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What to Wear to a Casual Networking Event


Put-together, not dressed up. Light colors and an unstructured blazer lend polish to this smart casual summer combo.

For most of my life, I’ve passionately avoided networking events. Go to a thing and make small talk with strangers for two hours? Pass.

Here’s the thing: in the last few years I’ve started saying yes to select events and, more often than not, I end up making a casual acquaintance. These connections seldom lead to a deal or date in the short term but they almost always spin off into something unexpected later on, whether it’s a new friend, a great night out, a creative idea, or an introduction to a work connection.

So how do you dress for that? How do you dress for a networking event so that your outfit says, “I’m here because I’m open to whatever happens” instead of, “Please give me a job?”

That’s the inspiration for this Getup. I want this outfit to reflect the vibe you carry to a summer rooftop networking event: open, confident, and informal.

jay butler olive loafer Orient bambino levis 511 jcrew ludlow abercrombie ocbd aj morgan castro free business card templates The Getup from Primer - men's outfit inspiration

Take a look at the items. The faded oxford from Abercrombie and Fitch has a faded color that’s decidedly casual. The jeans are lighter (also casual), and loafers without socks are definitely casual.

But taken as a whole, it’s a very put together outfit.

Since form follows function, it also needs to be comfortable for warmer temps. The Cromwell loafer from Jay Butler is cooler-wearing and the light green suede works nicely with the green oxford.

The blazer was a no-brainer. We’ve highlighted J Crew’s unconstructed Ludlow blazer before in our What To Wear To Work When It’s Hot feature. It’s lightweight, stretch cotton, and completely unlined, and so perfect for summer.

Being unconstructed, it’s also ideal for dressing down with jeans because it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a suit jacket with jeans. Remember – blazers and suit jackets are cut different, with differing silhouettes, lining, length, and structure. Though it can be worn with the matching pants as a suit, the beauty of this jacket is it’s feature make it more similar to the cotton blazer we regularly feature from Target.

j.crew ludlow unstructured stretch cotton blazer

J.Crew Ludlow Stretch Cotton Jacket, $168

The jeans are the Levi’s 511, a reliable standby with a consistent wash. No rips or crazy whiskers permit them to be worn with loafers and a blazer to satisfy the “smart” part of smart casual.

It’s worth noting that the 511s are slim fitting, and that’s important. Allow them to get too baggy and jeans with a blazer can look like a dad wearing his suit jacket with, well, dad jeans. Do what’s appropriate for your frame, but be mindful of your jeans cut to get a flattering silhouette.

Now, you could do dress socks with this look but I prefer no-show socks – check out our picks for the best no-show style socks – they wear cooler in summer and also enable you to rock a tasteful amount of ankle when sitting or moving, which is appropriate for this time of year and the casual nature of the event. To that end, avoid a break in your jeans, meaning the pants should fall just below the ankle bone without rolling up on themselves

The watch is a vintage Timex that was my grandfather’s. I love it’s faded gold face, oyster-style look, and thin case. While this timepiece is one-of-a-kind, the Bambino from Orient has a similarly classic and timeless look to it.

vintage timex watch - men's fashion

Primer readers will recognize our favorite sunglasses under $13, the AJ Morgan Castro Rounds. They’re a fantastic low-cost option for rocking the classic round frame style and come with UV 400 coating. I recommend them in a lot of Getups because they’re almost universally flattering and fit a range of facial types. Not only that, I always get compliments on them which makes me feel like I’ve tricked everyone because they were $13.

cotton blazer green ocbd sunglasses men's summer fashion

Whatever your next casual summer event, I hope you take inspiration from this Getup – it’s a great way to show up and take you wherever the night develops.

Shop the Look

Jacket: J.Crew Ludlow Stretch Cotton, $168

Faded Oxford Shirt: Abercrombie & Fitch, $49

Slim Jeans: Levi’s 511, $42

Watch (similar): Orient, $163

Suede Loafers: Jay Butler, $195

Like this Getup? Please share it!

Be sure to check out all of Primer’s outfit inspiration in The Getup collection.

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