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A Modern Man’s Suit Guide

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

What makes up most masculine uniform?

It is said that the suit makes the man—but what makes the modern suit? The suit is the uniform of men, meaning that it should be your personal uniform and express unity in your individual style. That being said, the modern suit and its components should be thought of as a blank canvas with which you can express yourself. Your choices of elements within a suit can take you from being assessed as “that business guy” to “that interesting, confident, and creative man” Our world is filled with limitless options for the modern man, and in turn, limitless ways to get confused by those options. From lapels to pocket squares, the parts of a suit need to be thoughtfully considered. The following article will give you the basic knowledge to choose a great suit and help you express your unique style.

The Grey Two-Button Suit

The grey two-button suit is the most essential staple of a man’s suit wardrobe. If you are new to suiting or just looking to update your wardrobe, purchasing the grey two-button suit is a great start. Unlike the serious formality of a black suit, the grey suit remains formal but gives off an air of approachability. Wearing the gray two-button provides you a classic foundation onto which you can add unique elements like a loud printed shirt, a bold tie or maybe a new pair of shoes. You do not want to overwhelm the suit, you want complement it. A wool fabric will be the most versatile, is resistant to wrinkling and is appropriate for every season. The two-button construction is a standard requirement of the modern suit. The three-button suits have a tendency to create a boxy frame. New trends in men’s suiting lean towards a trimmer fit and slightly shorter jacket that accentuates a man’s natural frame, giving a more contemporary and sleek look. The grey two-button suit is a great investment for those looking for new, updated, and timeless suiting.

Make Sure it Fits

The fit is absolutely essential when composing your suit. If you can afford to take your suit to a tailor, please do. A tailor can customize and update almost everything about a suit and will give you the best fit possible. If you do not have the means to utilize a tailor, here are a few things to keep in mind that can help in finding a suit well-fitted to your body. If you are on the larger side, do not invest in an oversized suit that will end up adding pounds. If you want to draw the eye away from your stomach, use a bright pocket square to draw the eye up towards the chest and away from the midsection. If you are short, be realistic about it and buy a shorter jacket. Wearing a too-long jacket will end up making you look shorter and a tad sloppy. Whatever you body type, make sure that your sleeves allow a little of your shirt cuff to peek out (ideally .25″ -to .5″). The fit of the shoulder is another crucial component, make sure that your shoulder is neither too loose nor too tight.

There are various fits and styles for men’s dress pants that can allow your to express your personal style while also being mindful of your body type. Knowing your true waist size and inseam is always the best place to start. The decision between slim-fit versus straight-fit should generally be dictated by your body type. If you have a thinner build, a slim-fit will give you a sharp and clean look. If you have a heavier build, a straight-fit can give you a contemporary feel without looking too tight. As a general rule, avoid pleats as they can make you look heavier and your pants look excessively loose. Instead, opt for flat-front pants. The pant break is another element of dress pants that is highly critical and can be expressive. A medium pant break that results in a half of a complete fold where the pant leg hits the shoe is the general standard for business suits but a pant with no break is being seen more often on the well-dressed contemporary man. You can adjust the break of your pants by having a tailor customize it.

Don’t Forget the Details: Lapels, Collars, and Shirts

The finer details must not be neglected when choosing a suit. Choosing the specs of your suit is just as important as choosing color, material and fit. The lapel tends to be the focal point of a suit jacket. The common lapel for everyday office wear is the standard notch lapel. The notch lapel comes in various widths. A lapel that is on the slimmer side is the most current fashion and will give you a more modern look. Other lapels styles, like the peak lapel and the shawl lapel, can be worn to dress-up or dress-down a suit for different occasions or to express personal style. The dress shirt that you choose plays a pivotal part in the overall appearance of your outfit and should be treated with the same care. Buying a well-fitted dress shirt requires neck and arm-length measurements that can’t usually be summed up by small, medium, and large. The neck fit should abide by the one-finger rule: you should be able to fit one finger in between the collar and your neck. This allows you to retain sharpness while maintaining comfort. Find a shirt that fits close to your torso to create a sleek line. Different collar styles can also be used to express yourself or complement your features. Check out the guide to different collar styles here.

Dress for the Season

If you’re looking for an alternative to the staple gray suit, embrace the change in weather and opt for different fabrics that will keep your wardrobe more relevant and comfortable. Spring and summer can be a very uncomfortable time for wearing suits, however, by integrating more cotton fabrics into your suiting such as khaki, seersucker, and linen, you can make your mark as a modern man while also staying comfortable in the heat. When one thinks of khaki, a flood of boring beige comes to mind. But fear not, khaki is available for suits in several different interesting colors such as blue and white (which are a great palette for spring and summer.) A seersucker suit can be a bold seasonal statement that can be paired down with a subtle shirt and tie. Wearing a linen tie with a suit that you already own can be a festive addition that shows you are fashion savvy. In the colder months, try the sophisticated look of flannel, corduroy, and tweed. These fabrics will not only keep you warmer, but also give a dash of festivity and dapper style. Knit ties can also add special touch to your seasonal ensemble.

Go for a Bold Suit

A bold man may need a bold suit. Though it can be easily overdone, it does not mean an attempt should be altogether avoided. Plaids, bold tweeds, pinstripes, and colors can all be a part of your repertoire by balancing them with your other pieces. Unification and editing is key when composing an ensemble. Pinstripes should remain on the thin side—larger pinstripes can look extremely outdated, distracting, and can distort your body. Colored suits are also an easy way to make a style statement. When choosing color, it is best to still stay within the neutral range: navy, cream, maroon, even dark green. You can opt for pairing a colored jacket with black or grey pants. Dressing in an audacious way shouldn’t come at the expense of sophistication. Keep in mind that wearing a bold suit takes balance and confidence.

Find the Right Footwear

Footwear is the window into a man’s view on style and taste. The process of finding the right shoes doesn’t have to be intimidating, just thoughtfully guided. Investing in a well-crafted pair of shoes will always be worth the money. We recommend an all-leather shoe with a leather sole. This will ground your suit with classic timelessness. A well selected and cared for pair of leather shoes can be resoled over and over again and will last a lifetime.  If you spend a lot of time on your feet, rubber soles can offer better grip and comfort even if a bit of classic style is sacrificed. Every man should own a basic black lace-up oxford which is easy to pair with different outfits. Another classic option is a brown wingtip.

Accessorize Your Suit

A suit can be made minimal or elaborate by choosing the appropriate accessories. Accessories will complete and personalize your outfit. If you want to add to some louder pieces to your suit without the risk of looking overdone, we recommend going bolder with one or two elements.

The tie bar is a classic way to keep your tie out of your way and also create a put together look. Check out our ultimate tie bar guide. If you’re a french cuff kind of guy, you can define your persona even further by choosing a great pair of cufflinks. Whether they express your polish or your individuality, make sure that they remain an accent to the ensemble rather than the focus of it. If you’d like to spruce up your basic dress shoes, lace them with colored waxed shoelaces. You could wear a bright pair of socks that peak out from under pant leg when you sit down or cross your legs. Don’t forget the value of a great pocket square.

Knowing how to pair a tie with your suit is key to centering your outfit. The necktie gives a long vertical line down your torso, creating a slimming effect that can be an added bonus to those with a broader frame. When choosing a tie, keep in mind your whole ensemble. If nostalgia is what you crave, the bow tie is an attractive if slightly quirky option.

Now that you are armed with suiting know-how, go forth and conquer!


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