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Conch Style: Defining the Keys Casual Dress Code

Posted on: November 15th, 2012 by Leah No Comments

The majority of the events in the Florida Keys all have one thing in common, the Keys Casual dress code.  By definition, the Keys are casual, laidback, and known for their “anything goes” type of attitude.  So what does this mean when it comes to what to wear to an event ?

Women seem to have this dress code figured out.  At “Keys Casual” events, you will typically see women wearing dresses or skirts with wedges or sandals.  Not only does this work for the warm climate but a dress can dressed up or down for the occasion by simply pairing it with the right accessories.  Worn with sandals and a light-weight scarf, your look will be more casual.  Pair that same dress with wedges or heels and a clutch, and the same dress will look more formal.  For women, dresses and skirts are really the perfect piece of clothing for the Florida Keys.

This dress code really gets interesting when it comes to men.  Typically you will see them in everything from cargo shorts and flip flops to slacks with a jacket.  This creates quite a range of looks on the spectrum of “Keys Casual”.

Keys Casual should really be defined as: “If you’d wear it fishing, don’t wear it to our event.”

Let’s start with the shoes.  There are really only two appropriate shoes to wear in the Keys for a “Keys Casual” event: a leather sandal or a loafer.  Leather makes both look more refined and sophisticated while still being comfortable.   It’s also important to think about the venue for your event, will it be held on a beach?  In the Park?  At a tiki bar?  Both of these shoes will still easily navigate the landscapes of many venues for Florida Keys events.  Reserve your dress shoes for a more formal occasion like dinner out in Miami.

Flat front shorts or pants are always going to be more stylish than a pleated front.  Pleated front pants and shorts scream old man.  If you’re still wearing this style, upgrade to flat front.  Wear slacks in more casual hues such as kahki, gray or even a color like blue or salmon.  Although you really can never go wrong with black, if you are going to wear black pants to a Keys Casual event, make sure you are wearing a more casual shirt such as a polo so that  you aren’t over dressed.

Acceptable shirts for the Keys Casual dress code consist of short sleeve polos, short sleeved collared button down dress shirts and Oxford long-sleeved, collared button down shirts.  Short-sleeve button down shirts made by Tommy Bahama are the perfect Keys Casual look and are easy to come by in the Keys.  But don’t confuse this with Hawaiian shirts.  Hawaiian shirts should really only be worn if you either a. live in Hawaii, b. are attending the Good Health Clinic’s Annual Luau fundraiser, or c. work at a tiki bar.  Instead, wear shirts that are going to be more complimentary on you.   My father once gave me the advice that it’s better to be noticed than noticeable.  Big red flowers covering every square inch of your shirt are noticeable.  Instead, try a shirt in black or white hues.  Both hues will always look dressier, more stylish and more current than shirts covered in prints.

The great thing about shopping for a Keys Casual look for men is that most of the places you already frequent for all your boating and fishing supplies already carry a good assortment of “Keys Casual” shorts, slacks, polos and button down shirts.  Take a look at a few below the next time you need some clothes for an event.

West Marine – located in Key Largo, Marathon and Key West.  This boating Mecca store also carries a nice selection of men’s clothing including polos, button down shirts, slacks, shorts, leather sandals and loafers.  Open Monday-Saturday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.  For store locations go to www.WestMarine.com

Backcountry Cowboy Outfitters – Located in Islamorada at MM 82.2, this retail store carries everything you need for your kayaking, camping, and outdoor adventure needs.  In addition, they also carry some great clothing for men including linen and knit flat front shorts, leather sandals and silk button down collared shirts.  Open Monday-Saturday: 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. and Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m..  Contact them at 305.517.4177 or www.BackcountryCowboy.com for more information.

Florida Keys Outfitters – Located in Islamorada at MM 81.2, this retail store specializes in saltwater fly fishing offering fly fishing rods, reels, fly lines, flies and accessories.  In addition, they offer a nice selection of Oxford long-sleeve button down shirts and flat front slacks and shorts by Vineyard Vines.  Open Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Contact them at 305.664.5423 or www.FloridaKeysOutfitters.com.

Blue Boutique – Located in Islamorada and Key West, this retail store carries a nice assortment of contemporary men’s clothing from sport jackets to casual pants, to premium denim, watches, wallets, belts and footwear.  Open Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Go to BlueIslandStore.com for locations.

Florida Keys shopping, Backcountry Cowboy Outfitters, Keys Casual, Leah's Fabulous Finds, Conch Style

Owner of Backcountry Cowboy Outfitters, JC Mikula, models a linen button-down shirt, flat front shorts and leather sandals from his store.


Florida Keys shopping, leather loafers, west marine, Leah's Fabulous Finds, Conch Style

Leather loafers found at West Marine for $79.99.