The suit, for most men, is a key outfit that is timelessly elegant when styled correctly, raising your style game and giving a suave and sophisticated look for any occasion that demands it. However, simply having and putting on a suit is only half the job done with some men (mistakenly) believing this is all they need to do to pull it off. Today, I wanted to run through some of the most common pitfalls and errors men fall into when wearing a suit and how to address them going forward. Follow these simple rules and you’ll step up your suit game from sloppy to sharp.
Rule #1: Your Shirt Is As Important As The Suit
On my everyday commute I see countless men wandering around London in old, tired and un-ironed shirts under their suits. The creased mass sits underneath looking like an old napkin and really pulls away from the smart look the suit provides. Here are a couple of easy ground rules for keeping your shirt looking sharp with minimal effort:
- Keep it clean and ironed – Invest in a decent iron and do a batch iron of your shirts on a Sunday. If you have the cash but no time, go to a dry cleaners and get them cleaned and pressed. Most will do 5 shirts for £10, so buy 10 and get a 2-week cycle going.
- Get some metal collar bones – These can be bought online for a few pounds or some high-end shirt makers provide them as standard. Bin the pieces of plastic as these bend and will make the collar curl.
- Have a few pairs of decent cufflinks – Simple brush steel or other metal will do nicely. Avoid novelty cufflinks like the plague and whatever you do don’t use those elastic knots that come as standard
The shirt is the foundation of your suited look, so make sure it is just as strong as the rest of your outfit.
Rule #2: Have 3 Suits In Rotation
A single suit cannot take being worn every day without taking some serious wear and tear, ultimately distorting the shape and look of the overall cut. Instead, aim to have 3 suits in rotation so that you can swap them out and go longer between having them dry cleaned/repaired. As a rule of thumb have a blue/nay suit, a light grey and a black/charcoal grey one as these will cover a variety of combinations for colour and texture.
Rule #3: Pay Attention to the Details
This rule sounds like it could be complex, but it doesn’t have to be. There are 3 key accessories anyone wearing a suit should include in their outfit:
- Tie clip – Easy to apply and has the added benefit of preventing your tie from flapping around. Unless you’re wearing a waistcoat, you should always wear one, it’ll massively elevate your look with a simple, small touch
- Pocket Square – Ever wonder how the cast of Mad Men look so good in their suits? Check their breast pocket. A pocket square is a must for any suit-styled gent. You can find a quick guide on how to fold one here.
- A good belt – If your suit trousers have belt loops, use them. As a golden rule, match the colour of your belt to your shoes for the best results. You can find my guide on selecting and wearing a belt in my post “The Gentleman’s Belt: An Often Waist-ed Opportunity”
If you include these 3 details every time you wear a suit, you’ll find your style skyrocket with relative ease.
Rule #4: LEAVE THE BOTTOM BUTTON UNDONE
So you’ve got your clean shirt, suit and accessories, it looks great and you’re heading out for the day. However, as you head out you button both the top and bottom button of your suit. In one simple step you’ve managed to completely ruin your look and you didn’t even know it. Below is a quick guide on which buttons to do up when:
- One button suit – Button up when standing, undo when sitting down
- Two button suit – Button up the top button, leave the bottom one open. Unbutton when you sit down.
- Three button suit – Button up the top two or the middle only, always leave the bottom undone. Unbutton when you sit down.
(N.B. This can also apply to smart coats. For waistcoats, always leave the bottom button undone)
Rule #5: Vary Your Colours & Textures
Many men believe that a suit is a bit rigid and won’t allow for any variety in terms of style or personal choice. In fact, this could not be further from the truth. A suit is one of the most versatile items of clothing you own, and by experimenting with different fabrics, colours and accessories you can add flair and panache to your look with your own signature style. Knitted ties, pattterned shirts, coloured pocket squares and even suit patterns are an easy way to up your tailoring game. Don’t be afraid to try new options, you’ll be surprised what works well together
Thank you for checking out this guide on suit mistakes and how to avoid them. Make sure to let me know if you have any questions or feedback you would like to discuss in the comments section. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter or Instagram for updates, conversation and chat on my activities and the blog itself.