How to Style a Suit for Any Occasion: 3 Pro Tips
There’s nothing people love more than a sharp-dressed person in a snazzy suit. While the suit as we see it now has its origins in the late 19th century as daywear for men, it has since evolved into an iconic fashion staple for all gender presentations.
Wearing a suit is required for many professional contexts, expected at most formal events, and generally, an attention-getter when you’re out on the town. However, if you don’t know how to style the suit you’re wearing, you may wind up looking like you’re playing dress-up in dad’s clothes.
If you want to avoid such terrible fashion faux pas, read on to learn three pro tips for wearing a suit.
1. Tailoring Is Everything
The first and most important thing to keep in mind when wearing suits is that tailoring is everything. The style of suit you wear and how it fits on your body can be the difference between looking like a young professional and looking like a middle-schooler in a borrowed tux.
The former will get the job, the latter will get passed over.
Know Your Suit Styles
There are three main suit styles that you should concern yourself with. First is the two-piece suit, which uses a matching jacket and pants. This is what you’d usually wear to a job interview or other business casual occasion, as well as the main type of suit that women can buy in stores.
Three-piece suits, like these suits, include a matching jacket, pants, and vest. They tend to show up at formal occasions like weddings, funerals, or super formal meetings at work. However, you can always dress one of these down by wearing the vest and trousers only.
The tuxedo is the most formal style of suit and typically only comes in black. This is what you might have to wear to a fancy dinner, expensive concert, or a pretentious friend’s wedding.
Get Accurate Measurements
Once you’re sure you have the right suit style, you need to make sure to get accurate measurements. As convenient as life would be if we could all wear a suit off the rack and have it fit, that’s not the case for most people.
Suits tend to vary in fit depending on the material, fastening style, venting, and a host of other features. So, make sure you’re working with accurate measurements of your arms, legs, chest, hips, and neck. If at all possible, try to get your suit tailored to fit your exact needs.
Keep Suit-Wearing Ground Rules in Mind
All the good tailoring in the world won’t save you if you don’t keep some basic tips for wearing a suit in mind. Some common ones to ensure that you have the perfect fit include:
- Let the suit jacket gently hug you
- Match the length of your jacket and dress shirt sleeves
- Your tie’s length should match your torso
- Your suit pants should kiss the top of your shoes
If you follow these ground rules, you can ensure that you have the best possible fit.
2. Keep Colors in Mind
Secondly, make sure you carefully consider what colors you’re going to wear. Flashy suits of neon green and bright pink might look striking and dashing on the red carpet, but on average Joes, Janes, and Jades like the rest of us, they’re going to clash. Especially if you do anything interesting with your shirt and tie.
So, let’s go over some ground rules when it comes to colors and suits.
Standard Suit Colors for All Occasions
There are three standard suit colors that you can find in all situations, from formal to business casual. Black, navy, and charcoal gray. Any one of these tones should be safe for whatever occasion you need or want to wear a suit to.
Non-Standard, Safe Suit Colors for the Individualist
If you want to go with something a bit off the wall, but still relatively safe, you might try a dark brown. Or, if you’re feeling daring, you might try a rich burgundy.
If you’d rather wear something light and breezy, khaki or white suits could work for you. However, these tend to work best in more casual contexts. And woe betide you if you happen to spill wine on your light-toned suit.
Work With the Color Wheel to Find the Right Shirt and Tie
No matter what color suit you decide to wear, make sure that you always work from the foundation of the color wheel. Black suits serve as a great foundation, as you can choose almost any color shirt and tie to work with them. As long as the tie doesn’t clash with the shirt, you’re in the clear.
If you’re working from cooler tones like a starched white, charcoal gray, or navy, you want your shirt and tie to fall into a similar tonal family. This is not the time to break out the bright orange tie and canary yellow shirt. Instead, you can soften the yellow tone and match the tie to the suit, or at least place it in the same color family.
When you wear warmer tones like khakis and red-toned browns, you want your shirt and tie to have those same undertones as well. Try not to get too matchy, or the whole ensemble will look tacky.
Keep the Occasion in Mind When Choosing Ties
One last important thing to consider when choosing your tie: the occasion matters. If you’re going to an office Christmas party, then sure, wear that loud red and green tie. However, if you’re attending a more serious event, it might be better to avoid ties in attention-grabbing colors.
There’s standing out because you look good, and then there’s standing out because you stick out like a sore thumb. A poorly chosen tie can make you the latter.
3. Learn How to Accessorize
Clothes make the person, but accessories make the outfit. Suits go a long way towards conveying an image of class, wealth, and formality. However, a well-made suit can only take you so far.
Accessories are how you can display your personality while wearing a suit, so make them count with these tips:
Cologne or Perfume Counts
It might not be as visible as rings or cufflinks, but your cologne or perfume counts as an accessory. Believe us, people will notice if you apply too much of either one.
A simple spritz will often do the trick. If you’re not sure how much is too much, then you might want to check out a guide to wearing cologne.
Watches Are Standard Status Symbols
The fancy watch is a staple of the business tycoon dressed in a three-piece suit. People with the means to afford Rolexes or other heirloom watches love to display them prominently. This is where you can flex your wealth or brand loyalty if so desired.
However, try to avoid wearing sports watches. Fitness trackers and smartwatches sit in an odd gray area with this, but most fashion experts recommend either ditching them or getting a more expensive one with metallic trim.
Hey, if you’re going to wear a fitness tracker, you may as well wear it with some pizzazz.
Try to Match Metals
Piggybacking off of the last point, try to match metals throughout your accessories. Mixed metals might be on-trend and popular right now, but in many formal circles, they’ll look tacky. Part of the appeal of wearing a suit is presenting a unified, put-together image.
When you mix and match metals between your watch, cufflinks, lapel pins, and any other jewelry you may have, it looks like you couldn’t be bothered to find a matching set. You don’t want to look sloppy when you wear suits.
Consider Necklines When Wearing Jewelry
This tip goes out to the ladies, non-binary folks, and gender-non-conforming men in the house. If you want to wear a necklace with your suit or your shirt, make sure you match your necklace with your neckline.
The massive chain of 1990s/2000s Flavor Flav is not the look you want to have when attending a funeral or important business meeting. Nor do you want something plunging into your cleavage when you’re trying to present a professional image.
Don’t Go Overboard With Bling
Last but not least, don’t go overboard with bling while wearing a suit. Accessorizing is great, but there’s a hard limit to the amount of shiny, sparkly things you can put on your suit before it goes from classy to tacky. Keep your accessories understated, or choose one statement piece.
Want to Know More About Wearing a Suit With Style?
We hope that you found this guide to wearing a suit for any occasion helpful. However, there are many more tips about how to wear a suit that we didn’t have space to cover in this article.
If you’d like to know how to style yourself for any and every occasion, then take a look at the Fashion section of our blog. We update each day with more guides like this one!