One of the most common misconceptions in the world of menswear is that you need a lot of different clothes for all sorts of different occasions. In some cases this is true; you can’t really roll into a funeral or an interview in anything but a classic, dark suit. However, when you’re bouncing between the workplace, a casual dinner and a fancy date night you can actually mix and match pretty easily. Formal suits can be broken down by removing the jacket, adding a sweater or a clean pair of white sneakers. Alternatively, dark jeans and a sport shirt can be dressed up with a pair of shiny loafers or brogues (sockless if you’re feeling exceptionally trendy). This kind of high-low look not only adds mileage to your wardrobe, it also adds a more fashionable spin to what might be an otherwise straight-down-the-fairway style. The one major piece of advice we offer is to focus on fit. If you’re dress pants aren’t tailored, or your sneakers are clunky, it’s going to throw off the entire look. Make sure everything you’re wearing is trim and fitted to match your tailored gear.
In our latest photo-shoot, and our first video, we caught up with Jeff Lahens of DressCode Boston to chat about this exact topic: how to upgrade (downgrade?) your workweek look for the weekend. Aside from being a cool dude, Jeff seriously knows his way around a suit. Between styling for Boston Magazine, fundraising for local charities and designing some of his own gear, he’s a busy guy.
We asked him a few questions to see where he gets his inspiration and to see where we can glean a little advice from his wisdom. Here’s what Jeff had to say:
Alex: So how would you define your personal style?
Jeff: So my personal style is exactly what it is, I like to say it’s personal. It’s really an expression of who I am and what I am. I like to say that I dress to express rather than to impress. I think I’m a creative guy and I like to showcase that in my style. It’s my statement.
A: How can men use their work week clothes to dress better on the weekends?
That’s a good question! There’s no secret sauce. The key thing to transform your work wear to your weekend wear is to have the right pieces in your closets. It’s like going to Vegas: you need to have the right card suit to even come into play. Having a mix of staples that you can mix into your look and also having a wild card, something that can make any suit, is what you need.
I think shoes are the number one thing to help you transform your look. Layers and accessories also help, but, based on the type of shoes you wear, a look can go from super dressy to really casual. What I mean by that is, if you trade out your hard-bottom dress shoes with slacks for casual sneakers, you can upgrade your look for the weekend or after hours. Also, you can take off the tie, keep the jacket on and make it business casual.
A: What do you think is the most versatile piece of your wardrobe?
I would say my blazers - my jackets that I like to layer up a lot. I feel like guys can have these in their wardrobes to change their work clothes to weekend wear. However, one of the things guys do wrong – or that doesn’t work for them - is wearing a suit jacket as a blazer. The constructions are different and are meant to be worn differently. A blazer has a softer construction and can be worn with jeans, while a suit is stiffer and should be worn as a uniform.
A: Are there sartorial rules that shouldn’t be broken for the work week or weekend?
Rules! Man, I threw away the rule book a long time ago. I’m one of the guys who really want people to do what they want to do. I want them to be themselves. The only way a guy will find a look that works for them taking risks. The more risks you take, the more you try new things; the more they will start working for you. The rules are there, but they change based on the occasion and the dress code of the event. Guys should know where they are going and what the dress code is.