How sartorial principles can apply to casual clothing

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This outfit, which was shot for the recent cover story of Plaza Uomo magazine, is probably one of the most casual ever featured on Permanent Style.

Much like the first image of our popular ‘Which office are you?’ post, it is the informal end of a spectrum - both in terms of overall style and of what I wear.

In the same way, it can be dressed up by gradually swapping in more formal pieces - crewneck for the hoodie, loafers for the trainers, flannels for the chinos, etc.

But I think it’s interesting how it also reflects many of the principles espoused by Permanent Style, just in a different setting.

These are more universal than just tailored menswear.

stile-latino-coat1

The first is the importance of fit. Just because an outfit is less formal, it doesn’t mean it should become ill-fitting or shapeless.

So the coat here, made by Attolini-offshoot Stile Latino, has been made to measure and fits pretty well.

It’s not bespoke - and there would be little point in being so, given its lack of structure - but it is nicely suppressed through the waist. A similar effect could be achieved by having a ready-made coat altered, which most men don’t bother to do.

The Incotex chinos are in a classic fit that it took me a long time to find, but once I found it, invested in several pairs over two years.

The hoodie from Loopwheeler in Japan is also the perfect length and slimness - something else it took me years to find.

stile-latino-coat-simon-crompton2

The second point is quality.

You could certainly argue that Common Projects trainers are overpriced these days, but they remain high quality, in nice leathers and stitched soles.

Incotex, too, has worn very well for me and I therefore stick to it. There’s a Sunspel T-shirt under there that I wear to the exclusion of all else, and so on.

loopwheeler-hoodie-in-petitou

Thirdly, and perhaps most interestingly, there is a parallel here in terms of a simple, conservative style.

The colour paletter of grey, cream, olive and white is a subtle but harmonious one - and there is as almost as much to analyse in it as in a grey suit, with its various tie, shirt and handkerchief combinations.

There are no extremes of colour either. No bright yellows or strong purples, just because they happen to be fashionable. This makes it a more long-lasting style as well as a more sophisticated one, for me.

Good style doesn’t shout. 

stile-latino-coat-simon-crompton

In fact, if one thing unites all these points, it is subtlety. 

The hat fits to a precise shape and length that I like. But it doesn’t sit way off the back of my head, or finish in an exaggerated point.

The coat, hoodie and trousers are slim, but not super-tight. (Too many men seem to make the same mistake with their trousers as with their suits, thinking skin-tight equals masculine.)

There is subtle interest in the texture of the coat. There is something attractive about the loopwheeled sponginess of the hoodie. But these are all subtleties.

I’ve always been put off by men that wear tailoring to the exclusion of all else. Who put on a three-piece suit to take their kids to the park.

This is what I might wear at home, on a weekend. And on Sunday, going for lunch with my parents, I might swap in a Friday Polo under a tweed jacket.

Before returning to work on Monday, and revelling in a bespoke flannel suit all the more.

art-mural-east-dulwich

Photography: Jamie Ferguson for Plaza Uomo

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Hristo

I really dislike unstructured overcoats. The shoulders look like crushed under the weight of the coat and thus one looks like a weak person smashed by the hardship of life. Why would anyone want to look like this?
On a light summer jacket, the soft shoulders can look nice, but on such heavy peaces it looks unflattering. There might be people who have so much muscle and such a good posture, that they might be able to wear an unstructured overcoat. But for most people it is not the best choice.

Colour lover

Nice bright grays!

Cricket Sweater Obsessed

Dear Simon, since you apply your principles fit, quality, harmony to casual I searched for cricket (tennis) sweater. There’s a drawing, but your comment to my surprise refers to white, whereas allegedly the original is cream. What is your feeling about cricket or tennis sweaters? And sleeves versus sleeveless? I think of a light blue variation like SmartSmart Turnout, but William Barrie has some specials with coloured stripes for Hume. Do you think cricket sweatersveven sleeveless are too bulky and boring?

Anonymous

White is the traditional colour for cricket attire. Hence it being referred to as “whites”.

Tim Fleming

I have a difficult time with the addition of a hoodie to this outfit. I completely agree with the contex of casual clothing that also fit into a version of “permanent style,” but the hoodie clashes too much for me and comes off looking out of place and too trendy. Perhaps it’s because I have such a strong impression of this article in it’s intended setting – a man walking out of the gym or off the basketball court to stay warm in cool weather. This is when it’s done appropriately I feel, but I often see many men, particular young men or teens, wearing hoodies in a way that gives impression of trying to cover up the fact that they just crawled out of bed and didn’t shave or brush their hair. Sorry to be critical. Every other item looks fine to me and works great, except for the hoodie.

I also wonder about the current state of principals of Permanent Style since I’ve been a reader since its inception and wouldn’t except to see this outfit and post when compared to years past. Seeing this alongside many other mens-style blogs and current trends makes me wonder if the success of the site is being influenced by the masses and losing it’s unique message, becoming like everyone else. It reminds me of the similar impression I had when the website was changed in the recent past. Hopefully I’m wrong.

I welcome any thoughts you have, Simon.

Alexander_F

That coat is definitely for casual situations only, but hell, it looks so confortable. I must admit, though, it’s difficult already to imagine, much less see you wearing a hooded sweater.

Cricket Sweater Obsessed

The difficulty is connotation. Hooded sweatshirts have functional purpose and existed before an outside US ghetto rap mainstream proliferation.

Alexander_F

The connotation is indeed the main problem of this, after all, quite useful piece of clothing. But, who knows, maybe this connotation will cess to exist one day, when ganster rappers will be an all forgotten or maybe mocked object of nostalgia. After all, sweaters used to have a very rough and chunky image aswell.

Cricket Sweater Obsessed

There’s no indication that advanced civilisations wear hoodies – see drawings or descriptions of alleged various races of extraterrestial entities, humanoid and others. None wear hoods.

Adam Harvey

I very much appreciate this post & would appreciate the occasional addition in this category. Do you have any further details on the last photo? Where was it taken & do you know what street artist did the piece behind you?

Adam

Thank you, sir.

Jonas

Hi Simon, nice outfit. Something I would like to wear myself. I also think it’s important to dress for the occasion. That why one has an diversifies wardrobe. But I have some questions.

Could the overcoat be substituted with a pea coat from Drake’s?

I live in Sweden and at wintertime it’s snow or dirty and wet like now. I don’t like to wear my Common Projects in these weather conditions. Could you recommend an alternative that would go with outfits like these?

Jonas

That was fast. The Wolverine would be a great alternative, thanks.

Jonas

I had one more question. What colour is the Incotex chinos? It’s difficult to see on the pictures and when I look at Trunk’s website they have both tan and beige.

Dave P

Simon,

You and this site have been a great inspiration to me since I found it a couple years ago. Your recommendation of Incotex was especially welcome and they are now my go to khakis. However, the hoody with the overcoat does less than nothing for me. A casual sweater (how about a turtle with that coat) or even a crew neck sweatshirt would be much smarter IMO. I have nothing against hoodies in general just don’t like that look.

Lewis

I can’t say that this outfit is to my taste. I particularly dislike the hoodie and coat combination, as I can’t stand a hood of a sweater falling lifelessly over the collar of a coat.

Having said that, the hoodie itself looks very stylish, and strikes me as a useful layering piece for casual spring or autumn evenings when the temperature starts to drop. Is there anywhere in the UK that stocks Loopwheeler products?

Peter

You describe a somewhat subdued colour palette Simon but didn’t say anything about the green socks.

What is your rationale for them?

Peter B

Having a bit of fun, perhaps

Christopher

Nice combination !
Never thought you might wearing hoodie and beanie…
Casual, but stylish!
Compliment.

BespokeNYC

Really great outfit and very helpful article Simon. Hoodie with overcoat is so often done poorly and is often maligned among the #menswear set for this reason. However, much like your advice on how to wear a jacket with jeans, you’ve shown it’s possible to do well with the right combination of fits and textures. Would love to see more like this!

One question; when combining colors for more casual ensembles, do you usually tend to go for more subtle palettes like this? (In contrast to the most formal outfits that make use of strong contrasting colors, like black tie) Any other good combinations you use a lot?

(All that said I do slightly agree with the other commenter that the green socks are a bit jarring against such pale colors – meant with upmost respect of course!)

Nick Inkster

Hi Simon

It’s a very subjective thought, but where would you actually wear an outfit like this? At home and Sunday lunch with the folks I get, except at that point you are minus the hat and coat. But where else? The pub, Waitrose, local art gallery? Putting a nicely thought out combo together is always interesting, but it has to go somewhere. Really like the coat.

BespokeNYC

So would you do dark (but still low contrast) combinations like charcoal, navy and grey, for example?

Anonymous

Kudos to you Simon for trying some street stylee. It’s not a bad mix and the Cuccinelli inspired colour palette is modern without being modish. At the core of some of the comments is the dichotemy of tailored vs. casual – how best to make it work. Given that tones and textures match I have no problem with the contours or cut. Personally, I have found that paying attention to neck and shoulders pays dividends in casual wear. For example hoodies generally don’t go with a cowel neck, but will go with a shirt collared jacket or, as above, as a counterpoint to a DB. I would welcome more articles in this vein as the underlying rationale of what goes with what is understandably more complex. Only criticism is of the white sneakers, given the outdoor/sporting mix I would suggest Moncler’s tan winter boots as more befitting.

Patrick Chong

Brilliant post and so helpful to those of us who don’t work in the “suit/tie” environment. On the rush-hour tube in London, so many seem to just opt for the navy suit, white shirt, no tie look; while in a more casual office wearing a blazer can sometimes feel a little overdone. This sort of post is wonderful. More please Simon!

Ulrich

Simon, can you share the model of Incotex trousers that you’re wearing?

S

Simon,

Which Incotex model is your trousers?

Thanks,
S

David

This one is definitely not for me.
Way too contrived and, in my not so humble opinion, hoodies should only be worn by those under fourteen.
Also, I’m sorry but that coat just doesn’t work.

AO

Great post.

It always amuses me when a casual outfit is featured on PS, and the traditionalist dressers are up in arms. As Simon writes, the principles taught here are universal to the extent that they can be applied to all areas of dress.

I think these posts are incredibly useful, for two reasons. First, formal dress is much easier to get right than casual – navy suit, white shirt, Macclesfield necktie and polished black Oxfords. As long as the fit is good, you look great. Casual dress is far more nuanced and there is more potential to go wrong.

Secondly, in an evermore casual world, these posts are arguably more useful than posts about formal dress, and applicable to a larger demographic of men.

Lovely outfit by the way, Simon. You pull the hoodie and that smart coat off very well. Something for me to aspire to in my own casual style.

Cheers.

John C.

AO — I must agree with your comment in its entirety. This winter I’d put together the nearly identical outfit, minus the green socks. Not the same brands, not the same quality…. but same look, fit, and palette. perfect for the climate in my part of the US…. The hoodie is an entirely practical defense against chill, damp, and wind. It captures the body’s rising/escaping heat, and when not over the head, warms back of the neck. I feel very well-dressed…. entirely appropriate for shopping in Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, running to bakery, dry cleaners, etc.

Anonymous

The shot of you in the beanie (above) is one of the best on the entire site. I think it right to explore how street or casual style can be curated and expressed with thought and taste. It shows creativity and depth, for bespoke tailoring is not always suitable for every situation or occassion (i.e. relaxing at the weekend). More on this subject please.

Alex

This post has given me hope for a similar cream sweatshirt, without hood from Richard James, I was gifted today. Would this outfit work without the coat, or not enough contrast? Any other suggestions?

MrX

I must say, the pairing of the beanie, the hoodie, and the overcoat make you look like a homeless man who has received some very nice hand-me-downs.

Tristan Rayson-Hill

Dear Simon,

I really appreciate your writing on tailoring and craft and I think your views on colour and style are erudite and informative. Alas on this occasion you look like you’ve robbed a homeless guy.

Please reconsider the hoody as an item of style. It is something you wear to the gym or relaxing at home or perhaps a dash to the bakery or to get the newspaper. On long haul flights I wear a suit and change into my loungewear and get the airline staff to hang up my suit. These are the only times I am happy to be seen in public in a hoodie.

What about a polo neck or a roll neck wool knit? Instead of the hoodie.

Best regards,

Tristan

Anonymous

Simon,
Animating this blog is not easy and you do a great job with it.
That said, if it is to maintain its differential advantage versus the mainstream it should, in my opinion try to stay away from what I would describe as ‘contrived looks’.
For me the mantra of permanent style should be that less is more and certainly if you look at the great icons across the years the commonality is that they all made it look so effortless.
This look, to me, is very contrived.
Steve McQueen would not be wearing this one to the shops or anywhere else for that matter.
Regards,
David

anon

A hoodie worn UNDER anything has always looked very strange to me; isn’t a hood designed so as to always be on the outside of the ensemble? I largely agree with Tim, Lewis, Tristan and MrX on this. Hoodies (and jeans for that matter) are excellent for the purposes for which they were designed, but I feel that they are undesirable otherwise.

Colin

Part of educating readers and evolving with changing times is introducing us to different combinations and in doing so challenging the status quo by blurring the boundaries between formal and casual clothing. At weekends I generally want to feel relaxed but well put together,
thus this particular look, perhaps with differing color combinations, is something I would be seen in, although I would probably add a cuff to the incotex. Please can I ask where you purchased the hat from? I always find it challenging to get one with the right length and width, particularly as most manufacturers make them ‘one-size’

mallhopp

That coat is definitely for casual situations only, but hell, it looks so confortable. I must admit, though, it’s difficult already to imagine, much less see you wearing a hooded sweater. https://goo.gl/eQhv2z

Anon

Hi Simon,

Excellent article as always. I think I’ve caught the casual clothing zeitgeist and am introducing more casual pieces to my wardrobe. As a part of this, I’m looking for a sweatshirt in a rich black colour. I would really appreciate your advice on:
1. Which brand will have the best fit/quality; and
2. In your view, how versatile is a black sweatshirt?

Re 1, some sweatshirts are either cut too slim or overcompensate with the sleeve length if the body looks about right.

Genuinely looking forward to your advice.

Thanks again!

Christopher

Hello Simon,

during the summer holidays I had time to wear my new hoodie from Merz B Schwanen. A piece what I can definitely recommend. It is also made with loop wheeler machines and is soft and has a good slimness. But I guess you visited already the factory.

Anonymous

Hi Simon,
What are the options for a casual winter coat that would go with sneakers? Most coats like ulsters or peacoats are too formal, and this stile latino one seems to fit the bill (only just), but I’m not sure what this is down to.
By the way, I posted this same question from a different computer a couple of days ago, but it wasn’t published. Would you mind checking my ip address isn’t blocked? Thanks.