Style Codes, Simplified: Casual
A lot of men have trouble with dress codes. Don’t worry, you wouldn’t be the first guy who’s looked at an invitation with a raised eyebrow and absolutely no clue how to dress for the event. Men’s fashion is a lot less ambiguous than the ladies’ when it comes to the level of formality, so errors in dressing tend to be very visible fashion faux pas. Here’s the broken down and simplified version of some of the most common dress codes.
To the common guy, ‘casual’ is another way of saying that you can wear whatever you like – even shorts and flip-flops. It’s a widespread misconception. The mere fact that the host bothered to think about the dress code means that you should also be thinking about what to wear – which, unless at a beach, definitely shouldn’t include shorts and flip-flops.
What Casual Isn’t
One thing about the ‘casual’ description is that it tends to be rather open-ended because so much falls into the category. You may have an easier time finding an outfit if you first think about the kind of fashions that aren’t considered casual by a long shot.
Neckties and suit jackets obviously can’t be included in the casual aesthetic because they refer to a style that’s highly formal and traditional. Bow ties and cummerbunds, likewise, should be out of consideration. In fact, any ensemble that involves more than two layers of clothing is most likely too formal for the occasion.
On the other extreme of the spectrum, a ‘casual’ style code is also no license for you to bring out your rattiest tees and most torn-infested jeans. Those kinds of clothes already cross that thin line between ‘casual’ and downright ‘sloppy’. Although the dress code does put priority on comfort before anything, you also have to follow a minimum when it comes to cleanness and propriety.
It’s also not a good idea to start experimenting at a ‘casual’ event. The host most likely put it because he or she wants everyone to enjoy instead of thinking about each other’s outfits. A big, gaudy fashion statement would thus most likely stick out against every other person present. It’s a bad idea when few people are ready to care in the first place.
What Casual Is
Casual is more a concession to let you wear what’s presentably comfortable and not a reason for you to dress like a hobo. That means sticking to well-fitting classics that you would wear on a regular day when you wouldn’t have to go to the office.
A tee is perfectly appropriate for a casual event so long as it covers enough of your torso and has no extra holes due to wear and tear. In fact, whether it’s a Henley, crew neck or tee, it’s sufficient as long as it covers enough of your body. Paired with jeans or khakis, you’d get a perfectly acceptable outfit to wear to a casual-style party.
Closed shoes are a must for casual events, except when you’re at the beach. This is one of those minimum requirements of modern men’s fashion that everyone follows, whether you’re in Karachi or Kansas. Wear sneakers or even leather driving shoes, by all means, but steer clear of sandals, slippers and any other footwear that leaves your feet exposed.
At first, ‘casual’ might seem simple and idiot-proof, but there is much contrary to that first impression. Although you are given a lot of freedom in what you can wear, the standard requirements of modern style are still in full force.
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