A Guy’s Guide: How to Pull Off the New Grunge Sweater

It’s time to brush off the garage band mix tapes—grunge is back. But before you start tossing all your slim-cut, tailored clothing, we’ll be more specific: The trend is back and upgraded with a little polish. The grunge-inspired sweaters that popped up in fall fashion included contemporary twists. Here is your guide on how to rock the look now.

The cardigan is king. You may already own one, but for a grunge-inspired look, throw a graphic or band T-shirt underneath and pair it with jeans. Bring the trend to work by pairing with a tie and slim pants. 

Chunky is one thing, oversized is another. Modern grunge styles are more fitted than their ’90s predecessors. Look for thicker yarns and knits to add volume, not extra width.

Look for patterns such as stripes and checks in modern jewel tones. Deep green, burgundy, and amber are everywhere this season. Embrace these colors, as opposed to the muddy earth tones of grunge gone by, for a more modern look. Choose a thick rugby stripe or an open plaid.

Let the designers do the distressing. The worn-out sweater was a star in the early ’90s, but 20 years later moth holes and shapeless, sad knits are less than ideal. Instead, look for designs with artfully distressed knit. A carefully placed series of pulls or a thoughtfully designed uneven hem will look lux rather than lazy.

The Guys’ Guide to Casual Friday

So, your company has given you the freedom to dress down on Fridays. It may be tempting to throw on your favorite T-shirt and a pair of perfectly worn-in jeans, but don’t forget that the office is still a professional setting—casual day or not. Keep these guidelines in mind to stay classy while being comfortable.

Copy the alpha male. Take note of what the highest-ranking male in your work division (or, better yet, his boss) wears on Fridays. Regardless of what the other guys are doing, follow his lead. What you wear will broadcast a lot about yourself and your potential in the workplace, so always err on the side of professionalism.

Buy the right jeans. They should be clean, dark, and well fitting. Skip baggy styles, or a pair so long that the leg bottom gets scuffed in the back. (Ask a tailor to shorten the legs using “jeans hem stitching,” and no one will know they were altered.) Help keep the denim’s finish from fading by washing your jeans inside-out in cold water and always hanging them up to dry.

Put some thought into your footwear. Unless you work in a surf shop, no flip-flops or mandals of any kind should be worn to work. Exceptions do exist, however (see rule No. 1). If the higher-ups are wearing sneakers, funky socks or going completely sockless, you’re welcome to follow suit. If you choose casual kicks, pick something clean and simple—like a low-cut, leather cross-trainer with minimal branding—and stick to low-key colors. If that means buying a pair specifically for the workplace, so be it.

Don’t get sloppy on top. Choose shirts that fit well and are wrinkle- and stain-free. Signs of wear and tear (like missing or broken buttons) are not okay. As with your shoes, reserve attention-grabbing colors and logos for when you’re off the clock.

When in doubt, go classic. A crisp, cotton button-down shirt will never fail you. And if you’re going to wear a white one, make sure it’s really white by washing with a fresh smelling laundry detergent. Pair your button-down shirt with neat, dark jeans or straight-cut chinos and neutral lace-up bucks or loafers. You’ll feel like a million bucks—and look like it, too.

Never Too Old for a Costume

Don't pass up the fun of wearing a costume just because you’re a grown-up. The opportunities are everywhere—if you know where to look. The trick is to not overthink it too much: Rally a group of friends, let the event dictate the design, and have fun!

Group runs. They’re everywhere right now, and dressing up as a team is the norm. The sky’s the limit—you can dress like a flock of zombies, a bunch of red party cups, a pack of gum. Be sure to spritz your car afterward with air freshener so your next ride is fabulous, not funky.

Pro football games. Fans already dress up as anything from the Pope to Elvis. You’ll fit right in. 

Community car washes or bake sales. Fall is full of good-deed events like these. If you do it as a group, you’ll stand out from the crowd if your team dresses up. And your crazy energy will inspire people to pony up for your cause—a bonus!

Trick-or-treating. Who says you can’t pull off a superhero cape? Are you bringing kids from house to house? Whip together a group of parents and do it up; the little ones will be as delighted as you are. Answering your own door? Throw a themed dress-up party and let guests take turns handing out candy. 

Rock the Sock

Bye-bye basic black. This season, bright, bold socks have become the new must-have accessory for men. Everyone from Wall Street executives to college students is pairing vibrantly colored and patterned novelty socks with pinstripe suits, jeans, and blazers—even shorts. Read on to learn how to rock the trend.

Flash some color. Push your black, navy, and brown standbys to the back of the drawer to make room for socks in bright hues. Emerald, fuchsia, orange, red, and turquoise are top picks, but anything goes, from buttery pastels to acid green and hot pink.

Make a statement. All it takes is a preppy pattern or an unexpected pop of color to spruce up your workday uniform, whether it’s your dark jeans and a T-shirt or a natty three-piece suit. Think polka dots, neon paisleys, pale checks, and multicolor stripes. Try a vivid lilac argyle with a charcoal suit or a cheeky blue-and-green animal print with khakis and suede bucks.

Slip ’em on. Like the summer no-sock look—but dislike how hot (and stinky) your sockless feet can get? Consider purchasing “no-show” socks that fit the foot snugly and don’t rise above the top of your shoes. Previously for women only, they’re now available in a rainbow of colors and designs specifically for men.

Look to the top. Figuring out the dress code for casual Fridays can be confusing, so keep an eye on what the top execs are wearing. If they’re sporting loafers sans socks or wearing neon knee-highs, feel free to follow their lead. Otherwise stick to more subdued options—and save exuberant sock choices for the weekend.

Express yourself. Speaking of weekends! When the mercury soars, consider rolling up jeans and trousers to show off your favorite ankle socks and knee-highs—or a bare-leg, no-sock look. Keep all your socks clean, vibrant, and smelling fresh by washing with detergent pods. There’s no mess or measuring when you use pods that contain liquid laundry detergent, brightener, and softener all in one.

Do white right. Keep running, lifting, and visiting the gym, but never (ever) wear your white athletic socks with anything but workout gear—especially not sandals.

Put Your Whites On! The New Post–Labor Day Rules

 

Play with tone

 

 

All-white outfits make a striking statement, but they can also look a little sterile. Add some warmer white tones like cream and light tan to create the perfect wintry mix. And always avoid white leather shoes (unless you’re also wearing a nurse’s uniform).

 

 

Face facts

 

 

Cold-weather whites can actually have a brightening effect on your skin tone if you choose the right shades for your complexion. If you have pale skin, opt for pure whites without any yellow undertones. For those with a darker skin tone, the opposite is true: Creamy whites will cast your skin in the most flattering light.

 

 

Layer for effect—and warmth

 

 

Ease into the cooler weather by pairing your summer whites with weightier fabrics and textures. White jeans will look instantly autumnal when worn with a chunky sweater and boots. And that breezy white cotton dress you lived in all summer can live on into the cooler months when you toss a light suede jacket over it.

 

 

Baby your whites

 

 

A dressy white cotton shirt is like the perfect little black dress—always a go-to fashion staple in any season. Invest in a blouse with a flattering neckline that will take you from day to evening with ease. Then ensure it stays looking fresh and clean by washing it with a detergent that's designed for whites.

 

 

Go skin-toned

 

 

White fabrics can be notoriously more transparent than darker or patterned clothes. To play it safe, especially at work, opt for skin-matching undergarments with few adornments when wearing white. They are more discreet than white undergarments, which can show through.

 

 

Be prepared

 

 

There’s nothing worse—and sometimes harder to avoid—than staining your favorite whites. Keep a stain remover at the ready that's small enough to fit your bag. Tip: To avoid makeup stains, always put your whites on before you apply your makeup. That way you won’t pick up stains as you pull the clothing over your head.