Solving the smart casual conundrum

Man in fashionable coat on street

Let’s talk the world’s vaguest dress code…

The most popular go-to dress code these days is smart casual. You’ll find it applies in so many places from weddings and birthday parties to nightclubs and even funerals.

But is one person’s smart casual another person’s beach wear and when is smart casual too smart or too casual?

It can be exceedingly tricky to navigate the path of the smart casual dress code, so here’s some of our trusty tips, naturally.

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Ultimate elasticated trousers scenarios

Man piling food onto his plate at a buffet

Pile away, my friend.

It’s a mystery why more people don’t wear elasticated trousers, especially when you consider they are practical, adaptable and pretty darn cool actually.

And unlike some trousers that can’t even leave home without the moral support of a belt, elasticated trousers, can handle all kinds of challenging situations.

Here are just a few scenarios where elasticised trousers come into their own…

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Trews and Kilts: Very Scottish trousers

Scottish pipe band wearing tartan kilts

Get the Scottish look!

Scottish patriotism doesn’t get more passionate than Burns Supper, a national day which is held on the 25th of January each year out of respect tae Scotland’s greatest son, the late, great, Robert Burns.

With the smell of roasting Haggis in the air and tartan everywhere, we’re nodding our cap north by writing a special laddie’s clothing piece inspired by bonnie Scotland.

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Technology demands bigger trousers!

Close up of an iPhone six in a jean pocket.

Bigger phones, bigger pockets…

Is your pocket feeling the strain? New generation smartphones cost a pretty penny, but we’re not talking about the cost of upgrading your phone.

Apple’s new iPhone 6 Plus is over 6” long by 3” wide, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 measures approximately 5.5” x 3”, LG’s G3 has a 5.5” display. Time was when smaller was better, but the sheer size of the latest offerings from the communications giants makes for a lot of computer to cram into your pocket of a standard pair of mens trousers.

But as technology changes, we adapt…

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Pull your trousers up!

Sagging trouser trend

Image source: The Liberty Beat
Look away!

Known as ‘sagging’, it’s been banned in some places, rock stars have been thrown off flights because of it, and even Barack Obama has had his say on the issue!

To many of us, it’s a mens trouser fashion disaster, to some it’s downright offensive, but why do they do it, and why hasn’t this fad ‘bottomed’ out by now?

Here we take a look at the saggy trouser brigade – and their penchant for pulling their pants down.

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Go go gadget trousers and other wearable tech

Wearable tech

Image source: Family First Life
Combine the two!

Integrating cutting edge technology into clothes and jewellery sounds like the work of top secret boffin ‘Q’ of James Bond fame. But today, technology has never been more wearable.

Here we’ve scoured the Internet for some of most innovative products coming, or about to come to the market.

They don’t explode, burn their way through steel doors or in any other way, help secret agents foil the plots of dastardly megalomaniacs – but they will keep you entertained, and connected in ways never before possible…

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Men, get the right trousers this winter

Bad weather, last minute Christmas shopping and escalating heating bills are some of winter’s main annoyances.

But whilst we can’t control gas prices, we can give advice on what to wear when it’s chucking it down and freezing cold.

So swot up on which mens trousers to wear this winter, and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.

Thermal trousers

cj_cotton chinos_graphite portrait large

Trust us, they’re thermal

Staying warm is a certainty with thermal trousers. Some options even have a windproof fleece lining, while others feature a lining designed to capture warm air.

Staying warm needn’t mean your trouser choice has to change either. Mens thermal trousers are available in many styles including jeans, suit trousers and chinos.

For some, thermal trousers can be too warm. But for lovers of the outdoors, particularly walkers, they are a winter staple.

Waterproof trousers

Bear Grylls filming Man Vs. Wild. Patagonia, Argentina

If Bear Grylls wears them, so should youFlickr

Green fingered folk know that a garden still needs attention in the winter. Waterproof trousers allow you to tend to your garden in the colder months, so preparing for the spring can be done without soggy legs.

Any type of trouser can be worn underneath waterproofs, but ideally wear a pair that have a high cotton or wool content. Trousers made with man made fabrics won’t breathe as well, making you hot and sweaty.

Cord trousers

Needle Cords Stack Colourful

So bright, you can save on your lighting

Corduroy is made with a high concentration of cotton yarn stitched onto a backer. Due to this extra fabric, cord trousers are a hardwearing option that can cope with the winter.

The dullness of winter can often get people down, in fact some poor folk get SAD. But with mens cord trousers, there are bright myriad shades available. Plum, claret or vibrant emerald will stop the dark days from being dull.

As well as being colourful and hard wearing, cord trousers are highly breathable because of their high cotton content.

Moleskin trousers

James Bond moleskin trousers

So hardwearing, Bond wears them
Easy and Elegant Life

Just like cord, moleskin trousers are hard-wearing, breathable and come in an array of colours.

Unlike cord however, they do not have the signature ridges, but instead a brush like texture akin to suede. And don’t worry, moleskin fabric is made without harming any cute soil dwelling critters.

Moleskin is so durable and hard-wearing, that the West German Army used it for their uniforms for over thirty years. And if it was good enough for marching through the Cold War then it is good enough for winter.

Whatever trousers you choose for the winter, just remember that cotton is breathable and waterproof trousers let you wear almost anything! But if you’re still worried about the heating bill, then add thermal trousers to your last minute shopping list.

Should you wear red trousers?

In a recent survey, participants were shown a man in red trousers and were asked to say the first thing that came to mind.

The results highlighted their controversial status and raised the question: should a mean ever wear red trousers.

Lots of men in red trousers landscape

All the red trousers
Source: Lost at E Minor

But with cool hipsters and society’s “elite” championing the questionable hue, we wonder if there a case to be made for red trousers?

Why shouldn’t you wear red trousers?


Oh baby you look like a moron!
Source: Posh 24

Because the survey said so! 46% of those questioned in the YouGov survey, didn’t like red gents trousers. 120 people said “red” on seeing a picture, which doesn’t show a lot. But the third most used word was “idiot” (44) and “prat” (27) wasn’t far behind.

But if it’s your fear of being labelled posh that stops you donning your red trousers, fear no more! Whilst you might [italics]think[italics] people associate red trousers with posh folk playing golf, you’re wrong. Posh was only the 35th most submitted word

What is certain, however, is many find red too bright for the world of muted menswear.Lisa Armstrong, fashion editor of the Daily Telegraph says, “It’s very hard to wear them and not look like a giant chilli pepper.”

Why should you wear red trousers?

will-smith-premiere-after-earth- red suit

Will Smith looking fresh in red
Source: Ace Showbiz

Hipsters are often the source of experimental fashion trends, so for them, red trousers are just a stylish staple. But what about the rest of us?

You’re never too old to have fun with fashion, so we think everyone should try the red trouser trend. It’s a refreshingly bold change from the usual grey, black and navy menswear offerings and will help spice up your winter wardrobe. But if red is too bold for you, go for orange instead – a surefire hit for AW13.

If you needed further proof that red trousers can be fashionable, then look at this Pinterest board.

Red trousers you can wear

Red chinos

The soft casual red trouser look

Chinos are the number one option for red trouser wearers, and are surprisingly versatile. For a day in the country, wear with a tweed jacket and a checked shirt. And if people see that as “elite” then remind them that the survey proved red trousers aren’t just for posh people.

Slim fit red chinos work with a t-shirt for general casual wear. But for those that don’t like slim fitting clothes, wear straight leg chinos, with a casual tucked in shirt.

Red trousers are undoubtedly divisive. Like Marmite you either love them or hate them. Hipsters love them, 46% of the UK hate them. But if you ask us, red trousers look great, as long as you’re name isn’t Justin Bieber.

Why do postmen always wear shorts?

The rain has come, the chill is upon us and the shorts have been packed away. Unless, of course, you are a postman.

Rain, hail and even snow cannot deter the hardiest of postmen from wearing their shorts.


The famous frosty postbox
Source: Wikimedia

So why does the posty keep showing off his knobbly knees, even when the rest of us are shivering away in thermal long johns?

The history of the uniform

Postman's knock portrait

The famous “knock”
Source: The British Postal Museum and Archive

Postmen haven’t always worn shorts. Traditionally, delivery workers, wore trousers. Just like today, red hues dominated the uniform, but things were a bit more formal back in 1973 and posties had to wear a scarlet tailcoat every day!

The first instance of lighter attire for postal workers wasn’t until 1896, when they were given a summer hat. Shorts were still nowhere to be seen.

In humid India, postal workers did wear khaki, but in 2004 opted for red and blue, like UK postal workers. But unlike UK postal workers of today, who have worn shorts since the 1940s, Indian postmen wear trousers.


Postman_in_shorts by van

An unnamed shareholder in shorts
Source: Ashton-Under-Lyne

Walking 10 miles over 6 ½ hours is thirsty work, and would make even the fittest athlete sweat. To stop getting so hot on their rounds, postmen wear shorts. And while mens trousers with a high cotton content are breathable, they still aren’t as airy as shorts.

Postman have to walk those 10 miles even in the winter, so they still get hot from all that exercise. Even if it’s sub zero and snowing!

Safety trousers

ice treads

Essential for the British weather

Men like to compete to show how tough they are, but the big bosses don’t seem to think their postmen are that tough at all. Well at least not as tough as these people.

In Cheltenham, postal workers were banned from wearing shorts, after one slipped in icy conditions and grazed his leg. A pair of mens cord trousers may well have limited the damage, but better ice and snow treads would be even better.

The postmen in question were not happy with the attempt to ban trousers. Luckily the “ban” was lifted when the snow and ice thawed.

From the posty’s mouth

Postman Pat in named chair

Ready for your interview Mr Pat?
Source: Tennant News

To find out why postmen always wear shorts, we spoke to Leicestershire postman, Lewis Morrish.

He said “It’s not for a bet or any macho reason, but I just prefer it. When it rains I don’t have wet trousers chafing my legs, and I put on waterproof leggings if the forecast is bad.”

Shorts wearer yes, but trousers aren’t a complete no-go-area for Lewis, “I only really wear long trousers if it turns icy and slippery after snow – I don’t want to fall over and cut my knees!”

So like in Cheltenham there is a risk of injury, but is there any reason not to wear shorts? Well Lewis said, “There is nothing showing in my original contract BUT shorts are available as a catalogue item so by a logical conclusion, shorts can be worn and it doesn’t stipulate that these can only be worn on suitable occasions.”

“Basically, we have a choice!”

The Royal Mail has come a long way since 1793, when summer hats were revolutionary. And though its slightly more perilous to wear shorts in the winter, it seems that posties just find it comfier. And if you believe our postman, then there is no competition aspect to it…honest.

Give me a break – the length of men’s trousers

Michael Jackson was famous for wearing trousers that showed his socks. You might think the half masted look is a little odd, but for the moon-walking superstar, peculiar was normal.

But how should mens trousers be worn? Full break, half break or no break at all? Let’s find out.

What are breaks?

Primer trouser breaks

Because life is hard, and sometimes trousers need a break
Source: Primer Magazine

The break is where the bottom of your trouser meets your shoe, creating a fold in the cloth. A quarter break, or a half break is where there is less of a fold, but still a noticeable kink.

Longer trousers mean more than one fold or break. Go too long and your trousers will look like they don’t fit.

When there is no break, the bottom of the trouser sits perfectly at the top of the shoe around the ankle.

Suit trousers

medium Break

Suiting simplicity
Source: Effortless Gent

If it’s time for that business meeting, then you need to make sure your suit trousers touch the top of your shoes. A full break is fine, but a half or quarter break looks better.

To make sure they are the right length, look at the back of the shoe. This will take some flexibility, a mirror, or a friend. The leg of the trouser should stop just over half way down the back of the shoe.

One man famous for his socks, hasn’t quite got his break options correct. Channel 4 news reader, Jon Snow has taken the ‘no break’ thing to new levels.

on Snow socks for help the heroes

Breaking the rules for Help the Heroes
Source: Brand Rapport


Chinos with one break

Anyone afraid of red trousers?

Chinos are a versatile classic, perfect for a stroll at the weekend, and similarly suitable for the boardroom

For formal occasions, chinos should be worn with no break. As they have a loose fit, a full break will ruin the line of the trousers and deter from the smartening effect of formal shoes.

When keeping things casual with standard fit chinos, a full break will help exude relaxed vibes. To really show the shape of slim fitting chinos, wear with no break at all.


Light Stonewash Thermal Jeans

I bet you can’t tell they are thermal jeans?

Most of us wear jeans for casual occasions, whether traditional denim, the alternative of moleskin, or lightweight cotton options. But though there are several different fabric to choose from, it’s important to get the break correct.

With no break your socks are always on show, so make sure they aren’t embarrassing ones. The safer option is to go for a half break – suitably casual, without looking too long.

When jeans are too long, with more than one break, you run the risk of soggy, frayed, disheveled hems.


Green cords with a break

Booting in the cords

Cords are hardwearing and come in an abundance of colours, but it’s important to know how to wear them.

Mens cord trousers are often worn as part of a casual country outfit. A full break is too casual for the heritage look. A simple half break will sit perfectly with a pair of comfy winter boots and similarly well with country brogues.

Cords and brogues

Kicking it in the brogues
Source: Ask Andy About Clothes

Michael Jackson was able to get away without a break, but for the rest of us, there are rules to follow. First, learn the breaks and then learn which one you need for your trousers. Get this wrong and you will look a bit peculiar, but get it right, and you’ll be the most stylish gent around.