Whether you work at it or not, you’ve probably got a style that you feel comfortable with.
And if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t often have to wear a suit, the day some kind of formal occasion comes up, you might feel like you’re totally at a loss. So you just do the bare minimum, picking out an acceptable suit and putting it on and feeling like you’re wearing a costume all day.
But I’d like to challenge that strategy.
Okay, I love suits and wear them a lot, but there’s a reason for that: they actually allow you an amazing margin when it comes to expressing yourself. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some fairly common basic styles that don’t really scream “suit”, and see how we can work that out, shall we?
Rocker – You’re passionate about the music and the lifestyle, and your clothes reflect this: Quirky, offbeat, and definitely not corporate or conformist. But guess what? Even the most hardcore rockers have to wear a suit from time to time, and they don’t always look horrendously embarrassed. Your first move is to forget the tie, if you can. Opt for a black or grey suit and a black button-down shirt. Make sure the suit fits well, and if you can, keep the legs on the tight side, rather than baggy. That’s your base. Now, use your quirky sense of style to accessorize. Add a well-chosen couple of rings, a chain, scarf, or sunglasses. Choose these pieces sparingly, though, or else you’ll look like you’re wearing a costume. For shoes, if you aren’t going to an incredibly formal occasion, opt for boots (tucked under the trousers, of course!). If you have long hair, don’t put it up if you don’t want to; the contrast between the buttoned-up suit and your free-flowing mane will be one of the most “rock” things out there.
Dandy – If you’re a fan of unconventional fabrics and atypical attire, you can still spin that in to a look that would be perfectly acceptable in most suit-only contexts. If the typical suit textures and fabrics make you shudder, remember, for example, the world of tweeds – or even, for the most daring out there, velvets and velours. A stylish pattern will also make your suit stand out from the crowd – say a tasteful tartan. You should also consider a three-piece suit – that is, add a vest to the trousers and jacket. The key is to have it fit you impeccably; from there, you can do anything. Another tip is to accessorize. Instead of a regular tie, why not try a cravat? And any dandy worth his salt should have a pocket square on him at all times. Try a puff Cagney, or reverse puff fold in a color or pattern that picks up one of the shades in your suit, tie, cravat, or socks for an eye-catching and unforgettable touch.
Modern minimalist – Maybe you’re the kind of person who wears the same color or outfit every day. You abhor clutter and don’t like frills. Actually, a suit sounds like it could be the perfect thing for you! For one thing, remember that you don’t have to do the white shirt under black suit; if you want, why not try all black, or, if you dare to be bolder and a little artsy, all gray or all white? If you do want a touch of color, even so, you can use your tie, of course, but if you don’t want to wear a tie, then think about your socks. Pairing a black suit with dark red socks is a simple way to catch eyes without clutter or convention.
The “man’s man” – You work with your hands, you get dirty, and a suit has no part in that. You might be the case where there’s nothing to be done; a standard suit is what’s called for. But that still doesn’t mean you can’t feel comfortable in it. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about what to buy, a black suit, white shirt, and black tie is always a sophisticated, striking, but appropriate combination. Make sure your suit fits – don’t pick a cut because it’s “stylish”. And above all, make sure your suit sits on your shoulders right. If you feel lost, I’ve got your back: for more tips on how to pick a standard suit that will look great on you, you can download my ebook.
So hopefully now you see that suits don’t have to be the enemy; in fact, if you choose one right, you may actually find yourself looking forward to wearing it!
Want more help on finding your suit style? Check out my style coaching service. I’ll take you shopping and to see some of the best tailors I know, so that you’ll end up looking and feeling fantastic.