Going beyond the tried and tested ways of wearing a suit, here are some tips on how to make a statement involving the interplay of shirts, shoes and styling.
We all know the wonders of a perfectly tailored suit. Unlike the majority of our wardrobes, a suit often highlights our best physical assets, because it’s not shaped for the masses — it is custom designed for us. It’s no wonder then that we all look so sharp in a suit, but it’s also a sin to leave those suits unworn when so many opportunities present themselves. First things first, a suit that was stitched together, stays together — but the jacket and the trousers can be worn separately, and you must equally use both of them. Your suit should not be seeing more visits to the dry cleaners than the trousers, and vice versa. I say this because normal wear and tear needs to be consistent on suits. Often the colour will fade — you don’t want to prematurely break up the custom suit you paid so much for to make you look good. For me, the three best ways to modify any suit look come down to the three S’s – shirts, shoes and styling.
A tailored shirt may be best when accompanied with a necktie, but so many shirt varieties can also work sans tie. If you are going for the more casual look, experiment with your shirt choices. For example, if you have a heather grey suit, perhaps a light purple oxford shirt underneath would add a bit of colour and great contrast to the suit. _You can go bolder and pair that suit with a patterned or plaid pattern. Similarly, if it’s a pinstriped suit, think about a chequered shirt to go along with it. _While it has seemingly become a trend to keep the shirt untucked under a suit jacket, it only works when the shirt’s hemline is not longer than that of the jacket. And if the shirt pushes the attention away from the suit and towards your belly, it’s probably not the best idea. _The T-shirt and suit look is another option that can work very well. Stick to solid, more shape hugging cuts. V-neck T-shirts work well on single-breasted suits. Again, think about what the look is saying about you. It should look effortless, and a general rule of thumb is that if the shirt is outselling the suit, that’s an issue. The T-shirt need not be Prada — even an H&M or Zara can work. _Beyond shirts, knitwear can work. I really like the thin cashmere cardigan look._ It’s smart, it works in cooler climates and it adds a level of fabric sophistication and comfort to another otherwise basic look. I prefer the cardigan only, as opposed to it as a layer. If you are doing layers, the contrast between the shirt collar and sweater should align. Taking the light purple shirt example from above, you could add a lovely thin espresso-coloured cardigan to it, and then you’ve got yourself a whole new look. _In general, my belief with shirts is that you should pick your fit, colour and style wisely enough so that it works under the suit, and also without the jacket as effectively.
Over the last 20 years, shoe styles have diversified so tremendously that it’s no surprise men have gone from being just tag-alongs to women in shoe stores to now having the need for their own Imelda Marcos-like cabinets. One of the sharpest looks for me is wearing boots with a suit. Especially with suits with shorter lengths, the boot look can add a level of military style. It can also over a different silhouette for the suit altogether, because generally, since height is added when we wear boots, you actually stand differently and see the suit in a different light. Beyond boots, sneakers have become all of the rage for going along with suits. Again, the sneakers should fit the tone of the suit and not stand out. But then again, if you want to stand out, why not, right?