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How to dress well in CM without standing out too much

radicaldog

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Given recent dicussions on overdressing, the disappearance of ties, etc., I thought we could use a thread of inspiration/discussion for those who want to continue to dress more or less in the CM way, but without looking too dandy and/or stuck up.

NB: By CM I don't mean propriety, decorum, country club-compatible dress, or any of the other paleocon commitments some people insist on in these parts. I just mean (some) classic garments and silhouettes.

As a rough rule, I'd say outfits count if they include a tailored jacket or tailored trousers. Bonus points if both. Also, bonus points for ties.

Here are some examples that I think work: good proportions and colours, some classic tailoring, but not an outfit that will make people wonder why you're so dressed up.

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Thoughts? What are some of the general considerations about what works that we can extrapolate from pictures such as those, apart from the well-known ones about high-low dressing?

One that readily comes to mind is that slouchiness really helps. One just doesn't want to look too put together and neat when wearing clothes that are more formal than what everyone else is wearing.
 
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bry2000

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I know this is not what you are looking for, but if you are looking to purchase a few practical CM outfits without too much strain or overthinking, I suggest that you go to your local menswear store and work with a good salesperson. For example, if you are in NYC, go to Bergdorf Goodman or Paul Stuart and their people can sort you out in short order.

Working with a good salesperson (yes, they still exist) and trying on things in real life should yield better results than relying on the Internet for advice.
 

Mirage-

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To me, it's all about evading business associations while still utilizing CM "tools" (mostly collared shirts, trousers, knitwear, jackets, coats) as well as CM palette, i.e. refraining from overly bright outfits - which would stand out not by formality but by virtue of the colours themselves.
So, no navy structured suits or shiny metal-buttoned blazers, no charcoals suits, no cloth that is too plain (neither pattern nor texture, like a fine worsted), no super-shiny ties (actually never liked those in any case), preferably no plain white poplin shirts. Lots of earth tones, textured cloths (linen, chambray, tweed) and/or small patterns (striped shirts, small-checked jackets, herringbones etc). Some high-low (e.g. non-distressed dark/ecru jeans with tailoring) can work and even help, but without trying too hard, i.e. to the point where it seems you are making a statement for the sake of controversy itself.

Notably, my criteria are more or less met by most/all of the outfits you posted. The only thing I really don't find to work is the t-shirt+ jacket thing (with possible exception for knitted t-shirts which are basically knitwear), but many others disagree as it seems to be gaining popularity.

I know this is not what you are looking for, but if you are looking to purchase a few practical CM outfits without too much strain or overthinking, I suggest that you go to your local menswear store and work with a good salesperson. For example, if you are in NYC, go to Bergdorf Goodman or Paul Stuart and their people can sort you out in short order.

Working with a good salesperson (yes, they still exist) and trying on things in real life should yield better results than relying on the Internet for advice.

I don't think he's looking for advice on purchasing anything, but more to the point, it sounds to me as the point of this thread is exactly to think things through thoroughly, or "overthinking" if you will ("they're just clothes" etc etc), i.e. the opposite of what you suggest (getting some salesperson to do the thinking for us).
 
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bry2000

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I don't think he's looking for advice on purchasing anything, but more to the point, it sounds to me as the point of this thread is exactly to think things through thoroughly, or "overthinking" if you will ("they're just clothes" etc etc), i.e. the opposite of what you suggest (getting some salesperson to do the thinking for us).
just trying to help the OP avoid a disaster, which typically results from getting Dressed by the Internet.
 

Pulpo

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Yeah man this is the look I love. No idea how to pull it off lol. You picked some great inspo already but just piling on some more:

Really like how Armoury alums Dick Carroll and and Jake Grantham take a really relaxed approach to tailoring.

As many have already noted, Stoffa is really nailing a more relaxed version of CM that looks modern and relevant without throwing out the essentials.

Jamie Ferguson always looks like he's having a lot of fun in his personal portraits, and a lot great examples from his photography work as well.

This is all just my personal conjecture, but beyond just discussing silhouettes and style advice, I think pulling off the "relaxed CM" look relies on attitude and context as much as what you actually put on.

It's important (for me, anyway) to keep in mind that these examples are all people who work in or are adjacent to the world of menswear and fashion, are very comfortable with the language of men's style, and likely have large wardrobes to pull from.

I think building these looks from the ground up without that experience is a lot harder than just throwing on a sport coat. Training your eye and figuring out a cohesive "relaxed CM" look feels harder than putting together a more formal classic suit + tie look, IMO.

Also, wearing a tailored jacket or trousers in certain contexts is always going to look like a "choice". But if you work in a city or in a creative industry (or you just dgaf), I think it's fun look to shoot for.

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mak1277

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I think @yungchomsky does this well. He had a semi-recent fit with fatigue pants, blue blazer/tie and sneakers that was great (don't have time to search for the pics now but will try to circle back if nobody beats me to it.

This is a good idea for a thread BTW and I really want to hear @dieworkwear weigh in (let's all make this a non-horrible CM thread, huh?).
 

1969

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I think using "CM" is misleading. Better to just call it casual tailoring, imho. Also, "not stand out too much" means different things to different people, in different places, and at different times. Those are some great looks you posted, but for me, the perfect office fit it's closer to what Simon is wearing (slim fit not included) than Gerry. Solid colors, in traditional grey/blues/browns and whites.

A few things I do sometimes for work that work for me- dress up jeans with loafers or some chunky leather sole shoes like Paraboot or Vass. Knits with tailored trousers, again to balance out the amount of formality. Keeping buttoned shirts mostly solid light blue/ecru and longsleeved. I wear lightweight jackets and shirt jackets rather than sportcoats, but YMMV. All of this is extremely boring and fairly easy to do (if fit is right). Again, context is everything and what I don't want at work is to be congratulated on my clothing.
 

radicaldog

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Thanks for the responses. In addition to the general point about slouchiness, I've found that, defeasibly, the following combinations work for me (non-exhaustive list):

- If I'm wearing tailored trousers and a knit, then no collared shirt.

- With tailored trousers always wear casual shoes (desert boots, Paraboots, sneakers).

- Leather-soled shoes work best with jeans or similarly casual trousers.

- If wearing both tailored trousers and tailored jacket, then the shirt must either be a tee or something very casual (western/work/military etc).

- If wearing both tailored trousers and a shirt as formal as an ocbd or more, then the jacket must be workwearish or a shirt jacket.

- Ties should be worn as subdued whimsical items, and not as something that's on a par with the rest of the outfit, formality-wise.

- Never ever wear a pocket square unless it's white linen and you're in a dark suit and tie for some ceremony.

- Casual hats (baseball, knit cap, bucket) help a lot with toning things down.

- Shorts can work with a very casual tailored jacket.

- Most items in one's outfit should be well-worn. The odd hole or stain is fine.

I know that the idea of having quasi-rules doesn't chime with the intent of being relaxed. But these aren't really rules. They're ex post observations about what seems to work for me (fwiw, of all the guys posted above I dress most like Wilberg, the dude with the long hair--who btw is an academic, not involved in fashion). So what are some of your observations of this sort?
 

radicaldog

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@Pulpo thanks! I really like most of the photos you posted, but the two with ties look slightly over the top to me. These days there's just hardly every any good reason to wear the traditional ensemble of tailored trousers, sportcoat, and tie. Ditto for ties with casual suits. If a tie is required then chances are one should be in a dark suit (weddings, some bits of government, court, etc). Basically, ties are very difficult to wear inconspicuously these days if one is under 60 or so.
 

mak1277

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Let's talk about jeans. I for one, think that jeans work best in this concept when they're a little beat up. The whole idea of "dress jeans" or perfectly dark (almost shiny), never before worn selvedge looks like you're trying too hard.

I think jeans inherently make a fit casual and thus look better when they're at least a bit faded and not pristine. I think @UrbanComposition said he wears his denim on worksites for 6 months before wearing the same jeans with a sport coat.
 

yungchomsky

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Thanks for the responses. In addition to the general point about slouchiness, I've found that, defeasibly, the following combinations work for me (non-exhaustive list):

- If I'm wearing tailored trousers and a knit, then no collared shirt.

- With tailored trousers always wear casual shoes (desert boots, Paraboots, sneakers).

- Leather-soled shoes work best with jeans or similarly casual trousers.

- If wearing both tailored trousers and tailored jacket, then the shirt must either be a tee or something very casual (western/work/military etc).

- If wearing both tailored trousers and a shirt as formal as an ocbd or more, then the jacket must be workwearish or a shirt jacket.

- Ties should be worn as subdued whimsical items, and not as something that's on a par with the rest of the outfit, formality-wise.

- Never ever wear a pocket square unless it's white linen and you're in a dark suit and tie for some ceremony.

- Casual hats (baseball, knit cap, bucket) help a lot with toning things down.

- Shorts can work with a very casual tailored jacket.

- Most items in one's outfit should be well-worn. The odd hole or stain is fine.

I know that the idea of having quasi-rules doesn't chime with the intent of being relaxed. But these aren't really rules. They're ex post observations about what seems to work for me (fwiw, of all the guys posted above I dress most like Wilberg, the dude with the long hair--who btw is an academic, not involved in fashion). So what are some of your observations of this sort?

These all seem like decent tips, if a bit specific. The way I tend to think of it is either starting with a formal template -- e.g. a suit -- and then subverting / casualizing it somehow; OR starting with a casual template -- e.g. jeans and workshirt -- and then smartening it up somehow.
 

radicaldog

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Let's talk about jeans. I for one, think that jeans work best in this concept when they're a little beat up. The whole idea of "dress jeans" or perfectly dark (almost shiny), never before worn selvedge looks like you're trying too hard.

Totally agree. Chinos have a legitimate range from quasi-dress to quasi-workwear, but jeans don't.
 

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