November 30, 2023

businessweek

Taste For Business

[2022] Casual Men’s Outfits Guide

Men need a full-spectrum wardrobe, one that allows a full range of expression through fashion on a day-to-day basis. Importantly, casual men’s outfits should be the key part of your attire.

While tailored suits and stylish business attire might impress crowds at formal events, the casual clothes on your back will speak volumes to your inner circle.

Building a flexible and fashionable casual wardrobe can be a dizzying affair if you don’t know what and where to shop? Which shoe suit and which jacket? What shirt pairs perfectly with well-fitted denim jeans or chinos?

Read on to find the answers.

We discuss both the casual dress code as well as casual men’s outfits, all in the quest to help you find a style that allows you to be both comfortable and polished.

Casual Dress Code for Men

Mastering every casual style, each with its own detailed nuances, would be a tall order for anyone to achieve. Unless you are obsessed with clothes and find joy in the smallest details of fashion, then it’s an unnecessary ambition.

That being said, your sense of style does matter. Good-looking clothes don’t just serve to impress others around you but can also bolster your own personal confidence. If you’re not pleased and impressed by your attire, why should anyone else be?

Moreover, casual dress has shrugged off the outmoded sense of it only being suitable for everyday events. It is increasingly being adopted for weddings, networking events, date nights, cocktail parties, and other more traditional formal occasions.

As such, we’ve compiled a shortlist of a casual dress code for men to get you going with the basics.

1. T-shirts

With T-shirts, you have a lot of room to experiment. They come in a wide variety of colors, fits, and styles.

Depending on the casual style you’re going for, you can find a relaxed T-shirt that meets your needs — slim fits, polo shirts, v-necks, henley collars, etc.

T-shirts with pictures and text are good for running daytime errands, while a plain color T-shirt is a better choice for date nights.

After all, shirts with printed texts or images fall on the most informal side of casual style. And if you opt for a shirt, blazer, sweater vest, or pullover, plain T-shirts perfectly compliment the style. Additionally, sleek brown leather jackets work, but the overall design must be minimalistic.

2. Casual Shirts

Casual short-sleeve shirts are a good replacement for a T-shirt, and long-sleeves can be valuable additions, especially when made of lightweight cotton.

Button-down shirts with short sleeves look exceptional when combined with fitted shorts. Generally, they won’t go so well with jeans, but they look nice on top of chinos to create sublime smart-casual outfits.

Long-sleeve shirts are also the pick for cool climates. Long sleeves with collars usually look good paired with a T-shirt and a leather jacket. If you dig out a pair of boots, that’s even better. The height provided by a boot heel will pair nicely with a collared shirt that is left unbuttoned.

3. Pants

The two most common types of pants you will see in any casual men’s outfit guide are jeans and chinos.

Jeans come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. We would recommend avoiding extremely light-wash jeans as they might look a bit too dressy for casual wear. Instead, choose either classic denim or relaxed jeans. They can be worn with any casual outfit, whether ripped jeans, skinny-fit, or straight-leg jeans.

Chinos, on the other hand, are versatile casual pants that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. In addition, you may also want to go for cargo pants, which are perfect if you’re going to add some texture to your outfit.

A black or brown belt will generally complement any type of trousers you wear and will not disrupt the overall color palette. As a rule of thumb, limit your outfit to three colors or shades. 

4. Shorts

Wearing shorts is a great way to stay cool during the summer. They go well with shirts, T-shirts, and polo shirts. Shorts also make your footwear stand out.

If matched well, they can go with almost all types of casual footwear, though sneakers are the most popular choice. Both low and mid-height sneakers will complement your shorts nicely.

There are, however, a few things to keep in mind when wearing shorts. First, shaved legs look better. Secondly, refrain from extremely short shorts, as you may look a touch ridiculous. Lastly, don’t wear socks with shorts unless you’re aiming for the preppy look.

5. Jackets

There are many different casual jacket options to choose from. Denim jackets are always a good addition to any man’s casual wardrobe. Leather jackets are also a great choice as they give off a cool and edgy vibe but can also be perfect for more formal occasions without compromising any comfort. And lastly, bomber jackets are perfect for transitioning from winter to spring.

You can wear all of these over most top wear, be it shirts, long-sleeves, hoodies, or polo shirts. Leather jackets and bombers will definitely go well with chinos, but the same cannot be said about denim jackets. The style of the jacket should match that of the pants you’re wearing.

6. Knitwear

For the modern man, casual knitwear is the clothing to embrace when it’s cold outside. There are many different types of knitwear to choose from, with sweaters, cardigans, or even sweatshirts being handy additions to your wardrobe. Just make sure that the color goes well with the rest of your outfit when you put them on.

The crow and turtlenecks are two styles worth looking at when selecting autumn and winter casual men’s outfits. These, paired with dress boots, elevate your overall casual. Turtlenecks worn with chinos are, to us, super fashionable!

There are many different types of shoes you can wear with casual outfits. But we’d recommend sticking to sneakers or loafers, as they are both comfortable and look good.

A pair of small-sized white sneakers will fit especially well with a polo shirt. If you want to add a bit of height, you can always opt for boat shoes or desert boots.

If it’s cold outside, you might want to invest in a good pair of boots, such as a sleek pair of Chelsea boots or dress boots in general, to wear with your casual dress. In addition, suede or leather dress shoes will give you more of a smart-casual look: something like Derby shoes, Chukkas, or some sneakers that might look nice with the whole outfit. 

8. Hoodies

Vollebak Blackout Relaxation Hoodie

A hoodie is a great way to stay warm while still looking stylish. And there are many different ways you can style a hoodie with various casual clothes. You can wear it on its own or layer it over a T-shirt or under either a jacket or even a coat. Just make sure the hoodie isn’t too big or bulky, and be deliberate with the color palette of your look. Hoodies can be worn with sneakers, ripped jeans, cargo pants, canvas shoes, chinos, boots, etc.

9. Accessories

Lastly, you can spice up your final look with streamlined accessories of high-quality materials. Accessories can add a touch of personality to your casual dress code.

A good way to start is with a pair of sunglasses. They’ll not only protect your eyes from the sun, but you’ll look cool at the same time — form and function in the same package.

You might also want to get a watch and bracelets to complement your casual wear. And if you’re going to add a bit of color to your outfit, you can always go for a scarf or a pocket square. 

How to Style Business Casual for Men

Young handsome man choosing shoes at a shop

The gray area between formal and casual wear — business casual — is typically characterized by substituting formal-styled clothes with more casual and freestyle items.

Business casual for men is a versatile style that can be adapted to different settings and occasions. Whether you’re going to the office or heading out for after-work drinks, there are various ways to style it.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when dressing this way is always to be aware of your office or workplace dress code. While this style is generally more relaxed than formal wear, some workplaces still have a stricter dress code and may not allow certain items.

It’s always best to err on the side of caution and be well-informed about your workplace’s dress code before making any sartorial choices.

With that being said, here are some tips on how to nail business casual outfits:

1. Choose the Right Fabrics

When choosing suitable fabrics, it’s essential to opt for comfortable and breathable ones. Cotton, linen, and wool are all great choices as they look good and feel good. Avoid synthetic materials such as polyester as they tend to trap heat and can be pretty uncomfortable to wear in warmer climates.

2. Invest in Classic Pieces

Business casual outfits are all about balance. While you want to look stylish, you also don’t want to be too flashy or over-the-top. Opt for classic pieces that will stand the test of time, such as a well-fitting blazer, dress pants, and loafers. These items can be easily dressed up or down and can be mixed and matched with other pieces in your wardrobe.

3. Add Your Personal Touch

One of the great things about such an approach to dressing is that it allows you to add your personal touch to your outfits. Whether it’s a pair of statement cufflinks or a brightly-colored pocket square, don’t be afraid to experiment and enjoy your look.

 

young man waiting and holding a bag

Additional tips for men’s casual wardrobe

1. Make It Fit Right

You don’t need a tailor for casual wear. The best part of everyday attire is that it’s meant for a relaxed fit. Loose and baggy clothes are fine for a bit of swagger, but they won’t look as good and solid as close-fit attire.

That said, overly tight clothes may not be the way forward either, as they will take away from your comfort more often than not. Instead, think of something that lies between the two, the golden mean, in accord with your body type.

2. Stick Mostly to Your Preferred Style

It’s fine to experiment with your choices, but do yourself a favor and stay true to what works best for you most of the time.

For example, if you’re usually into wearing boots with slim-fit jeans, long-sleeve shirts over solid color T-shirts, and leather jackets, consider buying variations of these with different colors and minor changes to the design.

It’s a good move budget-wise and will help you develop your style further, discover ways to make it better, and expand your wardrobe on a path that you already like and know sits well on you.

3. Details Matter

Consider playing with details. Small things, such as rolling up your shirt sleeves or letting your trousers stack on your boots, will be minute changes that will add flavor to your overall wear.

Also, consider other details, such as matching or contrasting your accessories, like bracelets, necklaces, sunglasses, and watches, with the colors of your clothes.

Top Casual Outfit Brands

As the fashion industry grows swiftly, the options for casual wear continue to increase at a rapid pace. As a result, many brands have emerged that cater specifically to casual menswear. While some may be better known for their formal offerings, others have built their reputations on providing stylish and comfortable casual attire.

Without further ado, let’s go through some of the top men’s casual outfit brands.

1. J.Crew

J Crew Casual Men's Outfits

In 1983, J.Crew was born to provide stylish and comfortable clothing for men on the go — a need they felt had been overlooked by other retailers (and still do). Since then, the brand has become one of America’s most popular clothing brands.

J.Crew’s aesthetic is classic and preppy, making it a go-to option for those who want to dress down without looking too sloppy. The brand offers a wide range of casual wear for men, including shirts, pants, shorts, and outerwear.

Check the store

2. Gap

Gap Casual Men's Outfits

Mainly known for its simple and classic styles, Gap offers a wide variety of casual attire for men. The company’s offerings include everything from T-shirts and jeans to sweaters and outerwear — all at reasonable prices.

You can’t go wrong with Gap. Consider opting for the brand if you’re looking for casual wear that won’t break the bank. 

Check the store

3. Levi’s

Levi's Mens Casual Collection

Levi’s is an iconic American brand that was founded in 1853. The company has always been a special place for denim, and they’re still going strong with their selection today!

You’ll find the best quality shirts from Levi, such as casual tees to long-sleeve henleys, alongside outerwear like corduroy jackets or vintage ‘50s poplin shirts. There isn’t anything this apparel doesn’t cover when you need something new on your wardrobe list (and at great prices too).

Check the store

4. H&M

H&M Mens Casual Collection

H&M offers a variety of clothing choices to suit any situation or style. They carry everything from T-shirts and sweaters to well-fitted jeans for those who want their pants tailored just right! H&M’s prices are competitive with other retailers, but they offer more options so you can find what’s best suited to your needs in one place.

Check the store

5. Zara

Zara Casual Men's Outfits

Spanish company Zara offers the latest trends in fashion with a wide range of items, from shirts and pants to suits and accessories for any occasion or personality that you may have.

While their product lineup isn’t entirely on par with some other brands we’ve listed here, their quality keeps them competitive. The quality of Zara’s garments is among the highest on the market.

Check the store

Conclusion

To put your best foot forward in any casual situation, it’s important to have a strong foundation of go-to pieces.

Yes, taste in fashion is subjective. But that only means that you can’t please everyone with your casual style. Your sense of style is an expression of your personality, so don’t put on something that is not representative of you.

Don’t sacrifice psychological comfort in the name of experimental casual wear that is far outside of your typical taste. While social conventions often dictate what we wear and when we wear it, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be striving to dress for ourselves first and foremost.

With the right items in your wardrobe, you can feel confident and stylish no matter where you are or what you’re doing.