10 Ways To Upgrade Your Casual Style

If 'casual' to you means old jeans and a baggy t-shirt, it means 'homeless look' to anyone who catches a glimpse of you. Keep up your appearance while staying comfortable and casual with these easy, stylish upgrades.

If you are what you eat, then you act the way you’re dressed.  So consider picking up your level of style even if you’re spending a night on the couch.  Especially if you’re married or living with a significant other.  They’d probably like it if you put on a clean shirt every once in awhile.  Here’s five ways to upgrade your casual style without spending too much of your hard earned money.

1.  Change your socks

Gray sweaterThe calf high white tube socks gotta go.  Plain Medium gray Hanes are even a step up.  But when you can find cheap striped options like these from Target’s Merona line… then there’s no excuse.  The ladies seem to love em', and white tube socks always send the wrong message.

2. Ditch the hoodie for a cardigan

Cardigans aren’t just for your gramps anymore.  Non-schlubby versions like this mock neck version from Land’s End Canvas can be found for $40 and under.  They’re cut tighter to the body and thinner in the fabric than your standard senior citizen model.  Plus, a high neck or shawl collar gets you farther away from the retirement home look.  Daniel Craig wore one in Quantum of Solace.  If it’s good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for you.

desert boots

3. Buy some desert boots.

Classic suede desert boots are a massive upgrade from beat up running shoes, and you won't lose any of the comfort. A slim toe leather version like these from Clarks are cleaner, smoother, not as clunky.  And they’re cheap.

4.  Wear a dark, canvas strap watch

Yes you’re off the clock, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be handy to know the time.  A canvas band is rough, but a darker color looks urban and anything but campy. Check out this affordable option from Citizen.

5.  Lose the baseball cap

Some guys are full on addicted to baseball caps.  Sure there’s a time and a place, but all the time and everywhere? Let people see the top of your head.  You’ll look much less like a teenager.

6. Sub in corduroy for jeans

Nobody loves a pair of dark denim more than I. I’m borderline addicted. But a pair of Thin-wale cords (not those thick velvety things your Dad wore) will have that denim level weight, and they’ll mix up your down-time wardrobe. Plus, without the blue jeans, you can wear blue shirts without looking like a smurf. Contrast is a great thing. They’re not super cheap, but try these from Gap.

7. Dump your too-big pique polos

Those seams that attach the sleeve of your polo to the body of the shirt? Those are the shoulder seams. They’re supposed to rest on your shoulders. If they slop over and down a few inches on your upper arm, they’re too big. Size down. And while you’re at it, ditch the box-weave golf course ready spongy pique fabric. Go with a smooth and light jersey or stretch knit instead. One of the best values in the polo world is Target’s Mossimo Athletic Fit Polos. Just $8.00

Reversible leather belt

8. Wrap a different belt around your waist

Sure you could live off those same two GAP jeans belts for the rest of your life. But a plaque belt is just different enough to eliminate the boring from your waistline. Careful though, if you go too big or flashy on that buckle you start to look like a rodeo champ or an extra from Jersey Shore. Keep it dark and muted. Like this version from Express:

8. Keep your neck shaved

Stubble is now pretty well accepted in most workplaces as long as you keep it under control. But even on the weekend or if you’re on vacation and you let your beard grow out, keep that neck scruff at bay. Use a waterproof & easy to clean electric shaver every day, and it’ll take just seconds to avoid the homeless look. The Braun Series 3 is more than up to the task.

Blue gingham shirt

9. Wear gingham

Gingham is a pattern that looks incredibly laid back when it’s wrinkled and fresh out of the dryer, or dressed up when it’s ironed with a little starch. Over a t-shirt, or under a v-neck, it’s a pattern that says: “Hey, I made some kind of real effort.” Keep the checks small. Smaller than a postage stamp. You don’t want your shirt to be able to double as a chess board. For more patterns every guy should know check out Primer's Nine Patterns Every Man Should Know (And How to Wear Them)

10. Learn to love the lightly structured blazer

These are the opposite of a heavy shouldered navy blazer with those terrible gold buttons.  You want something light, and has minimal shoulder padding.  If any at all.  Get it tailored and it’ll give you an athletic shape no matter what you’ve got on with it.  Believe it or not, Old Navy is a great place to find one for under $50. Check out my full review here.

Joe Weber

Joe Weber is the founder and director of Dappered.com. Focusing on affordable men's style, Dappered is a source for men who want to look good, but also value not going broke in the process. You can reach him at [email protected].