I know several men who like sartorial clothing but want to bring it down to their more personal (and usually more casual) level. They get bespoke. They understand it. But a suit and tie is rarely needed, perhaps even appropriate.
There are several options I would suggest, including the more casual suit cloths (flannel, cashmere, linen, tweed), perhaps as jackets. But my all-time favourite is the chambray shirt.
Most popularly seen as just a lightweight denim, chambray really only requires a coloured warp and a white weft. It doesn’t even need to be in cotton, let alone indigo; but it is usually both.
More importantly, it adds a casual, even workwear element to an outfit without having to resort to quirky pattern or colour. Although the darker colour doubtless adds to its informal effect, it is the texture that is key. As with the jacket materials mentioned above, it generates its less formal nature by substituting the expected smooth, sharp cloth with something a little fuzzier, nubbier.
Texture is usually a more sophisticated twist than pattern or colour. A failure to understand that has led to men buying shirts with coloured buttonholes, flowery inner collars and cuffs with coloured binding. There is a much more mature way to express yourself.
If you do want to experiment with colour and pattern, keep it dark and subtle, as in the great example above. This may look like pretty straight, prep-inspired Ralph Lauren, but the effective combination of all those textures is very hard to achieve. Here it is the deep red shirt that makes it for me – if it were a plain, smart blue the effect would be ruined. That and the tie would be too smart together.
The other pictures here are from The Armoury’s tumblr of images, which is simply the greatest source of inspiration I’ve found for years. Ethan, pictured top, is particularly good on texture combinations. And the picture below illustrates that other cotton textures can also work well – linen, or even a linen mix.
(NB, pink and grey work beautifully together, and it is that pairing that makes this outfit)