a jacket that looks like a cool version of waistcoat.
Step Up Your Suit & Sneaker Game
Similar to the suit-and-tee look, the suit and sneaker combination is an evolution of sports’ influence on tailoring. Again, the suit needs to be sharp and smooth – without brazen check prints or statement pinstripes, in a cotton or lightweight wool-blend.
Then, let that monochrome money work its way onto your sneakers. Nothing gym-looking or chunkily dad-ish, here; keeping the silhouette low-cut, clean and – like traditional lace-ups – always in leather.
White sneakers are best with this look; letting the hue pop like a light under your trousers. The next step up is coloured sneakers, which look great in tonal symmetry and contrast fabrics to the suit itself. Foolproof combinations are a navy suit with retro sneakers in blue suede panelling and a touch of white, matching the white in the shirt.
While tees do work with this look, but the formality of an Oxford shirt is a nice combination, worn tucked in and with no tie, with the collar unbuttoned. Lose the socks and you’ll be set.
Rock Your Suit With Shorts
Pioneered by Mr Nick Wooster himself, the blazer/shorts combination is the least common of the casual and formal mixing. For reasons of feeling underdressed and falling ‘short’ in the style stakes, the common short doesn’t really get a look-in for most men mid-week.
It’s a given, due to the fact most have of you have corporate jobs and the short is definitely not office-appropriate. But on the weekend, paired with a blazer, the summery short can look a million bucks.
Go for separates as opposed to a matching jacket-and-short suit; the latter is hard to pull off and can look a little cheesy unless you’re in Cannes. Next, make the statement part of the suit, the jacket – either in colour or print – keeping the short in a neutral tone such as beige, khaki, navy, grey or black.
The short length needs to be just above the knee (no longer or shorter) and should retain the properties of tailored pants: slim fit, structured pockets and waistband, and be of cotton, linen or a polyester-blend.
Pair the look with shirt or tee, ensuring to balance out a checked jacket with plain under shirt and opt for sneakers or classic brogues (no socks please). And play around with neckwear, sacrificing a traditional tie for a neckscarf to continue the tailored, holiday look.
Formal & Casual FAQ
The difference is on the fabric. Oxford shirts are thicker and have a rougher texture, making them a bit more casual than the classic formal shirts. Denim jackets are durable and long lasting. With proper care, they can last for over a decade while giving you the highest level of style and comfort. No. An ascot is a formal necktie worn over a shirt, tied with a rudimentary know and secured with a pin. A cravat is a neckerchief, tied like an ascot, but tucked into the shirt. It is also usually worn informally.
What is the difference between an Oxford shirt and a regular shirt?
Why do you need to own a denim jacket?
Are ascots and cravats the same?
The difference is on the fabric. Oxford shirts are thicker and have a rougher texture, making them a bit more casual than the classic formal shirts.
Denim jackets are durable and long lasting. With proper care, they can last for over a decade while giving you the highest level of style and comfort.
No. An ascot is a formal necktie worn over a shirt, tied with a rudimentary know and secured with a pin. A cravat is a neckerchief, tied like an ascot, but tucked into the shirt. It is also usually worn informally.