The stuffy, outdated rules of menswear – those dictating what you can wear and when and with what – are fast eroding. Where our fathers’ wardrobes were governed by dress codes explicit and implied, now anarchy rules. It’s well-dressed anarchy, but anarchy nonetheless.
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Formal wear can now be layered with streetwear, and trainers can sprout in offices. It doesn’t matter if a piece is appropriate or not, it is as flexible as the pieces it is paired with.
Here are six ways to style the rest of the season in rebellion, or to use the technical term high-low dressing. They combine formal and casual styles.
Hoodie + Overcoat
A true staple in high-low menswear should be versatile enough that it can be worn from Friday morning through Saturday night. The overcoat, which cuts a perfect figure over a suit and can also be used to dress up athletic apparel, is a prime example of a piece that fits effortlessly.
“Team it with a grey or black hoodie, smart trousers and a trusty pair of pure white sneakers,”Paul Higgins, a stylist who worked with Aquascutum and Reiss, suggests Paul Higgins.
A slim-fit, single-breasted, single-breasted coat is the best choice to hit the high-low sweet spot. It can be worn with jeans or paired with a formal look.
Trainers + Suit
It was once a rare combination, but it is now a staple in menswear. In recent years, sporty footwear has emerged as the perfect running partner to tailoring.
However, wearing a suit with trainers is not as simple as walking to work in your workout shoes. “The key is to spend a little more on the footwear,”Higgins points out the range of sneakers made by heritage brands like Grenson, John Lobb.
You should look for shoes that are built as well or minimally as your brogues. Also, make sure the entire outfit flows by loosening your tailoring and switching out a shirt with a tie for a sweatshirt and roll neck.
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The roll neck’s return to glory a few years back was as unexpected as the resurrection of cargo trousers, bum bags and just about everything from the seventies. But it’s hard to imagine life without it now.
This multi-functional neck-coverer can be dressed up or down with jeans by being cut from premium materials like merino wool. “It’s a somewhat tricky look and isn’t for everybody,”Higgins emphasizes the importance of having your jeans cut straight to avoid any Steve Jobs, dad-dressing vibes.
Jeans + Overcoat
There’s merit in the thinking that no man looks bad in a good overcoat, which (aside from its insulating abilities) is what makes it such an essential part of any wardrobe.
Despite being invented for layering over a suit (hence the name over-coat), its appeal hasn’t wavered as dress codes have relaxed. You can now dress up the casual look of jeans with an over-coat to add weight to an Oxford shirt or knitwear. Then, finish the look off with a pair Chelsea boots.
A coat that’s fitted, but not figure-hugging, echoes the ease of your lower half. “It seems smart from a distance, but will have your counterparts wishing they put on the comfies themselves,” says Higgins.
Suit + Military Outerwear
When an overcoat leaves you sweating, but a suit jacket is too flimsy, enlist outerwear designed to straddle environments – chiefly anything that got its start in the military.
The M-65 field jacket, for example, is a lightweight, waterproof variation of the classic fishtail parka designed for troops suffering Vietnam’s oscillating weather patterns, while the woolen duffle was favored by the British Royal Navy during World War II.
This coat is a result of military heritage. It can be worn with your uniform at work. “Team with a suit, double-monks and a document case, to be protected from the elements in style,” says Higgins. To ensure that styles are in step, you should stick to the rank with browns greens and navies.
Joggers + Tailoring
As tailoring relaxes from Mad Men straitjackets, a blazer and joggers makes for a solid separates combination that proves comfort isn’t mutually exclusive from style.
“It sounds bizarre on paper,” says Higgins, “but styled right – with minimal accessories and the correct footwear – this comfy look is a winner.”
It’s a match that lives or dies on fit; slim below, tapering to a cuffed ankle, but roomier and unstructured up top. You can avoid splitting your body by wearing a lightweight knit or sporty top over the blazer.