If you’re looking for smart casual outfits for men (with a little flair), then this post is for you.
This article briefly touches on the smart casual dress code, gives a little background on Peter Manning NYC, and breaks down 5 smart casual outfit ideas for winter. All of the 5 winter outfits feature pieces from Peter Manning’s current collection.
Interested in watching the winter lookbook? Hit the play button below!
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A Primer on Smart Casual Style
To me, smart casual style is an outfit that’s balanced by casual / relaxed pieces and smart / refined pieces. An example is wearing an oxford button down shirt, textured blazer, wool chinos, and brown brogues.
Smart casual (often confused with business casual) is my favorite dress code because it’s appropriate for almost any situation you find yourself in. This kind of versatility is advantageous when it comes to dressing well and stylishly in a time where casual wear has become the norm.
It’s an aesthetic that’s ‘casual’ enough to blend in, but ‘smart’ enough to elevate your style above a mostly casual crowd. I like starting out with casual pieces and then adding ‘smart’ elements to dial-up the formality as I see fit.
For example, when you add accessories like knit ties, tie bars, and pocket squares or wear shoes like double monk straps and brown brogues you’re on that smart casual path. Additionally, pieces like dark wash jeans, wool trousers, and blazers with a trim and tailored aesthetic all have the ability to elevate a casual look into a smart casual one.
Now that we’ve covered the smart casual aesthetic, let’s talk a little bit about Peter Manning NYC.
The 411 on Peter Manning NYC
A Little Background
Later in 2017, I was proud to write a guest post for the Peter Manning blog breaking down the style of comedian and actor Kevin Hart.
I’ve been a supporter of the brand for a handful of years now and so I’m excited to officially partner with them to bring you some awesome content.
About The Brand
Peter Manning NYC is a menswear company dedicated to designing stylish and proper fitting clothes for guys 5’8″ and under — what they’ve trademarked as the ‘not-so-tall’ guy.
It’s always good to start with the why behind something. If you have a big enough why, you can do anything. Peter and his team felt strongly to create something that mattered. Something that meant something to someone. When it comes down to it, the Peter Manning story is one of finding the perfect fit. In this case, the perfect fit for shorter guys.
Peter Manning has really expanded their offering over the past couple of years. They’ve got everything from field jackets, puffer vests and activewear to henleys, joggers and hoodies. I’d say their specialty is men’s smart casual attire.
The best part is that they are providing a solution for a long underserved market. Peter Manning is the outright leader by far, when it comes to smart casual style for shorter guys.
With all that being said, let’s now dive in with the smart casual style guide & winter styling inspiration.
5 Smart Casual Outfits for Men
One common theme across all 5 outfits that you’ll notice is that the color palettes for the most part include neutral, earth tone colors. Colors like navy, brown, gray, beige and olive are some of my favorite to wear, especially in the colder months of autumn and winter.
They make it easy to create well balanced outfits since they all go well together. Throw in a pop of color and it still works because they’re not dominant colors.
Now here’s a taste of men’s winter style, starting with outfit 1.
Winter Outfit 1: The Everyday Man
Look one is a smart casual getup that can effortlessly transition from day to night.
What I’m Wearing
Here I play with some of my favorite neutral color pairings of brown, navy and gray. Up top features the outfit’s main piece, a brown lambskin leather jacket. The leather is supple and soft to the touch and I’ve got a feeling that it’s going to age well. Underneath I’ve layered a gray quarter zip sweater made of merino wool and under that a casual, micro check patterned button up shirt.
Down low are slim chinos made of 100% cotton in navy. It’s garment-dyed with a broken in look and feel. On my feet are plain-toe brown lace up boots with a slim silhouette. And to finish off the look with a quick wrist check, I’m wearing the casual hand-wound Hamilton Khaki Field watch with an olive dial.
Why It Works
This look works well because nothing is dominant or competing for attention. The brown leather bomber jacket and brown plain-toe boots have a matching brown shade and harmoniously blend with the navy pants. Additionally, the quarter zip sweater layered over top of a patterned button up is comfortable and has dressy vibes yet remains casual at the same time.
Furthermore, the navy slim fit chinos have just the right amount of taper towards the ankle with a clean break. Overall, it’s a clean look that’s prime for everyday wear and works just as well with or without the jacket.
Winter Outfit 2: The Business Casual
Look two features a smart casual outfit that’s appropriate for the office and on-the-go business meetings.
What I’m Wearing
Similar to look one, this look features a light blue shirt layered under a sweater, though instead of a quarter zip I’ve opted for a light-weight, yet warm, merino wool crew neck sweater in a heather brown shade. Again, I’m wearing those versatile navy chinos, but this time I’ve paired them with bordeaux or rich burgundy semi-brogue dress shoes to elevate the look a few notches.
For outerwear, I’m layered up with a lightweight puffer jacket that won’t have you looking like the Michelin man, and even better it’s designed to keep you warm. Draped around my neck is the ultra-soft and cozy cashmere scarf in a light grey. And on my wrist I’m wearing a minimal dress watch, perfect for this business casual look. Finally, I’m holding a two-tone, slim laptop case that finishes off this look nicely.
Why It Works
It’s hard to go wrong with a button down, crew neck, slim chinos and dress shoes combination. This is an effortless business casual look. The sliver of shirt collar peeking out from the neckline of the crew neck sweater is a small detail that adds a touch of refinement to the look. Furthermore, the bright blue interior of the down jacket gives the look a nice pop of color without screaming too loudly.
The outfit’s other neutral colors help to keep it grounded. Also, the slim bag insert keeps the look minimal without the extra bulk of a briefcase. It still has a few compartments to carry your everyday essentials like sunglasses, ear buds and your wallet. Overall, it’s a trim and tailored smart casual look that works well whether you’re at the office or on the go.
Winter Outfit 3: The Layers On Layers
Look 3 is all about layers and is the edgiest of the fits in this lookbook. It’s not for everyone, but I think it’s a move worth making if you want to mix things up a bit.
What I’m Wearing
I didn’t want to do this lookbook without featuring the quintessential topcoat. The trendy camel coat provides a top layer for extra warmth and stylishness. In an unconventional move I’ve layered a lighter wash denim jacket underneath. And l layered under that is the quarter zip sweater and white henley shirt.
For the trousers, I’ve gone with beige corduroy with a pinroll cuff to elevate the edgy-ness of the overall look. And then for my shoes I picked a sand colored pair of sneakers in suede that adds even more to the casual cool factor. And then, I top things off with a pair of brown sunglasses to complete the look. I recommend a pair of brown leather gloves for this outfit that you can slip into your coat’s breast pocket for some extra style points.
Why It Works
Sometimes I like to experiment with a high-low aesthetic in which I pair casual pieces like a denim jacket with more refined pieces like the topcoat. It’s not something you would normally think of and that’s why it’s so refreshing in my opinion.
Another unexpected style move is pinrolling the corduroy pants. I wouldn’t normally do this, but with more casual rugged boots or sneakers, I feel it works well. Winter is all about those layers and this getups has layers for days. And of course you can’t forget the essential sunglasses to protect your eyes and up the cool factor another level.
Winter Outfit 4: The Three On Three
Look 4 is the simplest outfit in this lookbook. It features three core pieces accompanied by three key winter accessories.
What I’m Wearing
3 core pieces: I’m taking it back to basics with a long-sleeved, white henley shirt made of slub cotton that gives it a textured, worn in look. For my outerwear I went with the casual yet fitted down jacket from look 2. And for the pants I’ve got on original blue jeans with a worn in wash.
3 key accessories: To keep my neck warm, I’ve opted for that ultra-soft cashmere scarf. For my hands I’m wearing a thin pair of fingerless gloves, and I couldn’t forget the cool blue shades for protection from the harsh winter sun.
If your ears are getting cold and you don’t want to mess up your hair, pick up a pair of 180 ear warmers that fully cover your ears and you’re all set. On my feet I’m rocking the same pair of suede low tops in beige from the previous look. It’s casual, cool, and stylish. And finally, for a quick wrist check, I’m wearing a classic silver Casio watch that plays well with the navy puffer jacket in my opinion.
Why It Works
This winter style is mostly casual and there’s really not much to it. You have a couple of basics like a henley and jeans and the winter essential down jacket topped off with a few killer accessories. It’s good for a warmer winter’s day where you don’t need to layer much, but still have insulation from the down jacket if you need it.
I kept things cool in blue with the jacket and jeans, mirrored with the blue acetate sunglasses. The rest of the getup features neutrals of beige and white. Just like graphic design, when it comes to color coordinating outfits, I’ve found that if you keep your color palettes simple with 1-2 colors and maybe one highlight color, you’ll have an overall solid getup.
This cool look can take you to the shopping mall, the grocery store, running errands, or a quick coffee stop.
Winter Outfit 5: The Winter Classic
Look 5 is a smart casual look that’ll keep you warm and stylish all winter long.
What I’m Wearing
I’m back at it again with the ever trendy, yet classic camel coat, but this time I have a merino wool turtleneck sweater and blue oxford cloth button down (OCBD) layered underneath. For the pants I’m wearing the classic blue wash jeans and suede chelsea boots down low. Again, I’ve got the slim laptop case as an accessory and a minimalist dial watch on my wrist.
Why It Works
This look could work with or without the OCBD. One of my favorite sweaters to wear in the winter time is the roll neck. Not only is it stylish by giving you a refined appearance, but it helps to keep your neck warm without needing a scarf. Plus it looks great with virtually any top layer you pair it with from denim jackets to topcoats.
The slim jeans are in a casual shade of original blue and compliment the topcoat’s tan color. The honey suede chelsea boots pick up the color from the camel coat thus guiding the eyes from top to bottom.
Looking back at the photos now, I would make a minor change to this outfit by either swapping out the blue jeans for a lighter pair of trousers or switch the shirt to a darker shade of blue so that there isn’t such a stark contrast between the shirts.
There you have it! 5 smart casual winter outfit ideas that you can use as inspiration or copy yourself.
The bottom line is that standing at 5’6″, I’ve always struggled to find proper fitting clothes off the rack. That’s why I’m so excited to work with Peter Manning, a brand I know and love, and gladly recommend to all of my readers of modest height.
I’m going to continue spreading the word about Peter Manning so that more men know that there are options beyond the same old retailers that more often than not leave you drowning in your clothes.
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Photography by Erica Torres.
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