Denim Jeans for Men: A Guide

There are a few simple pleasures a man has in life: his family, his morning coffee, and his first quality pair of denim jeans. Seriously though, there is nothing more reliable than a well-fitted, high-quality pair of denim. Having a go-to pair in your arsenal is crucial to your style.

Denim jeans have stood the test of time, and for good reason. They’re versatile, rugged, and, when worn with the right outfit, incredibly sharp. In this guide to denim jeans, I’ll walk you through what washes you should be wearing, what clothes you should wear denim with, how to take care of your denim, and we’ll wrap with a few outfit examples you can wear home with you. Ready? 

The Wash

Left to Right: Light, Mid, Dark, Grey, Black

The wash of your denim refers to its level of darkness — the amount of dye remaining — and its base dye color. After denim is dyed, it goes through a washing process to give it the desired fade — light, medium, or dark. If you’ve owned a pair of denim jeans for some time, you’ll notice that it gets lighter each time you wash it. This is why you should only wash your dark denim sparingly if you want to keep that rich, dark color. When it comes to the base dye color of the denim, there are two popular choices: indigo and black dye.

Indigo Dye and its Washes (Light/Mid/Dark)

Out of the two main dye colors, indigo is the more popular of the two. With an indigo-dyed pair of denim jeans, you will come across three main washes: light, mid, and dark. Each wash goes through a standard washing process. While it’s a very technical process, the best summary of it is that the more washing denim jeans go through, the lighter they turn out. 

Black Dye and its Washes

When you look at black- and grey-wash denim, it’s really not that different from dark- and mid-wash denim. The only difference between black-dyed denim and indigo-dyed denim is, you guessed it, the dye used in the process. 

Styling Denim Jeans

Denim is typically worn in more casual settings, though there are a few instances where putting on a pair of solid, dark jeans or a jacket is a great way to stand out. 

Casual

Washes: Mid and Light Indigo, Grey

Pairings: T-shirts, Henleys, Polos, Button-down shirts

Smart Casual

Washes: Dark Indigo, Black, and Grey

Pairings: T-shirts, Button-down shirts, Blazer

Check out our guide to Smart Casual.

Business Casual

Washes: Dark and Mid Indigo, Black

Pairings: Button-down shirts, Dress shirts, Blazer

Check out our guide to Business Casual.

Taking care of denim jeans

Before I launch into our denim care guide tips, the most important thing you can do is read the care label. For help, here is a quick diagram on what some of the most common symbols mean:

Courtesy: Burton

(In order: 40 degree single bar, Do not use bleach, One dot tumble dry, 3 dot iron, Do not dry clean)

The General Rules:

  • Turn inside out pre-wash
    • Most dye on denim is present on the outside, so turning your denim jeans inside out will prevent fading.
  • Don’t overload your washer
    • Denim is a heavy fabric, which can reduce the effectiveness of the washing process when loaded with too many other clothes. 
  • Wash before you wear (for darker denim)
    • Dark indigo or black denim may rub off on your legs, so it’s best to let the washer get rid of any excess dye before you wear your jeans. 
  • Hang dry
    • Dryers can shrink your denim as well as aid the fading process. By hang drying your denim, you can avoid unnecessary wear and tear. 

Check out our full clothing care guide for men.

All things considered, you can’t go wrong wearing a nice pair of denim jeans. They’re considered one of the most versatile pieces of clothing for a reason. Having a couple of different washes in your wardrobe will give you a great variety to choose from and get you one step closer to the perfect outfit for any occasion.

Shop our denim

A Man’s Guide to Wearing Hats

This is a guest post written by Style Crew member, Eric Rodriguez.

When we think of hats, many of us, especially those in my age bracket, think of Cary Grant and Indiana Jones in their famous fedoras, Michael Corleone from “The Godfather” in his stylish Homburg and, most recently, Thomas Shelby from “Peaky Blinders” in his newsboy cap.  Hats were very commonplace in the late 19th Century to the end of the 1920s. But sadly, nowadays hats are rarely seen (with the exception of a baseball cap).

That being said, of all the accessories a man can wear, a hat is by far the most stylish.  A hat adds a touch of mystery, class, and sophistication to any outfit. It’s also a very suave way to finish off an outfit.  Here are my three favorite hat styles and how I wear them.

Fedora & Trilby

The word fedora comes from an 1882 play where the heroine wore a center creased, soft brimmed hat.  After Prince Edward started wearing them in 1924, it became popular for its stylishness and its ability to protect the wearer’s head from the wind and weather.  In 1920, it was associated with Prohibition and gangsters. In the 1940s and 1950s, noir films popularized it even more. It wasn’t until the late 1950s when informal attire became widespread that the fedora became less commonplace.

The fedora, with its lengthwise crease down the crown and its ‘pinch’ on either side of the front, comes in various felt fabrics such as beaver, rabbit, wool, and straw (aka Panama, which is worn primarily in warmer climates). It also comes in various crown and brim sizes.  It can be worn with the brim down for a classic, traditional look or the brim up for a more modern, youthful look. The classic look works best with more formal attire such as a suit or sports jacket. The more modern, turned-up brim, works well with jeans, khakis, and boots.  Personally, I think it gives off that rock and roll vibe.  In warmer weather, a Panama hat is the best option.  It works great with a summer suit or linen pants and a polo shirt.  My favorite fedoras are the Stratoliner and Whippet.

Like the fedora, the trilby also has its roots in the theater.  The hat was first popularized in a stage adaptation of George du Maurier’s novel “Trilby”. It was initially worn as a “rich man’s” hat in the early part of the 20th century and mostly only in Britain.  The hat all but disappeared and didn’t resurface until the late 70s as part of the retro scene and then disappeared again. The trilby is best known as the hat of choice by “Old Blue Eyes” Frank Sinatra.  The trilby, sometimes referred to as a “stingy brim”, is similar to the fedora, but it has a smaller crown and brim.

Cowboy/Western Hat

If there’s one hat that is considered the most recognizable throughout the world it’s the cowboy hat.  Recognized for its high crown and wide brim it is the defining piece of the North American cowboy. The first cowboy hat was designed by John B. Stetson in 1865 and was made popular by movie icons like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.  Nowadays everyone from cowpunchers to rock stars wears a cowboy hat. Unlike other hat styles, a cowboy hat takes a bit more confidence to wear especially if you live in a place like New York City where cowboys aren’t as common. One of my favorite—and most complimented—cowboy hat to wear is the classic Open Road.  With its three indentations in its high crown, it gives an air of class and business.

Newsboy Hat/Flat Cap

The newsboy cap gets its name from its wide popularity with newsboys or “newsies”.  Although it’s thought of as a boy’s cap, it was popular with men of all ages during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Extremely popular with the working class, it wasn’t limited to them. The upper class often wore them to more leisure activities such as golf or driving.  The newsboy cap, also referred to as a Gatsby, paperboy, or applejack (as the wider, more floppy version is known as) is typically a 6 or 8 paneled cap with a front peak often made of wool or leather and lighter materials such as linen or cotton for warmer weather.  The flat cap, sometimes known as a scally, is a rounded cap with a small stiff brim.  Although these two styles of caps are often confused, the main distinction is that the newsboy cap is baggier and floppier than the flat cap.

Purchasing a Hat

If you’re purchasing your first hat it’s always best to skip the mall and department store and go to a quality hatmaker/dealer.  These are the people who really know hats and can explain the difference between a quality $200 beaver felt fur fedora and a $20 wool-blend fedora.  My first hat was a beaver felt Homburg which cost me $250. I instantly fell in love with the hat but wasn’t sure about the price. Once I was able to see and feel the differences between a quality hat and a cheap hat I was able to understand the reason for the price tag.   Now I’m not suggesting that your first hat should cost you $200, but it’s always best to know and see the differences. A quality fur felt hat will retain its shape and color over time. Specialists, like Stetson, Borsalino and Akubra for example, focus on quality and design and not on trends.

Choosing a Style and Color

When choosing a hat style think of what your personal style is and what you want the hat to say.  Since a fedora or cowboy hat is not something everyone is wearing it will get attention. For example, walk down the street in an Open Road hat and you will be noticed.  A newsboy or flat cap is probably the easiest choice to ease yourself into wearing a hat.  Its casual and unassuming style is easy to pull off and not as “attention-grabbing” as a fedora or cowboy hat.  Color and texture are just as important. A neutral color like tan, brown or grey is the easiest to style with your outfits.  Unless you’re looking for that “stand out piece, I’d avoid colors like red, yellow and multi-colors as well as large patterns.

So if you’re looking for something to add to your wardrobe that will make you stand out from the rest, give a hat a try.

Eric Rodriguez is a content creator based out of Brooklyn, NY focused on men’s style. He enjoys food, watches and fashion and is an up-and-coming model, having been featured in several campaigns for various brands. Currently, he is an ambassador for Ash & Erie as well as Beckett Simonon, the shoe company. 

You can check out his page here: @ericrnycstyle

Business Casual for Men: A Guide

Business casual attire is the perfect medium-ground for any formality requiring a more formal dress but not suit & tie. It’s a flexible formality that allows jeans, but it’s not casual enough to accomodate sneakers. A good go-to business casual outfit can be a pair of dark denim jeans, wingtips, dress shirt, and a wool blazer over top.

A few key factors to consider when deciding on whether or not you should be in business casual are the location, context, and occasion of the event you’re attending. If you’re attending a professional event outside of work hours, then opting for a more casual look with a pair of jeans will do the trick. However, if you’re networking for your business and want to impress fellow attendees, you’ll want to wear chinos and a blazer.

The Wardrobe

  • Dark Denim Jeans
    • Wearing dark denim jeans in a business casual typically means you’re leaning more towards casual than business, but as long as your jeans are made of dark denim (either navy or black), then you’re in the clear. Dark denim is a staple in American workwear, and so it rightfully belongs in a man’s wardrobe.
  • Chinos
    • Chinos are traditionally a business casual pant, so they’re a great option for a business casual outfit. They’re a versatile piece of clothing that will allow you to pair it with any of the following tops. 
  • Shirts
    • Either dress shirts or button-down shirts will work here. Depending on the rest of your outfit, you can choose what kind of shirt to wear to balance out the rest of your look. Opt for neutral colors if you want to stay traditional.
  • Sweaters
    • Sweaters are a great way to layer your look as well as bring it up a notch from a traditional suit & tie. There are multiple styles, such as crew neck, v-neck, and quarter-zip sweaters. 
  • Blazer
    • Wearing a blazer is an important part of business casual. It’s the clothing item that will elevate your look, regardless of what else you have on. 
  • Bonus: Shoes
    • When it comes to the shoes you wear for a business casual outfit, it’s best to stick with dress shoes. Sneakers are too casual, no matter how polished and fancy they look. Unless you’re trying to make a fashion statement, I’d suggest staying away from wearing sneakers and opting for more dress type shoes, such as wingtips or cap-toe dress shoes. Refer to our Shoe Guide for this one.

Outfit Ideas

Winter Business Casual

This style of outfit is great for the colder occasions where you want to layer up but still look stylish. Notice here he’s wearing a turtleneck sweater with a blazer-style jacket over top. This allows him to transition to a smart casual attire if needed.

Modern Business Casual

This is a great day business casual outfit, where you can see a good usage of neutral colors with a nice dotted shirt pattern. The popped collar is a choice you have to make for yourself, but take the occasion you’re attending in mind when choosing your accessories.

Conservative Business Casual

This is a picture-perfect description of business casual. A fitted and tapered pair of dress pants accompanies a tan blazer and light blue dress shirt. Notice the brown dress shoes and matching belt.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does business casual mean?

Business casual is a style of attire that is a professionally acceptable alternative to a suit & tie. Depending on your profession, business casual is actually preferred over a suit & tie while still being formal enough to presently oneself accordingly.

Can I wear jeans in business casual?

Yes, however, they should be made from dark denim. This is because darker-colored denim is widely regarded as more formal than lighter-colored denim.

What should I wear business casual for?

Depending on your profession, it may be acceptable to wear business casual attire to your workplace. Otherwise, it is typically appropriate for work-related events such as happy hours, conferences, and interviews.

Can I wear sneakers for business casual?

No. Sneakers are considered to be too casual for a business setting.

What is business casual, really?

Business casual is the go-to formality option for events and situations that require a more formal setting than a typical gathering, but less formal setting than a typical business affair. Examples of events where business casual is appropriate at are company happy hours, networking events, conferences, and seminars.

Check out these business casual products:

Clothing Care Guide for Men

Here at Ash & Erie, we know just how good it feels to find the right fit. We maintain a high standard for our fit, materials, and construction to ensure that we have the highest quality clothing. However, buying a garment meant to last is one thing, but you need to preserve them! Here are a few tips on how to do just that:

Take Good Care of Them

It’s never fun when you outgrow your clothes. It’s even more of a bummer when you accidentally shrink your clothes while washing them. Here’s our care recommendations for all of our products. These guidelines will increase the longevity of your clothes to save you time and money down the road. Although it’s a bit of work, the thrill of looking great is worth it.

Everyday Shirts

Even though we use pre-shrunk cotton and wash our finished shirts with a garment wash, certain methods of washing will still shrink your clothes in a way that you might not want. One way to avoid this is by getting your Everyday Shirts dry-cleaned. If you don’t want to do that, you can wash your Everyday Shirts at home, too, but in order to prevent shrinking, you’ll need to use cold water and let your shirts air-dry (and then give them a good ironing afterward). 

Dress Shirts

Similar to Everyday Shirts, we suggest you dry-clean your Dress Shirts for the best results. If not, be sure to wash on cold with like colors to avoid shrinkage and bleeding. With Dress Shirts especially, it’s important to avoid dryers completely. You should always hang your Dress Shirts up to dry.

Tees, Henleys, and Polos

Like our Everyday Shirts, you should wash your tees, henleys, and polos in cold water with like colors to avoid any shrinkage or unwanted dye bleeding and staining. Dry your tees, henleys, and polos with no to low heat to avoid shrinkage. When storing your tees, henleys, and polos, we recommend folding the sleeves towards the back and folding it once to avoid unnecessary creases. We recommend not hanging your tees, henleys, and polos as the cotton will stretch and create a hanger mark.

Jeans & Pants

Like all natural fibers like cotton and denim, jeans and pants will shrink when any heat is applied. To avoid any shrinkage, you should wash your jeans and pants in cold water and hang them to dry or apply very low heat. With jeans and pants especially, we warn against overwashing. Although this is a personal choice, we encourage you to wear your jeans and pants several times before washing them. 

The General Rules

Keep Your Clothes Organized

If you respect your wardrobe, you’re respecting yourself. Don’t leave your shirts in a pile on the floor – hang them up and keep them organized in your closet. We like organizing our shirts from lightest to darkest, personally, so we always know where there are, and that they’re safe from children, pets, spilled drinks, roommates, and acts of God!

Pay Attention to Your Clothes

Once you’re out in the world, other people will be checking you out, and whether it’s because you’ve found the right fit, or because you have a mustard stain, people are going to notice. So before you go out, make sure your shirt is clean! Make sure the buttons are firm and the loose threads are cut and that your collar is crisp and that there are no stains from sweat or deodorant or anywhere else. And, like anything, prevention goes a long way—if you’re taking care of your shirts while you wear them, they’ll continue to take care of you for your next outing.

Iron Your Shirts

Wrinkles ruin a look. Whether you like it or not, ironing is important. It’s okay if you don’t know what you’re doing—there are even guys in our office who only just learned how to iron in their late twenties. The internet is your friend here, or maybe one of your friends can be your friend here — get an iron, find a wrinkled shirt or pants, and get to work. The nice thing about ironing is that you can fix your mistakes—just don’t scorch your clothes or your skin in the process!

Wear Your Clothes!

There’s no better way to understand your wardrobe than by wearing it. When you try on your clothes, you remind yourself what fits and what doesn’t, what matters most to your comfort and style and what to focus on when you buy new clothes.

At the end of the day, these are tasks that anyone can do. A bit of effort before and after getting dressed can make you look sharp all day, no matter what you might be wearing. Ash & Erie clothes are made to last. Follow these tips and you’ll be looking great in our clothes for a long time!

Online Dating for Men: The Ultimate Guide

Do you remember the last time you met someone in-person, struck up a great conversation, exchanged contact info, and actually went on a date? Me neither. Let’s face it — online dating has made it incredibly simple to find a date, yet dating has never been more complicated.

There’s an overwhelming number of dating apps and websites, and the number of people on them is even higher. Using the “fish in the sea” metaphor, there’s never been more fish in a bigger sea. The question then becomes — how do you stand out? 

In this guide, we go over the general rules to dating online as well as give you the best advice around how to craft your bio, what photos you should include, and the proper messaging etiquette to get your online connection offline (That’s the goal, isn’t it?).

The General Rules

  1. Know what you’re looking for
    • Every man has a different goal when dating. Some are out for casual relationships, while others may be looking for their future wife. Understanding what you are searching for will help you decide what to put in (and leave out) of your profile. 
  2. Choose the appropriate dating site(s)/app(s)
    • As with the above, each dating site is catered to different needs their users may have. Some are better for long-term relationships, while others are where you’ll best find casual dating partners. Here is a grid with each major dating site/app and their level of “seriousness.” This isn’t a perfect analysis (we just ranked them based on our team’s perspective), but it’s a good benchmark to think about when choosing which platform(s) to use for your dating life.
    • Tinder (app): 3
    • Bumble (app): 6
    • Hinge (app): 7
    • Zoosk (site/app): 8
    • Coffee Meets Bagel (site/app): 9
    • eHarmony (site/app): 10
    • Match.com (site/app): 10
    • OkCupid (site/app): 10
  1. Show, don’t tell
    • This rule goes for both the pictures you include as well as the words you write for your bio. Your goal isn’t to say you’re funny, it’s to convey that. You have to allow people to come to conclusions themselves, instead of making the conclusions for them. 
  2. Leave more for their imagination
    • Similarly to the above rule, you don’t want to put an exhausting amount of detail in your profile. You should have enough information about you to pique their curiosity and want to learn more over a few messages, and eventually a date. 
  3. Be respectful of their boundaries
    • Everyone has their own boundaries when it comes to dating, and with online dating, even more so. There are a lot of horror stories from dates gone wrong, people stalking matches, and more. You have to understand that some people may be hesitant to meet in-person or even exchange contact information. The best approach is to be empathetic with their requests and patient with their preferences. 
  4. Schedule an in-person date sooner rather than later
    • The point of online dating is to find someone you want to go on dates with in real life. If you spend too long messaging someone back-and-forth, it can seem like you’ll never end up meeting each other, and one of you will get bored with the other person.
  5. (Bonus): Don’t lie about your height!
    • Height can often be a tricky thing when it comes to dating, but it really shouldn’t be! Whoever you date shouldn’t consider your height as a factor that makes you a better partner, regardless of the height difference. There are many couples where one partner is significantly taller than the other. If someone you’re dating has an issue with your height, then they’re generally not worth dating anyways.

So, with those general rules out of the way, let’s get into some specifics!

Your Bio

Writing a great bio takes time, but trust us, it’s time well spent. When crafting your bio, it’s important to be descriptive, but not boring. As we mentioned in the “Show, don’t tell” rule, you need to craft your bio in a way that conveys what you’re trying to say without blatantly saying it. For example, instead of writing, “I have a great sense of humor,” you should share a funny story about yourself. You need to think about what exactly you’re trying to communicate and think of ways to convey it without saying it outright.

Your Photos

While there are no hard-set rules regarding what pictures you should have in your profile, there are a few Do’s and Don’ts.

Do:

  • Smiling (In general, looking happy!)
  • Action shots
  • You “leading the pack” (Ex: You’re in front when hiking)
  • Pictures where they go, “How did he do that?” or “That’s really cool!”

Don’t:

  • Selfie pictures (Especially shirtless)
  • Too many group shots
  • *Holding a fish*

Your Messages

You got a match. Great! Now it’s up to you to apply all that advice about being witty, humorous, and charming to the conversation! When messaging someone you matched, it’s important to talk to them as if you were talking to them in-person. Use full sentences, have complete thoughts, and have good taste. You’re talking to someone online, and they may not be as open with you as they would be if you had met them in-person. The goal is for you to eventually meet with them in real life, but for now, you have to establish a reason for them to do that.

A few tips:

  • Be honest
  • Personalize your greeting message! 
  • Chat as you would in real-life — use full sentences
  • Don’t talk about yourself too much
  • If you like them, tell them!

There you have it, the ultimate guide to online dating for men. It’s complicated, to say the least, but we hope this guide has been helpful in giving you the best direction in how to start. Go get ‘em, player!

A Guide to Shoes

This is a guest post by Kian Concepcion, a Style Crew member. 

“Button-up shirt? Check. Leather jacket? Got it. Black jeans? Yep. Hmm, now what shoes should I wear?”

Shoes can make or break your look. You can have a great outfit, some eye-catching accessories, and a nice fragrance to top it off, but if you end up with the wrong pair of shoes, your outfit will detract rather than attract people. That is why it is highly important to invest in your footwear.

At times, it can be confusing which shoes you should pick for a certain occasion. However, there really is no need to stress about it! In this simple guide, I go over 6 essential shoes you need to have in your closet that will cover any life situation you face, from formal events to days where you’re just relaxing.

There are two types of shoes to own: dress and casual.

Dress Shoes

Dress shoes are primarily paired with formal and dressy outfits. Think suits, tuxedos, dress shirts, and other formal/dress items. It’s notable to remember that the less details or decoration the shoes have, the more formal the shoe is.

Black Dress Shoes

Having black shoes in your closet is as essential as wearing your seatbelt while driving. This will be your most formal pair of shoes. Wear black shoes to important events such as weddings, funerals, black tie, and other formal occasions. You can also wear them to date nights when bringing your significant other to fancy restaurants that have a formal dress code.

Brown Dress Shoes

Brown dress shoes are less formal than black ones. They can be worn to the office, to personal events, and less formal occasions. Wear brown dress shoes to pair with your light-colored clothes such as khaki or beige pants, white trousers, etc. They also pair well with navy suits.

Double Monk Strap Shoes

Consider the double monk strap as your hybrid dress shoe. To get the most versatility out of it, opt for an oxblood or dark brown color. Double monks are incredibly versatile. You can dress them up with a suit or with a dress shirt and trousers. You can also dress them down with jeans and a casual button-up shirt.

Pro tip: In order to maintain the shape of your dress shoes, it is highly recommended you buy shoe trees. Shoe trees will help extend the life of your dress shoes since they prevent your shoes from developing creases.

Casual Shoes

White sneakers

No man’s closet will be complete without a pair of white sneakers. This will be your most versatile casual pair of shoes because it works with anything and everything. Wear them with jeans, chinos, shirts, button-ups, and yes, even suits – but only if you’re into that. Since dirt and stains will easily show up on white sneakers, it’s highly practical to buy white leather sneakers so you can clean them easily.

Athletic sneakers

For running errands and everything in between, a pair of athletic sneakers has your back (or feet in this case!). Feel free to choose which color and style you want and inject some of your personality in this look.

Boots

A dark brown pair of lace-up boots will give you the most bang for your buck. Boots protect your feet from the elements like snow, rain, and mud. They give any outfit a masculine vibe, so they’re perfect to wear on dates. Also, an added benefit to wearing boots is they can give you an extra inch in height. 

Wait, are you telling me I only need 6 pairs of shoes?

Treat this guide as having the bare essentials when it comes to shoes. Depending on your lifestyle and career, the types of shoes you purchase for your closet will vary. The shoes mentioned here will get you the most versatility because it covers every life situation or occasion that comes your way.

The next shoes you buy will be up to you. Do you mostly work with executives and high-level people? Then fill your closet with dress shoes.  Into running? Buy a pair of athletic shoes that will properly support your feet. Being fully aware of your personality and hobbies will help you purchase the right type of shoes.

Kian Concepcion is an Ash & Erie Style Crew contributor. Follow him on Instagram: @elevatestyle_

Valentine’s Day Style Guide

Whether you find yourself in a brand new relationship or are celebrating many years with your Valentine, it’s important to impress on Valentine’s Day. 

While dinner reservations and flowers are important, it’s also important to dress to impress for the occasion. With that in mind, here are some of our favorite outfits for the big day.

Creating an outfit takes time, effort, and strategy. We’re here to help!

Table of Contents:

What NOT to wear

There are a few general rules to Valentine’s Day outfits. Keep these DON’Ts in mind when it comes to what to wear for your Valentine’s Day plans.

Don’t wear baggy clothes

Baggy clothes are a huge turn-off. If your clothes are too big for your body, it’s noticeable. Everyone looks better in clothes that are the right size and a slimmer fit that isn’t too tight and still allows you to be comfortable is the best option for most men.

Don’t look sloppy

This rule is a catch-all for your overall appearance. Your hair, your teeth, your accessories, and most definitely your clothes. You should put just as much consideration into your outfit as you do your Valentine’s Day plans and gifts! The day is about showing love and impressing your Valentine, so don’t skimp on your outfit.

General Rules

Dial in the fit

As we alluded to above, the fit of your clothing matters. A lot. For in-depth guidance, check out our clothing fit guides.

Don’t feel obligated to wear red and pink

While it can be tempting to wear a completely red and pink outfit, we suggest to keep the red and pink Valentine’s Day colors to accents at most. A red or pink tie can be a fun accessory depending on the outfit, but don’t feel obligated to dress the Valentine’s Day theme. What’s most important is that your clothes look and fit great!

Dress it up

While it might be acceptable to wear a t-shirt on a normal date night, this is Valentine’s Day. This is a time to show your date exactly how much you love and care for them, including dressing more fancy than usual! Typically, your plans will dictate a more formal outfit than a normal date night anyways!

Outfit Ideas

Here are our Valentine’s Day outfit ideas for you: 

Outfit 1: Fancy Dinner

Featured: Grey ChinosHeather Ash Grey Everyday ShirtCharcoal Crew-Neck Sweater

This is an elevated look perfect for your Valentine’s Day dinner and drink plans. Our Heather Ash Grey Everyday Shirt is an ideal base layer to any great outfit, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Then, our Charcoal Crew Neck Sweater is the perfect soft and warm sweater. Finish the outfit with our Grey Chino Pants, which are formal enough to impress your Valentine.

Outfit 2: More Casual

Featured: Greyhound Everyday ShirtDenim Chore JacketMidtown Jeans

This outfit is perfect for more casual Valentine’s Day plans. Our Midtown Jeans paired with the Denim Chore Jacket creates a polished look when layered with our Greyhound Everyday Shirt. Whether your plans are a walk around the park or a movie night, this outfit is perfect for any casual plans.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Whatever your plans, we hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day spending time with the one you love. While you are making dinner reservations and ordering flowers, take some time to plan our your best Valentine’s Day outfit. With our advice, you’re sure to dress to impress!

Fabric Guide for Shirts

This is the official Ash & Erie guide on shirt fabrics. There are many considerations to make when creating a high-quality men’s shirt including the fabric weave, thread count, ply, mill, and quality of the cotton itself. It can be overwhelming to understand the differences when evaluating shirt options! We’ve curated this guide to help you feel confident in your next shirt purchase. 

Fabric Weave

First, the weave. A shirt’s weave refers to the way in which these threads of cotton called warp (vertical) and weft (horizontal) are woven together to make the fabric. Different weaving techniques give these fabrics different properties. By understanding the weaves and their properties, you can make the best decision about which shirt and weave works best for you and your needs!

Poplin

Poplin, otherwise known as broadcloth, is tightly woven with an over and under weave. These fabrics typically feel the smoothest thanks to their simple weave and lack of texture. Poplin fabric is thin and breathable. White poplin fabrics can be slightly transparent. These shirts are more prone to wrinkling but maintain their smoothness when ironed. These fabrics are typical for more formal occasions and are what you think of as a classic crisp fabric.

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Twill

Twill is made by weaving each warp and weft threads over and under two vertical threads to create a diagonal pattern. It is a softer and thicker fabric than poplin. It is warmer than poplin and therefore not as breathable. The fine weave makes wrinkling more of a problem when wearing twill and stains more difficult to remove. Twill drapes well and is very easy to iron.

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Oxford

Oxford is a basket weave where multiple weft threads are crossed over an equal number of warp threads. Whereas the poplin is an over and under weave with one piece of yarn, the oxford uses multiple pieces of yarm. Many times, one color of the weft is crossed with a white warp resulting in a two-tone appearance. This two-by-two weave is a thicker and rougher texture, but very warm. These fabrics are very popular for more casual shirts, but still can be worn to the office.

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Pique

Oxford Cloth, or pique, is similar to the pinpoint oxford although it uses a slightly heavier thread and looser weave. It has a slightly rougher texture but is more durable than most fabrics. It’s composed of a symmetrical basketweave where one yarn may cross two yarns. It’s the least dressy and a staple in polo shirts. Oxford cloth does not easily wrinkle.

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Flannel

Flannels are most often a brushed twill or brushed poplin fabric. The brushed fabric gives the flannels their warm, fuzzy, thicker feel. They’re mostly 100% cotton but can sometimes come in cotton/wool or cotton/cashmere blends for added warmth.

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Melange

Melange or heathered fabrics come in every sort of weave, including poplin, twill, and royal oxford, and are woven using multi-colored yarns. Each yarn will be dyed this way, most often with 2-3 hues. This allows shirts to look more organically inconsistent. 

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Thread Count

The higher the thread count, the smoother and silkier (and more expensive!) the fabric. Thread count is often referred to with a number like 50s, 80s, 100s, 120s, 140s, and so on up to 330s. These numbers refer to the yarn size. Typically, a thread count above 100 will imply a 2-ply fabric. For example, a 180s yarn will likely be two 90s yarns twisted together.

Ply

Ply is how many yarns are twisted together to make a single thread. Shirts are generally two-ply or one-ply, with two-ply shirts being more durable and therefore superior to one-ply fabrics. 

Smart Casual for Men: A Guide

What is Smart Casual?

In general, smart casual means you should be less formal than a two-piece suit, but more formal than old blue jeans and a t-shirt. Think of it as a “fashion-forward” business casual. Since smart casual is typically a loosely enforced dress code, there are a number of outfit options you can go with. A good go-to smart casual outfit can be a pair of chinos, an oxford button-down, and a blazer over top. Or, if you want to be a little more informal, you can substitute the button-down for a plain t-shirt. 

A few key factors to consider for a smart casual dress code are the location, weather, and occasion of the event you’re attending. If you’re looking to don a smart casual outfit for an evening dinner date at a fancy restaurant, then you’ll likely want to opt for dressier pants or dark wash denim jeans for your bottom and a button-down + blazer combination for your top. If the event you’re attending is in the summer and someplace outdoors (maybe a company brunch), then you can opt for nice lightweight pants like chinos, a plain t-shirt, and an unstructured blazer. All in all, it’s up to you, and in this guide, we’ll go over the simple rules you should follow so you can craft your outfit confidently. 

“Smart casual is the epitome of simple style that makes a statement.”

The Wardrobe

Denim Jeans

Dark denim jeans are a staple in the American man’s wardrobe. It’s hard to go wrong with this option as your bottom. Wearing a well-fitted pair of dark blue or black jeans projects a well-polished image that is sure to impress. 

Chinos

Opting for chinos as your bottom is a good choice when you want to switch it up every once in a while. Worn in staple colors like navy, grey, and khaki, chinos can be a great way to add your own style to a smart casual look. 

Shirts

Well-fitted button-down shirts are another key staple in a man’s wardrobe. You need to have the option to dress up or down with a smart casual dress code, so a solid color oxford button-down in either white or blue is a choice you can’t go wrong with. 

Blazers

A blazer is important to have in order to elevate your look when dressing for a smart casual dress code. One type of blazer that is a great choice for smart casual is an unstructured blazer. Unstructured blazers are to blazers what chinos are to pants; they’re not too formal, but not too casual either.  

Bonus: Shoes

The shoes you wear with a smart casual outfit are a small but important detail in the type of look you’re going for. You can either dress it up and wear shoes like leather brogued wingtips, or you can dress down and throw on some high-end leather sneakers. 

Bonus: Accessories

Since smart casual is an ambiguous dress code, there aren’t any hard rules regarding the accessories you wear. In general, a belt and watch are good choices to go with here. If you want to add a little bit of flair, you could add a colorful pocket square for a little bit of “pop.”

Outfit Ideas:

Outfit 1: Dark Smart Casual

Here is an outfit featuring all dark colors: black, brown and grey. They work well together and give off a fashionable vibe that isn’t too trendy.

Outfit 2: Elevated Smart Casual

This outfit is toeing the line of smart casual and dressed up. Although he’s wearing a blazer, dress pants, and dress shoes, I would still consider this to be smart casual due to the overall look of the outfit.

Outfit 3: Standard Smart Casual

This is quite possibly the most standard example of smart casual out of the three. You can see that he’s wearing white sneakers with this look, which is a great choice for the outfit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does smart casual even mean?

There are two approaches to a smart casual outfit: Formal and Informal. A formal smart casual outfit includes a blazer, nice pants, collared shirt, and dress shoes. An informal smart casual outfit is more flexible, allowing you to wear clean, dark-colored jeans and even dress sneakers. 

Are jeans considered smart casual?

Yes, but dark denim jeans (either black or blue) are more acceptable than lighter washes. 

How does smart casual apply to a job interview?

Dressing in smart casual for a job interview allows you to showcase your style without sacrificing the level of formality needed for the occasion. 

Can you wear sneakers for smart casual?

Yes, provided the occasion allows for a more informal angle on smart casual. 

Is Smart Casual a Trend?

Smart casual style has only begun to enter the zeitgeist in recent years, but it’s a trend that is here to stay. Adopting a smart casual wardrobe allows you to be flexible in how you dress up for an occasion. It’s the perfect way to be “fashion-forward” without overdoing it.  

Check out these smart casual products:

Chinos for Short Men

This is a guest post written by Style Crew ambassador, Ivan Martinez. 

Chinos are one of the most important pieces in a man’s wardrobe. They’re a great choice for an elevated casual look, and they’re incredibly versatile. Dressed up or down, chinos are a staple piece in a sharply dressed man’s wardrobe. 

Where Did Chinos Come From?

Like many menswear pieces, chinos come from a military background. The first known use of chinos was during the Spanish American War when they were part of the Army’s uniform. The cotton they used to make the pants was imported from China, which, funnily enough, would be how they came up with the name “chino” (chino is Spanish for Chinese). 

Common Fit Mistakes

Mistake #1: Too Long

The most common mistake men make with their pants’ size is wearing pants that are too long. You can tell if your pants are too long by how many breaks there are at your ankle. If there is more than one full break, then your pants are too long. 

Mistake #2: Too Baggy

Another common mistake men make is not wearing the proper cut of pants. There are many types of cuts such as regular, slim, and skinny, and our suggestion is to wear a cut that surrounds your legs but doesn’t constrict your movement. For most, a slim tapered cut will work wonders. 

Mistake #3: Wrong Proportions

For us shorter men, buying clothes just to have them altered at the tailor is the go-to fix to a common problem. But for some of us, this isn’t actually solving the problem! Pants are constructed for the taller man (over 5’8”), so a simple hem won’t change the foundation of the pants. Taller men have longer legs, so the knee area, pockets, rise, etc are constructed with those proportions in mind. If you’re 5’5” and you wear pants that have proportions designed for a man who’s 5’9”, it looks wrong. 

Mistake #4: Quality of Material

The material that chinos are made of is an important factor in how long they last. When you skimp on quality, you’ll inevitably find yourself paying more in the long run because you’ll end up buying more pairs. The higher quality chinos you buy, the longer they’ll last you.    

Wearing and Styling Chinos

Casual

Here I wore a white t-shirt and a wool sweater with some green chinos and casual sneakers. This is a great look for a normal day out on the town running errands. 

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Business Casual

Here is another Ash & Erie model in a great business casual outfit. Khaki chinos with a quarter-zip sweater and button-down oxford shirt make for a great combo.
 
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Smart Casual

Here I paired the khaki chinos with a few extra layers — a v-neck sweater and a blazer. I also decided to add a bright colored tie and pocket square to accessorize the look. This is a great smart casual outfit if you want to look put-together but add a fashionable spin to your outfit. 

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The greatest part of Ash & Erie is not only the great fit but the abundance of options when it comes to your inseam. No matter your height or style it’s tough to find an inseam that fits you off the rack and most times you need to take pants in for tailoring, so not only are you paying to purchase the pants, you also have to pay a tailor for the fit that you initially wanted. Don’t spend more than you have to or the perfect fit gents.

Ivan Martinez is a men’s lifestyle and style blogger based out of Minneapolis, MN. Ivan’s personal style is focused on highlighting classic, timeless pieces and adding in a twist of modern fashion.

Check out his page here: @iammrmartinez

The Ash & Erie Difference

Building From Scratch

We’ve poured a tremendous amount of work into developing our chinos, and we hope you can feel the difference when you put it on. We work with great mills to source our cotton, and our development process is unmatched.