What goes with what

What night out look isn’t a shirt and jeans?

What night out look isn’t a shirt and jeans?

Every menswear classic started life in the military. From the t-shirt to the trench coat, most of your wardrobe was first worn by the armed forces, which is perhaps why so much of men’s style can still feel a little like a uniform. Consider the way you dress at work, or when you’re out with friends; even if there’s no explicit dress code, odds are you still fall back on things that feel safe because they also appear on the people around you.

This explains the enduring popularity of the night out shirt. Often white or blue, with some extra details to separate it from the kind of thing you’d wear to work (contrast buttons, for example), it’s a way to dress smart without looking too smart, and to feel like you’re prepared for wherever the night might take you. “Especially worn with jeans, it’s been the night-out go-to for men for decades,” says Thread stylist Toby Standing. “It’s as much a uniform as suits used to be for work.”

But the problem is that, when everyone’s in the same thing, you just blend in. “A night out is a chance to relax,” says Toby. “Your clothes should do the same, and they should express something about your personality. Wherever you’re heading, you’ll be surrounded by new people, and they should get a sense of who you are from what you’re wearing.”

To help you tap into that – and think beyond your usual – we’ve pulled together a trio of outfits, so you’re prepared for any kind of night out.

Dinner

Photographed: Hardy Amies navy blazer (£295)Sunspel brick red knitted polo (£160)Boden navy chinos (£60)

The look: Dressed up, but not all the way up. “It’s all about great fit and fabrics,” says Toby. “You’ve made an effort, but you won’t look like you misjudged the number of Michelin stars.”

Why it works: It’s classic, with a twist. “A blazer and chinos always works, but the polo makes it more contemporary. Particularly in a not-your-usual colour.”

How to wear it well: Fit is the difference between smart and sloppy. “If the jacket’s sharp, you can wear this look anywhere.” But be aware that with the colour, a little goes a long way. “Dark tones are better, because you’ll be wearing this after dark. At night, brights can put people off their food.”

Pub

Photographed: Fred Perry green fishtail parka (£200)Boden blue/ecru breton top (£38)MVP grey chinos (£30)Spring Court canvas trainers (£67)

The look: They say it’s always better to be overdressed. But in your local, it’s wisest to err casual. “It’s simple, laidback and easygoing,” says Toby. “And because it’s built around staples, it’s low-effort.”

Why it works: The beauty of this look is that you can wear it inside or out. “Everything looks good together, or in parts. If it's warm and you end up in the beer garden and take off the parka, you still look put-together.”

How to wear it well: Don’t overthink it. “The simpler, the better. A stripe is a nice, subtle pattern and the trainers are clean and pared back. That way, your outfit doesn’t distract from the conversation.”

Club

Photographed: Penfield navy leaf print shirt (£65)H&M Edition washed denim jacket (£69.99)Wax olive green chinos (£80)

The look: An upgraded version of the night-out shirt. “With patterns, it’s best to stick to something tonal,” says Toby. “That way you stand apart, but you don’t stand out.”

Why it works: It’s an easy-to-wear look that’s still full of personality. “It’s impactful, but you don’t look like you’re trying too hard.”

How to wear it well: Because everyone else will be in a white shirt and jeans, you don’t need to push your pattern too far. “Stick to classics, like florals or subtle tropical prints. It’s enough to make your outfit feel different, without the full Hawaii 5-0.”