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The art of choosing and wearing a suit

Updated on July 16, 2010
Don Cherry Rose might be able to pull it off, but this outfit will look ridiculous on most men. It is certainly not boring, but a little over the top. You can be elegant without exceeding.
Don Cherry Rose might be able to pull it off, but this outfit will look ridiculous on most men. It is certainly not boring, but a little over the top. You can be elegant without exceeding.

As I wrote in another hub, it isn't easy to wear a suit and a tie. Very few people get it right. Some people exceed, and so they look funny and ridiculous. In a suit and tie, most people look ordinary and uninteresting, some even look regrettably sad and depressing. Here I offer some basic tips for looking good and charming in a suit and tie.

Good fit (or listen to your body)

The fabric has to be of good quality and the suit has to fit well with your body. This doesn't mean that you have to get something expensive. Many people dress terribly no matter how expensive their clothes are.

Now it is a little hard to find the right fabric and the suit that fits your body perfectly. Most importantly, you need to understand and listen to your body. You need to become very aware of your body. Once you have listened and understood your body, then your should pick the suit that best expresses it. It is true, for some people, this will be harder, and for others, this will be easier. But such is life...

But remember, a suit that looks nice on you is one that best expresses your body and yourself. It is not a suit that hides yourself. It is not the exact same suit that many other people bought in exactly the same store. Look for the unique suit that suits your body and yourself! Your suit has to speak your language!

Less abstractly, this boils down to the importance of a good cut and a good fit, as illustrated by the picture below.


Same guy, same quality of suit, but very a different outlook. (Left side) The suit does not fit, it's too baggy. Looks terrible. (Right side) The suit fits. It may look too tight for some but it fits well. A suit can be more or less tight, depending
Same guy, same quality of suit, but very a different outlook. (Left side) The suit does not fit, it's too baggy. Looks terrible. (Right side) The suit fits. It may look too tight for some but it fits well. A suit can be more or less tight, depending
This imagine explains nicely what I was trying to say in the text. The tie knot has to lifted and separated from your shirt. This will give a sense of freshness to you.
This imagine explains nicely what I was trying to say in the text. The tie knot has to lifted and separated from your shirt. This will give a sense of freshness to you.

Jacket and tie

Next, you need to be in control of what your suit, your shirt, and your tie do. Don't let them do whetever they please. They will not look good on you. Here are a couple of tips (and see the picture on the right as an illustration):

1. The tie knot has to be slightly lifted and separated from your shirt. This will give a sense of freshness to your appearance.

2. Your jacket has to be slightly tight, so that its upper part will create a protuberance at the level of your chest. This may cause your tie to raise up a little and fold. This is good. It will give you an aura of strength and control.

A suit in a light color. Notice that the tie balances the lightness of the suit.
A suit in a light color. Notice that the tie balances the lightness of the suit.
A suit in light grey with brown shoes (pic from styleforum.net)
A suit in light grey with brown shoes (pic from styleforum.net)
This isn't a suit in brown, but it gives a sense of how some of colors of the soil go together.
This isn't a suit in brown, but it gives a sense of how some of colors of the soil go together.

Colors

Elsewhere I complained that world political leaders tend to dress with the same -- boring -- colors (blue, black, dar grey, darkish colors). Blue and black can be very elegant, but there are other colors! Now, you don't have to exceed and go crazy with colors. What makes the difference is a subtle and wise variation on different tonalities. A few examples:

A suit in light grey. Suits in light grey are beautiful. They are not too crazy. They are very discrete yet they are a fresh break from black, blue, dark grey. Since the suit is in light grey, the tie could be of some darker color (e.g., blue, green, purple) in the appropriate tonality.

A suit in light colors. If you feel like it and want to dare a little more, you can get a suit in a white or in a very light color. You can balance the lightness of your suit with your tie, which could be in orange, even red, or intense blue, or other darker colors. 

A useful table of color tips can be found on the website of Cheap-neckties (which is also a good website to do some affordable shopping). Go here here.

A suit in brown. Especially in winter and in a rainy day, a suit (in more or less light, or more or less dark) brown/dark green is nice. In terms of color combinations, try to play around with what I call the colors of the soil or the colors of the land (brown, green, red, beige, certain tonalities of yellow, etc.). These are also the colors of the fall, so try to be in tune with nature, its time, and its colors. Combinations will come out naturally!

Holistic matching. An here is a general rule: You should always be aware of the environment you are in, the weather conditions, the natural and human surroundings. If it's raining and you are in a grey city, I am not sure wearing a suit in light colors is appropriate. So, always be aware of your surroundings and try to match the colors of your suit, tie, shirt, shoes, etc. among themselves but also with the colors of what is around you!

Details and accessories

I would like to say more on this in another hub, but for now let me say that little details are important and make the difference. A few examples:

Suspenders. I am not saying you should use them, but try to think if they fit with your personality.

Socks. Try to crete a connection between the color or colors of your socks and your tie or your shirt. There should be some connection, don't just plainly match colors. That would be too affected (look here for some more explanation).

Vest. See if a three parts suit is good for you (i.e., the suit includes a vest, as well).

Belt and shoes. They should match, e.g. black with black and brown with brown.

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