I’m working on a consultation right now for a man who runs with both a creative SWPL and a blue-collar crowd. He has to be able to come up with artful, attractive ideas and then build them himself as well. It’s been a fun consultation thus far as his situation is pretty unique and challenging.
One of the things I’ve found for him is something that can be used for almost any man who wants to mix white and blue-collar worlds together.
It’s still a briefcase and is aesthetically pleasing and it’s a carpenters bag that’s made of durable materials you’re not afraid to throw tools or books into or leave lying in the dirt for a few hours while you work. The blue is deep enough not to pop and it allows the leather to do so.
PS. Don’t forget I’m running a deal on Basic Consultations all month this month as a back-to-school special.
A common complaint I hear from blue-collar men is how dressing up is so antithetical to what they have to wear all day long. Nothing is more form over function than what a welder or construction worker wears to work. And since these men wear the same thing day in and day out, it becomes a part of them and is truly comfortable. I’ve seen men with more swagger in a greasy mechanic’s outfit than some kid dressed to the nines in his new suit.
My suggestion is, rather than abandoning the ethos of what you do all day, you should embrace it. If you’re going out for a weekend or are in any social situation, take the time to dress a little better but still acknowledge what kind of man you are and what you do.
If you work in the outdoors, keep the Ranger-issued aviators, wide-brimmed hat and work boots like the man above.
If you work in a shop, keep your greasy sneakers on to contrast with the dark jeans and blazer you’re wearing.
I’ve seen farm hands who use their work gloves when they’re on a motorcycle instead of having bike-specific gloves.
Just make sure you don’t overstep it. I don’t recommend wearing a tool belt or a hard hat on your off time. You don’t want to look like a crappy attempt at “channeling the masculine” on some designer’s runway.
Most men will dress casually unless they have a reason to do otherwise. And since casual has devolved into sloppy, most men dress sloppily unless they have a reason to do otherwise.
Transitioning from the jeans and t-shirt uniform to something more appealing is difficult and one of the main reasons why is you can feel overdressed and awkward by outdressing everyone else.
A good way to make the transition easier is by adopting the high-low mentality.
Essentially you mix elements of a dressier wardrobe with those of a more casual one. The go-to staple for this is jeans with a button-up shirt and blazer. It’s the perfect outfit for going out on the weekend, visiting family on Sunday or going to class. Casual enough that you never look out of place but dressy enough you don’t look like a slob.
But there are other iterations of this ideal as well. One that I’ve been toying with lately is wearing dress slacks and shoes with a t-shirt and a leather jacket. By going dressy on bottom and casual on top, you still accomplish the high-low effect but are able to do so in a way that separates you from other men. In a sea of dark jeans and navy blazers, a pair of tweed or flannel pants and some leather is going to stand out – in a good way.
Be careful in how you interpret casual though. Wearing a blazer and tie with holey, boot-cut jeans will still make you look goofy. Choosing more casual fabrics in dressier or more classic cuts is the key to pulling off the high-low. Here’s a good example from Primer.
Same goes for the dressy element. A real sartorialist can pull off a tuxedo jacket with his jeans, but most of us are better off with a blue blazer instead.
By upping your casual and decreasing your dressy, your total overall appearance will look more uniform.
Here are some good examples of high-low
And some bad ones