How To Nail Dressed Casual In 5 Steps

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Introducing Dressed Casual.

Vancouver is unquestionably casual when it comes to attire – the result being we perpetually feel on the verge of overdressing in a way you would never feel in Europe, New York or Montreal.  Suits are a daily ritual in certain sectors and remain appropriate in specific non-work situations but much more common is a dressed casual approach: especially in industries like advertising, technology, hospitality and real estate.  It’s a fully put together look but one that is firmly casual in its roots.

Oddly though the dressed casual look is way harder to pull off.  With a suit comes certain conventions that guide and keep you focused.  With dressed casual you’re walking a line between two styles – with this comes plenty of freedom and choice but more importantly ample opportunity to make mistakes.

Here are 5 keys to nailing the dressed casual look:

1.  Wear a jacket.

An odd jacket or blazer is the key to the dressed casual look – instantly you’re appearance is elevated a level.  Three keys in this:

The first is it’s an odd jacket – meaning the pants don’t match.  There should be no confusion thus the color, texture and pattern of the two need to be clearly different.  The second is cloth selection – smoother worsted wools are the most formal, flannels and textured wools are less so and then we have tweeds, linens and lastly cotton which is the most casual.  The last key is the jacket’s structure and length – a loose rule being the more unstructured and shorter the jacket the more casual it becomes so find the balance that works for you.

2.  Get the pants right.

Whether you’re wearing wool, cotton or denim it’s crucial to sync the fit of your pant to that of your jacket.  A jacket creates a long and lean silhouette – our pants need to do the same thing.  The most common error; too loose and too long.  We need room in the seat and quads as most of us sit for the bulk of the day.  What should be lost though is the bagginess that most guys wear from the knee down and the pooling that occurs on your shoe.  Trim it up.

3.  Wear a collar.

You would think this is obvious but I see a lot of jackets worn over t-shirts out there.  Without doubt a collar elevates your look to the next level – depending on execution it can lean towards a more formal look or it can be quite casual.  A warning though – a polo shirt doesn’t always count.  There is what I refer to as a dress polo and then there are golf shirts.  If your polo is like the one below then go ahead.

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4.  Mix and match.

This refers to texture of cloth, layers and a little bit of color – notice how that is listed last.  Color is often pushed as the first way to spice up your look – I couldn’t disagree more.  When used well color can definitely add to a look but it’s the blending and layering of different textures that makes things visually appealing.  In the images above and below you see exactly that – a cashmere sweater under a textured wool, flannel paired with a smooth worsted wool, cotton with a dressed up denim.  It’s the subtlety that is so crucial – play around a bit and learn what looks best to your eye.

5.  Shoes make the man.

The saying might be a bit over the top but shoes absolutely complete the finished product.  And with trimming down your pants and removing the pooling at your ankles your shoes are now prominently on display which means they cannot be an afterthought.  Suede chukkas, classic lace-ups, loafers – the ones shown are a just few examples of the options available to you.  Look for a post next week when I’ll go over the range of shoes you need to have on hand.  At a minimum though – keep them polished and well loved.

Take care – and as always if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.


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