Four ways to dress up in a dress down culture.

There are times where a suit and tie simply aren't appropriate or necessary. That's fine. It's a fact of life these days. But it can be difficult to assert your more... dressed up mentality in the more dressed down 21st century. Luckily, there are times and places where it's not only appropriate, it will make others believe they should have put in more effort!

A versatile sport coat is your best friend.

In a world where suits seem to dominate any form of dressing beyond casual, we tend to forget sport coats -- which include navy blazers -- actually still exist. Make use of them for situations where everyone else might just wear a shirt tucked in and think that's "dressed up enough". Think above-average restaurants with friends or a dinner party. No tie required. A sport coat and pocket square can make even jeans look more sophisticated. Navy blazers with metal buttons are pretty hard to screw up, but they don't need to be the only sport coat in your wardrobe. Grey/earth-tone plaids and herringbones will pair easily with many different trousers and shirts and will look more appropriate for dressing down jeans.
Sport coats can even dress up blue jeans when chosen carefully.

So, jeans...

Now before the collective iGentry pillories me, I'm not talking about those faded Wranglers that have holes in them from years of doing yard work. I mean decent dark blue or colours that you might normally wear for chinos. Khaki, stone, cream, light brown. In other words, something that can actually be dressed up with a sweater or sport coat. Even in the absence of those garments, the right pair of jeans can really set off a nice polo shirt. I recommend everyone at least own a pair in khaki, since they can be just the ticket when blue will clash with other parts of an outfit or gets repetitive. Like khaki chinos, they go with many different colours and styles. Avoid anything more formal than a loafer for them, however, as welted dress shoes can look rather out of place. You might even try corduroy or moleskin jeans when it's colder out, which will pair well with tweed -- already a relaxed fabric in its own right. These will increase your casual options and look just right when pressed trousers would be a bit too much... but shorts and a t-shirt are out of the question.
A wonderful way to wear khaki jeans. Note also the casual suede boots.

Or just wear chinos more often.

But of course, there are times you don't want or like jeans. Chinos are a good wardrobe staple and, like the aforementioned non-blue jeans, can be had in many different colours these days. That may include shades like brick red and forest green, but I recommend exercising some restraint unless you really know what you're doing. Again, there are weather conditions that preclude wearing cotton twill, so once more corduroy or moleskin are great alternatives that will be easier to care for than wool flannel trousers during the cold weather months. I may also get put in the stockade for saying this but... crease them or don't. No, really! I prefer creasing mine most of the time, but I can understand why many don't. In some situations it really doesn't make much of a difference in how you're perceived. Either way you wear them, get proficient with the iron. Air drying after washing is all good and well, but one should still make sure their trousers don't look like they've been slept in for days. It takes less than half the time of pressing a shirt and makes all the difference.
James Bond clothing expert Matt Spaiser wearing a polished casual outfit, including chinos and silk knitted tie.

Wearing a sweater? Add a tie.

Really, with all the tie options available now, there's no reason not to. Treat your V-neck or cardigan sweater like a sport coat and wear a tie. Silk knits or rustic-looking wovens can harmonize well with casual attire. It can help to, contrary to the title of this article, dress down the shirt a little in this case. An OCBD (oxford cloth button-down) is just the ticket, but chambray or end-on-end with a medium spread collar and lightly lined collar/cuffs can also work well. These kinds of shirts will avert having a more starched and pressed "stuffy" look.
Alyssia Evans' masculine style is given a boost with the simple addition of a tie. (Love those boots.)

What other "style hacks" do you use to look a little nicer than is merely required?


  1. No offense but i thought this was a menswear blog. Why is there a pic of a woman at the end. With her sleeves and pants rolled. Thats not really a great look.

    1. To me, menswear encompasses a certain style of clothing whether it's worn by men, women, or non-binary people. Some people prefer to say "masculine clothing" in the interest of being more inclusive and sometimes I use that term myself.

      Rolled chinos are certainly not my favourite thing but it's better than trying the same with wool trousers. Curious, however, why you think rolled sleeves are not a good look. Is it just because she's wearing a sleeved sweater?

  2. I'd change a few things on her but she doesn't look horrible. Make the collar wider and hem the pants. Don't normally like tucked in sweaters but she's one of the people slim enough to pull it off. (Wish I was as slim and pretty as her.) A lot of people just look like they have a few extra pounds when they try it.

    1. I tried it once and couldn't pull it off myself. Don't know if that has anything to do with my physique. I'm not fat, but I could stand to lose a little more around my midsection. I agree with your other critiques.


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