Let’s face it, men: when it comes to picking outfits, most of us are adept at dressing up or dressing down—but the idea of dressing well “somewhere in the middle” eludes us. Concepts like “business casual” or “casual casual” are lost on a great many men. This is especially true if your daily routine includes dressing up for work and dressing down at home—only to rinse and repeat the next day.
How does one break out of this sartorial funk? And just what pants do you wear when you want to be dressy yet casual, style-forward yet comfortable? Here, at least, is the ultimate guide to pulling off casual pants while still being the best-dressed man in the room:
Know Your Options
What defines “casual pants”? Well, there actually is no High Council of Pants for us to consult, so we have to include a great range of different trousers and explain how they each can be applied to a term like “casual.”
- Khakis, or chinos: “Khaki” is the color; chino is the style. These Cotton Poly Dress Khaki Flat Front pants are perfectly casual when paired with a polo shirt, for example, or even a button-down. Throw a blazer on top and you’ll have a dressier look.
- Denim: Jeans are the definition of casual pants; they’re so ubiquitous, in fact, that it’s difficult to find a situation in which you can’t get away with wearing them.
- Seersucker: This fabric is the ultimate summer casual pant, especially if you acquire a Seersucker Flat Front like the one provided here.
- Corduroy: We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention corduroy, which tends to be more laid back than its casual brethren. This 8 Wale Luxury Cordory Pleated pant is a great example of a casual pant that looks fine with a belt for dressing up but has all the comforts of lounging around at home.
Okay, you might be saying: “I get that these are all casual pants options, but what do I wear with them in order to make an outfit business casual vs. actually casual?”
Mastering the Art of Business Casual
First, the definition: in the world of “business casual,” the word “business” is more important than “casual.” You should be thinking in terms of an office-appropriate outfit that’s simply more casual than a standard suit and tie combination. “Casual Fridays” are another thing entirely.
Business casual tends to require a collared shirt, which includes button ups, button downs, and at the very least, a polo shirt. Anything else with a collar (such as a rugby shirt) is far too casual to wear in a business casual setting.
You can get away with denim when wearing business casual, depending on the environment…but a flat-front khaki or chino is far more likely to strike the right note.
“Casual casual” is a term that depends more on your definition. What can you wear that’s comfortable around the house, yet still “dressy” enough to go run some errands and still feel good about the way you look? Here, corduroy and denim will be your friends.
However you define it, a “casual” pant should be versatile: boardroom ready, living room comfortable. If you never feel out of place with your favorite casual pant of choice, you’re doing it right.