Sunday, August 7, 2011

5 Casual Categories

When you break down clothing into categories, it becomes a lot easier to understand how to dress well.  Here are 5 basic categories: shoes, bottoms, shirting, outerwear, and personal accessories... I hope to show some guys a few easy options at all different price points and styles.  

*This is not meant to be brand focused, but more on general ideas to incorporate casual classics. I'm not going to talk about suiting or anything like that, most men in this country have a hard enough time not wearing flip-flops to the bar... 
 Shoes/Boots
Brown Wingtips - wear to the office, easy transition to the bar or a night out, and can also be leveraged as a great casual shoes sans socks and with a pair of cuffed denim or rolled chinos.
Work/Hunt Boots - these are what you wear when the weather is shitty or the activity is outdoors or cold.
White canvas sneakers - always classic, from the beach to the streets, you can't beat white sneakers, I'll leave the brand and style up to you.


 Bottoms
Dry Denim - these can be worn every single day or after work to dinner... buy quality, wear often, and don't wash... they'll look even better.  Yes, if you buy the right dark denim, these are both appropriate for day and night. Buy slim but not skinny, make sure they fit over your boots and get them hemmed to the top of your foot.  This will allow you to cuff or roll your denim but keep them from dragging on the ground when you walk.
Chinos - because of the travesty that is "business casual" most people will be able to get away with these at work, even with a corporate business position, and they work well transferring into a casual afternoon around town.
*Trousers - notable exception, if you're down for a dressier option, get some great trousers and wear them as the nicer alternative to chinos.  I find lighter colors are always easier to integrate into your existing wardrobe.


 Shirting
I'm going to make this one simple, buy a light blue and white button down oxford for work, under a blazer, and even to a wedding. Pick up a slim fitting chambray for comfortable casual wear that again can be layered under a jacket or dressed up with a tie. Spring and Summer warrant a madras, seersucker, or poplin shirt in light or bright colors and when Fall rolls around pick up a flannel or tattersall print for under your jean jacket with a top coat or parka on top.  *I love gingham (little white and colored square pattern) for year around wear, the colors just change.

Outerwear
Trench - this is a great jacket that if made an investment piece can last an adult lifetime... I chose the classic trench coat (and brand) but bought a navy color in a slimmer fitting model for dress and causal.
Parka - parka's are one of my favorites jackets because of their simplicity and comfort, choose a waxed cotton or 60/40 fabric and order a color that you'll wear a lot. The parka is a historically outdoorsy jacket but I wear mine in the city all the time and it always looks great no matter the weather.
Top Coat - Every well-dressed gentleman needs and should wear a top coat in the winter, simple as that. 3/4 length, dark charcoal or navy, front pockets, and an inside wallet pocket for travel or business.  This is the only winter dress coat you will ever need, anything else are just options to add in later.
Unstructured (or structured) Blazer or Sport Coat- this is a must, navy in color, and fitted to your body and more specifically tailored to you. Buy something you will wear because you should do just that, wear it a lot.  Again another item that can go from meetings to drinks instantly, loose the tie and socks, roll the chinos and you're golden Ponyboy. 2 or 3 button is your call, and for your own knowledge the difference between a "sport coat" and a "blazer" is quite small.

Accessories
Ties - this is simple, they can be new or vintage, square bottomed or pointed... just buy a medium width and in versatile colors.
Watch - grab a nice military style watch with metal or leather straps, also giving you the ability to switch to a variety of NATO straps. Cheap buy quartz, expensive buy an automatic.
Wallets, bracelets, tie bars, keychains - use discretion and buy what you like to carry and need.. if you wont wear it, save for another investment.  Don't listen to anyone on accessories, you don't need 10 bracelets on your arm to be cool, what's cool is wearing what's you.

By picking from the above categories you should be able to build an easy-to-manage wardrobe and have a ton of options while always looking clean and put together.  From there you can add in more formal options, maybe look into nicer shoes, and maybe even get a custom suit made.

For reference things you should never do... (these aren't options, and I'm not one to tell people how to dress, but these must be abided by)
  • Never for any reason buy or wear square-toed shoes
  • Never button the top button on a 3-button jacket, never button the bottom button on a 2-button
  • Never allow any of your bottoms to drag on the ground
  • Never wear jeans tighter than your girlfriends
  • Never shop at Forever 21
If you guys have suggestions or simple additions to share with the audience, please comment below.  Try to stick to categories or styles, not brands or fads... Thanks.

40 comments:

kappy said...

great read. as for the "never do" list, and i'm sure you didn't mean this and your readership is pretty savvy and they'll understand what you meant, but the "never button top button" might be a little misleading for the novice. if you were to button a two button blazer, you would button the top one, right?

Ryan E. Plett said...

good call, wrote to fast.. I'll change that as you're right... this is geared at the novice... Thanks! RP

hayden said...

is that top wallet a chester mox?

The Enthusiast said...

Best post I've seen on this site by far. You lay your wardrobe out like a Mac operating system. It has less options but those options are very very good.

Nicolas Lazaro said...

Never button the bottom button ever tho

ColinB said...

Hayden - I believe his is a Makr Carry Goods angle wallet, if I remember correctly.

Ryan - Great post for the novice reader...I want that black logo-less so bad...

fivefiftytwo said...

Nice. No offense, but I'm usually pretty disappointed with your posts as I find them too concise and often a bit of a hassle to read (ellipses... everywhere...), but this one is good, or maybe more up my alley. Keep it up!

Ryan E. Plett said...

552- thanks, no offense taken, but why on earth do you come back or follow me if you're usually disappointed?

Ryan E. Plett said...

Hayden, Colin - yup MAKR angle in cordovan... thanks guys.

The Duck-Rabbit said...

I cannot place those boots, can someone tell me what they are?

Euckse said...

Ryan, Been following your blog for a while and really find it as a true inspiration of what to wear.
One thing I've been thinking a lot of lately though is what you whould name the style you wear.
I would like to get some good name for it but after many conversations with friends, that are into design, no one had been able to put a good name on it.
Sure, you could say it's Classic, Preppy, Casual etc.. but with just one word...
Thanks for good reading, keep it up!

Stu said...

What a wonderful post, full of inspiration and great images!

Ben said...

Ryan,

I agree with the comments above, this is a really great post.

I admit, I've been quite influenced by your style of late, making an effort to apply some of your ideas to my own style and look.

I appreciate the time and effort you put into YHBTI.

Keep up the great work!

Jana Miller said...

I would add...stay away from logo shirt. I'm not interested in my man advertising for someone.
jana

Omar20v said...

one of those wooden bracelets is club monaco.. correct me if im wrong :)

Ryan E. Plett said...

Omar- the bracelets are all leather, woven is Bottega, the solid single wrap is Corter, and the triple wrap is BillyKirk. Thanks, RP

Adam said...

I appreciate the simplicity of this article, and I understand the idea of not being married to a particular brand when shopping. However, it would be nice to know what brands/styles you have posted examples of in this post. Those jeans, chambray, and madras look pretty cool.

slimjim_ said...

Great post.
Just one thing though. The blue raincoat is a mac rather than a trench, right?

bob said...

Nice post. Do you know of any places in Chicago that would be nice for these sorts of things? Penelope's is nice but I'm looking to find some others. Thanks.

Brettyfetty said...

I just got a really classy and slim fitting cardigan at forever 21. In a completely non-argumentative way I'd love to hear your reasoning for not liking the place.

Ryan E. Plett said...

Bob - try Brooks Brothers, Rugby, and Haberdash in Chicago for some simple stuff...

Slimjim - nope it's a Burberry trench, just not double breasted, the belt is usually tied back on my trenches...

Adam- Jeans are Rogue Territory Stantons, Chambray is Sunny Sports, oxfords are Brooks Brothers, the red chambray print is Gitman, but dont buy it... this is the third one I've had and they FALL APART.. bullshit.

Ryan E. Plett said...

BrettyFetty - I don't support that cheap of overseas manufacturing, there are just sooooo many better options and alternatives. Give me a topic or an item, I'll find you a better product and company. Thanks for reading.

Kenn said...

What wingtips are those? chino? I'm looking for some slim chinos

Ryan E. Plett said...

Kenn - Wingtips are Florsheim Veblens, Save Khaki - SKU Utility chinos

Maximillion said...

Ryan. Thanks for the inspring post!
I don't get some of the comments complaining about the "other" posts they didn't like. Enjoy every one of them - thanks.

Best from Berlin. Max

The Insult said...

Hey, I have the same white canvas vans, although my laces are different, did you buy those separately?

limestone creek said...

duck-rabbit: Yuketen Maine Guide Boot I believe.
Great post, perfect basics

D said...

Great post. Love all the shoes and the shirts.
Thrifting for accessories is one of my favorite things to do, I always find the best belts!
If you haven't considered it already, you should do a giveaway!

Isaac said...

Nice work. One of your best.

Some extra rules suggestions:

Never shop at Kenneth Cole
Never wear souvenir t-shirts, especially not from your vacation in Mexico

Dave206 said...

nice post... basics keep on progressin, so its good to get an update.

The OC Josh said...

Do you have any suggestions for where to get a good parka?

Harry said...

how about light crewneck sweaters or v-necks for the colder months up here in Canada.
Great blog, very informative BTW... keep up the great work.

Patrick Burt said...

"Never button the top button on a 3-button jacket, never button the bottom button on a 2-button"

I think you mean, never button the bottom button on a 3-button jacket.

The rule for 3-buttons, iirc, is Sometimes-Always-Never

Ryan said...

great entry. classic advice. Thanks, Ryan.

MLB4ZIM said...

what types of vans are the vans in the shoe category next to brown boots?

adified said...

Best style post i have seen on any site in a long time. very well done! Can we get more posts like this?

adified said...

Best style post i have seen on any site in a long time. very well done! Can we get more posts like this?

MyStyleVita said...

A friend just introduced me to your blog so i can learn more men's fashion (i have a woman's fashion blog and know NOTHING about mens) and this is definitely the BEST post i've ever seen for fashion. All wrapped up into fantastic simple categories. Makes me look at my wardrobe completely different and allows me to help my BF out with his wardrobe.

xoxo MyStyleVita

Ryan E. Plett said...

Thanks everyone for the comments, going to try and put together some footwear and maybe more detailed posts likes this as well...

Thank again,
RP

Franky J. Jones said...

Ryan,

I would like to know if you can recommend your favorite brand for 'the basics' if you have one. I am specifically looking for a navy blazer, but I'm a bit gun shy about spending on a blazer when I'm unsure of the quality. Can you give me a brand to look for?