A man can’t be called a gentleman if he doesn’t know how to wear his suit.
Not too long ago I got a job to make 2 suits for a new client. The guy in question had never owned a suit before, this was going to be his first.
As always, I try to understand what kind of job my client needs then I tailor my pitch to their job while suggesting my ideas on the design as well as other details which I think would look nice on them – such as the fabric, the right color for the skin tone and other additional accessories that will complement the overall look.
A couple of questions came to mind while I was considering the kind of the suit I’ll make for him. Things like…what would be the best colors to make for him – considering this was his first, would it be a double vent or single vent, should I choose a single or double button style? Should I go for notch or peak lapel? And most importantly, what occasion does he need these suits for, is it for work, for a special event or for both?
After I decided what was suitable for my client, I thought it was important for him to know Suit Rules that would guide him when rocking his brand new bespoke suit once it arrives.
I decided to share some basic suit rules all men need to know. So this article is for my client, my fellow menswear stylists, the tailors and all dapper gents out there.
These rules basically tell you how to choose a suit, how to get them tailored, the shirts, ties, shoe and watches to wear with them and best of all – how to look great in a suit. Enjoy!
Also Read: How to Maintain and Care for Your Suit
25 SUIT RULES ALL MEN NEED TO KNOW
Your first suit should NOT be Black. Go for either a solid navy blue or a solid charcoal grey, these two colors should be the first two suit colors you should get. Always choose a charcoal grey over a black suit. When you must have had 3-4 suits you may then go for a black.
Choose the right Lapel type – There are three basic forms of suit lapels: notched, peaked and shawl. The shawl lapel is most suitable for dinner jackets/tuxedos. The notch lapel is ideal for single-breasted suits, blazers, and sports coats. Not recommended for double-breasted suits and tuxedos. The double-breasted suit should always have peak lapels. They are also appropriate on single-breasted suits and you’ll often see these suit lapels on pinstriped fabrics.
Thin lapels are more modern. Wide lapels are more old-school. Choose wisely.
Double vents in the back are more modern and fashionable than single vents.
The suit jacket should be just long enough to cover your pants zipper and butt.
When you get your suit home, you’ll need a seam ripper or a small, sharp pair of scissors. Un-stitch the jacket’s pockets, remove the tack stitches from the jacket’s vents and remove the little-embroidered label from the jacket’s left sleeve. Do this very carefully to ensure you don’t actually rip the fabric or neighboring threads.
As a general rule, a Black Formal shoe will go with nearly all suit colours. However, you can make more of an impact if you go for a brown or tan shoe when wearing either a Navy/Blue or Light Colour suit. You should match your shoes to the color of your suit using this rule:
Black Suit = Black Shoe
Charcoal Grey Suit = Black Shoe
Light Grey Suit = Black Shoe or Brown Shoe
Any Shade of Blue Suit (Navy, Powder Blue etc) = Brown Shoe or Black Shoe
Brown Suit = Brown Shoe
ALSO READ: A GUIDE TO MATCHING YOUR SHOES & YOUR SUIT
Your belt should be fairly thin and should be the exact same color as your shoes. Black and Brown (including different shades of brown such as tan) are preferred for a corporate look.
If you’re going for more formal business attire, opt for a double-button, notched lapel jacket.
The top button of a two-button suit (or the middle button of a three-button suit) should fall at or above the navel. No matter what you do, NEVER fasten the last button of a single-breasted suit. If a single breasted suit has 1 button, the button should always be buttoned when standing and unfastened when one sits down. However, if it has 2 buttons, the top button should remain buttoned, while the bottom button is left undone. With 3 buttons, you have options. You can either button the top two and leave the bottom unfastened, or simply button the center button.
Always unfasten the buttons on your suit when you sit down. NO exceptions
The bottom button of a vest/waistcoat should always be unbuttoned.
Never fasten the bottom button of a double-breasted jacket (unless it has only a single row of buttons).
Also Read: How to wear a double breasted suit
The width of the tie should match the width of the lapel.
Your tie should always be darker than your dress shirt. A bold tie should be paired with a subtle shirt.
Also Read: 10 Tie Rules All Men Need To Know
Your tie should JUST reach the waistband of your trousers or the center of your belt buckle.
Your tie bar should never be wider than your tie
For a proper-fitting jacket, you should be able to fit a fist between your chest and the fabric.
Your sleeve cuffs should be exposed to half an inch. For a harmonious look, try to match the visible cuff length to the amount of collar that is visible at the back of the neck.
Make sure that your socks are long enough that there’s no exposed leg when sitting down. Also, experiment with colorful socks
For a more fashion-forward look, the pant hem should hit right at the top of your shoe (No Breaks). For a more conservative look, the pants should cover the top of the shoe and parts of the laces (Quarter Breaks). Every modern gentleman should aim for a quarter or no break should be one of your ideal styles, be it pants or chinos/khaki. Avoid the trouser length reaching the sole of your shoe. Avoid double folds as well.
Also Read: A MAN’S GUIDE TO TROUSER LENGTHS | THE BREAK
Do NOT over-accessorize. A pocket square, a tie bar, a collar pin and a lapel pin is too much at once. If you’re already wearing a pocket square, a tie bar, and a collar pin, you should really avoid adding that lapel pin.
A pocket square is one of the few menswear accessories which can add an extra level of polish and elegant touch to your suit. Avoid matching it with your tie either in pattern or fabric choice, instead find colors that complement the outfit. You find a lot of men matching their ties to their pocket squares, just for the sake of ease and by so doing it removes the taste it adds to the outfit.
Never wear a sports watch with a suit. Get yourself a proper watch, a classy piece either a leather or a chain watch is fine.
Never wear a Backpack with Suit, opt for a nice briefcase or a messenger bag.
Thanks for stopping by. If this article has revealed a bunch of things you didn’t know before, please leave a reply below as I’d love to hear from you. For any comments, contributions or inquiries, you may use the Contact Form.
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Till you hear from me again, Stay Classy!
Yours in Style,
Kobi O. Mbagwu (Mr. Kobi)
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