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When King Camp Gillette invented the first safety razor circa 1900, he probably knew he was onto a good thing. But would he have predicted his design – economical and effective – would still rule the world of shaving 120 years later? In a world of 2.0s, we expect constant iterations to blow old models out of the water. That’s not the case here.

Sure, we’ll acknowledge some more recent razor innovations: multi-blades, moisturising strips, exfoliating bars, vibrating handles, self-heating heads or swivelling balls… did we mention the extra blades? Struggling to reinvent the wheel? Well, you can always tinker around the edges.

Given all this, why do more men use a disposable cartridge razor over a safety razor? The invention of the two-part razor and blades model meant more profit for companies, with cheaper handles that could only be used with their blades, and they became ubiquitous. The more recent startup brands essentially offer the same system, but for less.

Upfront costs might make the safety razor look more expensive, however the real cost lies with the blades which means the venerable safety razor is, over time, a much savvier bet.

Why should you switch to a safety razor?

The case for the safety razor has never been greater – there’s the eco-guilt from all that plastic, and the hefty squeeze on our wallets that’s got us giving over-priced refills the side eye.

“Blades are more affordable long term with less plastic waste produced than a cartridge razor,” says Alex Glover, Head of Retail and Training for ADAM Grooming Atelier at Harrods. “Disposable razors are completely un-recyclable. To put this in perspective every single disposable razor you’ve ever used is now sat in landfill,” says Tom Yates, UK Director of Cut Throat Club, which stocks a wide variety of double edge safety razors, shavettes and cut throat razors.

As the default zero waste option, the safety razor is also king of the irritation free shave, doesn’t clog as easily as cartridges, and offers a ritual that a throwaway razor can never match.

What you need to know about safety razors

Safety razors were invented so that men could shave without the assistance of a barber, yet still carry a perception as riskier than cartridge razors. “A traditional safety razor is just as safe as a cartridge razor,” explains Tom. “The worst that can really happen with both razor types is you nick yourself, which is easier to do when you’re less experienced. A safety razor takes a little getting used to but it quickly becomes second nature.”

With varying features, safety razors offer a more custom shave, such as different handle lengths and thicknesses, light to heavier weight finishes, screw in or butterfly head mechanisms and closed or open combs.

Weight or length?

cross safety razor 1

Cross Knurl Safety Razor

“The weight and handle length is more of a personal preference than having an impact on the actual shave,” says Tom. “A longer handle is helpful if using the razor to shave harder to reach areas, so if you’re only using it on your face the handle length doesn’t really matter.

“A more weighty razor tends to be the preference as it has a feeling of quality and means next to no pressure is required when shaving.”

Butterfly head or screw in?

henson razors 5

Henson Shaving AL13

“Butterfly razors have a nice mechanism and don’t need to be separated into bits to add a new blade, which can be handy if you tend to be a bit clumsy before your first coffee,” explains Alex. “this type also has a little bit of control over the blade tension which can help with different qualities or thicknesses of stubble.”

“With a screw head razor you change the blade by taking the razor apart. By unscrewing the handle, you take the old blade out and replace with a new razor, then simply screw the parts back together. Both types of razors make it incredibly easy to replace the blades,” says Tom.

Closed comb or open comb?

safetyrazor

The comb style dictates the aggressiveness of the shave. “Closed is more common and safer for beginners,” advises Alex.

“The flat bar under the razor provides even tension. Open has a comb style bar which allows closer shaving, so better for safety razor aficionados and those with very dense beards, but can be more tricky in inexperienced hands.”

How to handle a safety razor

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Henson Shaving

For the rookie, there’s a few things to consider when getting to grips with a safety razor. In terms of technique, “it’s important to maintain a 30-degree angle against the skin and to avoid putting any additional pressure on the razor, as just the weight of it alone is enough to cut hair,” says Tom.

“Skin tension must be considered. Try and combine stretching your neck with your head movements, and add in side stretches with your free hand,” advises Alex. “Whichever shaving cream you use needs to allow good razor glide, and consider safe approach of the blades in the direction of shaving to minimise the risk of sliding or catching other areas or facial features.

“Never wipe the razor with tissue as there can be sharp protrusions at the sides of the razor head. And take your time. Maybe don’t start your first safety razor shave on a Monday morning. Do it at the weekend when there’s less time pressure.”

Look after your blades

safety razor stand

MÜHLE 4 Piece Safety Razor Shaving Set

The more you care for the blades, the more use you can get from each one. “A single blade can probably be used at least twice, especially if just edging a beard,” says Alex. “Each blade also has two sides which further extends the lifespan.

“Ensure your razor is stored in dry conditions, ideally on a stand, to prevent the blade from dulling. And don’t forget to store used blades in a tin. You can get razor sharps tins online and these would need to be disposed of safely.”

How to prepare for a wet shave

shaving prep

The best shaves are all in the preparation, so have everything you need to hand before you begin. “It’s a good idea to shave after a shower and use a pre softening product if your hair is coarse,” Alex recommends.

“Hot towels are ideal but not always practical. Lather should be fresh and wet and warm. Keep an eye on the balance of shaving soap and water – get that wrong and you create problems. The lather texture should slip between your fingers. If bubbles collapse it’s not soapy enough and won’t do its job. If it feels greasy it’s too soapy and will create razor drag.”

If you want to avoid shaving irritation, it pays to prep.

Expert Recommended Safety Razors

Your chin hairs will be in even safer hands when you pick a reliable name. Edwin Jagger, Gillette, Mühle, Merkur, Parker and Henson are some of the best brands in safety razors. “If you’re just starting out then I’d recommend opting for a cheaper safety razor to see if the shaving technique is for you. If it is, then like most of the community, you’ll likely want to upgrade to one of the more established brands,” explains Tom.

“Best thing to do is visit a shop which sells a wide variety of brands and have a hold to feel the weight,” Alex advises. “Like a good pen or a dart, you’ll know when the weight feels right in your hand.”

Henson AL13 Razor

henson razor al

Made in Canada in the same factory that machines satellite components, the Henson AL13 is a truly precision instrument. The Henson head design is notable for two reasons: the blade is fixed at the 30-degree angle; and it extends at precisely 33 microns, the width of the average human hair. This eliminates the work of finding the right angle, so you can be extra confident you’re getting a super-close shave with minimal risk of nicks, and you can flash your personal style with uncommon colour choices such as tan, steel blue and copper.

All of which has garnered this razor 4,551 five star reviews.

Buy now at Henson Shaving

Edwin Jagger DE89 Long DE Safety Razor

edwin jagger de89l

A solid choice to suit meatier paws, this hand polished, chrome plated Edwin Jagger razor has a longer, lined handle and is made in Sheffield.

With a closed comb it takes a lighter touch than you might expect. Just take care not to drop it too often, as happy reviewers point out, it’s not entirely indestructible.

Buy now at Amazon

Merkur 34c

merkur 34c

With it’s shorter, thicker and knurled handle the Merkur 34c is made from chrome and polished steel. It has an overall heftier feel and feels solid in the hand with a good grip. The head and closed comb screw tightly into the mechanism and the ridged tip at the end gives weight to the balance.

“[The] Merkur brand has been around for over 100 years,” says Tom. “It’s a little more on the premium side and is a common choice with our customers, both beginners and the more experienced shaver.”

Buy now at Amazon

Roche R1

roche r1

A good starter razor with an interesting finish is the Roche R1 in gun metal grey. This handsome razor has a longer handle than the Merkur, looks pricier than it is and gives good performance.

“This is a cheaper alternative that is also good quality. We’ve had good feedback from this razor and comes in quite a bit cheaper than other brands,” says Tom.

Buy now at Cut Throat Club

ADAM Grooming Atelier Safety Razor

adam razor

With strong roots in Turkish barbering tradition, the master barbers at ADAM use their own safety razor for all wet shave treatments. This stylish razor has a closed comb and a handle crafted from dark ironwood. Perfectly balanced, it fits snugly into the hand for secure strokes.

Buy now at ADAM Grooming Atelier

Feather AS-D2

feather asd2

Ready to invest? Go for the Feather. “This is a renowned razor in the shaving enthusiast space and gets glowing reviews across the internet. It’s quite an expensive razor so it’s probably not the first choice for someone just starting out due to the high cost,” says Tom.

Made from 100% stainless steel, with a weighted head, the impeccable textured grip is aesthetically pleasing as well as super practical.

Buy now at Amazon

Mühle R41 Chrome DE Razor

muhle r41

Generally, but not exclusively for the more experienced shaver, the Mühle R41 uses a screw in mechanism. The open comb gives a more aggressive shave which works well for thicker, coarser stubble types and stronger beard growth, sensitive skin and those who don’t shave every day.

The weight of the head does most of the work for you, so approach with a lighter touch.

Buy now at Muhle

King C. Gillette Double Edge Razor

king safety

Attainable on most budgets, the King C. Gillette safety razor harks back to the original model. It comes with Gillette’s own blades, but you can replace them with any brand.

Using a screw in mechanism, this platinum coated, stainless steel razor is great for edging, sideburns and beard lines. It feels nice and weighty, and gives a close, comfortable shave. A longer grip would be a welcome addition.

Buy now at Amazon

The post Close Shave: Why You Should Switch To A Safety Razor appeared first on Ape to Gentleman.

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By: Jessica Punter
Title: Close Shave: Why You Should Switch To A Safety Razor
Sourced From: www.apetogentleman.com/switch-safety-razor/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=switch-safety-razor
Published Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2023 09:00:36 +0000

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10 Ways To Give Your Outfit A Vintage Look

Man leaning against a tree reading wearing khaki chinos an oxford shirt with a knit red tie jpg

At some point in your personal style journey, you’re bound to take notice of vintage menswear and its influence over contemporary fashion today.

For many, their first exposure to vintage style is through movies and television, whether original media from previous decades, or period-pieces produced in the modern day.

Some are enamored with the “old money” elegance in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), while others find themselves more drawn to Robert De Niro’s flashy ensembles in Martin Scorsese’s mob epic, Casino (1995). Perhaps you’re into the exemplary displays of Ivy Style portrayed in Dead Poets Society (1989), or the 70s take on the look in The Holdovers (2023).

Man leaning against a tree reading, wearing khaki chinos, an oxford shirt with a knit red tie, a gray tweed sport coat

The real world holds plenty of style stimulation, as well. Maybe your favorite style influencer recently put you on to an especially cool retro look. Or you passed someone on the street with head-turning taste.

Whatever your source of inspiration, and whatever particular aesthetic that’s caught your eye, there’s one truth that remains consistent across practically all of these experiences and others like it: vintage style can be pretty darn cool, and a ton of fun!

Photo of man wearing vintage 50s style seersucker suit

But in truth, it can be challenging to know where to start once you’re committed to the idea of incorporating more vintage styles into your wardrobe. So, we’ve put together a list of tips and expert advice to help you experiment and achieve the perfect vintage look. Ready to retro-fy your style journey? Read on!

Tip #1: Shop Secondhand Vintage

This might seem obvious, but it’s worth stating. You won’t get a more authentic vintage look than by wearing authentic vintage clothing.

Besides being a sustainable practice, shopping vintage will help you learn to appreciate the styles of previous decades in a whole new way. It truly is a hands-on learning experience that will allow you to recognize vintage details everywhere, furthering your understanding of vintage fashion.

Thrift stores, flea markets, and online marketplaces like eBay, Poshmark, Mercari, Depop, Vinted, and more are filled to the brim with vintage offerings spanning across different decades and styles. It can take a bit of work and patience, but that’s part of the fun when it comes to cultivating your vintage style.

Thrift store rack filled with textured and colorful suits and jackets, and patterned shirts

Sometimes, you can find quality vintage-inspired pieces produced by modern brands. If this works for you, go for it! But always be mindful of quality. It’s worth noting that you can often find great deals on vintage designer pieces by shopping secondhand.

This tip is at the very top of the list because it truly is the best way to get started. Embrace the process and have fun with it!

Tip #2: Incorporate Tailoring Into Your Outfit

When in doubt, tailoring has got your back. And sometimes your legs, too!

What many outfits some may categorize as “boring” often lack is a degree of extra dimension or texture. That’s where tailoring comes in.

Take a look at pretty much any vintage photograph, and you’ll often see it front and center. Men wearing suits, jackets, wool trousers – the works! It doesn’t even need to read as formal if you opt for a casual suit or sportcoat. But it will undoubtedly add a touch of sophistication to nearly any outfit.

Blazers and sportcoats feature lapels that frame your torso and neck, while padded shoulders will compliment and accentuate your form.

Man wearing olive-colored tweed jacket over turtleneck sweater

This extends to bottoms, as well. Try swapping your regular work chinos for a pair of tailored trousers to elevate your ensemble. This can work any time of the year if you go with the right fabric. Try wool or corduroy for fall and winter, cotton for spring, and linen or seersucker for summer!

Man wearing linen pleated trousers

Looking to try a bit more? Wear a full suit!

Until the late 1990s, it was more common than you might think. Hence, the vintage association. If you have the option, opt for more casual suiting made from casual fabrics like tweed, corduroy, or linen. When the occasion calls for it, smoother, worsted wools should be your go-to for business or more formal settings.

Tip #3: Try Out New Silhouettes

A lot of modern, contemporary clothing has fit very similarly for a while now. Slim and skinny fits were all the rage in the 2010s. Even today, it remains a very common style. For the fashion-conscious, wider, roomier fits have been back for a few years now. But if you have yet to give it a try, maybe now’s the time!

Not all larger fits are the same, either. For example, during various decades across the twentieth century, the fit of pants, in both refined tailoring or casual workwear, was constantly evolving, much like our trends today.

The 1920s saw an influx of relaxed suits, with lots of room in the seat, thigh, and leg of the pants. In the 1970s, flared pants were accentuated with a slimmer thigh. Big shoulders in jackets and a tasteful excess of fabric characterized much of the look of tailoring in the 1980s.

Man wearing 70s flared jeans with western boots and western belt

If you’ve been wearing the same slim or skinny fit chinos and slim fit suits since 2010, it might be time to switch things up! There will always be a place for tasteful slim fits, but it can be a lot of fun to experiment with roomier clothes, too.

Man wearing wide-leg, chalk-striped wool trousers

Tip #4: High-Rise Pants Are Iconic

Sometimes, a low-rise jean looks pretty cool! The Ramones certainly had the right idea. But for a good chunk of menswear history, pants have traditionally sat significantly higher on the waist, falling closer to one’s natural waistline.

The rise of a pair of pants refers to how much fabric exists between the top of the waistband and the crotch seam. The more fabric, the higher the rise.

Aside from lending your outfits a classic, vintage look, high-rise pants can actually make you look taller by elongating your legs and breaking up your body proportions in a way that is almost always universally flattering to all body types.

With the right amount of room in the seat, sometimes afforded by pleats (see tip #6), they can be highly comfortable, and typically slip a lot less than many lower-rise pants.

Man wearing high-waisted, pleated corduroy trousers with a tucked-in oxford shirt and wool sweater.

Generally speaking, high-rise pants extend to around your belly button. But sometimes, they can be a little higher or a little bit shorter. Finding which exact fit is right for you can take some trial and error, but a good pair of high rise jeans or tailored trousers are a great way to give your outfits a vintage touch.

Tip #5: Frame Your Face With Retro Shades

There are tons of sunglasses with timeless, classic frames that stand the test of time. But if you want to make a statement, go bold! Big shades in tinted colors offer a lot of 70s appeal.

Tortoiseshell sunglasses have a bit of a softer touch, but work well with all sorts of classic menswear aesthetics.

Man wearing brown tortoiseshell sunglasses

Maybe you’re going for a 1980s stockbroker look? Keep things big, bold, and boxy! A good pair of vintage style shades can be a brilliant capstone on an already brilliant retro outfit.

Tip #6: Pleated Pants, Perchance?

One of the chief characteristics of classic menswear and vintage tailoring is the amount of depth and dimension afforded by the fabric, fit, and details.

Today, a lot of contemporary fashion can feel a bit flat. But if you keep an eye on the forefront of fashion, you may have observed that pleated pants have made quite the comeback in the past few years!

And for good reason, too. Gone is the somewhat dorky, dad-like association of ill-fitting, pleated khakis. Quality pleated pants lend an extra dose of visual interest to all types of outfits, from casual linen trousers to the most refined tailoring.

Man wearing double pleated brown houndstooth wool trousers, paired with a brown braided belt

Flat-front pants are just fine, but pleats offer a subtle yet noticeable charge of detail and dimension. They afford pants a bit more shaping, and as you very well know by now, silhouette is vital to getting a vintage look right.

And they can be practical, too. If you happen to have thicker thighs, you’re likely to enjoy the added comfort and room of pleated pants. A little pleat goes a long way!

Whether you prefer a single, reversed pleat, double, forward-facing pleats, or a different configuration, like double reversed pleats, they’re guaranteed to signal that your outfit considers classic detailing.

Tip #7: It’s Time For Ties

Modern menswear seems to be rather split on the necktie. Many have all but abandoned it, even at traditionally formal events like weddings or political forums. Others still maintain that traditional tailoring almost always required a tie.

Regardless of where you fall, the tie has certainly become less and less popular over the twenty-first century. But for most of classic menswear history, the tie has held a place across many shapes, forms, and aesthetics. And if you’re trying to go for a vintage look, the right neckwear can make a big difference.

Man wearing 80s style double-breasted pinstriped suit with art deco tie

Classic silk ties in simpler patterns will work best for formalwear, whereas bolder ties are more of a statement piece. Textured ties, such as knits or wool compositions, can really add to an ivy or academic look. Wider ties tend to be seen as more vintage – but bear in mind that skinnier ties were popular in the late 1950s and 1960s!

To stand out and really sell a vintage ensemble, it might just be time to revisit the necktie.

Tip #8: Prioritize Natural Fabrics

With the exception of 1970s style, which popularized polyester in the form of double-knit synthetic suits for leisure, disco, and more, vintage style is often entirely composed from natural fiber fabrics.

Today, a lot of modern clothing is made from polyester or other synthetic fabrics. This changes how a garment feels, wears, and lasts. Vintage clothing is often made entirely from natural fabrics like wool, cotton, and linen.

Man looking confident arms crossed thick wool cable knit fishermans sweater jpg

Unless you’re going for a 70s look, polyester or synthetic-blend clothing is often a staple of more modern clothing. A suit made from stretch-infused athleisure fabric might be comfortable, but it won’t exactly communicate a vintage style.

Prioritizing natural fabrics will ensure that most of your outfits read as more period-accurate, and they’ll likely last longer, as well.

Tip #9: Vintage Bling Counts, Too

Vintage jewelry can be a great finishing touch to your outfit, and an even better way to express your individuality. Like authentic vintage clothing, you often can’t beat the genuine article when it comes to antique jewelry.

Necklaces, rings, bracelets, and more, can often be found at flea markets or online marketplaces for competitive price points. Where you can, try to stick with genuine silver or gold. In the long run, it’ll often look a lot better than some cheaper alternatives.

Nervous about trying out jewelry? Start small!

A simple chain, pendant, or ring is an easy access point to experiment. Historically, rings have many hidden meanings and old-world associations, often depending on the finger you choose to wear them on. For an easy vintage look, a simple signet ring will most likely suffice.

Man’s hand adorned with a simple silver signet ring on his pinky. Ring has a tasteful coat seal engraved on it

Signet rings are adorned with seals, often bearing a family crest, signature, or similar, used to confirm authority on documentation and the like. Today, they just look great as a top-tier vintage accessory.

Tip #10: These Shoes Are Made For Walking

Don’t discount your footwear! When it comes to putting together an outfit, your shoes will sometimes be the first thing people notice, and they can truly make or break your overall look.

For more casual outfits, consider timeless classics such as Converse Chuck 70s, brown leather derbies, loafers, or even a western boot.

Man wearing classic, straight-fit blue jeans paired with brown tassel loafers and white socks

For more formal styles, choose authentic dress shoes. These will almost always be black, and unlike open-laced derbies, sport a more polished, closed-laced lacing system.

If you’re interested in investing in quality dress shoes, consider goodyear welted shoes and full-grain leather. These may cost more up-front, but they’ll age more gracefully, too, and can typically be expected to last longer.

Bonus Tip: Don’t Forget to Have Fun with the Process

Thought we were done, did you? Well, we nearly are.

But it’s worth noting that the most important part of experimenting with style, vintage or not, is to allow yourself to enjoy the process.

If you start to feel frustrated that your outfits aren’t looking exactly the way you pictured in your head – that’s okay! Fashion and style journeys are rarely completed in one trip. So, be sure to experiment. Learn. And enjoy yourself along the way!

The post 10 Ways To Give Your Outfit A Vintage Look appeared first on Real Men Real Style.

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By: Antonio Centeno
Title: 10 Ways To Give Your Outfit A Vintage Look
Sourced From: www.realmenrealstyle.com/vintage-look-outfits/
Published Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2024 16:12:15 +0000

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https://mansbrand.com/veneers-for-a-megawatt-smile/

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VENEERS FOR A MEGAWATT SMILE

shutterstock 2068648295 jpg

There are many men out there who are desperate to get their gnashers sorted to get that megawatt smile, so in recent years, there has been a noticeable surge in the number of men opting to have veneers put in. This cosmetic dental procedure, once primarily associated with women, is now gaining popularity among men seeking to enhance their smiles and boost their confidence.

So the good thing about veneers is the enhanced aesthetics: One of the most significant advantages of veneers is their ability to dramatically improve the appearance of teeth; whether addressing discolouration, uneven spacing, or minor alignment issues, veneers can create a more symmetrical and attractive smile, enhancing overall facial aesthetics. This will give you confidence, but who wouldn’t want a bright, flawless smile that can significantly impact self-confidence and self-esteem? With veneers, men can feel more confident in social and professional settings, making positive impressions and feeling better about their appearance. So, when properly cared for, veneers can provide a long-term solution for smile enhancement, and unlike other cosmetic dental procedures that may require frequent touch-ups or replacements, they offer lasting results and provide value for the investment.

shutterstock 2068648295 1 jpg

And this is the big one, the cost. One of the primary drawbacks of veneers is the cost associated with the procedure. Veneers can be a significant investment, and the total expense will depend on factors such as the number of teeth treated and the type of material used. While some may consider the cost worthwhile for the aesthetic benefits, it may only be feasible for some, and remember that having veneers put is irreversible. So what is the procedure? Veneers involve permanently altering the natural teeth by removing a thin layer of enamel to accommodate the veneer; this irreversible process means that once the veneers are in place, there’s no return to the original teeth. It’s essential for individuals to carefully consider this aspect before proceeding with the procedure.

While veneers can be unique, there is a potential for sensitivity, and some guys may experience increased tooth sensitivity following the placement of veneers, particularly during the initial adjustment period. While this sensitivity is usually temporary and subsides over time, it can be a discomforting side effect for some. And what is needed for maintenance requirements? While veneers are durable, they still require proper maintenance to ensure longevity; this includes regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups and avoiding habits that may damage the veneers. Don’t smoke, and don’t bite into anything complicated!

Despite the potential drawbacks, the popularity of veneers among men continues to grow, and many men are drawn to the transformative effects of veneers and the confidence boost they provide. Whether for professional reasons, personal aesthetics, or simply wanting to feel more confident in their smile, veneers offer a viable solution for those seeking to enhance their appearance and improve their overall quality of life. As with any cosmetic procedure, individuals need to weigh the pros and cons carefully and consult a qualified dental professional to determine if veneers are the right option.

shutterstock 2437759457 jpg

Now, this is the big one: when it comes to dental veneers, the choice of materials plays a crucial role in determining the quality of the result and impacting the overall cost. Porcelain veneers are renowned for their superior quality and durability, making them a popular choice despite their higher price tag. On the other hand, composite resin veneers offer a more budget-friendly option but may be prone to chipping over time. In the UK, veneer costs typically range from £500 to £1,400 per tooth. However, this price range can vary depending on various factors, such as the location of the dental practice, the dentist’s expertise, the materials used, the number of veneers required, and any additional treatments necessary.

Ultimately, while the cost of veneers may seem significant, it’s essential to consider the long-term benefits and their impact on your confidence and self-esteem.

The post VENEERS FOR A MEGAWATT SMILE first appeared on Mens Fashion Magazine.

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By: MFM
Title: VENEERS FOR A MEGAWATT SMILE
Sourced From: www.mensfashionmagazine.com/veneers-for-a-megawatt-smile?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=veneers-for-a-megawatt-smile
Published Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2024 07:50:40 +0000

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Fabric and Formality: What Makes a Suit “Casual?”

man casual vintage suit jpg

Nowadays, largely due to the prevalence of casualwear and the prioritization of comfort and simplicity, tailoring has become an increasingly rare sight. This trend can be recognized in all sorts of settings, even those where, not too long ago, suits were often considered mandatory. Or, at the very least, heavily encouraged.

Whether for a typical day at the office, or for an elegant evening out on the town, men used to don suits for all sorts of occasions.

But today, suits and tailoring tend to be thought of as wholly “formal.” Something you really only ever wear for very specific events, such as weddings. And even then, there are those who prefer weddings with an entirely casual dress code.

But this was not always the case. For much of the twentieth century, there existed the notion of the “casual suit.” This was more or less a middle-ground of sorts that existed between formalwear and casualwear.

Today, the concept of business casual often fills this gap. But instead of the drab khakis and cheap dress shirts found on sad discount store racks, casual suits still contain all of the depth and visual complexity of traditional tailoring!

man wearing traditional 3-piece suit

Believe it or not, the concept of the “casual suit” was once well-accepted. In the past, men understood that not all tailored garments read as formalwear.

And today, many menswear enthusiasts hold by the same truths and standards, educating themselves about the history and context for the various fabrics, patterns, and colors that qualify some tailoring as timeless, casual styles.

Read on to discover it all for yourself!

The History of Casual Suiting

Like so many western menswear traditions, the origins of the casual suit (and suits in general, for that matter), can be traced to England. In this particular case, we can look to the lounge suit, born out of Scotland in the mid nineteenth century, and the arguable granddaddy of all suits.

Typically made from heavier wool fabrics, the lounge suit wasn’t actually intended for lounging. Instead, it was essentially the sportswear of that era. Used for hunting and other outdoor activities, the coats on these suits were shorter than the longer frock-style jackets worn in town for business matters. This shorter length would accommodate easier movement for sporting activities. It was all about performance!

men in Scottish hills wearing thick tweed suits and tweed caps

Of course, the construction of these garments, often seen in three-piece configurations, was still rather elegant, using rich, earthy tones and quality wool. As the 1800s progressed, and the 1900s began, the trends of the lounge suit eventually made their way from the English and Scottish countryside to dense, bustling cities.

The business suits frequently seen in the professional world kept their darker appearance and their finer, subtler wool fabrics, but adopted the shorter coat configuration of the sportier lounge suits. And thus, the modern blueprint for the suit was born.

In the United States, suits followed the trend timeline set by the British, as Brooks Brothers debuted their famous “sack suit” in 1895, in accordance to the rising popularity of shorter coats.

Frock and tailcoat demand was down! And Brooks Brothers was there to claim the opportunity. The sack suit quickly cemented itself in the American fashion vernacular, while carrying over the cultural associations of various fabrics born out of England.

Rougher, heavier wools such as tweed became a hallmark of academia and the American Ivy League, a setting in which the aforementioned “middle-ground” of formality thrived. Meanwhile, just like in England, business suits and formalwear retained their smoother, sleeker look.

You may be thinking, well, thanks for the history lesson. But how does this apply to the idea of casual tailoring today?

What History Teaches Us About Fabrics

The rich history of tailoring and the fabrics used for different occasions, locales, and eras, all point to modern contextual clues we can use to determine a suit’s formality.

In the Scottish countryside, aristocrats donned heavy, three-piece tweeds to go hunting. It wasn’t really something they wore on their wedding day, per se. Or even to do business!

You may have heard the old phrase, “no brown in town” before. While this needn’t be followed so stringently today, it did refer to the practice of brown tweed and tweed-adjacent suits being designated for countryside wear.

man in the English countryside wearing a brown tweed suit

But the lesson remains the same. A gentleman had tailoring for recreation. For casual affairs. At the same time, he also maintained a wardrobe for more formal occasions.

This path of thought can still be followed today to determine the modern-day implications for a tailored garment. Because clothing is so strongly informed by our culture, those associations are often already there whether we’re aware of it, or not.

The gentleman’s difference? He understands the association and the historical context of different garments – right down to the fabric and pattern itself.

Therefore, the casual suits of yesteryear can still read as casual today to the informed mind. Where some may still just see a suit and equate it to a fancy vibe, the casual suit teaches us that one can still be “put-together” without sacrificing a degree of elegance.

Because good tailoring is three-dimensional. It drapes. It creates interesting shapes to compliment your figure. But it can still be casual!

How to Identify Casual Suits

Now that you know the history, and how that history influences our cultural aesthetics, you’re ready to discover casual suiting for yourself! Here are some tips on how you can do this successfully.

1. Fabric Is King: This is arguably the most important aspect of determining the formality level of a suit. Fabrics like tweed, flannel wool, corduroy, cotton, linen, and seersucker are all examples of fabrics that typically “casualize” a piece of tailoring. More formal suits are usually made from smooth, worsted wool.

man in flannel suit

2. Pattern Matters, Too: Usually, the bigger and bolder the pattern on a tailored garment, the more casual it’s intended to be. Look for big, bold stripes, windowpane patterns, houndstooth (often found on tweeds), and more.

houndstooth suit

3. It’s a Colorful World: Light-tones suits in shades of white, cream, beige, and light gray are usually less formal. An exception to note would be the white dinner jacket, which is the most important component of white tie attire (very formal).

white linen suit

While you don’t need to take “no brown in town” too seriously, do know that most shades of brown are still considered fairly casual. Less conventional colors, and especially anything on the louder end of the spectrum, also deformalize the overall look.

Dark suits aren’t always casual, however, as you need to take into account other aspects mentioned on this list.

4. The Devil Is in the Details: It pays to look out for the small things, as well. A less structured suit, for example, such as one with minimal to no internal padding in the jacket, is inherently a bit less formal.

Fewer than three buttons on the sleeve cuff are also often a dead giveaway, and are sometimes found on suits similar to those worn in the English countryside. Cuffed pants can be very tasteful, but they are also traditionally more casual. So are patch pockets on a jacket. The little things go a long way in identifying if a suit reads as formal, or not.

man wearing a cotton suit with a relaxed shoulder

How You Can Style a Casual Suit Today

So, you’ve learned all there is to know about the history, why it matters, and how to determine if a suit is casual-coded. Good work! However, you may still be wondering how to style a casual suit.

Maybe you’ve already got yourself a corduroy two-piece you’re itching to rock out on the town, or even a cream-colored, cotton, double-breasted suit.
Regardless of what kind of casual suit speaks to you, here are a few style tips to avoid clashing your casual tailoring against pieces that might be too formal.

1. Oxford Cloth Button-Downs Are Your Best Friend: Ah, the oxford cloth button down. Or, to its friends, OCBD, for short. Much like the sack suit, this style of shirt was popularized by Brooks Brothers, and it pairs magically with nearly any casual style suit. Tweed, corduroy, cotton, flannel, linen, seersucker, you name it – the OCBD is almost guaranteed to go well.

This is because, much like the less sleek nature of most of these fabrics, oxford cloth is typically made from a slightly more textured cotton. While some dress shirts can go well with some casual suits, it takes a well-trained eye. OCBDs have a built-in history and cultural association that allows them to just work.

oxford shirt

2. Avoid True Dress Shoes: Don’t pair your casual suit with black, closed-laced oxford shoes. Rather, consider something just a step down, like an open-laced derby shoe, leather boots, or loafers in a complimentary color.

wearing corduroy pants with brown oxford shoes

3. Appropriate Accessories: To really communicate that your outfit is casual, even to those who can’t quite distinguish the suiting formality scale, you can let your accessories do the talking.

For example, a braided or embossed belt is often considered more laid-back than a sleeker, simpler one. Or try a western belt if you’re feeling like a cowboy!

When it comes to ties, sometimes silk works just fine in casual ensembles, but something with a bit more texture, like cotton, wool, or a knit can really finalize a classic, casual Ivy League look.

braided leather belt

4. Consider a Denim Shirt: Going without a tie? With a more casual suit, that’s totally a valid option. But once you’re forging neckwear, you may as well lean into the playful nature of your outfit. A denim or chambray shirt can look brilliant under all sorts of casual suits. It works especially well with cotton, corduroy, linen, tweed, and seersucker.

man wearing a denim shirt paired with a tweed suit

5. Ditch The Pants: Well, provided you replace them with another pair of pants. The fun thing about many casual suits, is that unlike their more formal counterparts, they can be broken up into suit separates with ease.

Try combining a tweed jacket with some corduroy pants for an academic look. Or even the reverse! A cotton jacket is right at home with some linen or seersucker pants. Or perhaps pair a linen jacket with some cotton trousers!

There’s a world of possibility when it comes to casual tailoring. Experiment, and you might just find your new favorite outfit!

man wearing a tweed houndstooth jacket with corduroy pants

Well, that about concludes our deep-dive into the world of casual suits. We hope you found it informative!

There’s so much more to the deep and fascinating history of tailoring across all ends of the formality spectrum – this was really just a sneak peek!

But don’t forget, it’s the history of fashion that tells us how to best style our clothing – even in the modern day.

The post Fabric and Formality: What Makes a Suit “Casual?” appeared first on Real Men Real Style.

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By: Antonio Centeno
Title: Fabric and Formality: What Makes a Suit “Casual?”
Sourced From: www.realmenrealstyle.com/fabric-casual-suit-formality/
Published Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2024 14:57:38 +0000

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