12 Dec 2013
POSTED BY Y Magazine


Q: Dear Barbra, The invitations are starting to pour in for various functions. They vary from formal to smart casual. My wife says I’m a sartorial disaster and usually helps me with what goes with what (and has banned me from wearing my vintage Hawaiian shirt). But she’s going home to the States soon for a vacation so I can’t rely on her for advice (and I think she’d divorce me if I asked her to set everything out valet style). Will, Muscat.


A: Dear Will,

While the two most terrifying words on an invitation for a woman are ‘pool party’, for men it’s usually ‘smart casual’. Getting the suit and tie look right isn’t too hard. Most men can manage it (even the sartorially inept). All you need to do is buy a decent dark suit, a few crisp shirts, matched with a silk tie (no cartoon characters please), a pair of black polished shoes and you are done. Cufflinks are great too but I don’t want you to run before you can walk.


Smart casual, however, can be a minefield for the uninitiated. Italian men seem to be the only ones who get it spot on – the rest struggle. The past couple of weekends have inflicted sights on me that should belong to a horror movie not a mall or restaurant. Said offenders wore t-shirts that were way too tight over a paunch with oversized cargo shorts as well as long white socks with sport shoes (unless you are playing tennis or are a billionaire rap star, it’s a no-no.)


Current catwalk trends dictate that you wear a basketball jacket with camouflage cargo pants. It’s a difficult look to pull off even if you are American and under 38. No, take my advice and stick to the male version of the LBD – a pair of chinos with a shirt and a single button blazer. I love this slim fit, unstructured silk blend number by Boglioli (ro413 from Mr Porter). Not only does the silk impart a subtle lustre but it is smooth and breathable as well. The soft jersey knit and unstructured design ensures that, although the fit is slim, this piece is never restricting. Team the light grey hue (very fashionable right now) with a bright white shirt (this one’s from Andre Linen but M&S do great quality ones for those on a budget), dark chinos (Loro Piano, but again if you prefer chain store, go for Gap) and suede loafers (John Lobb, cheaper versions can be found in Clarks) for a balanced look. If you opt for a t-shirt instead, you could add a cotton scarf to give a dash of designer insouciance to the overall look – but probably best to keep things simple.


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