Casual Dressing Tips & Style Hacks Every Man Should Know

On paper, casual dress should be one of the easiest areas of menswear to master. In practise, however, it can be something of a minefield.

The weekend wardrobe is the only corner of the men’s style arena in which no clearly defined set of guidelines exists. This sounds great, but for gents who spend most of their week in a suit, it can be a recipe for sartorial confusion.

There may be no hard-and-fast rules, but there are certainly some things that work and others that simply don’t. To help give you a more informed idea of how to nail downtime dressing, we’ve compiled a list of expert pointers to keep your casualwear in check.

From getting the right fit to finding your uniform – these are Ape’s essential casual dressing tips.

Don’t Underestimate The Details

Richard Biedul x King & Tuckfield

In tailoring, it’s often the smallest details that can make the biggest impact. A perfectly contrasting pocket square. The perfect shirt and tie combination. A jacket-matching glint of navy blue from the face of a silver watch. These are the finer points that really make an outfit sing. And the same thought process can be applied to casual clothing, too.

Details shouldn’t be an afterthought when working on your weekend wear. Pay attention to the little things. If you’re going to pinroll your jeans, make sure your socks are stylish and coordinate with the rest of your outfit. Speaking of which, that tell-tale selvedge edge is a subtle marker of quality when it comes to denim. Perhaps invest in a well-made casual belt and try tucking your T-shirt in. Or, better still, don’t wear a belt at all.

These are just a few examples of how small tweaks can shift things up a gear.

Fit Is Everything

It doesn’t matter how much it cost, what extravagant fabric it’s woven from or how great it looked draped on the shop mannequin, the bottom line is if it doesn’t fit properly, it’s never going to look good.

A good fit is the number one thing you should be looking for when stocking your casual wardrobe. T-shirts should be form-flattering but not tight; jeans should be trim and finish just above your footwear; shirts should drape across your shoulders as if they were made to measure.

If you can’t find garments that fit off the rack, search out and make friends with your local tailor. It’ll be the most beneficial style move you’ll ever make.

Quality Over Quantity

Never attempt to bulk your wardrobe up on the cheap. In this world, you tend to get what you pay for, and nowhere is this truer than in menswear.

It may be tempting to underpin your casualwear with dirt-cheap basics from fast-fashion retailers, but they won’t last in the long run and they almost never fit well.

Instead, spend more and buy less. Swap a shopping basket full of H&M plain white tees for just a couple from the likes of Sunspel or Asket. You’ll notice the difference the second you pull them on, and this feeling will be cemented after the first wash when they don’t warp or lose their lustre.

Keep Things Simple

Mr P.

While we’re on the subject of staples, remember that less is so often more in the world of men’s fashion, and casualwear is no exception. Stock your selection with understated, timeless classics and watch your weekend style credentials skyrocket.

So, fill your wardrobe with time-tested pieces that will never fall out of favour: a pair of slim-fitting selvedge jeans; a few well-made Oxford-cloth button-down shirts; some plain white and navy T-shirts; a pair of premium, white leather sneakers; some suede desert boots; a lightweight jacket.

Top that off with a smattering of seasonally-appropriate accessories and you really can’t go far wrong. Don’t try to overdo it. Nail the basics and everything else will fall into place.

Find What Works And Stick To It

Having a uniform may sound dull, but it’s actually the key to dressing well in your downtime. Finding a look that works and then stocking up on the component pieces is a great way to ensure you always look your best. As the saying goes: if the shoe fits, buy one in every colour.

Not only will it keep you looking sharp, but having a uniform of sorts will save you time when it comes to getting ready (allowing you to make the most of your precious time off) and instils confidence, which is the most attractive quality a man can have.

Use Statement Pieces To Bring Outfits To Life

Gieves & Hawkes

While the items listed above will form the backbone of your wardrobe, statement pieces are what create a sense of personality. We’re talking patterned shirts, block-colour jackets and textured materials. These things, when used correctly, will bring an otherwise pared-back look to life.

The key point to remember when it comes to styling is that there should only ever be one statement piece per outfit. Keep everything else simple as you don’t want two or more garments fighting for attention.

Have An “Everyday” Watch

When it comes to choosing a casual timepiece, you should invest in an all-rounder: something that looks right at home with a crew neck and denim, but that wouldn’t seem out of sorts when worn with a smart-casual getup either.

A diving watch or a sporty chronograph can be a good option here. Opt for a bracelet strap, or canvas if appropriate, and don’t be afraid to go a little chunkier than you would with a dress watch.

If you spend a lot of your time in casual wear, this is probably going to be your go-to watch, so don’t be afraid to invest. If not, you can still find very good, automatic options without breaking the bank. Look to the likes of Seiko and Filippo Loreti for some ideas.

Casual Isn’t a Synonym For Sloppy

Brunello Cucinelli

Last but not least, never fall into the trap of thinking “casual” means “wear your tracksuit bottoms all weekend”. Casualwear can look good, really good. And if you follow the above guidelines when getting dressed, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t.

Your casual clothing collection should be your go-to pieces. A selection of laid-back garments that are comfortable and familiar, but also sharp, stylish and purposeful. Get it right and you’ll never be without something nice to wear.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.