Streetwear is casual at its best, but you can always make it smarter when the time calls for it. Here's our guide on how to do it right.
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It's something that so easy to pull off but making it look smart isn't as simple. Anyone can wear streetwear but to pull it together and make it look smart you'll need to follow a few rules. Most of the time it's a case of making the most of what you've already got. It's not just about how you can make streetwear smarter, you can add streetwear to traditionally smart looks and let the 2 compliment one another.
The sheer amount of streetwear brands out there can be quite daunting for someone trying to figure out where to start. If you want your look to be smarter it's not too difficult to do it with streetwear. There's no need for you to consign streetwear to chilled nights at home, it can be added to smarter outfits or completely take over your look.
Streetwear fans will always want something no one else has managed to get their hands on. This means you have to dedicate some time to seeking out the latest releases and trying to find the next big brand. Be prepared for your hobby to become an obsession as you continually search out the latest exclusives.
The classic streetwear look is big baggy clothes and it's a good idea to keep some of this when you're looking smart. A great way to do this is add a baggy sweater to a pair of well fitted selvedge denim jeans. It's best to think about keeping your outfit understated, never go overboard and end up regretting trying smartened up streetwear on the first hurdle.
Making streetwear smart is all about the whole outfit. If you're wearing a pair of trackies with a beat up old pair of trainers you won't be turning any heads. Change that to a fresh pair of Converse Jack Purcells and you're instantly looking smarter.
When you want your streetwear to look smarter, avoid wearing too many brands at once. You might want to show off your best purchases but you don't want to ruin your look being covered in too many logos. It's a lot more effective to just have a supreme T-Shirt on rather than also throwing a Carhartt jacket on top, pick one or the other and you'll look the better for it.
Layers are huge part of streetwear and you shouldn't feel like this should disappear when you try and create a smarter look. Try wearing a T-Shirt with a shirt on top with the buttons undone and a jacket over that, you'll feel smart in streetwear with hardly any effort.
Streetwear brands can find themselves here 1 day and completely forgotten the next. So much hype can come with a brand it's often hard to keep this up once people start seeing their logo everywhere. The best brands have been able to control who sells their products and how many are made, keeping the hypebeasts happy.
The kicks you wear are a huge part of streetwear, they can let anyone down so be careful to avoid ruining your look with something that either doesn't worry or is just plain ugly. If you can find the right trainers you're on to a winner, they hold so much power in your outfit. It can be a streetwear addition to a smarter look or it can bring your hoodie up from being a casual Sunday wear into something more presentable.
Less is more is definitely the case with urban clothing. If you can get hold of a simple black hoodie and throw it on top of a plain white tee with some skinny jeans you've got an outfit that would work well at lunch or chilling round your mate's.
Nike Air Force 1s are a great choice for any smart streetwear look. The leather all whites are a classic and it's hard to deny their impact when they've been some of Nike's best loved trainers for decades. They also come in different colourways and suede, which is always a simple way to make your outfit smarter.
Urban Clothing Brands
With so many brands out there all vying for a piece of the streetwear pie we thought we should put together a few of the most iconic brands available. Whether you want a classic skate brand or something from the streets of Japan there are so many to choose from.
Let's not forget what are the key components of streetwear:
- Trainers - always clean and have that fresh out the box look.
- Hoodie - try something simple with a big logo.
- Sweater - a great way to make something a little smarter, think big and baggy.
- T-Shirt - a staple of streetwear is a big printed logo Tee.
They might not like the label 'streetwear' but what else can you call their iconic printed T-shirt designs? Despite refusing to sell through wholesalers they still became one of the biggest brands in the world. Throwing on a supreme T-Shirt is a simple way to make yourself look smart. Their collaboration with Morrissey below ended as it often does with Morrissey, in controversy. He publicly declared his dislike for the chosen image and called out Supreme's links to fast food chain White Castle.
The ultimate Streetwear brand, this is where it all began and despite streetwear aficionados insistence on constantly looking for new fresh brands, Stussy has stayed relevant for over 3 decades. They've influenced almost every streetwear brand to come since and you can always work a well made classic product like Stussy into a smarter look. Even the vest below would work really well under a baggy white shirt.
A Bathing ape began in Japan in the early 90s when Nigo created a brand that took on a life of its own. Now widely known as Bape it epitomises the effect of celebrity endorsements. It's definitely one of the most sensationalised and overhyped streetwear brands out there and has suffered for it since. It's definitely not the sought after brand it once was with collaborations with everyone from Pepsi to Converse it lost its unique appeal.
Keith Hufnagel's namesake has gone from being a niche skate brand to one of the biggest streetwear brands in the world. Growing since it's humble beginnings in 2002 San Francisco, you can add a piece from Huf and expect to look smart. This is another classic skateboard brand that's gone mainstream and it doesn't look like it's going anywhere soon.
Founded by Tetsu Nishiyama FPAR is a different kind of streetwear brand. They say their intent is to "sabotage the fabricated information regulated by mass media". The name supposedly stems from the fact that a designers work can be passed off as your own as long as you change 40% of the design. Whether you see this as a smart marketer exploiting people's weariness of brands or social commentary, the slogans are stark and will definitely set you out from the crowd.
Begining it's story in the US with mainly work clothes, Carhartt was a prime example of a brand latching onto a popular movement. Supporting music and skating scenes throughout the 90s, their brand became just as cool through association. Carhartt create minimalist street looks that won't break your budget.
Another classic Skate brand now loved by the mainstream. Their fit is not too baggy and can work really well to create something smarter. The Hundreds started in 2003 with co-founders Bobby Kim & Ben Shenassafar who wanted to build a brand that stays rooted in streetwear culture. Take a look at the sweatshirts below to get an idea of how to turn your streetwear look into something smarter.
The last thing we want is to get your outfit together, feel good and then walk into a room and realise someone else is wearing the same T-shirt or hoodie. To prevent this you can spend hours scouring the internet for rare brands but there's an easier way.
Some ski brands create really impressive streetwear that's not as commonly worn outside of ski resorts. One excellent example is Jiberish, a brand that's built up a reputation within ski circles for impressive tees and hoodies but hasn't spilled out into the mainstream... yet. There is one thing to be wary of if you're going to be wearing ski outerwear, do be prepared for an eager skier to come and talk to you about their favourite skis or whatever it is they go on about.
The pace at which streetwear develops it means a brand that's just a few years old can be considered vintage. It's also about a vintage look rather than the piece actually being second hand. A lot of streetwear brands use vintage fits in their products which work really well.
Does It Have to Fit?
Some streetwear brands come slightly baggier than you'd normally expect and it's best to buy your normal size and the item will have a bigger fit naturally. If you're really keen for a bigger look then you can always pick up your favourite sweat a size or 2 above your usual, but it's completely up to what feels comfortable on you.
It can work really well to contrast a well fitted pair of selvedge denim jeans with a baggier T-Shirt or sweater with a printed logo on the front. If you're not into bigger fits a slim fit pair of trackies can work really well, turning a traditionally casual piece into something that's a lot smarter looking.
Your Quick Guide to Making Streetwear Smart
- Try pairing a classic streetwear piece with something smarter from your wardrobe.
- Avoid going overboard on logos, keep it to 1 striking brand per outfit.
- Trainers are so important, don't let your outfit down with a pair or beat up sneakers.
- With so many streetwear brands out there try something that suits your personality.
- It's best to not go overboard with baggy clothes when trying to be smart but don't let that stop you from trying out bigger clothes in you look.
- Big T-Shirts and sweaters work well with a well fitted pair of jeans or trackies.
On That Note
If you can get it right it's an impressive look that most would love to copy. You can see it's not very difficult to look smart in streetwear. Whether you're rocking a Huf hat or a Supreme T-Shirt you can always add something streetwear into your smarter outfit. It's also easy to smarten up your streetwear look with decent pieces and of course a fresh pair of kicks.