Sport Coat: Spier & MacKay
Belt: W. Kleinberg
Pocket Square: Drake’s
Sport Coat: Spier & MacKay
Belt: W. Kleinberg
Pocket Square: Drake’s
Wearing casual outerwear with more tailored, classic menswear has quickly become one of my favorite styles. In this article, I want to give some insights into how I built my current outerwear collection, along with what styles I plan to add in the future. I’ll also touch on some of the basic principles I use when pulling outfits together, and finally, I will provide some guidance on what items I feel pair best when incorporating casual outerwear into your wardrobe.
At the beginning of 2017, I owned only two pieces of outwear: a lightweight bomber jacket for spring, and a heavier jacket for winter. I made it my mission in 2017 to focus on adding quality, casual outerwear pieces to my wardrobe. I’d first like to review the process I used when choosing these items, in addition to how I pair them with work attire.
When it comes to choosing outerwear, versatility is the name of the game for me. I have a fairly tight clothing budget so I carefully consider how much use I am likely to get out of an item before deciding to pull the trigger. When starting my outerwear search, I turned to Instagram for inspiration, searching hashtags like #styleforum, #mnswr #ptoman, as well as a few of my favorite accounts such as @stylejournaldaily, @drakesdiary, and @sartorialviking. With my research in hand, I was able to narrow down a few styles I felt could be dressed up or down with relative ease. I found myself gravitating towards field jackets, chore coats, safari jackets, and classic waxed 2 pocket jackets like the Barbour Beaufort. I quickly realized that a combo of these casual styles in staple colors would be versatile enough to wear with a ton of looks – everything from trousers and a tie during the week to jeans and a tee on weekends.
I remember first trying to find field jackets and suede bomber jackets, the latter of which I have still yet to get in my hands. I searched relentlessly through the Styleforum buy & sell section looking for anything that may fit the build. There were pieces like the Eidos “Ragosta” and suede bombers from Valstar that were perfect but out of my budget. As my search continued, about a year ago I posted a wanted ad looking for any that might be sitting in people closets not being used. When that failed, I realized that it was probably for the best considering the price point; then, I turned to eBay to see what more affordable options I could find. After stalking Luxe Swap eBay listings for weeks on end I ended up bidding on and winning a couple amazing field jackets: a navy from Brunello Cucinelli and an unlined tan cotton by Aspesi. A short while later, I added a vintage Private White VC “Squaddie” waxed wool jacket (also from eBay) and a few used Epaulet field jackets off of Grailed.
The last style I wanted to add to my wardrobe was a classic chore coat, and this one took me a few tries to get right. After trying out a few brands and having to return or sell them due to fit issues, Epaulet released their updated chore coat design called the “Doyle”. I quickly snatched up one in olive duck canvas and it became one of my favorite pieces in my closet. I have since added two more “Doyle” jackets, one in an indigo dyed cotton sashiko fabric and another in banana yellow wool.
Looking into 2018, I do have some additional outerwear items on my wish list. These items will be ones that can further bridge the gap between casual and classic menswear as I transition to more tailored items.
A field jacket like the Eidos “Ragosta” in a navy Donegal fabric is first on my list pending budget. I’d also like to pick up a slightly more tailored piece of outerwear like a raglan topcoat or belted coat but in a casual patterned cloth, such as a herringbone or houndstooth. I will be keeping a close eye on Styleforum affiliate Spier & Mackay as they hinted at adding some patterned topcoats to their line this fall. Epaulet also took to Instagram to preview plans for an updated version of their field jacket, which I am very excited to see finalized. Lastly, I am looking forward to what Private White VC does in 2018; they sold off a lot of their current 2017 inventory, which I can only hope means big things are coming.
The one challenge I have found with casual outwear is that you can never really get the pieces to work all that well with suits or full formal attire – unless the former is very casual in cut and fabric. With this, I like to stick to layering casual outerwear over unstructured sport coats and textured fabrics and accessories. These are the kinds of items I have found incorporate easily into an outfit with a casual jacket: oxford shirts, flannel or cotton trousers, denim, tweed or cotton sport coats, and knit or shantung ties.
When it comes to building an outfit that includes casual outerwear, I like to start from the ground up. I first choose my trousers as I have less variety to choose from at the moment and therefore need to build my outfits around them. I have a wide variety of shirts so I typically select this piece based on my plan for layering/outerwear that day. For example, if I am planning to wear a bold cardigan I may opt for a simple white or light blue shirt. However, without the sweater, I would likely choose a striped shirt to make more of a statement. Getting comfortable pairing items in my wardrobe took practice and experimentation while I got a feel for what I liked and what would work well with my personal style. After pairing outfits like this for many months it has become second nature, which is great because a couple years ago this process could be rather daunting at times!
When choosing a tie I’ll look at my chosen shirt and cardigan, or lack of a cardigan, for guidance. My current collection of ties is quite casual, including lots of soft fabrics, knits, slubby shantung, and grenadines. From there, I will select my footwear and outerwear last. I’d like to say I have some sort of method to my madness here, but in all honesty, both items get chosen almost exclusively based on the weather that day. I’ve built a strong base of versatile items in both categories and will likely go into much more detail on my footwear collection at another time. Like other areas of my wardrobe, my footwear collection falls on the casual end of the spectrum (i.e. I do not own any balmoral shoes or anything in black). When it comes to the weather, if it’s wet or raining outside I’ll typically grab a waxed jacket like my Private White VC “Squaddie” jacket and functional footwear with rubber soles. When it’s dry out, which is about 4 months of the year in Calgary, Alberta, anything goes in my eye! As mentioned above, with my outerwear pieces being quite versatile, the last factor I consider is what piece would contrast best with my chosen trousers. My favorite casual outerwear as of late is the olive duck canvas “Doyle” jacket from Epaulet.
Pairing casual outerwear with classic pieces gives you a chance to experiment with textures and more saturated colors. It’s also a great way to spice up your business casual attire. Don’t be afraid to pair up some less conservative color palettes and outerwear that you may have written off as exclusively casual. If you try something similar out and are on Instagram I’d love to see – tag me (@burzanblog) in your pictures so I can check out how you guys style your casual outfits.
For more inspiration, you can browse the What Are You Wearing Today – Classic Menswear, Casual Style thread on the forum.
It’s half past 8, it’s 25°F outside, and you’re rushing to get out the door—running late for work again. You throw open your closet to choose a coat to layer up over your suit.
“Hmmmm, which one will I wear today?
“I could go full Russian and wear the Norwegian Rain Moscow with fur collar. But that’s my favorite coat and I wore that yesterday.
“I could go full Italian with the Eidos topcoat. Ehhh, that’s too insouciant for the workplace.
“I suppose I could go full #menswear and wear the robe coat. Nah, I’ll get a hundred snide comments.
“Dang it, now it’s 20 to 9 and I still haven’t picked a coat. Forget it, I’ll wear the Moscow again.”
The signs are obvious—it’s a Tide ad.
Just kidding, you’ve got a #menswear problem.
Maybe it’s time to declutter your winter wardrobe, including—but not limited to—your sweet outerwear collection. Here are five tips to help you do so.
I wrote a little bit about this in one of my previous article. The gist is to have a system for your clothes—whether it’s shirts, trousers, jackets, coats—where it’s obvious what you have worn recently and what you have not. Doing so allows you to identify what winter wardrobe items you just don’t wear.
I don’t recommend going full Marie Kondo, assessing the specific level of joy each thing brings, then donating the rest of it—but, if there are jackets, sweaters, flannel shirts, or anything else that you haven’t worn all winter because there’s other stuff you enjoy wearing more, it’s probably safe to get rid of those things.
Allow me to state that besides the “joy” factor, there is a time that you have to acknowledge that your style has changed and maybe it’s time to get rid of old things you never wear for that reason. There was a good season or two I was still gaming the J.Crew sales to try to score good deals on V-neck merino sweaters before realizing, “wait a minute, I don’t actually wear these things.”
There’s also a time to acknowledge your #dadbod, to put it charitably. Looking at my own dad, I can see that at my age, he had roughly the same body shape as I do. But something clearly happened in the ensuing 10-15 years (at 62, he’s back to my size again, and I have a mind to kop an Eidos jacket or two for him at some point). I fully intend to maintain my current fitness level forever, but we all know best intentions don’t always go fulfilled. If you find yourself in a position of unfulfilled intent, consider it an opportunity to sell off old clothes that don’t fit and upgrade with something that does.
Besides, those old 32 waist APCs have too low a rise for your more sophisticated appreciation of higher rise denim.
There’s a point where you can declutter too much. I know because I’ve been there. My friend Jonathan had gotten engaged, and for his bachelor party, we went paintballing—in March (in Ohio). Sounds like a great (if freezing) time, except I had purged my closet of nearly everything I might’ve been okay getting covered in paint. I wore pebble-grain chukka boots from Banana Republic that up until then were still in somewhat regular rotation (this was early in my menswear transformation, cut me some slack). So while I enjoyed the final gauntlet we put Jonathan through (he had welts all over his body for his honeymoon), I was definitely not appropriately dressed for that day.
These days, I make sure to have stuff in my closet or in storage bins downstairs so that I’m not caught without the right gear. Like a few weeks ago when I dug a trench outside my house for drainage in 30° weather after a week of heavy rain. I was glad to have a fleece, old jeans and some old boots to work in the mud in.
Back in my merino V-neck wearing days, I recall having a perfect navy sweater. It was from Banana Republic and I wore it to great effect all the time (in particular over a blue gingham button-up shirt—you know the one). But even then I recognized that Banana quality left something to be desired, and there came a point within 2-3 years that it was clearly showing its age. I knew I needed to replace it and reduce how often I wore it.
I’m not the kind of guy to, say, buy seven identical pairs of shoes so as to spread out the wear and tear amongst them and prolong their natural life. But I do think it’s good to recognize those things you’ve identified as your best-of, favorite items (see point 1), and when there’s an awesome deal on the same or very similar thing, you can buy it to keep the magic alive. Depending on what it is, you can take advantage of seasonal sales, especially if you’re under no time pressure to immediately replace it.
The coat matrix skews admittedly toward a tailored-favoring audience, so I apologize to the streetwear guys. But it can be useful for classifying the coats in your wardrobe, which will, in turn, help you spot gaps (or surpluses in certain categories). The gist is to break your outerwear into categories based on the level of formality level, and how warm they are.
It’s fair to say that the colder months are more ripe for dressing well because of all the layering opportunities and wealth of great clothing categories (sweaters, outerwear, scarves, etc.). The flip side of that is that the risk of over-stocking your closet to the detriment of warm-weather attire. You need to save some room in your wardrobe so you can look great all year round—not just when it’s freezing outside.
Use these five tips to help free up some space and clear out the cruft of your wardrobe. Of course what you do with that newly vacant space is up to you. Something tells me it’ll quickly be filled again.
Ah, Valentine’s Day. I remember our 2nd Grade class getting loads of pink cardboard paper and glitter to create cards for “our valentine,” not knowing what that was. Then I found out. A good way to jump-start anxiety at an early age. Fortunately, I was exempt, because if you’re like me (you know who you are), every day is Valentine’s Day!
But let’s say you want to take your SO on a special date. What do you wear? The answer to that depends on the situation. Dinner and a movie? Opera and cocktails? A walk on a moonlit beach? Decisions, decisions.
The quick answer is: be you, but a bit nicer looking. You could show up in your pajamas, but dressing up demonstrates respect for your date and the occasion, because both are special, right? Right. Unless the date is a pajama party. In which case, wash your pj’s first.
For new couples, keep it casual. If you’re meeting at a coffee shop, wear a nice pair of jeans or khakis, a button up oxford, and clean sneakers or oxfords. After coffee, why not take a walk at a nearby park? Or better yet, find out what activities she likes – hiking, bicycling, karaoke – and plan around that.
Of course, just because you’re a new couple doesn’t mean you can’t get all fancy. If you’re date’s down for a night on the town, go for it – and dress accordingly. If you start with dinner at a nice restaurant, go for a dark outfit. It’s safe, unfussy, and easy to dress up or down, depending on where you go. A fail-safe option is a navy suit. Pair it with a crisp white button up shirt, or swap the shirt for a thin charcoal or black merino turtleneck. If dark jeans are your thing, reach for black Chelseas or zip boots, a blue oxford button down, and a grey tweed sport coat or field jacket.
Perhaps you’ve been together for a while now, and are looking for something special to do. Show that you were paying attention – you were, weren’t you? – by choosing something she said she liked to do. It could be a picnic, wine tasting, or a leisurely walk to a park, downtown, or movie theater. If you have access to a beach, lake, or river, walk there, and bring a frisbee with you to enjoy the sun – everybody can play frisbee. All you need are a nice pair of jeans, boots, and a nice button-up shirt.
However, when it’s a special occasion that calls for something a bit more formal, consider what she’ll be wearing. Being over- or underdressed can be a bit embarrassing, so set the tone by saying “Let’s dress up,” and be sure to follow by saying what you’re wearing so that she can have something on which to base her decision. On the other hand, she could have that one outfit that she’s been dying to wear, so let her choose and follow suit. What if she says she has nothing to wear? Besides starting an argument (don’t do it), you have two options: go shopping with her (that’ll score you major points) or tell her far enough in advance so she can plan to go shopping with friends. Whatever she chooses, be a gentleman and let her take center stage. You may have the perfect red velvet cocktail jacket, but be careful not to outshine your date; remember that this is her night. Show that she’s important by taking her into consideration. For example, ask her what her favorite outfit of yours is and wear it. Or find out what her favorite color is, or which one she’ll be wearing, and chose a flower or pocket square that complements it.
Dinner and a show is always a safe bet, but why not try something different? Go to that one restaurant she’s been dying to try, and then follow up with a dancing class. Or you could go to a club that plays her favorite music. Many museums have evening hours, perfect for an after-dinner stroll and providing easy topics for conversation. If black tie is too formal, a nice suit, comfortable shoes, and a listening ear are all you need to enjoy your time together.
Pro tip: if she likes perfumes, start the evening out by going to a department store and trying scents. Let her pick one for herself, ask her to pick one for you, drop your bank card, and the rest of the evening is set. You’re welcome.
Any date, no matter the day, is an opportunity to show your partner that you care about your relationship. Let your dress reflect that by notching it up a bit. These are occasions to engage in relaxed conversation, have fun, and cement your relationship. The special dates are your chances to create long-lasting memories. Don’t let your dirty sneakers ruin it.
Still have questions? Ask the Styleforum community! Join the conversation on The State of Black Tie thread, and post your black tie outfit on the What Are You Wearing Today thread.
The ‘blazer and jeans’ look is as common today as it ever has been, championed by retailers and social media accounts of all sorts. Most commonly, you’ll see narrow black blazers paired with narrow black denim or torn jeans, or you’ll find true dad-wear diehards wearing stonewashed Levi’s with too-big sport coats. On the other side of the spectrum are Styleforum’s SW&D posters, who have long been sharing less rigid and rule-bound takes on the same combination.
However, if you fall more on the Classic Menswear side of things, don’t lose heart. There is certainly – perhaps more so now than ever – a segment of the denim market in which you can find some very versatile jeans for a tailored wardrobe. If that sounds like you, here are several considerations you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re shopping for denim, along with some tips from Styleforum members to send you on your way.
First and foremost: jeans are not trousers. The key to wearing them with tailored clothing is understanding that they don’t need to be forced into a role as stand-ins for trousers, but that they offer new and different styling possibilities for your wardrobe. If you think that jeans are too casual to be worn with tailored clothing, then you’ll likely be happier if you stick with trousers than you would be trying to force denim into your wardrobe.
Before you consider the hem width or color of your jeans, make sure that you’re keeping an eye on the rise. Are you planning to tuck in your shirt? If so, you’ll want to stay away from low-rise jeans, which will result in untucked shirts and unsightly bulges at the crotch and belt line. If your tastes tend toward the classic, you’ll probably want to look for a ‘medium rise,’ as most men’s jeans won’t be marked as a ‘high rise’ (if you’re looking for explicitly high-rise denim, your best bet is to search Western and Cowboy supply stores for brands such as Lee and Wrangler). This has the added benefit of making your jeans resemble trousers more closely in silhouette, which means that if you’re sticking with your classic clothing, it will be easier to work denim into your wardrobe.
Do you plan to wear your jeans with espadrilles and camp collar shirts? With loafers and a polo? With chunky, English footwear and a sport coat? This will help you do decide on the inseam length and hem width that you prefer. I suggest not going wider than 8-8.5″, as denim has its own characteristics and quickly starts to look sloppy when overly wide.
For example, you’re looking for a pair of jeans to wear in the summertime, consider a cream fabric hemmed to no break, as these will pair well with loafers. If you plan to wear them with chukkas in the fall and winter seasons, a longer inseam and some tasteful stacking will look nice.
Similarly, too-narrow jeans may look at home in a streetwear context, but be out of place in a more traditional getup.
Texture is as important in denim as it is when choosing trousers. Wearing thin, uninteresting denim that doesn’t stand out won’t necessarily elevate your look – however, pronounced slubbiness or neppiness may not be what you want either. The latter fabrics can be difficult to dissociate from their rugged, workcloth origins, and don’t necessarily pair well with tailored clothing, while the former can read as bland and unconsidered.
There’s no specific ‘best’ denim for wearing with tailored clothing, but I prefer to err on the side of textured. This limits the chances that you’ll look like a boring office drone.
My personal opinion is that very dark jeans look silly with sport coats and a tucked-in shirt, as they go too far in aping the look of trousers and instead ignore the characteristics of denim. Jeans are not a formal garment, even in this informal world, and that’s not changed by pairing them with more formal clothing. A highly-textured denim can alleviate this effect somewhat.
Obviously, you may choose to go the raw route, and wear your jeans until they’re distressed to your tastes. Otherwise I’d suggest looking for a light to medium-dark blue, depending on the look you’re after. Faded indigo is a lovely color, and works very nicely with tailored jackets in a way that navy trousers can’t.
There are also more and more makers offering tasteful washes, should you prefer your jeans pre-washed.
There’s no right answer here. Generally, I recommend avoiding thick, heavy cuffs – a single cuff or micro-cuff can look nice, but this depends greatly on the width of the hem and the shoe you’re wearing. Here are some examples that I think look good, followed by others that I think miss the mark. Ultimately, the choice is up to you.
Don’t be afraid to hem or taper your jeans, the way you would alter any other garment. They’re still an off-the-rack garment, so the chances that anything you find will fit you or your tastes perfectly are as slim as they are in any other case. For example, Levi’s had so many customers request that the legs of their 501 jeans be tapered that they introduced a new fit, the 501 CT. Keep that in mind if you’re looking through thrift stores for the perfect, already-broken-in wash.
However, don’t get too precious – remember, jeans aren’t trousers, and part of what makes denim pleasant is its innately unkempt, casual feel.
The following are brands that offer denim in cuts amenable to tailoring or to a more classic wardrobe. Keep in mind that there are many, many others – a cruise through most of the Italian RTW brands on Yoox will net endless results. Levi’s offers numerous budget options, and would be my choice if you’re looking to keep costs down, but if you have the cash to spare there are far nicer options available.
Japan Blue Jeans
“I think the best way is to just throw it on and think no more of it. A very casual jacket helps of course.”
“I don’t do the denim+SC look often – I generally prefer chinos – but I do think it can work. When I’ve done it in the past I’ve usually reached for gray tweed, brown flannel, tan linen, things like that (depending on the weather). I’ve never tried the navy on navy, I just haven’t felt good about it whenever I looked in the mirror.”
“It helps to have awesome hair. Or some interesting detail so it doesn’t feel like ‘I just got home from the office but only had time to change half of my outfit before going out to dinner.'”
“I’ve debated this with folks here before, but I think for all but the tallest of dudes, jackets worn with odd pants generally and jeans particularly should be shorter than a standard suit jacket. If this isn’t done, the jacket makes the look top-heavy and dumpy. One inch minimum, probably no more than two.”
Even though most of us dread the unbearable humidity and heat that comes with summer, we still need to dress professionally. While we can likely endure wearing year-round or three-season suiting in air conditioned offices, the clothes that tend to bring us the most joy in summer – as in winter – are those made from fabrics specific to the season. Our garments for summer can be as particular, as interesting and as beautiful as those for winter, in that they have different characteristics in make, color, weave, and the like. However, in order to complete the outfit, you still need the right accessories; only then will you ensure that the ensemble is complete.
Fabrics for summer ties are similar to those for our garments. While there are ties that can work all year long, or for most seasons – grenadine, silk rep, printed silk all come to mind – you might want to add a little seasonal variation by adding an interesting element into an outfit. Just as is the case with an odd sport coat, crunchy or slubby textures, open weaves, or unstructured designs all help make a tie more summer-friendly. Playing with color, as you would with said odd jacket, also helps a tie to be more appropriate for warm weather – pastels or subdued neutrals work well for summer. Personally, I enjoy a six or seven-fold tie for less structure, especially when paired with a more open weave, such as grenadine in a light but muted blue or green. It gives it a sort of nonchalant look that works for most occasions, excepting the most formal or serious business meetings.
Shantung, or tussah silk, offers a slubby texture that helps bring an informal element to the tie. This is a wild silk that is obtained from silkworms that feed on leaves in an uncontrolled environment; because there is less control over the process, the silk worm hatches to break the filament length, creating shorter and more coarse fibers, which provides a more ‘matte’ look.
Ties made of linen or linen blends have the benefit of inherent slubbiness, but they wrinkle easily. They do retain that crisp nature that all linens share, which allows these fabrics to drape well especially when lined. Just keep in mind that they work best for less formal outfits, and work especially well when paired with linen or cotton suits.
Cotton and cotton-blend ties are similar to linen, serving as a more relaxed option. They tend to wrinkle – like linen – but do not have that crisp characteristic; this means that they exhibit less of an elegant drape. I recommend cotton ties for the most relaxed environments, and they would be at home more with an odd jacket or a cotton suit.
Here is a list of some examples for summer appropriate ties that we think are worth considering, and a few tips on how to pair them.
This tan shantung silk tie from Calabrese 1924 via No Man Walks Alone provides a classic stripe, but the subdued, neutral tan and the slubby fabric help to make it more of a summer affair. This self-tipped tie provides a structured neckpiece that could work in most occasions.
This Liverano&Liverano seven-fold silk tie is the epitome of a tie for the more conservative striped style. The colors scream Ivy League (if you ignore that the direction of the stripes are European instead of American), and it begs to be worn under the staple hopsack blazer in everyone’s closet. The orange almost evokes that quintessential go-to-hell attitude that you might not dare pull off with colored trousers.
This tie from Drakes features tussah silk in a natural color. Paired with an odd linen sport coat, the tie would wear well, seeing as it has hand rolled blades and less structure than a normal tie.
How many times in your life have you seen a seersucker tie? This gorgeous muted green tie from Vanda Fine Clothing is extremely neutral, and would pair lovingly under blue, tan and brown jackets. The handrolled edges and light lining complete the nonchalant air.
This tie made by hand from Vanda Fine Clothing out of Solbiati linen is a great warm weather accessory. The texture and wrinkles with the classic Glenplaid pattern and subdued neutral colors makes this an exceptional tie under a wool-fresco or linen jacket.
Warmer months mean more time spent outside, where you can soak in the sun’s warm rays and take in the intoxicating perfume of spring’s flowers in full bloom. While doing so, you may even be tempted to pluck one and place it in your jacket’s lapel, because why not? Flowers are, after all, one of Mother Nature’s most beautiful creations and have been used since ancient times to celebrate everything from birth to one’s memory.
“Why” is not the subject of this article – “how” is, because the simplicity of wearing a flower in one’s lapel, a boutonniere, has been morphed into all-too-often complicated mess, with results both unpolished and overly precious. In short, the process can be put into five words: put it in your buttonhole. And then: put it through the loop. Okay, so that’s ten.