Style Suggestion: What to Wear for the NCAA Tournament

Editor’s note: For more style suggestions covering a boatload of scenarios, head here.

If the headline of this here post is slightly confusing to you, don’t be alarmed. You, regular reader of The Style Guide and avid #menswear lover, have nothing to fear — this isn’t turning into a sports blog (despite my past sports writing chops). Rather today, we’re taking some well-loved and much-discussed Style Guide principles and putting them to use in a very real and very imminent real-world situation — what to wear to cheer on your team during college basketball’s NCAA Tournament. Much of the county seems to obsess over how their bracket is holding up, but that same level of detail can definitely carry over to how you cheer on your team, too — it pays to look good nearly anywhere that you can, in the view of this writer. And heck, the same sort of style you adapt here can be tweaked from season to season if you attend or watch lots of games in person. But right now, it’s all basketball, all the time. Hopefully, you’ll have to refer to this style scenario more than once in the coming weeks.

The Shirt: Tailgate Clothing Team T-Shirt — $34

Just one of dozens of school T-shirts stocked by Tailgate Clothing.
Just one of dozens of school T-shirts stocked by Tailgate Clothing.

If you’re like me and hadn’t really given second thought to Tailgate Clothing, the collegiate-focused sportswear brand operated by menswear designer Todd Snyder, definitely reconsider. While they won’t have T-shirts for each and every team competing in this year’s tourney, there’s a good chance your school is covered. In this case, I’m looking forward to rocking this excellent vintage Michigan State basketball T-shirt  to rep my alma mater– it can easily be worn under something like a quilted field coat or even beneath a slim blue chambray shirt. If you’re worried a graphic tee is too casual, a slim V-neck tee in your team colors would work, too.

The Pants: J. Crew Factory Driggs Broken-in Chino, $41.50

Easy to wear with everything from a sports team to a navy blazer. Dressier than denim, too.
Easy to wear with everything from a sports team jersey to a navy blazer. Dressier than denim, too.

While sweatpants are going to be the pick for some of us at home watching games, if you’re heading out to a restaurant or bar, it always pays to try and go above and beyond just a bit (style upgrades, right?). Now, some slim dark denim would also do the trick here, but these caramel chinos can act as a nice contrast to nearly any team color, especially dark green. Plus, for just over $40, you’ll get a pair of slim tan chinos that are exceptionally versatile the other six days of the week.

The Sneakers: Dr. Martens Baynes Chukka Boot — $109.95

A definite -- but welcome -- change of pace from regular high-top sneakers (or Dr. Martens boots).
A definite — but welcome — change of pace from regular high-top sneakers (or Dr. Martens boots).

Before you’re taken aback here, know that Dr. Martens definitely does more than its classic combat boots. These easygoing high-top chukka sneakers are just one example of that. The price on the cheaper side when compared to other spring sneaker options (like the recent Todd Snyder x PF Flyers collab), and the neutral grey color should pair seamlessly with the slim tan chinos and your team’s chosen shirt. This is definitely one pair of sneakers that can take a beating when out and about.

The Belt: J. Crew Factory Woven Cotton Belt — $29.50

A nontraditional belt that brings a dash of spring texture to the ensemble.
A nontraditional belt that brings a dash of spring texture to the ensemble.

When you’re looking to pick up solid accessories that don’t cost a whole lot, don’t sleep on J. Crew Factory. And when you want a belt that’s more casual than a black or brown leather dress belt, yet slightly different than a brown leather braided belt, grab a woven cotton belt like this one. The color is spring-ready, as is the texture (and in this case, the belt color doesn’t have to match the color of your shoes). This is the kind of belt to throw on with ligthwash jeans and navy sneakers even if you’re not heading to a game watch party.

The Watch: Stuhrling Original Aquadiver Manta Ray Watch — $49.99

Tough and ready for anything -- even watching the tourney.
Tough and ready for anything — even watching the tourney.

Picking out a watch that strikes the right balance between being too formal and too casual can be tough sometimes, but this is one instance where it’s definitely OK to go more casual. A rugged rubber-strap watch can survive all sorts of spring and summer activities beyond just watching a ballgame, but in this particular instance, this Stuhrling watch fits with the tone of the outfit. It’s not too dressy or out-of-place, like a brown leather dress watch might be, and it doesn’t detract too much from the ensemble or the casual nature of watching a basketball game. Plus, take it from a guy who’s had this particular watch for more than two years — it’s tremendous quality for the price!

The Socks: Express Black Windowpane Socks — $10.90

A small touch of pattern and another neutral color option make these a safe choice in this casual outfit.
A small touch of pattern and another neutral color option make these a safe choice in this casual outfit.

Lest you think we forgot about the final touch here at The Style Guide, rest assured that we’ve got it covered. While the belt is a cream color, the black watch and the grey sneakers mean it’s OK in this very casual scenario to grab some neutral black socks (the windowpane pattern is a nice touch, however). If you go with a more plain tee or jacket up top, you could use your socks to incorporate some subtle team color, or even reach for a vintage striped pair. It’s a win-win either way.
Florsheim
The crucial factor in this outfit is that it takes what you might normally wear to a game — say, a team T-shirt, jeans and sneakers — and upgrades it a notch with slimmer fits, richer colors and a few tweaks (like the woven belt and the rubber strap watch). The T-shirt could be a cool conversation starter, and the caramel chinos definitely add a bit more substance to the outfit (although again, dark denim would work quite well here). Those high-top sneakers even add some retro basketball flair. At any rate, the most important thing is going to be cheering on your team — hopefully for at least a few rounds … of the tournament, I mean. The beer you buy at the bar is in your court (and on your tab!).

Stay stylish and Go Green!

-Beau
Shop the latest in Men's styles Under $50 + get FREE Shipping on orders over $100 at Frank & Oak!

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