White t-shirts and jeans sound like the most boring things in the world, but they can also be the foundation of a great casual wardrobe. Much like how blue dress shirts and grey trousers can serve as the backdrop to almost any sport coat and tie combination, a clean white t-shirt and pair of quality jeans can be the baseline for any number of casual looks.
I wear t-shirts and jeans with everything from military field jackets to cotton bombers, although my favorite is teaming the two with leather jackets. The good news is – whether you’re into dressier looks or something more rugged – there’s something in this space for everyone. It’s just a matter of finding what’s right for you. Some examples:
- Brown Bomber with Grey Sneakers: A simple, toned-down look for when you want to look put together, but don’t want your clothes to make a statement. The lambskin on this bomber is softer than the cowhide in the next photo, which makes it feel dressier and less aggressive. The upside to a conservative jacket such as this one: you can pair it with tailored trousers, which makes this is a great option for light travel. Bring your sport coat, office pants, and this leather, and you’ll be set for almost any situation.
- Black Double Rider with Work Boots: There are a few things that can be make a leather jacket look more rugged or serious – black is more somber than other colors; cowhide is stiffer and tougher than lambskin or goatskin; and motorcycle jackets (especially double riders) are more aggressive than bombers. I wear this vintage Schott DR with older, beat-up jeans and some RRL work boots. Doing something a simple as layering in an indigo shirt can also help keep this from looking too Marlon Brando.
- Navy Margiela Zip with White Sneakers: A slightly more fashion forward look than the other two. Non-traditional styles, such as this navy Margiela, can break you out of the “dad jacket” category. This specific style was inspired by the traditional cafe racer, but is built with two long, diagonal zippers across the chest. Those give the jacket a bit more edge without making it cross into workwear territory. Good for a night on the town with friends.
Notice, the baseline for all these looks is the same (a white tee with my 3sixteen jeans) – only the jackets and shoes have changed. With the right jacket, you can go from conservative to rugged to something more progressive. For another good example of how this is done, see how Brian in Paris creates different looks with just outerwear.
Unfortunately, good outerwear tends to be expensive, especially if you’re shopping for leathers. Most will cost north of $750, although below that price point, there are still some options. See Schott’s mainline and Urban Outfitters collaboration (which was surprisingly good when I checked it out in-store). There’s also The Archive, Orvis, and our sponsor Gustin. For true affordability, you can also go vintage, although you’ll mostly be stuck in the world of classic, rugged styles (which may or may not be your thing).
The good new is: once you’ve found the right jacket, the rest is easy and straightforward. Everyone should have some clean white tees and a good pair of jeans already in their closet.