How to dress up without REALLY dressing up – 12 Tips
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It’s a weird time, isn’t it? People are getting back out there (obligatory acknowledgement that recent news has been up and down), and we’re starting to dress up again. Yet when it comes to dressing “nice”, too much too fast can leave you looking like you’re trying to show everyone up. Here are 12 tips for looking a little more put together without looking overdressed. For those who want to start looking a little more 2022, and a little less 2020.
You don’t even have to tuck anything in! No one is saying you have to wear some stiff, starched dress shirt. And no one is saying these sportcoats are stiff, hard shouldered, yacht-club style blazers. Instead, there are plenty of sportcoats out there right now made in more casual fabrics and with less structure. They wear easy, look great, and go exceptionally well with t-shirts, polos, and yes, even the rare button up, tucked in shirt.
Try it. It works. A watch can be the difference between “I got dressed” and “I just rolled out of bed.” Somehow, someway, a wristwatch can make even the most casual outfits look a bit more complete. Maybe it shows that you weren’t in a total rush to get out the door, and/or it shows that you might have to be somewhere, at some point, so your day isn’t one big humming static haze of directionless ennui. Even if your day IS one big humming static haze of directionless ennui. ESPECIALLY IF YOUR DAY IS oh forget it.
#3. Wear casual chinos instead of shorts (with your tees and polos)
If once you get the chinos on it feels… weird? Like you’re still a little dressed up? Here’s a trick: cuff your pant legs. Not like super stacked four folds or anything. Just turn up the bottoms. Makes them look (and feel) much more casual.
#4. Button the top button of your polo
Simple tweak. Big visual difference. Not saying you have to do it all the time. Hardly. But buttoning the top button of your polo makes things look just that much more cleaned up. Symmetrical. Dialed in. Mod-ish, without looking foppish. See the movie Tenet for why this looks all kinds of great.
#5. Choose Twill over Terry or Fleece when it comes to joggers
Abercrombie All Day Utilty Joggers in Olive Green – shown above & sold out, but these may be close?
You want crisp. Not squish. Joggers aren’t going anywhere. But if you’re gonna wear joggers and you DON’T want to look like you just peeled yourself off the couch, then leave the terry/sweats-style fabric at home. Go with joggers made out of a twill fabric. Something that looks like it was once a pair of real pants before they slapped an elastic waist (and possibly cuffs) on it.
The cuts, fabrics, and patterns make these look like anything but the short sleeve dress shirts you see on someone going door to door preaching their chosen faith. A style upgrade over a t-shirt, but still anything but stuffy.
Stripes are immensely versatile. Thick rugby style stripes, classic Breton style stripes, or thin micro stripes. On tees, polos, henleys, sweats, etc. More intentional than something solid, but still casual.
They’re the original high-tops. Made for comfort, utility, and to be worn with just about everything. From washed jeans and a sportcoat (shown at the top of this post), to beat up chinos and a t-shirt.
#9. Embrace the laceless. Work in suede chelseas (boots and sneakers)
Chelseas are great at dressing down more tailored wear like trousers, dress shirts, and suits or blazers. Chelsea sneakers dress UP more dressed down stuff like washed chinos and pocket tees. And I know this for certain: You are more likely to wear good looking shoes (casual or dressed up) when you don’t have to tie them. I know that sounds insane. Weird as it may seem, lacing up a sleek pair of dress shoes might seem a little… “heavy” when the world is currently slopping around in sneakers. So if you want to wear something sleeker, stick to chelseas.
#10. Favor tech-wear that DOESN’T look like workout gear
I grew up in a place (upper midwest) where once it hits 45 degrees, every dude big and small starts walking around wearing baggy basketball shorts, sneakers, and an oversized gym t-shirt. “But it’s comfortable” they’d say. Well guess what? We now live in an age where you can wear good looking pants, shirts, polos, tees, and more, all made out of the same sweat wicking, super breathable materials that your gym gear is made out of. All without looking like you were teleported out of your weekly pickup game at the Y!
#11 Wear a suit, but skip the tie in favor of a pocket square with some color
#12. Get your casual fits right. Room to move, but not baggy.
After a year+ of being tempted to stay in your pajamas all day, putting on clothes that actually fit might feel a little weird at first. Don’t panic when you get “nicer” clothes back on once again, and they feel a bit odd. You’ll forget that weirdness in less than an hour. Promise. The same old rule applies: Clothes should skim. Not cling. Not billow. You absolutely have to be able to easily move around in your clothes. They shouldn’t restrict. But they also shouldn’t drag through the air as you move either. You’ll know it when you see it, but more importantly, you’ll know it when you feel it.