Men’s Style & Grooming by Yatan Ahluwalia: Casual is cool

Published on Feb 27, 2021 06:58 PM IST

A style guide to creating a casual look that suits your personality and fits you just right. Something for every kind of occasion

Thick and bushy eyebrows is the way to go for a natural look; Model: Naveed Khan (A theatre actor and model from Afghanistan) (Yatan Ahluwalia)
Thick and bushy eyebrows is the way to go for a natural look; Model: Naveed Khan (A theatre actor and model from Afghanistan) (Yatan Ahluwalia)
ByYatan Ahluwalia

Decoding the lead look

Hair: A short, wash & wear look for late spring. Faded on the sides with a Caesar cut. This is one of the strongest hairstyles this year.

Brows: Thick and bushy to look natural.

Face: Clean shaven. Recommend shaving gel from The Bombay Shaving Company for a smooth and hassle-free, clean cut look.

Skin: The Active facial at home from Skin Q for a spotless look.

Lips: Buffed and fresh. The Vitamin C & E scrub from The Ayurveda Co (TAC) made the models lips, clean and stain-free.

Others: Casual stone-washed denim jacket over a blue vest.

How it started

Casual dressing for men originated in the 1950s. The wars were over and young men wanted something different - a look that contrasted with the austerity of conflict and the boredom of the corporate world. So, suits and the stuffiness or formal clothing began being restricted to dressier occasions while jeans, freedom, experimental new looks and relaxed clothing was starting, taking centre stage and beginning to evolve.

The evolution

The goalposts of casual dressing (have always been and) are always shifting. With a decline in the popularity of suits, fashion brands and designers realised that casual clothing is where people are spending the maximum money and most of their time. Over the years, casual dressing became mainstream. Casual looks evolved almost every decade especially in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. By the new millennium, casual clothing borrowed style influences from previous decades and now encompasses leisure and sportswear in it.

The lack of rules

The first rule of casual dressing is that there are no rules! You can, quite literally, wear what you want to, and it can be considered or made to look casual. This is also the problem. Casual clothing has no direction and no predefined set of rules. One obvious solution is to wear what everyone else is wearing, without, of course, compromising or losing out on your own signature personal style.

Casual garments

1. The classic casual: Denim jeans, t-shirts, lightweight jackets, golf shirts, polo shirts, trousers, shorts of varying lengths and cardigans.

2. The modern casual: All elements of sportswear, leisurewear and loungewear. More recently: vests, two button jackets and short overcoats.

Casual accessories

1. On the feet: Sneakers, running shoes, most types of lace less footwear including loafers, sandals and slippers.

2. On the body: Bracelets, chains for the neck, sporty watches, ear studs, sports caps, berets, duffel, gym and sling bags.

A five step guide on creating your casual look

1. The right fit

The fit can make all the difference with casual clothing. Luckily, you don’t always need to look tailored, and your casual clothes don’t need to be custom-made. The fit of your casual clothes should be based on the look you’re going for, the occasion and of course as a standard rule, your body type.

Ideally, a slim but not restricting fit is the ideal to aim for. Over the last few years, there’s been a marginal shift towards looser styles, with boxy shirts, outerwear and also wide-legged trousers becoming popular both amongst designers as well as fashion-forward consumers. The result: comfort and relaxed clothing is now ‘just as casual’ as a slim and structured fit and silhouette.

My tip: Go in for slim fitting clothing that flatters your body shape

2. Wear what works for you

Only invest in casual clothes and accessories that you feel comfortable in and like wearing. I have always advised men on trusting their instinct on what looks good and works well for them. You will never go wrong with this principle.

Make new sets and combinations. Play around with colours or shapes as necessary. Sometimes a fitted top can look good with a pair of comfort fit lowers. You will only know what works, when you try it out and have the confidence to flaunt it.

My tip: Learn to play around individual garments and accessories to make your looks both new and different.

3. Keep it simple

Simple clothing will never go out of fashion. I suggest combining easy, straightforward garments together for an effortless casual look.

Ideally, your casual clothes should be fuss-free – easy to wear and even easier to maintain. Read that as clothes that don’t need dry cleaning, steaming or constant repair and upkeep. Go in for fabrics, materials and cuts that are durable, practical and long lasting and can withstand some amount of wear and tear as well as rough and daily use.

My tip: Invest in quality over quantity, this will make a substantial saving of both your time and money.

4. Find your signature style

Many people find the idea of a ‘signature look’ restrictive, but for others (including me) it means simplifying and reducing your wardrobe.

A casual look can easily be a rotation of navy trousers, white oxford shirts and white sneakers. A bias and preference for a tried and tested look means that something as simple, tried and tested as wearing blue jeans and a white top becomes a ‘signature look’ for you.

My tip: Find a way of dressing that’s easy and effortless – something that allows you to throw it on and head out the door.

5. Be fashion conscious

Casual style is dominated by two extreme trends: from street to high end. Trends change with each season which means they will fall out of favour soon enough. Therefore, the classics are always a safe bet.

If you want to future-proof your wardrobe, it’s preferable to only dabble in trends (for inspiration) and instead spend on pieces that will last not just seasons, but years to come.

My tip: Get influenced by trends but don’t blindly follow them.

Combinations that work

1. Shirts: Wear them with jeans, chinos, casual trousers.

2. T-shirts: Match them with jeans, tracks, drawstring pants.

3. Kurtas: Over jeans and pyjamas.

4. Jackets: With jeans.

5. Muscle tops and vests: Combine them with track pants, shorts and jeans.

The three style commandments for casual wear:

1. Dressing casually is about finding the right balance between comfort, individuality and style – think stylish, yet functional outfits.

2. Casual wear is relaxed, with the right amount of elegance, laid back and suited for everyday use. Casual clothes typically blend personal comfort and individuality – since you have the freedom to mix and match different garments to create your own unique look.

3. When in doubt, you should always subscribe to the golden rule that it’s always better to be overdressed than to be underdressed whatever the occasion may be.

Two new launches

1. Ultraboost 21, the sexiest sports shoes on the shelves now

The slick new Ultraboost 21 from Adidas combines modern design with the latest in performance technology
The slick new Ultraboost 21 from Adidas combines modern design with the latest in performance technology

A team of Adidas designers and product developers worked closely with the running community to create this new silhouette – the result of which is a slick modern design combined with the latest in performance technology.

The core development is the redesign of the shoe’s torsion system. The shoes have an exaggerated heel curve, which provides runners with incredible energy return and comfort in every step. There are two variants available: white & black.

My take: The Ultraboost 21 is extremely lightweight and comfortable and has minimum impact and strain on your feet. Feels just as good as it looks. Grab a pair as soon as you can.

Product rating: 5/5

2. Football gear to satisfy your football fetish

The t-shirt from the Liverpool range from The Souled Store
The t-shirt from the Liverpool range from The Souled Store

The Souled Store has launched Liverpool merchandise for the first time in India, this after the brand has become the official merchandiser for Liverpool. For football fans this makes buying branded merchandise both easier and cheaper.

The collection includes t-shirts, shorts, joggers, jackets, sweatshirts and socks. The colour palette is bright with pigments of red, white, and black.

My take: The collection is eye catching but the fabrics could have been sportier, than casual. Suitable for both boys and men.

Product rating: 4/5

Two new innovative grooming products:

1. The almost invisible patch from Derma Angel

Acne patch by Derma Angelis highly effective in concealing and healing your acne
Acne patch by Derma Angelis highly effective in concealing and healing your acne

This unique acne patch is highly effective in concealing and healing your acne. There is a day and night variant available. The patch works on a ‘moist wound healing’ principle which is three to five times more effective than the healing of wounds that are allowed to dry out. The unisex patches work on all skin types and are almost invisible when used. The hydrocolloid dressing absorbs pus while the patch itself protects acne from external contaminations and picking.

2. Tri – Sol 3 in 1 solution by Bare Body Essentials

The Tri – Sol after hair removal solution from Bare Body Essentials helps combat post-hair removal woes
The Tri – Sol after hair removal solution from Bare Body Essentials helps combat post-hair removal woes

This newly-launched skin care solution helps in combating all your post-hair removal woes. It has a non-sticky, enriched formula that provides instant relief by removing bumps, redness, rashes and in-growth caused by shaving, waxing or using hair removal creams. The product is vegetarian, paraben and sulphate free. Suitable for all skin types and especially sensitive fold areas.

The author is an Image, Style & Grooming consultant & trainer

From HT Brunch, February 28, 2021

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