Dress Casual – Dress Sharp – 4 Style Tips

Dressing casually does not mean dressing like a slob.

Yet that’s what many of us do, every single evening and weekend

Even men who wear suits on a daily basis find that their weekend/evening clothing is severely lacking.  T-shirt and jeans is the de-facto uniform of the off duty man – and if we’re really casual, we find a way to wear our old sweat shirts and sweatpants with no intention of breaking a sweat.

paul newman casually dressed man

Corduroy Jacket + Collared Shirt + Aviators = Casual Classic Cool

Now dressing this casually isn’t a bad thing when we’re watching TV on a Saturday morning or working on the house.

But to wear clothing this casual to your daughters recital?  Or to meet your wife’s coworkers at a weekend picnic?  Or what about a Sunday trip to the movie theater?

The fact is there is a lot of confusion as to how to dress casually yet professionally. Hopefully this video on stepping up your casual style helps!

Here I argue you need to step up your casual clothing – a man often represents his family and he always represent himself, and he should dress accordingly.

Although you may not be the center of attention, you are forming impressions.  You can’t control everything; you can however ensure your personal presentation is solid and sends a positive message.

casual dressed man

Why?  Because you never know where a relationship may go.  That other parent you start a conversation with might be your next client; that “coworker” you jest with at the serving table just might be the owner of your wife’s company.

In seconds people decide if they like you or not – and nothing has as powerful an effect on a light association as the way you present yourself.

Dress right – and set yourself up for success.  Dress like a buffoon, and well, you might have been better not showing up at all.

mens casual jacket and trousers

 

Here are four tips to dressing sharp when dressing casual – 3 are very general and the last is a bit more specific but one of the easiest and quickest ways to elevate your game.

  1. Pay attention to the fit of your clothing.
  2. Ensure the clothing you wear is made of good fabric and constructed properly.
  3. Aim for styles that are classic and that compliment your body type.
  4. Wear quality footwear – leave the sandals for the beach and running shoes for running.

 

Simple – yes

Something most of us do consistently – no

Take the steps necessary to elevate your casual style – the reward is worth it.

 

RAW Transcript

Dress Casual Dress Sharp 4 Style Tips
[0:00:00.0]
Hi I’m Antonio Centeno, the founder of Real Men Real Style. And we’ve got a question we’re going to be answering today. Basically it’s about how do you dress professionally but still dressed casually. So the question goes, “I rarely wears a tie, it’s not the uniform of my profession, high tech enterprise system software development. Even at the executive level. But we do wear them occasionally. What I’m really interested in is learning how to dress well for both casual weekend and especially how to just, just appear a step above business casual really. I think I read or I read that you’re from Austin, Texas. And so you’re familiar with the step down casual culture there where people are still judged how they, by how they look but it’s much more casual. Over the years I’ve fallen to the trap of dressing like the rest of the poorly dressed crowd. You’ve inspired me to change all that.” Well, thank you very much. “and I’m learning a lot from your website, writing and videos. Thank you.”
Well, thank you. I really appreciate it guys when you send me kind notes like that I mean we actually put a lot of work in the all of this. And it means a lot to me. Well, let me get to the question. So, how do you dress professionally but still dressed casually? Well, look at me right here. So I got a jacket on, I’ve got a dressier. No tie, I have to admit I’m not really much of a tie guy. Even though I’m a custom clothier by trade and when I’m not having to wear one, I don’t wear one.
I think if you want to step up your business casual or your casual dress and when you go back to the three pillars of men’s style. And in case you haven’t heard me says it before. Fit, fabric and style. And each of those, I mean I could write an entire, and I have probably written an entire article on each of them. So let’s talk about fit. So go through and immediately look at your clothing and if you’re wearing anything that doesn’t fit you take it and put it to the side. And ask yourself, can this be adjusted to fit me better? And if it can’t, you need to get rid of it. And you need to buy clothing that fits your body for how it is.
Often times I get men that coming and they’re like “oh well, I’m going to lose you know 30 pounds here on the next three months.” Well until you wear, until you lose that 30 pounds if you ever lose that 30 pounds, you have to have something to wear today because you can’t be walking around naked for three months. So, I guess you could but you’re going to get arrested or unless you live in a nudist colony. But what I’m getting at is dress for how your body is now. And if you’re bigger, if you’re thin, there is a right way to dress for your body type. And I talked about this elsewhere but just make sure your clothing fits. Take it to a tailor, it’s one of the least expensive things you can do to really up your style.
The next F is fabric. Okay, when I mean by fabric I don’t mean like finding some special fabric which is going to solve all your problems. I mean pay attention to fabric. Go for quality items. There’s a difference between an Old Navy, Polo shirt. And a Polo shirt that’s coming at of a luxury department store which is made from a very firm like a super Pema or an Egyptian cotton that’s just feels beautiful to the touch, is actually made to fit your body type better, isn’t going to you know, isn’t made to fit a square body type if you – well, if you have a square body type then that’s the kind of clothing you want.
What I’m getting at is pay attention to the different types of fabrics and how some fabrics, smoother fabrics solids. Those are pure, more formal. And that’s what you want if you want to step up your game. Avoid the clothing that well, it looks like it’s made for a teenager. It looks like it’s made for a man and his – well, not even early twenties in my opinion. Start dressing and finding fabrics which look better on you because black fabric is not the same. I mean there’s cotton, there’s tropical wools, there’s gaberdines. Go out there and learn about the different fabrics and then find something, maybe pay a little bit extra. But every time you wear those you know grey flannel trousers, they look great because a lot of the times if it’s a casual environment, whenever wearing jeans. Well why not step that up maybe go with Rod denim. Yes it’s going to cost more but it looks a lot, it looks a lot I think dressier than a lot of wash or worn denim.
If you want to really step that up and everyone is going to be wearing you know, khakis or Levi’s or Dockers, how about look at some grey flannel trousers. And they’re different that dress trousers because these actually have a little bit of a – of a texture to the fabric. So pay attention to fabric.
Last thing, Fit – Fabric – Style. So look at the style of the item and perhaps, if you’re always wearing really you know the same – if you find that you’re wearing the same dress shirt again and again and I’m talking to start where you got the pocket on here, where you got the point collar,
[0:05:02.8]
I mean there’s nothing exciting about it. Perhaps look at a higher end designer dressier. Something may buy a let me think, a Zegna, or something Brioni or one of those, the Italians they’re always good to look to when it comes to good quality and kind of cutting edge style.
You don’t want to go with something that’s really fashionable that you’re not going to be able to wear next year. But something that is classic but little details about it make it stand out. The style, maybe it’s got a little bit spread collar or it’s got a collar with a little bit of a contrast collar on the inside. Or maybe the style, maybe the buttons are unique. There are a little bit heavier buttons, mother of pearl coming out of maybe Australia that are a bit thicker. Little things like that are going to set you apart.
So how do you still be casual and set yourself apart and go to the next level, it’s not the – it’s not the big things. It’s paying attention to the small details because you add up those small details and they make a big difference. I forgot to mention but pay attention to your shoes. I’ve written about shoes, there are books on shoes. Men need to invest in some good quality footwear. I mean look at some Italian Markinson’s, some tassel loafers. Something like that is really going to up your game. It may look a lot better I mean you see everyone pushing out Converse and things like that. That’s okay if you’re in your early twenties but if you’re a man in his early 30’s, late 20’s, early 40’s, 50’s, a pair of Italian Markinson’s saddle shoes, those are really going to set you apart and believe it or not it’s almost as important if not, I mean you stand on those. That’s your foundation so pay attention to your footwear. Maybe I should have said that’s the fourth thing because I’ve talked about it for a while.
Any case, hope that helps you, set yourself apart in a casual atmosphere. And now if you would like more information, if you have enjoyed this make sure to subscribe up above we’re constantly putting out new videos in addition over Real Man Real Style. You can join my email list, and on my email list I put out exclusive contents which I don’t even put out here at Real Men Real Style or any of my other websites. An only on my email list where you get a lot of the tips and tactics and stuff that we don’t mention elsewhere. So make sure to join that email list, it’s pretty exclusive and become a member or I’m sorry, subscribe here on Youtube. Thank you, bye.
[0:07:33.6] End of audio

  • Kris

    Agree

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    Hey Kris – great to hear from you.  And of course I knew you’d have my back on this one:)

    Hope things are going well out West!

    S/F

    Antonio

  • Mark

    Hi Antonio

    I admit, you are my new guru! I am lifting my game in relation to the way I dress. I have recently bought some jackets, a suit etc to improve my appearance. I am getting many positive comments, from, “those clothes are a good look”, to “you look hot”! It is good to hear when you are 49.

    I appreciate the effort you put into producing these videos and doing the writing that you do.

    It is winter now where I am from, so wearing a jacket is not a problem. I am not sure how I will go when it is summer. It is not uncommon for it to get to 90 degree Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius). Do you still wear jackets at this temperature?

    Even now if I go to a big shopping centre with a 1000 or so people in it, I will often be the only person or only 1 of 2 people wearing a jacket. I don’t feel uncomfortable though.

    thanks again

    Mark

  • Rich

    I love your site…

  • MartinMartin

    I couldn’t agree with you more on the deplorable state of casual dress among men (and women).

    There is no reason to be sloppy and careless in order to be comfortable.

    Thanks for trying to revive style and elegance.

  • Stefan Scheiben

    While there is a lot of truth in this, I have to slightly disagree. It is completely beyond question that tracksuits, sweatpants and oversized Tees should not exactly be a gentleman’s choice.

    However, over the years t-shirts have secured their place in urban settings and smart casualwear. It is more like paying attention to detail. If you got the physique to pull this off, you might even look sharp (if definitely not classic) in a pair of dark fitted jeans with a fitted tee, if combined with a light jackett oder blazer.  

    As for sweatshirts and sweatpants, they definitely were designed for comfort, not for looks. That does not render them unusable or style-less. It just confines them to the area of ultra-casual wear, like cargo pants or similar clothing. While I enjoy wearing such garments during outdoor activities (trecking, hiking and so on), I would not really wear them in town.

  • Martin

    Agree.

    I’m constantly amazed at the number of men I see wearing matching sports pants and tops, they’re dressing like toddlers, these outfits are essentially just oversized romper suits and as if this wasn’t sufficiently lacking in style, romper suits covered in manufacturers logos, they might as well be wearing sandwich boards, and this is considered acceptable everyday wear.

    I can’t help wondering whether they’ll look back on photos of themselves in years to come and regret having dressed so badly due top having slavishly followed the fashions of the day, I somehow doubt it.

    This lack of style has become so prevalent that nowadays something as simple as the sight of a person wearing a well co-ordinated suit, shirt and tie is enough to cheer me up.

    Keep up the good work Antonio, and thanks for the book, interesting and enjoyable reading. Your efforts are appreciated by some of us at least.

  • Phil H.

    Hi Antonio-

    Your statements are completely on point. In Seattle, the summer uniform for men of all ages is a loose untucked tee, long baggy cargo shorts, and sandals or cross trainers– often paired with white crew socks. Before starting my style journey, I admit I was as unconscious as the rest regarding how bad this really looks. Thanks so much for your constant flow of solid advice! A casual button up shirt, linen pants, and suede Oxfords is enough to easily set oneself apart out here.

    Oh, and your last photo is a good cautionary example that even casual clothes should be lightly pressed or steamed before going out. The gentleman above looks like he just took his shirt out of the package! Details count…

    Cheers,
    Phil

  • Ukulele

    Good call. I agree, but the quick test I employ for ‘look good’ is when someone is referring to me, would they say “that guy” or “the young man” over there.  I’m young enough (20) where the gradient of boy/man is shifting, and the distinguishing factor is usually dress. Just realized that now, but when I’m well dressed, being a ‘young man’ vs ‘that guy’ is the difference between great service and getting eyeballed like a shoplifter.

    I know no one should ever quote Tracey Jordan from 30 Rock, but “Dress every day like you’re going to get murdered in those clothes.” Hilarious, but if you were on the front page dressed in grey sweatpants and oversized stained t-shirt, you’d honestly probably be embarassed.

    Great article, I really enjoy the website. As a young man who used to dress like he should be profiled (think timberlands, big sweatpants, puffy winter coat), I understand your statement:
    ” [A] man often represents his family and he always represent himself, and he should dress accordingly.”It doesn’t matter whether it’s right or wrong, people judge you on how you dress. You can either look like a person or someone important, why choose to make a worse impression than you can?

    Cheers, keep doing your thing,
    Greg

  • Ukulele

    I heard a quote about cargo shorts, which I used to wear exclusivly, and now don’t (unless I am out in the wilderness/construction)

    “Unless you’re using those cargo pockets to hold more ammo, you shouldn’t be wearing them”

    Basically, the thought was unless you’re in the army, don’t wear cargo’s

  • Ukulele

    I don’t know what Antonio would say, but I live in a hot region (bible-belt-ish) and when it’s that hot, I usually go khaki chinos, sneakers (www.zappos.com/vans-chukka-low-gray-white), and a white 1mx Express shirt with thin black and brown alternating stripes, brown belt.  I’m younger, so it might be tougher for a man of your age to pull off; I’d say change out the sneakers maybe to some brogues depending on your shirt/belt situation. (editing and reviewing, if you are 49 and wearing my shoes, I wouldn’t respect your opinion on, well, anything. for a 20 yr old, they work, but w/the brogue’s it’s a good look, and would make you look, I hate to you such a generic word, but dynamic. If you wore that, and I came to your place of work, I would have a very favorable opinion.)

    Here’s my amateur opinion, but if it’s 90 degrees out, and you’re wearing more than 1 layer, and you’re not acclimated to multiple layers in that heat, wearing a sport coat will make you uncomfortable, and if you’re visibly uncomfortable, what you’re wearing doesn’t matter, the opinion of you that people will make is ‘uncomfortable’ and they won’t notice if you’re naked or not.

    Extending that, I have a friend who I admit dresses much better than I do (he’s from Hollywood, me Chicago…) but he’s so uncomfortable in his own skin that it doesn’t matter. Me in my chinos and t-shirt looks better than him wearing four tuxedos. Style is a complementary (not substitute) skill to confidence, and many men think that it’s an easy shortcut to it, where as it actually is more the leaves on the tree than the trunk.

    Hope it’s worth 2 cents.

    Cheers

  • Mark

    I noticed the shirt also. It needs ironing.

  • Mark

    Thanks for your thoughts
    Mark

  • Raymond

    Is it me or the shirt of the guy in the last picture looks like it hasn’t been ironed and straight from the package? There’s a clear horizontal line across his torso…

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    You would think the future king of England would learn to iron his shirt!  I’ll email Prince William about this:)

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    Thanks Greg – glad to see you understand where I’m coming from and trying to do.  I simply want to see more smart/able/talented men dress in a manner so they are perceived so and given more opportunity.  Because if you look like a gangster/hoodlum, even with a heart of gold and degree from MIT, I am hesitant to give you an opportunity as I am human and make snap judgement   

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    Phil – great to see you here!  Yea, I probably could have found a better example but just wanted to show how simple it is to elevate your game!

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    My thoughts on this is that they are just ultra casual – I wear them occasionally as they are very useful on long walking trips when I want my hands free/front pockets free of iphone/wallet/keys/water bottle.  The lower pocket placement is perfect as my daughter likes to be carried and front pocket placement of anything becomes a pain.

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    Thanks Martin!  I have to agree – when I come across another well dressed man I find we always have something to talk about because we both pay attention to detail!  

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    Stefan – I agree with your points and actually don’t see how my article conflicts your advice at all:)

    A well fitted T-shirt made from fabric that drapes well and worn in the right setting is perfect – I have a dark green outdoor T-shirt from REI I love and looks great when I’m out playing with my kids in your yard.  But I reserve by beat-up Ts for runs in the woods and when working on the house! 

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    You are welcome Martin!  Thank you for posting sir.

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    Thanks Rich!

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    Mark,

    Thank you sir – although I want to be clear I am no Guru – just a regular guy like you who simply puts forth some effort.  It’s important to say this as other websites put models/celebrities on pedestals.  I can’t relate with these people – I am a simple guy with simple tastes but I do want to give myself every opportunity to succeed by making favorable impressions.  But again thank you for the compliment and my wife and I laughed out loud about the reactions you’re getting – amazing what can change with a small upgrade in your clothing!
    I do wear jacket in hot weather – I do wear ones though constructed with light breathable fabrics (hopsack, fresco, linen) and they are unlined/lightly structured.  I also ensure my shirts are lightweight, and occasionally wear a polo / t-shirt underneath.  A little more advanced than what many would try – but I do it for both research (my excuse!) and I have friends sending me items to literally test.

    And I am almost always the only guy wearing a sport jacket – which isn’t an issue as the way I look at it as I am one of kind – why would I try to dress like everyone else?

    R/S

    Antonio 

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    Solid points I especially like how you stress the need to be confident in your own skin.  So many men never realize the key to style has little to do with clothing and everything to do with the man you are inside.

  • Anonymous

    Love the corduroy jacket!

    consummatestyle.tumblr.com

  • http://twitter.com/_uj Unyime Akpanudosen

    Great post! Consistency as you stated is always the main issue with maintaining one’s self.

    -Unyime

  • Steve

    This article and many of the others, when tied together, make a lot of sense. But you have to move on them!

    I am in a rut and have asked many questions about making changes in style at 45 …sort of a redefining of oneself following a medical scare. Someone here said that you have to be comfortable inside with the change first. To get there you have to “get off the pot”. So to speak.

    Today wife and I headed out to look..came home with jeans that fit and looked good…tailored button downs….sports coats, and even a pair of sharp Luccheses…found those with the help of a college frat brother who is working part time while going back to school. Now I have him as another valuable source.

    What I figured out is that a lot of what has changed traditional style from past years is that the young teen generation (not all though) hasn’t been introduced to icons like Dean, Redford, or even Clooney. There’s a disconnect somewhere. So this disconnect affects even the young sales staff at any department store. They are at a loss when asked for help from someone like me.

    Thanks, Antonio. I got out and made some purchases that will create good change.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MrAllenU Allen Uribes

    I have been wondering how to dress casually, yet professionally, since I’ve become addicted to your posts on AoM.

    Thank you for these great tips! 

  • Josh

    Some of the most excellent advice I’ve read on the topic.

    However, one thing I’ve continually struggled with is how to wear shorts in a way that still looks good. I’d like to wear long pants because they just look better, but in my summer climate of 100+ F, shorts are not an option; they’re mandatory (unless you want a $500/mo electricity bill for air conditioning). I’ve tried various lengths (at knee, past knee, just above knee) and fabrics (cotton, denim) and just can’t seem to put my finger on how to use them effectively. Since shorts are obviously of a casual option, I’d thought I’d ask here: When there is no real alternative, what should you look for in a pair of shorts, and how does this affect what you should wear on the rest of your body (shirt, shoes, socks, etc)?
    I’d love to see an entire article on it, but I realize you must be a busy man (who isn’t?) and will appreciate any light you can shed on the topic.
    Thanks