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How to Dress Casual & Swanky for Men

by Lisa Finn, studioD

"Casual-swank" means dressing in a way that lets you look polished in your casual work wear or weekend apparel. Men have a lot of options when it comes to casual-swank -- ranging from urban and city chic to preppy and beach wear -- and it's easy to find clothes that fit your busy lifestyle, flatter your physique and make a good impression. Don't know where to start? The key to the fashionable-casual-swanky look is to mix conservative and classic wardrobe pieces with of-the-moment clothing styles and colors.

Develop Your Personal Style

It's crucial to understand what clothing styles you like, which colors and cuts look best on you and how you approach trends. Armed with this knowledge, you can artfully put together outfits that are comfortable but impressive. Start with timeless pieces -- such as dark jeans, khaki pants and an Oxford shirt -- and then add just enough cutting-edge fashion so that the outfit is elevated to chic status. The key, however, is in the fit of the clothes. Remember, there's nothing swanky about a too-skinny tie or overly baggy pants, no matter how casual or elegant you want to look.

Tread Trends Wisely

After choosing your base outfit, add in two trends. This is best done through accessories or of-the-moment splashes of color. If metal or hardware is trending, wear a stud-embellished belt or a chrome watch with a pair of gray chino pants and a crisp white shirt. A traditional Oxford in tangerine, for example, keeps the elegance of a button-down shirt but adds a casual flair because of the summery hue. Ties are another way to achieve a casual, swanky look through texture. Choose either a bow or thin traditional tie in gingham or pin dot for the spring and go with wool or knit for the winter.

Layer Your Clothing

Thicker button-down shirts or cardigans and V-neck sweaters look good when paired with a colored T-shirt underneath. The T-shirt makes the outfit casual, while the shirt or sweater lets it be known that you are aware of how to dress up for the occasion. Another good way to layer is through a novelty piece such as a military coat. Simply add some nice thick-soled wing tips or loafers with a wedge heel and you've just taken the step from casual to classic.

Play Up Accessories

A relaxed pair of shorts and a shirt can be elevated to elegance with the right counterparts. Try a linen shirt with tailored chino shorts and a brown-leather braided belt. Or add a pair of sophisticated cuff links to a patterned dress shirt and slacks and slip on a small or simple bracelet for a hint of class. Another way to add some swanky details to a casual outfit is through eye wear. Top off a nicely fitted pair of dark jeans, a thinly knit sweater and a stylish blazer with a cool pair of black frames reminiscent of David Hockney or Buddy Holly.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.

Photo Credits

  • Visage/Stockbyte/Getty Images