This is an easy to wear look which I have worn on dozens of occasions. It’s simple to put together, and relies solely on the quality and fit of the pieces involved. There’s no stressing on silly details like clashing prints or co-ordinating difficult colours, so what’s left is the silhouette and what the weather/occasion is. When I go out I like my silhouette to be sharp, but not ultra-skinny. This is a style that personally makes me feel at ease, but still confident and cool. This post covers 2 ways of wearing this outfit, with and without layering.
What are the pieces involved?
My minimalist wardrobe really began to come together when I began to focus on a pared down colour scheme. It’s a total cliché, but a restricted colour palette built on the foundation of blacks, greys, whites and navy is an easy way of curating your wardrobe, so that in the end you don’t feel the need to have loads of items. There’s room for colours like greens, reds and browns, but when they work with these basic colours. So whether you are ultra-confident in your look, or you are looking for a model to follow, I’d say a good aesthetic guide is the 3 colours ratio, which I got from reading about interior design: your main colour should take up around 60-70% of your outfit, the secondary colour 20-30%, and if you wish, an accent colour can fill in the remaining 10%. I’ll write about this more extensively in the near future.
All the pieces in this outfit cohere to this scheme:
- Monochrome Western check shirt. This piece is a couple of years old, has seen a good amount of wear and has remained durable. The shirt is fastened with poppers, which makes it easy to put on, take off, and adjust on the go. This is great given how temperatures can vary quite wildly in the colder months, indoor and outdoor. I tend to wear it with the top two poppers unfastened, like this, as it is a clean but casual way of styling it.
All Saints regularly release Western shirts in this fit and fabric. All Saints are well known for their minimal / rock star / industrial / military pieces. They are one of the best places, in their many clothing sales, to add some quality, but not bank-breaking items to a curated wardrobe.
- Black skinny jeans. These really are the workhorses of my casual and smart-casual wardrobe. They’re so easy to dress up or down. If I was to recommend one item, unequivocally to anyone, then a well-fitting pair of black jeans would be it.The one downfall of skinny jeans are their attraction of lint. Finding brands that use fabrics which don’t make you look like you have been dusting an abandoned library are key.
I like H&M’s tech stretch jeans, and Nudie’s organic denim pairs. The former is worth the RRP in my opinion, while the latter can be regularly found discounted. What’s attractive about Nudie is their sustainable sourcing of denim, which is a fabric with a high environmental impact, and they will repair any pair for you in-store.
- Black calf leather Chelsea Boots. Along with the black jeans, these are a killer combination that can be used with a multitude of tops and jackets to create fashion-forward, but pared-back outfits. They are two of the top performers in my small wardrobe. Chelseas are the epitome of a ‘less is more’ design. The side elastic means they’re quick to take on and off; personally I think they are far more practical than smart-casual lace-up shoes, which tend to be recommended to ‘beginners’.It’s well worth ‘investing’ in shoes, even though they may seem like a ‘detail’ in the outfit. Not only are better quality, supple leathers good for your feet, they last longer.
These are the Hutchinson Chelseas by the Northampton-based brand Loake. Because the boots are Goodyear-welted, the soles can be easily re-replaced, and they are more resistant to water. There is genuinely no point skimping here – a tiny bit of maintenance is well worth the longevity and silhouette. Again, 4 years on, and these boots have tons of mileage in them before I even get them resoled.
A layered-up take:
Let’s face it, the former look is great if the weather is half-decent and you are mostly indoors. I’d style this look with either of my wool coats (duffle and overcoat – latter, see outfit photo below), a wax cotton, denim or a bomber jacket depending on the weather.
One easy way of bringing a bit more warmth would be a black or grey t-shirt underneath, perhaps with a low crew-neck or scoop neck.
I wore the above when doing some Christmas shopping, so I had my Fjallraven Kanken backpack with me. Not the most ‘cohesive’ of choices perhaps, but I like to just throw my backpack on with whatever I have, there’s no need to be fastidious.
My layering here is accomplished by:
- A camel overcoat. This isn’t a particularly warm item, which is fairly typical of coats by high-street brands like Topman, so it’s well-suited to days where a bit of rain are the worst that can be thrown at you. There are loads of days like this in my part of England. I sized up when I got this so that it fits ever so slightly oversized, which is really nice, which somehow makes it look quite expensive.
- A camel scarf. This cashmere-mix scarf by French company A.P.C. is so soft and so warm that I don’t need another one. It’s 3 years old now and performs like new.
What are your go-to outfits when going out and about, maybe to a meal or pub?