How do I pants?
September 13, 2019 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Where can I browse pictures of casual (but nicer) men's fashion? I've always been a jeans-and-tee-shirt guy. But I'd like to upgrade to something a little more put-together.

For context, I'm in my early 40s in the US. And I'm utterly clueless about fashion :)

I've recently lost a good bit of weight, and I need to buy some new clothes for fall. So this seems like a great opportunity to try something new. I'm willing to pay for good stuff, but I don't want anything that says "look how much money I have".

Here's the kind of thing I have in mind:

General vibe: Layers. Lots of darker neutrals and earth tones, and some darker coordinating colors such as forest green or dark blue denim. Nice materials, mostly in solid colors. Overall, subdued and not too busy. Cozy – but "going out for cocktails at the funky local distillery" cozy, not "lounging around the living room" cozy.

Tops: Button-up shirts, perhaps with understatedly funky patterns. Super-cozy sweaters. Jackets which are part of the outfit – not just an outer layer to keep the chill out. Maybe a scarf on top.

Bottoms: Dark jeans at a $100–150 price point (brand recommendations welcome). Non-denim trousers of some kind (what kind? all I know is that I hate khakis and chinos).

Footwear: Fairly minimalist in design – Clarks' Desert Boot is a good reference point. Maybe something in suede. Definitely no shiny, pointy-toe things.

(I realize that this is kind of scattershot – but I don't know what you call this degree of formality. "Casual" seems to mean "everything that isn't business-casual or a tie".)

So: Are there blogs, magazines, retailers, etc. which specialize in this category? Nicer than streetwear, but not dressy or formal? Is there a more precise term than "casual"? In short, where/how do I start learning how to build this kind of wardrobe?

posted by escape from the potato planet to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (8 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I like browsing through The Sartorialist blog to look at fashion and identify styles I like.

Have you looked at a site like Huckberry? Seems like you might be in their target demo.
posted by Jacob G at 10:42 AM on September 13, 2019 is good for that sort of thing, there are definitely a lot of people in the same boat (myself included.)
posted by misterdaniel at 10:50 AM on September 13, 2019

I definitely suggest the 'henley under a plaid shirt' combination. The henley is very flattering to the male figure. My late-30's, dad-bod husband gets a lot of looks from women when he wears this. And he's gotten great Henleys from, of all places, Hollister. Buy a solid color from them. If my family's experience is representative, it'll last at least 100 washes.
posted by dog-eared paperback at 10:52 AM on September 13, 2019

You sound like a good candidate for StitchFix.

Your style parameters are close to what I gave them and I've been very pleased with the wardrobe I've been assembling. There have been some misses, but I've gotten at least 1 item from each box I've kept.
posted by Wossname at 11:17 AM on September 13, 2019

For pants, what about corduroys?

For shirts, I've recently discovered and really liked Charles Tyrwhitt. (They have pants, too, but mostly khaki/chino style.)

For simple classic but very well-made shoes, how about Samuel Hubbard?

And congrats on losing the weight!
posted by underthehat at 11:19 AM on September 13, 2019

When you say you "don't like chinos", what does that mean? When someone tells me they don't want to wear chinos, I assume that they mean that they only want to wear wool pants, corduroys, moleskin pants or cargo/military pants - is that where you're going with this? (I mean, conceivably they could also mean that they want to wear leather pants, balloon cut pants, painters' pants, etc.) But then sometimes I learn that they mean only not extremely office-y cotton pants.

But in any case: Corduroys seem like a good idea - you can get them cut like jeans or in other cuts and in a variety of wales/width-of-ribbing, they're machine-washable and they go with a lot of the things that go with jeans.

Put This On is my go-to for interesting but not high-fashion stuff, although of course they're usually talking about $500 artisanal whatevers. I enjoy the Oi Polloi shop blog, although of course it's a shop blog. I also look at Die, Workwear and actually click on the ads, although they're all for things I could never afford.

If you're really looking for pants that are Literally Not Chinos, I would suggest Everlane or J Crew corduroys (J Crew is super duper hit and miss, but their cords are decent) For genuinely bonkers non-chino pants, you can get stuff from ASOS (which tends to fit smaller than US mass market brands).

Otherwise, I'm assuming you're not talking about wool flannel pants, so why not hit up a military surplus store for some fatigue pants in a deep olive? You can treat them basically like jeans.

If you want to spend a boatload of money, Put This On and Die Workwear will help you with that.

For shoes - I dunno, I feel like we're not really in a shoe moment right now; everyone who isn't wearing giant weird trainers is wearing Vans or Converse or something odd from the thrift store.

If I were buying shoes from scratch and didn't want to spend a bananas amount of money, I would get a couple of pairs of Vans Pro slip-ons in black and navy - they really sort of disappear into an outfit and look neither overstated nor frumpy. Do you need boots? What about a pair of chunky chelsea boots? Really slim ones look out of balance with jeans and cords IMO, but a more robust pair work fine. Also, a pair of suede penny loafers is nice for warmer weather. The good thing about suede is that even cheaper suede looks okay, so you can spend less than for really dressy shoes.

IME, eBay is your friend. Gently used high-quality scarves and shirts in particular are easy to find - and if you're looking for "funky patterns", a lot of the really desirable ones cost ten million dollars or are from the eighties and nineties. The thing with eBay is you need to have some time and practice browsing - make an account so that you can bookmark things and take your time looking at stuff. A computer screen is better for this than a phone. For scarves, search both men's and women's and be wary of no-brand "Scottish" or "English" "cashmere" because it's always acrylic. But use your natural wits and you'll find some nice stuff. For shirts, measure a shirt that fits you well and use that as a guide.
posted by Frowner at 11:36 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

depending on where you live, a nordstrom personal shopper is great for this. they deal with this all the time, will listen to your suggestions, your likes and dislikes, and know when to push the envelope. they will also stay within a price range.
posted by koroshiya at 11:43 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite] will be a great resource for you. She’s a celebrity men’s stylist whose website and YouTube channel provides a great deal of information for regular gentlemen.
posted by conrad53 at 10:59 PM on September 13, 2019

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