There's a rumor out there that I sleep in a suit.
Not true. I do dress down on my days off.
However, when I'm going to the grocery store or the post office, I still like to look good.
A lot of you have been asking for something on this topic – here's how to look great when you dress down.
Read on to learn the five rules of casual style and the individual pieces that should be in your casual wardrobe.
Casual Style Rule #1: Respect The Dress Code
If the dress code calls for business attire, it doesn't matter how great your casual outfit – it's the wrong thing to wear.
‘But Antonio, there isn't a dress code in most situations!'
Wrong. There is ALWAYS a dress code – even if it's unwritten and unspoken.
You need to pay attention and make sure that you dress appropriately. Casual clothing is great, but no matter how sharp you look in it, you'll look wrong if the occasion calls for formal, semi-formal, or business attire.
#2. Know The Style Pyramid
The style pyramid consists of the three most important elements of style: fit, function, and fabric. Let's talk about those as they apply to casual clothing.
When you're buying business clothing, especially a suit, you'll get it adjusted to fit you. Often the company has an in-house tailor who can do it for you right there. This isn't always the case with casual clothing – and this is where a lot of guys drop the ball.
Understand: fit is king.
Avoid anything that says ‘one size fits all'. One size does not fit all. Find a company that actually offers different sizes so you're more likely to get the perfect fit.
The meaning of ‘function' is quite simple: what's it for? A bomber jacket is for casual or ultra-casual wear, a navy blazer is business casual because of the style. So make sure you understand the function of the clothes you choose – you know where they're going to fit in the dress code.
‘Fabric' isn't just about the material, it's also about the build quality of the garment – how it's fabricated.
Fabric has an effect on formality: luxury fabrics such as wool are often the most formal, then cottons, and then synthetics. I love synthetics and where they've gone in the last 20 to 30 years, but they are generally more casual.
#3. Nail Your Grooming
I believe grooming is even more important when you dress casually than when you're dressed sharp in a suit.
Casual clothing plus good grooming says you're enjoying some hard-earned leisure time; casual clothing plus sloppy grooming says you're a slob.
Make sure your hair looks like you've made an effort. Get a good haircut, and carry a comb if you need to keep it in check.
Don't get your facial hair get out of control. A little weekend stubble is fine at the gym, but not so much if you're going to meet with a client. Keep an electric razor in your car in case you need to shave in a hurry.
If you've got a beard, use a beard trimmer – don't let that thing get out of control. I like the yeard (year of beard growth), but I don't like seeing a beard that's all over the place. It makes you look like Grizzly Adams.
Finally, have a nose hair trimmer – and use it.
#4. Upgrade Your Accessories
Accessories carry more weight when you're dressing casually, because your clothing isn't grabbing as much attention.
Try out some masculine jewelry like a bracelet, earrings, or a necklace. Wear a nice watch. Remember a great pair of shades can level up your style.
Your luggage matters too. Say you're taking a weekend trip – are you going to take a backpack? I love backpacks, but they scream ‘student'. Get a leather weekender bag and it'll scream ‘stylish'.
#5. Bring In Color And Texture
Color and texture have a lot more weight in casual style than they do in formal styles. Formal styles are dominated by neutrals like black, gray, and navy blue. In casual styles you can bring in rich red and a variety of other colors.
When it comes to color, brighter = more casual.
For instance, a bright olive green is more casual than a dark forest green. A bright red is more casual than burgundy. Watch out with brights though – more muted colors will go with more things in your interchangeable wardrobe.
When it comes to texture, more texture = more casual.
So a quilted jacket, which is very textured, is ultra-casual. A suede jacket, which has a bit of a texture, is less casual – but still more casual than a regular smooth leather jacket.
Bonus: Clothes You Need In Your Casual Wardrobe
Speaking of quilted and leather jackets, those are a great start to your casual wardrobe. Note that buttons on a jacket are more formal than a zipper.
Going much more casual, try a denim jacket (aka trucker jacket). I recommend that you wear it as outerwear.
You CAN wear a denim jacket with jeans – they just can't both be the same color.
(Yes, I know Agent Tequila from Kingsman 2 pulled it off. You are not him.)
If you want to add a bit of style to your casual outfits, throw in a classic piece like a peacoat or a sports jacket. Remember, even when you're wearing it casually, your sports jacket is naked if you don't have a pocket square in the pocket.
#2. Sweaters And Hoodies
Sports team sweaters are great for game day – but that's about all you should wear them for. Likewise, you want to save anything stained and aged for DIY and yard work.
A clean and neat hoodie, while still very casual, is perfectly respectable – and a zip-up sweater is a step up again, especially if you wear a button-down shirt under it.
When it comes to sweaters, thinner fabric and closer fits are smarter – anything baggy and chunky or fleecy is more casual.
I absolutely love vests, including quilted vests. I think they can elevate your casual style wardrobe. The easiest way to bring these in is to go with dark solid colors that are already used in your jacket collection.
#4. Casual Shirts
When it comes to your casual shirts, if you don't want to change up the color, change up the style. Try different pockets, contrasting buttons, or an entirely different style like a cowboy shirt.
There you have it, gentlemen – enjoy dressing down with style without even needing to worry about looking good in jeans. Just remember the five rules:
- Respect The Dress Code
- Know The Style Pyramid
- Nail Your Grooming
- Upgrade Your Accessories
- Bring In Color And Texture