25 Suit Rules All Men Need to Know

A man can’t be called a gentleman if he doesn’t know how to wear his suit.

suit rules

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?

suit rules

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

suit rules

Rule #1

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.

suit rules

Rule #2

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.
suit rules

RELATED: SUIT LAPEL TYPES | SHAWL LAPEL VS PEAK LAPEL VS NOTCH LAPEL

 

Rule #3

Thin lapels are more modern. Wide lapels are more old-school. Choose wisely.

suit rules

Rule #4

Double vents in the back are more modern and fashionable than single vents.

suit rules

Rule #5

The suit jacket should be just long enough to cover your pants zipper and butt.

suit rules

Charcoal Grey, Double Button, and Notch Lapel

Rule #6

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.

suit rules

ON SHOES

Rule #7

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

suit rules

 ALSO READ: A GUIDE TO MATCHING YOUR SHOES & YOUR SUIT

Rule #8

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.

suit rules

ON BUTTONS

Rule #9

If you’re going for more formal business attire, opt for a double-button, notched lapel jacket.

suit rules

Rule #10

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. 

suit rules

Rule #11

Always unfasten the buttons on your suit when you sit down. NO exceptions

suit rules

Rule #12

The bottom button of a vest/waistcoat should always be unbuttoned.

suit rules

Rule #13

Never fasten the bottom button of a double-breasted jacket (unless it has only a single row of buttons).

suit rules

 Also Read: How to wear a double breasted suit

 

ON TIES

Rule #14

The width of the tie should match the width of the lapel.

suit rules

Rule #15

Your tie should always be darker than your dress shirt. A bold tie should be paired with a subtle shirt.

suit rules

 Also Read: 10 Tie Rules All Men Need To Know

Rule #16

Your tie should JUST reach the waistband of your trousers or the center of your belt buckle.

suit rules

Rule #17

Your tie bar should never be wider than your tie

suit rules

ON FIT

Rule #18

For a proper-fitting jacket, you should be able to fit a fist between your chest and the fabric.

suit rules

Rule #19

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.

suit rules

Rule #20

Make sure that your socks are long enough that there’s no exposed leg when sitting down. Also, experiment with colorful socks

suit rules

Rule #21

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.

suit rules

Also Read: A MAN’S GUIDE TO TROUSER LENGTHS | THE BREAK

 

ON ACCESSORIES:

Rule #22

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.

suit rules

Rule #23

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.

suit rules

Rule #24

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.

suit rulessuit rules

Rule #25

Never wear a Backpack with Suit, opt for a nice briefcase or a messenger bag.

suit rulessuit rules

 

suit rules

RELATED: 5 TIPS ON HOW TO LOOK BETTER IN A SUIT

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

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.

Do you need a custom tailored suit? Contact us today via email: services@mrkoachman.com or WhatsApp [+234 (0) 7011961540]. For other Menswear Styling, Wardrobe Upgrade, Tailoring and Alterations, Personal Shopping, Fashion, and Accessory needs, don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to being your Personal Stylist and Image Partner as you acquire a new stylish image to match your lifestyle and goals.

Do you have any Style Question? Please let us know here.

You can also find us on TWITTERINSTAGRAM, GOOGLE+, PINTEREST, and FACEBOOK. Do follow us on any of the channels you frequently use as we continuously inspire you on how to dress well, do well and live well.

Till you hear from me again, Stay Classy!

Yours in Style,

Kobi O. Mbagwu (Mr. Kobi)
Founder, MrKoachman.com
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Mr. Kobi

I am Mr. Kobi, a professional style consultant, menswear blogger & entrepreneur who uses fashion to change people’s lives. My personal goal is to help gentlemen dress better, live well, do well and develop a unique personal style that matches with their lifestyle and goals. I believe that success can be built through style. I believe that fashion is a tool that can be used to change people’s lives positively. I strongly believe that if you dress well, you look good, and if you look good, you feel good and when you feel good, you worry less, and the less you worry the more you are able to stay motivated and focused in your goals pursuit and by so doing you are able to live a more fulfilling and successful life.
  1. Awesome piece… It’s trendy and a bit fashion forward to wear a completely different colour of pocket square….. Even though a bit more conservative I still think you can pull off a stare or 2 with one that matches your tie.

    As for the socks…. I’m not sure of the clown colours.. I actually love it on others…. But “na black sure pass”.

    More grease bro…

  2. Thanks a lot Bro, I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. I totally agree with you there are some ways to pull off a classy look by matching them but as much as possible they shouldn’t be worn that way especially if cut from same cloth. Doing so always is just an easy and simplistic way of matching them, and is guaranteed to make most men look as if they are “lazy”. But the ability to choose colors that would complement the tie with a degree of contrast, sets one apart as a true stylish man.

    For socks…lol @ clown colors, I love them as much as I love my plain socks. I think you should try them out. But in my opinion they should be avoided when wearing Tuxedos. Will talk more about how to match pocket square and tie in a whole new article later, watch out. Thanks so much for stopping by.

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  6. Hi Mr Kobi
    Brilliant piece written.
    There are many part of the rules most of the time we ignore. I enjoyed reading it .
    Also will keep in mind for future dressing.

    Thanks a ton!
    Keep enlightening us!
    God Bless you!

    Munawwar

    us!

    • You’re welcome @Munawwar. Thank you for your kind words, I’m ever so pleased you enjoyed it!

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    • Happy to hear this. Thank you too for your nice words on the article, glad it was enjoyable.

    • I already knew most of the rules but was rather taken aback when you legislate that one can wear brown shoes with a blue coloured suit. I thought it is considered faux pax to combine blue with brown . I need answers!

      • Quite informative! You cannot claim ignorance when you violate rules. You just need to know!

      • Hi Joseph, thanks so much for stopping by. Unlike most other suit colors, a blue suit can go on any of the three major shoe colors namely Brown, Black and Burgundy. Wearing the blue colored suit is not considered faux pax infact it’s perfect, classy and should be your first choice of shoe color on a neutral occasion from a business day at the office to happy hours to a business casual invitation. I will address this in detail in a future article, do subscribe and watch out for it. Thanks again.

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  15. This is a beautiful piece, I learnt. Lot from it. Keep it up. Write something about types of ties and their fashion acceptability. We see a lot of tie combinations with suits or shirts, honest mistakes sometimes but scary, like check tie with check shirt, striped with stripe combos and co. Thanks again for writing this.

  16. Interesting read… even though reading it has just caused fight with bae who needed my attention but I was too busy digesting your wealth of knowledge. I didn’t just follow ur insta page, I also turn the notification on😊. Thanks!

    • Lol. I’m sure when she sees what you are reading she is going to make up with you. Thanks a lot for reading, i’m glad you find it interesting. And thanks for following me on Instagram. Let’s keep in touch.

  17. please I am planning my wedding and i have chosen to wear a royal blue suit. What accessories can i use with it? Your reply is very vital to me

    • Hello Sonou, congratulations on your upcoming wedding. If it’s a royal blue tuxedo, you will certainly need a bow tie, if it’s just a normal 2 piece suit, you have options of a neck tie or a bow tie, but i would also suggest a bow tie. Others: pocket square, boutonniere for you, your patent leather black oxford or double monk, you colorful socks, black belt and other accessories you can use to elevate your look so it won’t be as if you are dressed for an office/work occasion. Your best man look will be slightly different from this as well. As you know I style weddings so feel free to contact me if you need me to take care of the whole look you and what your best man & grooms men will be wearing and cordinate the whole look to complement the ladies look. Coincidentally I am actually writing about this topic this weekend and you should watch out for the post by tomorrow. Do subscribe here http://mrkoachman.com/subscribe

  18. Splendid article. Thanks to my female friend that posted this link on her Facebook page.

  19. I love what I have learnt on the 25 suit rules, mistakes which I made in the past is now corrected. thanks guys

    • Thanks Richard! Glad you enjoyed reading it. Please come back for more. Cheers 🙂

  20. …..very interesting article you put there….lookin to read more n probably buy a suit from you one day

    • I’m glade you did, thanks a lot for stopping by. Please subscribe to keep in touch.

  21. Thanks alot for this piece. Very informative indeed. I noticed people in Eastern Africa tend to either be ignorant or frown upon the bow tie. What are your thoughts on the bow tie as far as lapel type is concerned? Can it go with either 3 types or lapel, or mainly with the shawl lapel? Thanks.

  22. Always love to read your writings; Both entertaining and educating . Keep up the good works and efforts. I am hopeful that through this, we can help improve the dressing sense for many. Cheers

    • Thank you so much Suzan for the encouragement. That’s the goal in sight…I believe it will happen!

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  26. Mr. Kobi, thank you so much. When can one wear a yellow or white suit? Which time of the day will be more appropriate for such colours and which functions will they be more appropriate for? What dress shirt colours will fit perfectly with these suits?

    • Hi Julius, These are not conventional colors and so as long as you are wearing your suits for corporate or professional functions, they aren’t good colors to choose.

  27. I so much like this article, it has taught me a lot on the rules of how to wear suits. Please I like to have some suits from you.

    • Hi Onyinyechi, Thank you very much. Can you send me an email on the type of suit you would like 2 piece suit, 3 piece suit, double breasted suit, what colors you need, where you stay…send me these details to mrkobi@kobikoachman.com and we’ll take it from there.

  28. That’s a good piece, a lot of insights too. Just wondering how to balance between having a suit that fits well whereas my hips/thighs are big such that the trouser wears out faster due to friction leaving the coat

    • Hi Norman, thanks for stopping by. How about going for a bespoke suit…the tailor should be able to do a good job in tailoring the trouser to fit giving just enough room to avoid the friction.

    • I have the same issue Norman. I have 2 very expensive suits with worn out trousers because of my big tighs. Picking a suit size with consideration for my tighs would leave me with a suit not fitted. Does this mean I need bespoke suits?

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  30. Very good piece of information on what and how to wear men’s suits. Am in how do I get started?

  31. Great Kobi. I am really impress by the richness and brevity of your piece.

  32. Thanks I have learned a lot but what color of my shirt go with which color of the suit

  33. thanks a bunch mr kobi, this is indeed a well enlightened piece. I will appreciate reading this for life

  34. Waoh, I thought it was normal for the pocket square to be same colour with the tie. Thanks for the info. Keep up

  35. Hi. What a good article. I have learnt alot on suits which I didnt know. Thanks and hope to make purchase from you soon.

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  37. Great information you put together here,indeed looking good is good business.Thanks a million kobi

  38. Thanks Mr. Kobi For the time u spend to enlighten men on how to look like a “Gentleman”… Love to hear from you always

  39. revealing again.reminds me of reading RMD’s MR Magazine in the 90’s.kudos.however l find contrasting pocket square and tie (rule 23) kind a odd.you may need to convince me.

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