Smart casual clothes in England?
July 5, 2006 3:07 PM   Subscribe

Where's a good place for a mid-twenties man to get slightly smart casualwear in England?

I'm looking for the sort of thing one could wear to a party or on a date without looking too stuffy.
posted by grouse to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total)
I'm an American, but I was very impressed with Next when I was in London recently. Hp but not unwearably so, and not badly priced. Great kids clothes and decent women's stuff too.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:13 PM on July 5, 2006

I always like a fellow in Ben Sherman.
posted by scody at 3:21 PM on July 5, 2006

Marks & Spencers have a range of clothes that are called something like "Inspired by Italy" - they're generally understated kinda classic things made from good fabrics (silk/linen/nice cotton/pure new wool etc)

IMO they are a bit above the average high street stuff, prices also above normal as you'd expect. I'd guess you could get trousers/jeans, shoes and shirt/polo for approx £150-200.

It's not high fashion though, but worth checking out I'd say.
posted by selton at 3:22 PM on July 5, 2006

Swing by the men's departments at Harvey Nichols and Selfridges .
posted by ericb at 3:31 PM on July 5, 2006

Burtons? Again, not high fashion, but they have some nice stuff at affordable prices. In most high streets too.
posted by afx237vi at 3:36 PM on July 5, 2006

Thanks for the suggestions so far and for Rock Steady's budget-consciousness. I should mention that I don't want to spend a ton of money. A friend suggested Reiss but I thought they were way, way too expensive—they had shirts that cost more than £70 there if I recall correctly.
posted by grouse at 3:38 PM on July 5, 2006

Shame you find Reiss is too expensive because, for a high street store, their clothes are in my opinion rather good. If you feel they're too expensive you probably won't find a lot at Harvey Nichols and Selfridges within your price range.

Down on the value end of the scale, Top Man is remarkably cheap and is beginning to match its sister store Top Shop for fashions inspired by the catwalk but at prices everyone can afford. Surprisingly, Top Man and Top Shop are now quite highly regarded (as is Primark among trendy girls.)

French Connection is pretty good, and River Island is worth a look. You can mix and match some smart items with more casual pieces from American Apparel (now in the UK), H&M and even Gap.
posted by skylar at 3:52 PM on July 5, 2006

I always end up getting something from either Topman or Burtons when I need this kind of thing. An awful lot of it is crap, but there's good stuff if you look for long enough, and it's not expensive.

Then again, I'm only in my early twenties, so what do I know.
posted by reklaw at 3:59 PM on July 5, 2006

If you want nicely cut, eyecatching clothes at a decent price then go to Zara. Next are the second best on the high street, good quality, and are far cheaper. But not very impressive if you really need to wow. Their home delivery service is excellent, however. Burtons have some nice stuff but the majority tends to be a bit low quality.

I would not go to Marks and Spencer as their clothes (including Collezione and "inspired by Italy" as it's now known since the lawsuit which proved none of the materials came from Italy) are square and baggy and designed to accomodate middle-age spread and nothing else. River Island don't make good fitting clothes either, IMO. You should probably shop around and go with what suits.
posted by fire&wings at 4:03 PM on July 5, 2006

Oh yeah, do avoid Marks and Spencer until you're at least in your forties. Proper Dad clothes there. They'll probably quit selling clothes altogether soon, anyway, with the way that side of things is going compared to their food business.
posted by reklaw at 4:10 PM on July 5, 2006

I second H&M. If you've got a bit to spend, Monsoon (yes they do men's clothes aswell -- recommended for shirts).
posted by popcassady at 4:19 PM on July 5, 2006

I bought my wallet at Marks and Spencer, but from what I've seen I'm not sure I would want to get the type of clothes I'm looking for there. That reminds me, I need a new wallet. If you have any recommendations for a place to get a wallet in addition to those already suggested for clothes. I'm especially hoping to get one that does have a coin purse but doesn't have a middle flap for an ID card.

Thanks again for all the recommendations so far. I'll have to use them soon.
posted by grouse at 4:19 PM on July 5, 2006

Reiss and Zara are always good bets. If you're in London you could have a look in Massimo Dutti on Regent Street (it's Zara's big brother). The men's sections of House of Fraser (the Linea range is pretty good and not stupidly expensive) and Selfridges (has everything and more, but pricey). I would avoid Next, Burton and M&S if you can.
posted by patricio at 2:03 AM on July 6, 2006

As for wallets, I was given this one from Ted Baker and have no complaints.
posted by patricio at 2:05 AM on July 6, 2006

Oh man, depends on where you are. The sales at Harvey Nicks and Selfridges are usually the best for men.

Next, Topshop and all the other Identikit high street stores - cheap but the quality is crap and design doesn't do much to inspure.

The golden rule of thumb is to buy more respectable brands at upscale shops. Spend a day or two on the weekend looking for the bargains. Keep in mind when buying cheaper gear you actually end up loosing money in the long run. Well made, quality items last years longer.

I have had loads of luck in Manchester, Leeds and London with everything from Ralph Lauren, Paul Smith and Church's shoes.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 3:51 AM on July 6, 2006

Oops.. Forgot House of Frazier. I miss the one in Manchester. The men's department in the basement was great.
posted by Funmonkey1 at 3:52 AM on July 6, 2006

Debenhams has more stylish clothes than does M&S, in general, especially when it comes to more casual-smart dress (button-down shirts, ties, trousers). You could go with H&M, but I find that their dressier clothes are very hit-or-miss. Zara is a good middle ground and worth checking out, but go to the biggest Zara you can find-- they rotate through an enormous number of new items every season, so you'll be more likely to find something you like in a larger Zara.

Uniqlo also sometimes has affordable, smart pieces (amidst the fleeces and vests). Definitely worth a visit.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:52 PM on July 6, 2006

I've always found Boden very good for smart-casual clothes.
posted by verstegan at 11:11 PM on July 6, 2006

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