The blazer plus t-shirt look has always been a controversial outfit in the world of fashion.
Sure, the combo offers the perfect balance between formals and casuals. It’s the perfect sweet spot of high and low, and can be an interesting outfit for any casual occasion. And if you pull it off correctly, you can look dapper and effortlessly stylish.
But if you want to really nail the look, there are a few things to keep in mind so you can avoid looking like a 1980s leftover, or that guy Roy from the show The IT Crowd.
We put together some guidelines to get your blazer + t-shirt combo game locked down.
1) Make sure the blazer fits perfectly
Make sure the blazer is not too small and not too big for your body.
It should be slim fitting, but make sure it’s not too tight so that there are no creases around the buttons when you close it. Likewise, if the blazer doesn’t follow the shape of your body, it’s not fitted enough and you won’t achieve the dapper look.
Avoid blazers with shoulder padding and lots of structure, too. Go for something with lines that are a little less clean and neat, so that it creates a more casual silhouette.
2) Go for simple slim fit shirts
Avoid pairing baggy, collared shirts with your blazer. Stick to a simple crew neck T-shirt or V-neck with minimal details and branding. Or better yet, go for solid colors. Anything that’s too eye-catching will take away the formality of the look and make it look like you just threw on a blazer over your usual casual. You can go for a turtleneck, too, if the weather permits or if you’re at the office.
Another rule of thumb is that don’t wear a T-shirt that looks like something you’d wear as a pambahay or something you went to bed in. You’re already breaking the rules wearing the combo as it is—don’t go making a mockery of it.
Another tip: keep the shirt long enough so you can tuck it in your pants. But if you’re going for the untucked look, go for a shirt that’s short enough so it goes just over the top of your trouser line.
3) Avoid combining two bold colors
White, grey, and navy are the colors of choice when choosing a blazer or a shirt. These colors are versatile and easy to match with anything that hangs in your closet.
Of course, you should keep your options open, but make sure you’ve got a bold color on either the T-shirt or the blazer, not on both. Combining two bold colors is going to clash awkwardly, and will take away the smart and clean look, which is the whole point of the blazer-shirt combo.
4) Pair it with slim and tapered pants
A pair of chino pants or just plain jeans will do the job, but make sure they’re well-fitted and end just above your shoes. Go for tapered styles, too, as this will fit neatly with the slim and smart look of the outfit, and not to mention help elongate your body.
For the waist, make sure it’s high enough so that you can tuck the T-shirt when needed. You won’t need a belt to complete the look, so go for a pair that fits perfectly around your waist, too. The general rule of thumb here is that the band should be able to fit two fingers, so that it’s fitted enough to not need a belt, but loose enough for you to easily move around.
If you’re feeling a next-level sartorial vibe, you can go for shorts.
5) Keep your footwear simple and slim
You can get the T-shirt and blazer combination right, and even the perfect pants to match, but if the shoes aren’t right then you are destroying the whole outfit.
So for shoes, never go for something too chunky. Huge shoes will only disrupt the slim, narrow look of the outfit, or give the impression that you’re a 6-year-old kid wearing his dad’s shoes. Keep the footwear well-fitted but don’t be afraid to experiment with styles.
Just avoid dress shoes. Go for casual ones like clean sneakers, Chelsea boots, desert boots, or espadrilles. For sneakers, however, avoid anything that looks too sporty. Go for Vans or Chuck Taylors instead of Nike, for instance.
Sure, it might seem like there’s a long list of rules to follow, but you can experiment. Explore the look and try out different styles. Play around with color or wear loafers. Whatever floats your boat. Just make sure to follow this number one golden rule: wear it with confidence.