We all like to feel comfortable, but we also like to look presentable, especially during occasions that call for it. Finding the right balance between function and fashion, comfort and class, can be an absolute nightmare, especially if (like myself) you have about as much natural fashion sense as an otter. There is a compromise to be made though, and once you find it, you’ll never have to worry about whether to go ‘smart’, ‘casual’ or ‘smart-casual’ again.
Here we’ll be taking the example of sportswear, the most perplexing of attire in that it is inordinately expensive and yet is still seen somehow as ‘casual’ wear that is often snubbed by all but the most reprehensible restaurants. The great thing about sportswear (and the primary reason men enjoy wearing it so much) is that it’s generally just so damn comfortable!
Of course, this is not by accident, but by design, as the initial idea behind any piece of sports attire is for it to be worn whilst playing sport. When you’re running around and working up a sweat, comfort is paramount, less so when you’re sitting down at a nice restaurant or are heading out to sip cocktails at a fancy wine bar.
Below are four nifty little tricks I’ve picked up over the years that allow you to look stylish whilst feeling as comfortable as if you’re lounging around in your pyjamas.
If it’s underneath a blazer, anything looks posh. Football shirts, hockey jerseys, custom basketball uniforms and even branded ‘performance’ t-shirts can look suave if offset by a classy, dark blazer. The blazer has always been synonymous with high-class and high fashion, and if you’re wearing one, people might be able to look past the less desirable (but obscenely comfortable) aspects of your overall outfit.
How many times have you not been let into a club or restaurant because of your shoes? Let’s be honest here, trainers are not only far more comfortable than ‘conventional’ shoes but they are so much more convenient to slip into and require none of the polishing and scrubbing that makes wearing a pair of ‘smart’ shoes such a colossal pain.
There is a middle ground though. Converse trainers might essentially still be just that (trainers), but they are trainers that don’t really look like trainers so as long as you’re careful, you should have no problem making it past that velvet rope. If you’re still feeling a little cagey, try wearing longer trousers to cover them up and sticking to black shoes where possible.
Polo shirts are not only incredibly comfortable, but they can look deceptively smart. Considering you can purchase a good looking polo shirt for less than you’d pay for a pair of good socks, you’d be seriously mad to overlook them. Branding is not particularly necessary, but a smart logo in the top-left of the shirt (regardless of the name) always makes it look that extra bit more ‘genuine’.
Polo shirts are also incredibly flexible when it comes to what they can be worn with. For example, they will go with both smart jeans and cotton trousers and when paired with a smart jacket or blazer the results can be astonishing.
Now this is where things start to get a little trickier. Have you ever tried to get into a posh club or bar in a tracksuit? You’ll be turned away with all the passive distain of a vagrant, (in fact; it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that you might have been mistaken for one).
They are undeniably comfortable though so why wouldn’t you want to go clubbing in them? The key here is distraction. It’s almost impossible to hide a pair of tracksuit bottoms completely, but you can distract attention a number of ways. First off, steer well clear of tracksuit bottoms with stripes or symbols, keep it plain, simple and dark. Also, make sure you’re wearing a smart jacket and smart shoes.
Finally, you might even want to consider wearing a belt (purely for show). This might seem like a lot of work, but believe me, the sense of achievement you’ll get walking up to the bar in a pair of tracksuit bottoms without batting an eyelid will be more than worth it, and the comfort? Don’t even mention it!
Another tricky one this as it’s almost impossible for most men to wear a gilet without looking like an aggressive dock worker. Again though, the key is in keeping it as simple and plain as possible. Stay away from garish, brash, obvious bands such as ‘Adidas’ and ‘Nike’ and instead try less well known (and cheaper) alternatives such as ‘Mckenzie’ and ‘Brookhaven’. Not only will you be saving a small fortune on the more famous brands but they generally look more ‘formal’.
Alan Rosinski likes to blog about clothing and how to stay comfortable in your daily life.