The Art of Men’s Casual Starts with Elevated, Effortless Basics

There’s nothing – nothing – like the the snuggly, comfortable goodness of a simple T-shirt and jeans.  The foundation of any wardrobe is a solid set of basic pieces that, when combined, can create nearly any outfit you might want to wear!

For some of us, a closet full of casual basics is a dream come true. In fact, for some, it’s the unspoken uniform – and we’re not just talking about the CEOs of Silicon Valley startups who love a casual vibe.

When a recipe has only a handful of ingredients, every one of them needs to be superior because they’ll all stand out.

It’s the difference between having a style that screams…

  • Disregardful vs deft
  • Undefined vs unequivocable

There’s a difference between plain old vanilla ice cream and a spectacular Bourbon vanilla bean ice cream – with those flavour packed vanilla bean bits speckled through it!

It’s all in the details.

Are you picking up what we’re putting down?

Then, it’s time to elevate your wardrobe staples by leveling up those basics to better or best. And that all comes down to three basic rules that we call “The Three Cs”:

Cloth, Cut, and Quality.

Ok that’s not quite three Cs but you catch our drift.

Cloth

If it doesn’t feel comfortable to touch, it definitely won’t be comfortable to wear (so what’s the point, right?).

Material. Is. Everything! Truly comfortable fabrics might be a surprising blend of fibres that you wouldn’t have tried. For example, a little stretch blended with your favourite natural fibres can go a long way towards your comfort. So can upgraded fashion-y sounding materials like Pima cotton, brushed French Terry, and silk or cashmere blends that keep your body comfortable while offering a simple yet more luxurious feel both to the touch and to the eye. You could even get adventurous with textures like waffle-weaves or marled fabrics that look interesting but are still calming to the eye and skin.

If T-shirts and hoodies are the everyday staples of your wardrobe, then investing in higher quality fabrics will not only elevate the overall appearance of the item you’ve chosen but they’ll also extend the life of your favourite clothes.

We love:

For jeans – everyone’s all-time favourite pant ever, ever, ever – fabrics can run the gamut! In fact, jeans don’t even need to be made out of denim anymore! Any pair of pants that has that classic, 5-pocket cut qualifies and that broader definition means you’re in luck! You can get away with your favourite pant style in far more contexts than ever before just by changing up the fabric your jeans are made of!

For your next denim splurge, try out a bunch of different, unexpected fabrics on, like cotton twills, corduroy, even velvet, just for fun. We bet you’ll be surprised by how many opportunities open up for you!

(Just no denim tuxedo at an actual formal event, m’kay?)

We love:

Cut:

Next up is cut! The way garments fit on your body will make or break any outfit. There’s a reason guys in well fitting T-shirts and jeans are a sexy standard across every group who’s looking, right? Right.

No matter how dressed-down you like to be, you’re entitled to and deserve a fit that will make you the best dressed – and most comfortable – man in town!

How do you find it? Remember that the key to a great cut is that it makes the most of your physical assets.

Generally, that means your clothes should skim – not hug or hang far away from – your your body. Clothes that pull or tug are rarely comfortable, and swimming around in oversized clothing will make you seem neglectful.

Fit for shirts:

Neck – Whether a v-neck or crew, your collar should fit around the base of your neck, no gaping lower than the collar bone, and definitely no chest hair peeking out above the neckline.

Shoulder & Arm – The armhole seam should align with your own armpit and shoulder, while the arm fits narrowly along your arm. If sleeves are too long, they can be pushed up or easily shortened for a perfect length.

Torso – The body of a properly fitting shirt will skim along your torso, without pulling or bagging. You’ll know it’s just right when your reflection seems taller and fitter! Oh! The magic of well-fitting clothes!  

Hem – Another important proportion is your shirt length. Ideally, the hem of any untucked shirt will hit around the top or middle of your hip, or around the same line as your front jean pocket (see perfectly fitting jeans below).

Too short seems shrunken (and might show your belly),  too long seems sloppy. This is easier to fit though, because you can have them shortened!

Fit for pants:

Waist – Waistbands should sit approximately 1” below your navel, and smoothly all the way around. Under the navel is the only “under” we want to see – we’re not sporting “under the chest” or “way under the tummy,” you guys!

Hip – The hip and seat of your pants should sit relatively close to your actual seat – dare we say it should cup your rear? Yes, we will dare – because it most definitely should.

Rise – The rise is the measurement from the waist to the crotch of any pair of pants. While it might seem more comfortable to have a longer rise, or to push your pants lower than your undershorts (oh LAWD no, just stop), it always looks better when the rise of your pants sits near your actual crotch.

Leg – We admit, this can be a bit tricky. The goal is to find a width and style that skims your leg from thigh to heel. Sometimes that means accommodating “hockey thighs” or “rugby butt” by finding a pant in a style that fits your thickest part, and tailoring the waist. Tailoring isn’t just normal, it’s also almost always necessary to tailor some element of a garment to make it just right for you.

Length – A bit of a break (that extra fabric at the hem of your pant) is entirely acceptable on casual pants like jeans or chinos. Ideally you only want a little bit, an inch or two will do it. Any more than that and you’ll want to either turn up your cuff for a finished look or have them shortened.

Our tip: Ask your tailor to shorten jeans with “the original hem” so that when your jeans are completed, they look like they were made way!

Quality

A final note on quality. While cloth and cut will be the most defining features of better basics, the key to both is the quality of your garment. As we said at the start – if you’re working with very few ingredients, each one needs to be of the highest quality possible to achieve a gourmet result.

So, even if your current wardrobe favours Jockeys and Levi’s, give yourself permission to test out some “fancier” brands to educate yourself on the spectrum of options out there. Because even if your dress code is ‘basic’ there’s no reason why you shouldn’t look and feel the ‘BEST.’

Cover image courtesy of @captainbarto.

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