Back to school meets Classy casual: an outfit you already own

It’s back to school for some. Usually that means a somewhat newer wardrobe and all sorts of new possibilities. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. Luckily we’re here for you and we’ve got an outfit that will pull you through, no matter what (even if you’re not going back to school). It’s how you can look effortlessly classy and still be casual. I mean isn’t that the balance we all want to walk?

While there are a few basic options to achieve this; here is one using a piece of clothing I guarantee you already have in your closet: the plain T. Now if you don’t have one of these, particularly in one of the three basics–white, grey, or black–you and I need to have a serious chat and you need to take a trip to Target. It’s completely unrealistic (and unnecessary) to drop a hundred bucks on a Burberry tee; all we ask is that you make sure your shirt is clean, fits, and doesn’t look like you’ve owned it since the prehistoric age (no holes, unintentional fading, stains or logos from the 1997 tennis tournament). A good, and always safe, t-shirt is a solid color or a fairly geometric pattern in a few colors. Others can look great, but remember this look is classy and understated, so keep it simple. And that’s all we need to start: a basic t-shirt. Such an easy piece that can still turn heads.

The other basic? Plain dark pants. Jeans or slim-cut trousers, it doesn’t matter. The pants, like the shirt, should be understated. The only thing that should be drawing attention is how good you and your body look in them, so make sure they fit!

Now to dress it up. Easy-peasy. Add a jacket, blazer, cardigan or leather jacket, once again in a dark color. And a nice pair of leather shoes. Voila, done, with four very basic pieces of clothing. Or don’t dress it up so much. Sneakers are more casual, but still look classy when clean and intact (think less Nike and more Converse All-Stars). Skip the jacket even, but only if the shirt really fits. Notice John Krasinski in the white and the pretty man in the black T in the picture, sure they are more casual than Blazer dude in the middle, but they sure don’t look sloppy or unkempt.

This look is simple, built with pieces you already own. And it can be accessorized and personalized without losing its draw. Who knew understated could get all the attention in the room; it’s almost like you are too cool for school.

-Amy & Rachel

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Spotlight: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Riddle me this: How does the geeky, stringy haired, wimpy boy from 3rd Rock from the Sun go from this:

to this:

I don’t understand it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. But it’s like the most insane caterpillar/butterfly transformation I’ve ever seen.

So what do we love about Mr. Gordon-Levitt? You mean, besides everything, right?

Well, we adored his sleepy, lovable, heartbroken Tom from (500) days of Summer. We enjoyed his  anti-personality, down to business, left brained Arthur in Inception. Plus, you know, every other film he’s been in. To put it simply, he’s a phenomenal actor. We love that he took time off from Hollywood to go to College (Columbia University to be precise) to study (History, Literature and French poetry. I wish I was making this up). But we’d be lying if said we didn’t find him ridiculously attractive and to be, arguably, one of the best dressed men in Hollywood (an argument we would win).

What defines his style? Probably his classic put-togetheredness (is there a better word?). The man ALWAYS looks good, like he actually put some thought and consideration into what he was putting on his body (take notes). Plus he wears accessories. He layers. He’s not afraid of pattern. He wears bow ties and skinny ties. And he cuts his hair now, so that’s a plus.

Let’s hear it for JGL.

Oh, and he’s in Batman (or the Dark Knight Rises, whatever) right now. You should probably go see it. For the style tips, of course.

-Rachel

So you want to be 80s neon hipster….

We have warned against almsot everything featured in this post, but if you must, here is how to do it.

Clapton Davis, You are More Concept than Reality

Now we all know that Josh Hutcherson knows how to dress (I’m sure it is only a matter of time until we spotlight him), but this post was inspired by Clapton Davis, his character in the SXSW film “Detention“. Now, I liked this movie, but I’m not going to recommend it because it is straight up bizarre and requires close attention–let’s just say it isn’t for everyone. But Clapton Davis works his style, a combination of hipster and 80s neon, like a second skin.

Let’s work from the bottom up. The first glimpse you catch of Clapton/Josh is classic bright Converse high tops–a can’t lose situation–on a skateboard–a possible lose situation. Some part of me believes that skateboards are a bit passe, but this movie and the recent Spiderman have warmed me to the idea a bit, but that might be because neither don that “traditional” skater dress. Also because he makes a skateboard date look so fun.

Anyway, moving up. His pants in this movie are wonderful (“I mean, look how tight his pants are, he’s totally gay”…he’s not) and quite daring. Among all the skinny jeans the pair that sticks out the most is the highlighter yellow. I wish I could find a picture of these beauts for you, but unfortunately the limited release and knowledge about this movie makes pictures hard to find. But the general message of the pants? Be Bold. Also they coordinate perfectly with his overall look.

Besides neon and skateboard, Clapton works another trend that we’ve already cautioned about. The man tank. But hey, he does it right. Summery, neon, confident, muscley. But in a vintage “Endless Summer” sort of way, not in an overly frat-y way.  All of his shirts serve a purpose, you know, other than covering his body, they do something to complete or make the outfit his own. They have a vintage vibe and do not match, but go with the rest of the outfit.

Now this movie goes for a big win in accessories. A statement hot pink hat. Huge orange 80s style sunglasses. Minimalistic bracelets. The key? Focus on one. Don’t put the hat and sunglasses together. Each are their own statement piece. (Okay so he might be wearing both in one picture, but at least the rest of his outfit is pretty neutral). Also please don’t try to rock the neon pink fanny pack.

Okay, so I admit, it might take a Josh Hutcherson sized confidence and quirky, campy movie setting to truly pull off this look. But it just screams summer, youth, and personal style.

Good taste is not a democracy- Clapton Davis

-Amy

Watch out

Everybody knows that girls love shoes, right? Well I feel like it’s a lesser known, but still completely true, fact that guys love watches. I don’t know what it is about them, but most guys get a little surge of energy when passing a watch counter. Their gait slows, their eyes rove over the selection of Diesel, Citizen, Fossil, Garmin and countless other brands I’ve never heard of. Their breathing slows, their eyes dilate, their hand gently caresses the glass separating them from the worlds oldest and most basic electronic. Simply put, they are in heaven. Now I’m probably exaggerating here, but I do know plenty of dudes who drool over and collect watches.  I mean if girls get their shoes then guys can have their watches? It’s just funny that something that I don’t think anything about could be such a big statement to a man.

But thankfully, even though I don’t think anything about them, designers do. There are so many different options to choose from these days no wonder people collect them. You can get a bright, bold color or a plain black or brown. You could get hip rubber, classy silver or gold, durable canvas or rugged leather. Do you want digital or analog or maybe a sundial (kidding…I think)? We’ve got the skinny, medium, large or EXTRA LARGE (seriously, they’re huge. That one, I really don’t get). You could go pocket or wrist. Plain Jane, I-simply-tell-time or extra fancy James-Bond-esque. It’s becoming a bit confusing and slightly excessive.

As I’ve said, I don’t particularly sit at home and think about watches. It’s just not my thing. But I will tell you what I think looks the very best: leather (for manliness), analog (for it’s class), medium to large (so I can see  your forearm), maybe an extra or two (but no bombs or anything).

-Rachel

The Speedo in the Room

Chances are you aren’t Daniel Craig or Ryan Lochte (if you are, wow, and please publicize us) and there is no shame in that. We can’t all be James Bond or Olympic medalists. So please don’t insist on wearing their swimsuits.

Now when compared to women’s styles, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of selection in men’s swimwear. But here a few basic tips to impress, or at least blend in, at the beach or pool this summer:

1. Skip the Speedo/Swim Brief/ Budgie Smugglers. Please. Even competitive water sports have moved away from these to a degree. Sure you will see a good few at the Olympics this summer, that doesn’t mean they are good. This is probably one of the only popular European looks that you will hear/see me recommend against. But seriously, even your confidence doesn’t make us like this look.

2. If you are not competing at some official event at that moment, don’t wear the skin-tight jammers or shorts. You won’t look hardcore or professional, you will probably just look like you are wearing bike shorts in the pool.

3. Same goes for the mini shorts a la Daniel Craig as 007. You aren’t pulling them off.

4. Now that you are safely wearing board shorts or basic trunks, keep an eye on pattern. Hibiscus flowers (classic Hawaiian shirt pattern)? skip. Pinstripes? wear. Your nation’s flag? super skip. Color blocking? probably wear. Stick to subtle, minimal patterns.

5. And lastly, colors. Dark always looks good (pinstripes especially works with dark). Plain or color blocked suits can rock brighter colors that feel more summery and fun, but less classic. Light can be risky. Think about it, you are getting this clothing wet by definition. But, it can be done right.

Just use common sense. If you wouldn’t wear it away from the pool, think twice about it. Take a little risk, but don’t go all Borat or super patriot. Also, use sunscreen, bright red skin is not flattering on you.