Casual Dressing for the Man in His Twenties
Have you ever noticed that most runway models are in their 20s?
That's because a lot of the fashion industry is targeting the 18-30 (or so) age group. Top designer prices will be out of the reach of most 20-somethings, sure - but not the Didi knockoffs in department stores and mall stores.
This makes your 20s a "fashionable" time. Experimental looks and fashion-forward choices are taken for granted compared to when you were in your 40s.
Leisure in your 20s: Needs and wants
When we say "casual," we mean a wide range of clothing that you wear for your own personal pleasure. Your work wardrobe is your work wardrobe.
It's about seeing what you wear when you're just being yourself. We could call them "society" clothing and "casual" clothing, and it might even be more accurate - most men don't think of suits as "casual" clothing, but suits are likely to be part of your casual wardrobe.
- Don't neglect your figure!
Fit is the most important feature of every piece of clothing you own. If you don't believe us, try wearing two sizes of socks that are too small (or too big) a day. It's uncomfortable, isn't it? Now, multiply that discomfort all over your body. That's what it's like to have clothes that don't fit — and they look worse than they feel.
You won't be buying a closet full of custom suits and shirts (unless you're making a lot more than we did in our 20s), but what you can do is take all the off-the-shelf stuff you buy from a custom-adjusted tailor.
By cinching the shirt waist so it doesn't roll over, adjusting the sleeves and cuffs for the perfect fit at the wrists and ankles, and pants that fit snugly around the hip and crotch, you'll have a silhouette that looks better than most of your peers .
Follow our advice for this step, and you'll be one of the best dressed people of your age!
This is the time to be yourself. Sadly, it tends to become less and less popular as we get older.
There are certain "rules" in fashion, and it's good to follow them. most of the time. Sometimes it's okay to be a little different. Sometimes breaking style rules is actually a great way to stand out from the crowd. Whether or not you're a daring rule-breaker, though, the key here is to find your own style and build on it.
Any one alone is clothing. But elements of these stereotypes, along with some everyday clothing and accents of your own choice, stop copycat looks and become your own unique style – just what a man your age wants to wear clothes.
Remember, we're only talking about your social wardrobe here - the need to look professional in your field isn't as important as your work attire.
But a young person still wants to try to put on a "yes, I'm an adult, you can take me seriously" look to older observers. This mostly means leaving the obvious signs of puberty without trying to dress like a senior businessman or anything like that. You can command enough respect in casual clothes—but not hoodies, ripped jeans, and old sneakers.
Casual Looks for Your 20s
Take a moment to look at pictures of guys you like. Movie posters, movie and TV shoots, magazine ads, fashion shoots—whatever you see and think "yeah, he looks cute."
Now, take some time to break down your favorite photos into some basic clothing categories.
- Messy or tidy?
Broad terms here – is the look you like clean and crisp, with lots of symmetry and clear boundaries? Or are they more haphazard, with lines and borders between different things (hair, clothes, etc.) crossing each other?
This is your first simple style breakdown. Both are great for the casual man, and there's nothing stopping you from wearing one look one night and another the next! Just choose clothes that match your desired look.
Good “Messy” Clothes
“Messy” looks tend to be layered. Plan on having a mix of textures and colors in there. Clothes with detailing are also good – shirts with epaulets, jackets with big flap pockets, pants with snap pockets, that sort of thing. Mix and match and don't be afraid to cross some stylistic boundaries (a slim, fitted suit jacket over a T-shirt, for example).
- Denim jacket - the ultimate in grungy chic. Find one and put it on.
- Blue jeans - fit, but not too tight. You want enough length and looseness so that they "break" (crumple slightly) at the cuff on the upper.
- Corduroy - Soft, stretchy; textured. perfect. They are available in a variety of colors to add interest to your wardrobe.
- T-shirt – don’t wear it alone, a vintage tee under a blazer or leather jacket will do the trick. Just make sure it fits snugly.
- Turquoise Shirts - Get Chic. Henleys, long-sleeve tees, Breton tops, thin crewnecks and more.
- Overalls – steer clear of anything baggy enough to fall off your bum, but a few buckles and straps on pants work well for casual looks.
- Thrift store blazers – find some vintage blazers, adjust them to fit, and throw them over any old clothing.
- Canvas Sneakers – The Converse All-Star might be a bit too uniform right now, but it’s a great place to start. Pair casual sneakers with fitted trousers and a jacket for a striking contrast.
- Scarves - Drape them any way you want. Lots of ruffles and colors catch the eye.
Of course, a good-looking "messy" look is as much a product of well-thought-out styling as the cleanest dandy. Spend some time mixing and matching in front of the mirror and you'll find something you like.
Good "neat" clothes
For young people, "neat" attire is all about clean edges and boundaries. It looks clean and tidy, and often a bit dated (sorry, "vintage").
You want clothes that complement each other, but that doesn't mean avoiding contrast - contrast will only happen along neat lines, such as the V shape of a jacket or the straight line of a tucked-in shirt.
- Lapel Shirt - A basic dress shirt is a must for a tidy wardrobe. Get them in a variety of colors and patterns, iron them on, and mix and match them freely.
- Blazers – Frugality works here too, as long as they are cut to the touch, try blazers and blazers with a bit of structure rather than unstructured jackets with a completely soft off-the-shoulder look.
- Wool pants – you can press them into a really neat looking crease, and they drape more than cotton pants.
- Chinos/khakis - cheaper than wool and easy to iron. These days, you can choose between a tapered/skinny fit and a straight fit if that's your style.
- Ties - There's nothing more dapper than a man wearing a tie when it's not necessary. Wear them on the weekends or at social events to really catch the eye.
- Scarves (again) – do we recommend them for the “messy” look? Yes! Are they suitable for a "neat" look? Yes again! A neat hoop looks just right over a pressed shirt and tapered blazer.
- Leather Jacket – A slim biker style jacket is perfect for layering with well-fitting clothing.
Wearing too many clean-cut, office-appropriate clothes can get a little boring, so be sure to choose social clothing that comes in lots of patterns and colors.
Plaid jackets, houndstooth trousers, plaid shirts, whatever your fancy - just make sure you're not mistaken for someone going to cube work. That way people know you're a selective dude.
- Vibrant or subdued?
There are a variety of palettes to choose from, so breaking it down into "vivid" and "restrained" is a bit of an oversimplification. But it will get you thinking along the right lines: Are you the type of person who would wear a light gray blazer with lemon yellow pants and a white vinyl belt?
Without going into color school, "seasons," skin tones, and all that, you can still decide if you're a colorful dresser or a restrained one. And, of course, like all of these dualities, you can switch it up every day—it just needs a bigger wardrobe!
- Nice bright clothes
A little goes a long way for a man. You'll usually want at most two bright colors, and everything else in the outfit is either more neutral or complements one of the bright colors (for example, a lavender square over bright fuchsia corduroy). Here are the best places to add some color to your wardrobe:
- Ties and Pocket Squares – These are designed for a splash of colour. Use them to spice up an otherwise work-appropriate wardrobe, rather than what office attire usually calls for.
- Pants – Colorful jeans and corduroy have gone from style experiment to fashion. You'll look better in corduroy or chinos than denim, but each has its own merits. If you want brightness without color, white or light gray pants are fine.
- Blazers – You can get into sensitive territory here (bright red blazers usually just make you look like you’re in a marching band), but some colors in patterned blazers work well. Pink threading through an otherwise muted plaid is a good (and common) example.
- Shoes – drawing all the attention to your body can make you look shorter, but if that’s not an issue for you, wear fancy shoes. Colorful canvas sneakers are a classic (think Converse All-Stars), but colored leather works just as well.
- Belt - A casual belt is a great place for contrast, as long as you have a slim waist (if you don't, you probably shouldn't draw attention directly). Rope belts, beaded belts, cargo leather, colored vinyl, jeweled buckles—whatever suits your taste, belts are a great place to color.
- T-Shirts and Blazers – Layer a bright T-shirt or other collarless top over a dark jacket for a youthful look. Just balance it out with a dark jacket, otherwise you'll look more like a teen or pre-teen wearing his Disney World swag than a sassy twentysomething.
With all of that, it helps to cut out some of the less obtrusive base parts. Plain old blue jeans, khakis, blazers, dress shirts, etc. will make your accent pieces pop, and when you layer a brightly colored jacket or trousers on, they will pair well with brighter clothing.
Good restrained color clothing
The most common "restrained" color family is probably the earth tones, but deep tones (colors that are made darker with shades of black) and grayscales work well too.
If you're too restrained, you might start to look bored—a guy in khakis and a light blue shirt looks like he's about to hustle in a cubicle instead of hanging out.
- Blazers - Blazers and blazers look great in earth tones and darker tones, especially if also textured.
- Pants – Plain old blue jeans, khakis, gray wool slacks, etc. are all great options to complement your outfit.
- Dress Shirts – Again, light-colored dress shirts are the foundation for your pants, jackets and accessories.
- Leather – A bright, bold belt is fine, but you’ll never have any problem pairing it with a simple pair of brown leather shoes and a matching belt.
- Sweaters - Good, strong, earth-toned wool (especially the natural undyed color of sheep's wool) is the most timeless you can buy.
- Outerwear – It takes a special kind of man to wear a brightly colored leather jacket or denim jacket.
You usually want at least a little color in your squares, ties and other small accessories. But there's nothing wrong with an outfit that's all in earth tones, grays and darker tones, especially if you're smart about adding contrasting textures and patterns to it.
Fashion Looks 20 Year Old Guys Should Avoid
Some things you can't get away with at any age; others are only odd-looking in certain age brackets. Here are a few things that you'll see on young men – and that always look terrible.
Undershirts/string tops/scoops – undershirts are just that. Wear it under clothes, not as a top layer that everyone can see.
Cowboy on top, cowboy on bottom - are you really a troubled teen expressing your pain through a life of rebellion and motorcycle racing? Or maybe a rodeo? Don't wear jeans and a denim jacket unless you answer "yes."
Black suits - Men of all ages should avoid these unless they're an undertaker, but they're especially ugly on younger men. A black wool coat is okay once in a while, but paired with jeans or something.
Beyond that, let your social circle and your personal goals be your guide. If you're trying to climb to the top in a commercial company, you probably don't want a look that depends heavily on tattoos, piercings, and buttoned pants, and if you're hanging out with a bunch of bandmates, your casual attire really No tie required.
Use some common sense, experiment a little, and have fun. That's what your 20s are all about.