Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA
Every modern man should have a suit hanging in his wardrobe. Whether it’s brought out to be worn for those special occasions, or for your day at work, a suit will always be your essential go-to. However, like all things, there are some rules you always need to follow.
Like every trend, fad, or occasion, there are rules carved in stone to follow. While most can be passed off as preference or style, there are some which are mandatory, especially when it comes to suits. While a suit has the ability to turn even the most casual, laid-back, ‘couldn’t give a…’ man into someone who looks like they belong in the Houses of Commons, we thought to refresh our memories, and have outlined a few rules you might want to know when wearing a mens suit.
Suits for Men
The first pointer (or obvious one) to take in mind of is your fit. With the options of slim and skinny fit undoubtedly the most popular amongst the modern man today, you need to make sure you know your stuff. Whether is a defined look you wanting to achieve or to compliment your broad shoulders, understanding the differences will help you greatly.
The most popular for most body shapes is the Slim Fit. With a cut that is slim through and from the shoulder and also the waist, opting for a slim fit is curated to comfort. With extra room on the hip and hem, the slim fit suits always finish with a straight leg trouser. Ideal for broader body types.
A much more ‘hugged’ fit compared to the slim fit, skinny fit is more defined. Skinny around the shoulder and brought in more around the waist, this design is more built for tall, slim bodytypes. Fitted and narrow from the sleeve the leg, skinny fit suits opt more for formal events rather than day to day.
Suit Fit – The Details
The next important step is the fit of the minor details. You don’t want to look uncomfortable, nor, do you want to look like you’re drowning in fabric. Understanding and measuring are vital when purchasing your next suit. From your arm and leg length to chest – make sure you know your numbers.
Once you have your measurements down always give your desired suit a try. Whether you have broad shoulders or not, it is important that you try the jacket on first, to see how much of your frame fills out the jacket. If your physique is a little imbalanced then you may never find the perfect fitting jacket and you might require a tailored alteration.
Some people will have longer arms than others, so it is hard to fully determine what can be done about your cuffs if you do indeed have long arms. Ideally, the shirt cuffs will exceed the suit jacket by about half an inch and certainly no more than an inch or less than the actual jacket. If you need to shorten the arms or buy a bigger shirt to compensate for the sleeves then it’s recommended you consult a tailor for a professional opinion.Trouser length
The length must sit perfectly on your ankle and crucially before it rests on your shoe. When you sit down your trousers will rise up a little bit, so to save yourself from embarrassment make sure that you have socks that rise a fair way past your Achilles. If you wear gym socks or those short length socks with a suit, then you’ll get what you deserve if your hairy legs are on the show.
Colour Suit Ideas
This is all about preference, but black isn’t the be all and end all of the suits. Yes it looks slimming, yes it looks slick but it generally represents funeral attire. Most of us will own a black suit and we admit, it’s the staple item for any wardrobe, so don’t be quick to rule it out completely. But like all things that are a staple (especially in black), there is always the alternative.
For instance, navy is just as slimming as your typical jet black suit. Perfect to be worn with more classic shoes such as brogues or derbies (in black, brown or tan), a navy full suit is still just as fitting for your job as it is for your next Wedding plans.
Furthermore, if you feel you can brace the colour, don’t feel restricted. Tapping into colours such as grey, pink or white are perfect for when the months are a bit warmer, or if you are wanting to create a ‘preppier’ look to your wardrobe.
Shoe colour is important because it complements your choice of suit. Black suit and black shoes are the “sit on the fence” option, but if you actually want to look like you don’t just own one suit or are a character out of Pulp Fiction, you will need options. Brown always works well with navy, but not necessarily always with grey. So be vigilant and make sure you don’t take the simplistic look. Here is a little teaser, Oxblood with a charcoal suit? Questions , questions.
Must be the same colour or almost the same colour as your shoes. Your shirt will be tucked in so your belt may be evident for all to see. Make sure the colours are not too different, as it will catch someone’s eye.
It is also important that the belt is not too wide as it the belt loops is usually smaller on trousers than jeans. Last thing you want is a folded 3D type belt for the world to notice.
Buttons may be more important than you think as it can make your formal style look more casual than you realise. If you are going for a casual look then a one-button jacket is fine, infact any blazer can work in theory for the casual look. For a formal look, a one-button suit jacket can look too relaxed.
Most suit jackets that come with only a single button are not supposed to be for formal wear, so your suit for work will at least have two buttons. There are suit jackets that have three buttons, but these jackets are recommended for the taller man, as they have more chest length to cover and may require another button to fasten their jacket.
Unbutton When You Sit Down
When you sit down you will want to unbutton your suit jacket, as you’ll want to keep the jacket from stretching due to pressure on the buttons. You’ll also feel a lot more comfortable by unbuttoning your jacket.
Now for the most important addition to your suit. Opting for the right shirt that suits you (and your occasion) can be a tricky task. With the daunting question of ‘to tie or not to tie’, picking the perfect shirt can drastically change a suit. From the mandarin collar to the classic stand-up, here’s a run through of the shirts our Editors recommend.
If you are wanting to opt for more an easy-going look, then don’t be afraid to ditch the collar. Mandarin collars (aka the grandad collar) also provide the defined edge for your very best, while eliminating the hassle of throwing on a tie. A favourite piece for us which is guaranteed to spruce up any look for drinks at a bar, or Sunday gathering – the mandarin collar is a staple essential to your suit wardrobe.
Like any other shirt, you can nab a grandad collar in any colour. However, unlike the stand-up try to avoid vibrant prints and patterns. Yes, the collar design is more minimal and simple compared to the stand-up, but that doesn’t count for less means add more. Keep the fabric simple and opt for our Editors favourite colours such as whites, blacks, light blues and pinks.
A true classic to any formal wardrobe is the stand-up collar. Detachable, embroidered and can be customised to your own persona, the stand-up collar comes in a range of variations. An essential detail for when you choose to opt for a tie, the stand-up collar will always be a go-to design for menswear shirts globally.
Tie advantages aside, the stand-up collar is also great to be worn bare. For a comfortable summer look, leave a couple of your top buttons unbuttoned. This look is perfect with your best summer suit, especially with muted colours such as greys, light pinks, beiges and whites.
Tie or No Tie
However, if you choose to opt for a tie make sure you know how to get the most out of
The Windsor Knot
School days are gone, so that method of tying your tie is now out-dated – unless you went to private school and you’ve probably spent every morning tying your tie properly. The Windsor knot is the formal way of tying your tie. It will take a lot of practice, but, it is better than having a poor and amateurish knot of a tie.
Lastly, Suit Additions
Although this a minor detail to any suit, make sure you get your pocket square choices right. Suitable for more formal occasions, opting for a pocket square always elevates that sophisticated touch.
Always remember not have a pocket square that matches your tie completely. It defeats the purpose of having a standout addition by matching and just looks like your trying to hard. Simply opt for a pocket square which holds a similar colour palette, keeping consistency within your look.
Mens Three Piece Suits
Apart from your standard blazer and trouser suit rules, don’t forget the crucial pointer of the three-piece. Opting for a three piece suit is guaranteed to give you the formal look for any big event. Unlike the classic dress down of a miss-match blazer and trouser, when wearing a three-piece make sure your look is consistently coordinating. This means no waist jacket should be making the centre of attention.
When opting for the three-piece for a big event we recommend keeping your colour choice muted – making it easy to be worn throughout the year. Greyscale colours work really well, especially when you want to define your persona with a tie of choice.
Quick Guide to The Rules of Wearing a Suit
- Always try before you buy.
- Base your colour choice on occasion and time of year.
- Never mix a patterned suit with a patterned shirt.
- Keep your colour palette muted, especially when opting for a tie.
- Don’t be afraid to mix and match collars with your suit.
- Don’t opt for a pocket square and tie which coordinately match.
On That Note
Before you leave, look in the mirror. It sounds obvious, but you’ll be surprised to what could happen in a minute. Is there a stain? Is your shoulder looking all scrunched up? And probably the most frequent mishap – Has your lapel folded over?
So, just look in the mirror again after you have put your bag on your back or taken your last gulp of your tea or even dropped your key and bent over to pick it up. You may see something that wasn’t there before that action.
Feature image from Pinterest