Don’t get me wrong, I have a soft spot for Vans, graphic tees, and flatbills like the next dude. But the fact is, most of us aren’t keen on looking like Justin Bieber til 25. This is especially for you in-betweeners; if you want to be taken seriously and have a fashion conscience, but you’re not sure where to start, then pay attention. At 18 years young I was introduced to earthy colours and the “casual, comfortable” philosophy of looking good. It still took me a few years to fully realize how dapper-dans did it, the effortless cool. Where to start: classics, classics, classics. But it’s also learning how to layer textures/patterns and find a legit fit thereafter. It really is simple and may seem obvious to some. Anyway, here’s a bottom-up approach that starts with footwear.
1. Shoes: Leather is never out of style
Canvas shoes are cool, canvas shoes are comfy. But when you’re not a teen anymore, canvas shoes can make you look like you still are. It’s the in-between years where guys need to graduate their style, and shoes are the first ‘step’ (sorry, couldn’t help myself). A big part of maturing a wardrobe is seeking quality materials.
Suede [in moderate amounts], leather, and other sturdy materials are tops to canvas. Also keep in mind the colour palette, cut, and detail: Leather Nike high tops are not the same as Rodd & Gunn boots. Even details like deep rubber soles [ie on regular Vans] make the difference between smart casual and looking like a smartass. This style is from Overland, which I bought back in February. They’re sleek, casual, and mature without the bore.
2. Pants: Denim is not your only option
“I hate jeans”, said no one ever. But denim does not rule all, it’s good to have a range of materials. Trousers made of linen, corduroy, tweed, or sturdy cotton are choice textures to work with. These trousers are the kind of pants that would pair well with the sandstone shoes above. This is where fit also becomes highly important. They don’t have to be skinny, but you don’t want to end up with baggy grandpa rags. For a classic fit you want a little give in the waist, thighs, and calves. The butt-hug is a big factor for some guys as well, finding a decent pair of pants with all these qualities can take a while. But it’s so worth it, trust me on this one.
3. Belts: Buckle responsibly
This piece of work I first came across at Spencer’s Gifts in California. I could see the comedy in this buy lasting about 10 seconds. Anyway, my point is if you DON’T want to look like an ignoramus, avoid stuff like this. I don’t necessarily mean all big buckles, but know the difference between bold and bone-headed. Having said that, you don’t have to go dull.
Simple and classic styles with sharp details or updated colours are what to go for, generally. And the whole matching belts to shoes thing: forget it. That only sometimes applies to formal wear. For casual wear belts can match shirts, watches, bags, or what have you. Make up your own rules! This anchor buckled belt is one of my picks from the highly addictive asos.com
4. Heavy tops: Why so many hoodies?
Like jeans, everyone loves/needs a good hoodie. But I know far too many guys who seem to live in hoodies. Nothing says “I’m trying to be super casual” more than this. Opt for solid jumpers or button-down cardigans in earthy colours.
I luuuurve cable-knits, they give the right amount of texture. Take notice of the colours buddied up in this example: the tie is a textured material as well, which lifts what could be a real snooze-worthy outfit. Cardis like this don’t even have to suit up, go for a sandy coloured regular tee or lose the tie and it still works.
Cardigans don’t have to be expensive, either. Troll through H&M’s website or asos.com [if you haven’t noticed, I’m a littled fetished with asos]; good threads can be found for under $60 if you’re lucky enough.
5. Learn the rules, then break.
Once these sink in, go for gold with creativity. Multi-paneled cardis in fifty colours, bright orange leather belts, crazy paisley pants, and shiny silver brogues all await on the other side of style intel.
Adam Gallagher is a dude blogger with awesome taste, even if tends towards conservative. Check out his looks on lookbook.nu and his blog. Then move on to Nick Wooster, he rocks the classics but always incorporates an updated edge. Like bright yellow shoes with a navy blue suit. Both these men I admire for their style. But you notice this: Wooster is older, his style is braver.