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ways to wear: mens’ casual

I’ve had a few requests for a post about weekend basics for guys. So here it is: ideas for a few guys’ no-brainer pieces that go the distance, targeted specifically for the guy who cares how he looks, but not enough to really do anything proactive about it. If you, like my friend Eric, already know your way around a deep-V and skinny jeans, this post is not for you.

I don’t pay as much attention to what I pay for Tom’s clothes as I do for mine. So I’ve left off a few details regarding price. Also, the model in this post is my long-suffering husband. If you know Tom, be assured that he only posed for these photos under extreme duress. I may have even accused him of hating my blog. So please be kind.

The sweatshirt

Tom has a Michigan sweatshirt that is 20 years old, complete with a frayed neckline, paint splatters, and one sleeve ripped to the elbow. When he wears it, he reminds me enough of Jennifer Beals in Flashdance to make me uncomfortable.

If my friend Linds doesn’t like an article of clothing of her husband’s, she donates it while he’s gone or throws it away, and then simply lies about its whereabouts. I admire her technique, but when it comes to that Michigan sweatshirt, I have a better chance of winning the 2012 Olympic gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles than I have of getting rid of it on the sly. That’s because Tom loves it so much that he checks on it periodically, to make sure it’s still molting in the drawer where he last left it.

Chances are, there’s a sweatshirt like Tom’s that’s currently ruining your social life. So do a bait and switch, and get him a sweatshirt you can live with. Make sure it’s cut slim to the body, and made of a thinner material than a full athletic fleece. The advantage of such a sweatshirt is that you can dress it up by throwing a cool coat over it, without the bulk. No prints please, or logos.

Merino sweater + Gingham

I like to think that Tom’s sense of style improved vastly when we met. Tom thinks he was born with it, like Athena springing full-warrior from the forehead of Zeus. The truth is somewhere in between. I generally buy his clothes–which explains the huge gaping hole in his brain where a working knowledge of clothing prices should be–but he figures out how to put them together. It works best this way, because he can legitimately snarl “NO” when someone asks “Did Yoona put together your outfit?”

Of course, if I’m going to be seen with him, I get a veto. But I don’t use my veto power much when it’s cold, because Tom is a pro with jeans and outerwear. In summer, I veto things all the time, mostly because Tom starts feeling compelled to wear shorts, and husband or no, I can’t get behind the idea of a man that pale in shorts. I mean, if he happens to be standing in shorts against a white wall, it can actually look like his shorts are floating in thin air, suspended above his shoes. But that’s another post for another time.

Anyway, like anything else, putting an outfit together takes practice. And practice will go easier with pieces that work with lots of different things. Like a crewneck merino sweater and a gingham shirt. The merino sweater can be thrown over a button-down and khakis for work, as easily as it can be thrown over a tee and jeans. The gingham shirt is a good layering piece–everyone looks good in gingham, and it’ll add a little visual interest to an outfit otherwise comprised of solids. Put the gingham under a hoody, or iron it and wear it for drinks under a blazer. Easy.

Gray jeans

You have jeans. And they are not dad jeans. Sweet. So let’s take it to the next level.

Gray jeans are versatile. They are more interesting than blue jeans, so they work well for dinner parties and other situations requiring a modicum of effort. But they aren’t so interesting that you will get ridiculed by your friends at the sports pub. If you wear a lot of black or navy on top, gray jeans are a no brainer. Go get some.

Topper + Boots

I have real trouble with my own outerwear. I never like my coat as much as my outfit, so I usually go without. In this regard, I really envy Tom this Nau coat. It’s waterproof and machine-washable, and looks slick on top of a suit. I call it the Fixer, because it is capable of concealing all manner of sartorial crimes underneath.

Make sure your weekend coat length suits your purposes. Tom’s 6’4″ and has long legs, so this length suits him, but Nau makes a lot of shorter jackets. A word on Nau–they started out expensive and have gotten even more so, but I find it to be a reliably awesome brand for men. Tom’s Nau pieces get heavy rotation and have held up well over years of use.

As for the Bean Boots, Tom told me once that if there was ever a fire at the house, he would grab the boots first. Can you smell the romance?

So, there you have it. A few basics that will get you from your kid’s soccer practice on Saturday morning to a dinner party on Sunday. What are your favorite weekend basics?

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29 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jessa #

    Your blog is amazing! I’m 22 but now I feel as if getting older is going to be an amazingly full, fun, well-dressed experience.

    March 2, 2012
  2. Jesselyn Girl #

    Your blog posts makes me laugh. This is easily me and my husband. Just another white boy and an asian girl. I totally don’t take him shopping because he would come across a tee-shirt he likes and then wants to buy it. At $60 a pop. Makes me want to beat him over the head with said tee-shirt.

    February 15, 2012
  3. Margot #

    I am relieved to read I am not the only woman who lives with a tattered college sweatshirt. My husband also sports one from his Midwestern school with frays dangling from the cuffs. It’s his tallis. Probably explains why my replacements haven’t worked.

    February 2, 2012
  4. Very informative and helpful post – thanks! I have similar problems but have you encountered this one? My wife sometimes shops for me and, on occasion, has bought me clothes. Eventually, I get around to wearing them and, more than once, have come to like what she purchased and wear it often. Then decides she doesn’t like it after all and forbids me from wearing said piece out of the house!

    I too have a blog and aspire to post as good as you….check it out:

    http://portlandtriallawyersblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/holy-s.html

    Thanks and keep up the good work!

    January 27, 2012
    • That’s hilarious. Guilty of it myself. But the thing guys don’t understand is that fashion CHANGES. The item that works today is not necessarily going to work a year from now…and guys generally don’t get that. I’ll check out your blog! Thanks for posting.

      January 27, 2012
  5. Courtney #

    I didn’t know that Tom was into duck hunting.

    January 26, 2012
  6. rt #

    hi yoona, a friend of mine referred me to your blog and i’ve been reading it religiously since then! Hilarious and lovely writing :), and I adore your style. Would you consider doing an entry on what to wear for a winter wedding // or rather, a wedding in a very windy/cold city, like chicago?

    January 26, 2012
  7. I actively attempt to remove and donate black t-shirts and too-small horizontal-stripe polos when mine’s not looking. Kudos to Tom for being so agreeable.

    January 24, 2012
    • i’m very glad to hear that i am not the only person who hates black cotton t-shirts.

      January 24, 2012
  8. gulgun #

    Great stuff, Yoona. “Where a working knowledge of clothing prices should be” made me laugh out loud.

    January 22, 2012
    • thanks gulgun…if only he had a working knowledge, he’d be perfect.

      January 24, 2012
  9. Kim Chapman #

    What Ryan said. Awesome!

    January 22, 2012
    • kim, you knew tom pre-yoona. so you have to end the debate: did he have style before we met, as he claims?

      January 24, 2012
  10. DB #

    J. Crew has awesome jeans (vintage slim fit) and they’re much cheaper than the diesels you mention. I don’t have an old sweatshirt–all my Carolina stuff is “saved” so that I don’t ruin it, and I don’t believe in clothing mojo during sporting events (though I have plenty of other superstitions). My one piece of clothing that we disagree about is my high school blazer. As far as I’m concerned, any jacket that fits me _now_ after 20 years of a sedentary, non-high-school-swim-team lifestyle is, by definition, a sweet jacket. Farah thinks the style is 20 years out of date, and maybe she’s right, but it’s not tattered, and every time I wear it I think “I’m back, baby. I’m back.”

    January 22, 2012
    • hilarious. i’m going to risk farah’s wrath and take your side on the blazer. fit is EVERYTHING. i don’t care what color or fabric it is, if the fit is great, i’m wearing it. also impressed that you owned a blazer in high school.

      January 24, 2012
  11. FB #

    My comment is only about your model: hahahahahahaha! It’s rainy and cold and I had to stand outside for an hour during track practice; seeing Tom posing for your blog has dramatically improved my mood!

    January 22, 2012
    • farah! i told you to be nice so i’m going to assume that your laughter was nice laughter . he’s such a good sport!! did you make the trip to grants pass yet?

      January 24, 2012
  12. Ryan #

    Of all the great many things you’ve done with this blog, turning Tom into a viable fashion model is easily the greatest.

    January 22, 2012
    • let’s just say i took a lot more photos than i used, and leave it at that. he was quite surly until he started feeling the muse

      January 24, 2012
  13. Cafe23 #

    Hahahaha this post is hilarious (as usual) … Hey, Tom’s a pretty good model! And he pulls off those multi-coloured shoes pretty well =P

    January 22, 2012
    • i know, who knew?? i have an idea for a “ways to wear: halloween costumes,” featuring tom. i can sense a hit.

      January 24, 2012
  14. Suzanne #

    NAU also has their great warehouse sale at least twice a year! That’s the only time I can afford it – although their pieces are definitely timeless and extremely well made. Shocked that you didn’t consult with John on this piece.

    January 22, 2012
    • we haven’t actually bought any nau in over two years. i don’t know why. probably because we need the money for food. when’s that warehouse sale??

      January 24, 2012
      • Suzanne #

        I’ll keep you posted next time I hear of one.

        January 26, 2012
  15. Amy Caplan #

    My friend does the same thing Linda does but I could never get away with that so over years have tried to insert my tastes when I can. Especially for gifts I can get away with buying more stylish clothes.

    January 22, 2012
    • i can gift him all i want but that doesn’t mean he will wear it. i bought him a “casual” tuxedo shirt ten years ago, to wear with jeans, and he didn’t wear it even once. quite bitter about it still

      January 24, 2012
  16. I’m going to sound really snotty, but I kind of refused to date my husband until he got a new wardrobe. I didn’t say it in so many words, but I did offer to do his shopping right after I first met him, and he was more than happy to hand me a wad of cash and watch me return with clothing that didn’t have holes or stains in them. At the time, though, he had a 32″ waist and a 38″ inseam, so I was mightily challenged in my mission. These days, he’s put on weight and has a more normal 34″ waistline, plus I have all sorts of resources at my disposal (yea internet!). He even owns a tailor-made tuxedo now, thanks to me. Thank goodness he’s a loyal soul and has stuck by me after I made him desirable by other women.

    January 22, 2012
    • yeah when i met tom he wore short sleeve button downs, which i consider acceptable only on six year old boys

      January 24, 2012

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