I know a few men who have discovered an interest in clothes in recent years – primarily suits, shirts, ties, good shoes. The working wardrobe, essentially. They know about the canvas in a jacket’s chest; they have established how and why something fits; they take a healthy interest in colour combinations. But extending this interest to weekend attire is difficult.
There are many reasons for this. One is that it is actually quite easy to dress when you wear one colour head to foot (a suit). Another is that there are obvious considerations of propriety in an office that constrain your choices. There are also rules, guidelines, traditions. These things become established when a dress code doesn’t change for decades.
But casual clothes change all the time. And it’s hard to understand how smarter clothes can be worn at the weekend without seeming stuffy. So the recourse is to jeans and a shirt, a sweater if it’s cold and whatever coat the weather outside might require. Not a jacket in sight.
While there are many options for materials outside of worsted wool (what most suits are made of) – tweed, linen, corduroy, moleskin – many men associate some or all of them with old men or, more specifically, their grandfather.
I suggest instead that they start in two places: cashmere for jackets and flannel for trousers.
Both are incredibly comfortable. People that wear tracksuit bottoms (sweat pants to Americans) should try wearing flannel. It feels better, looks better and doesn’t smell. (Wool beats cotton in most manifestations in that respect.) And you know how comfortable cashmere is. Try a nice pale grey or subtly patterned brown cashmere jacket, ideally in a really soft, light construction.
Perhaps you’re still a little wary. Certainly, the jacket and trousers together could seem too stuffy if you’ve worn anything remotely like this at the weekend before.
So here’s my final recommendation: try wearing one or the other. Pair that cashmere jacket with well-fitting jeans and suede brogues. The next day, wear the grey flannel trousers with a V-neck sweater and Chelsea boots. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a woollen pocket square to the jacket. Bring the whole thing up with a great watch and a great leather bag.
This is what I end up doing most weekends – adding a little sartorial style to what has to be more casual and practical clothing (you must be able to change a nappy or play in the park at a moment’s notice).
There are various posts on Permanent Style that could help with specifics, but try in particular ‘Five tips on trousers’ and ‘The modern man needs a good blazer’.
Image: The Sartorialist