02 February 2013

The Old Casual

It really is amazing to think about how the definition of the word "casual" as it applies to our modes of dress has changed so drastically in so little time. I'm not going to complain that things are generally more comfortable for people these days, because I'm glad to wear jeans and sweaters to drop the kids off at school and go to the supermarket. Nor am I going to wax rhapsodic about some bygone era that I know of only through movies and books and pine for a time that was done before my birth. But I will trot out what used to be considered casual dress on a Saturday afternoon  now and then.
Dark shirts are not something to be used lightly with a jacket and tie, but it can be done. I've written on this before. I usually wear this shirt alone with khakis or jeans, but given its color scheme in navy, hunter green, and gold, it can take a tie sometimes. I think the trick is to remember what casual used to mean, and stick with tweeds and other textured, soft fabrics. I'm sure that the combination pictured above will garner wailing and gnashing of teeth from the purists for both the use of a dark shirt and the overt four pattern combination, but so be it. I find it to be a nice change of pace now and then from the standard light colored shirt. And as much as we lament the loss of stricter codes of dress, not having one gives me the freedom to wear this if I want to, and that's not all bad. Besides, it is Saturday.

Charcoal grey whipcord trousers with deep forward pleats from the Andover Shop held up with braces complete things. On the feet, argyle socks and cordovan longwings, outside a tan cashmere coat, brown corduroy cap and brown leather gloves.

The old casual lives somewhere between the new super-casual and dress clothing, so tread lightly. It's not for everyone, and even if you can pull this off I suggest using this trick sparingly. But it is fun when it comes off well. 

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

That bowtie is BADASS! And the pocket square hits the mark dead on! Please do a "how to" for matching pocket squares with ties...I just can't get it right.

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

A super looking combination of items!

Best Regards,

Heinz-Ulrich von B.

Old Trad said...

Dressing well is the best revenge.

Young Fogey said...

Great outfit, G. Inspirational, as always. I'm on the lookout for the "right" plaid shirts, but just haven't found them—well, not recently, anyway. I had some great ones in the early 80s....

Anonymous,

I'd say the key is in not matching the pocket square and tie. G's square picks up colors from his shirt more than his tie, and it complements the jacket nicely. As an added bonus, it hints at the tie, too. That, I think, is a far better approach to pocket squares, and is why this combination works so well.

Andrew said...

Can you tell me the maker of the pocket square and where it came from? Its wonderful. Thanks.

Giuseppe said...

No makers name, only a tag that says "made in Italy". Fifty cents at a thrift shop.

Cold Canadian said...

Dear Sir,

Longtime listener, first time caller.

First a comment: I would like to see a good "haul" post - seems like ages since you've done one.

Then a question: What do you think a good traditional dresser should wear for a "night out", i.e., where you will be hanging out downtown and meeting women is a possibility. Khakis and a blue blazer look sharp at the office, but probably don't have the desired effect in the situation I've described above.

Sincerely,
A Canadian Reader

JKG said...

Unless I change careers, this pitch of style is likely to be my most frequent. It's a nice middle road in the current milieu -- well put-together but obviously casual to most everyone.

Young Fogey said...

Dear Mr. Cold Canadian Reader Man Guy,

Please allow me to attempt to answer your question. I'm sure some will disagree with my answer and have their own opinions; that's fine.

What to wear? It Depends. What do you normally wear? What does your crowd normally wear? That will affect your choices. Having said that, dressing up nearly always works better than dressing down, so don't be afraid to be one step above (sartorially speaking, anyway) the people around you.

Once upon a time, a tuxedo was the thing to wear at night; now, not so much. You can use the tuxedo as a point of reference, though: white shirt, dark everything else (including shiny black shoes). So a blazer could work, but you'd want dark gray pants with it, not tan chinos. Maybe a dark suit, with a dark tie. Be really retro and wear a bow tie (harkens back to the tux without being one).

Ideally, you have time to go home to shower and change; life is not always ideal. If you can't go home before going out, then at least bring a clean white shirt to work, so you can change shirts after work but before your night out. Wear black shoes so all you have to do is buff them. If you wear a different tie at night, no one will suspect that you never went home before going out.

I hope this helps.

BlueTrain said...

Love the pants! In fact, I'm wearing an almost identical pair right now, although not with braces. I do wear braces a lot, however, just not with "dress" clothes. My late father-in-law usually wore a bowtie, so wouldn't dare wear one. Besides, he was an engineer, so they carry a certain connotation that I avoid. Plaid shirt? Well, checkered, maybe, or a even in a fine flannel. Ideally, a Viyella check but they are dear. I should have bought one when we were in Edinburgh summer before last.

I somehow manage to live without wearing suits at all except for very special occasions and only wear my other jackets infrequently. You see, of all others here at work, only my boss wears a suit. Dark blue, every day. But his boss doesn't. But at least I wear a necktie--because I want to.