Ok so we’ve been dealing with suits for the last couple of weeks; with what to buy, how to wear it and when to where it now out of the way I want to cover one final thing before we move on. Namely, how to wear a suit out of the office. This is a subject that is close to my heart because I don’t see nearly enough guys do this; even I am a little bit of a sinner when it comes to getting the most wear out of my suits.
It also happens to be a pretty big waste of our money if we only wear them to work and seems to go against the ethos that we’ve tried to establish of making every piece in your wardrobe as versatile as possible. And a modern day suit, above everything else, is versatile – so long as you’ve been reading the articles previous.
Firstly, let’s start with two basic ideas of subtraction. Idea no.1 is that your suit is not just one piece of clothing it is in fact two. Now this may seem a bit stupid to some of you but I think a lot of guys out there will only feel comfortable wearing suit trousers with the jacket or vice versa. But both items can be worn separately and still look good. As long as you’ve got your fit right you’ll be able to pair them with whatever you want in your wardrobe, be it taking some Italian inspiration and miss-matching them with other suit items (black suit trousers and khaki jacket being my personal favourite) or pairing them with your favourite leather jacket or jeans.
Idea no.2 involves losing the items that make you seem office-bound. Here I am talking about ties, belts, watches and shoes. Un-doing your top button goes a long way too. You’d be amazed how more relaxed the suit and yourself look once you have stopped strangling yourself.
The last thing that you can do with your suit to truly make it relaxed, informal and completely dressed-down is to pair it with items that you do own that ARE relaxed, informal and dress-down. The easiest way to do this is to swap the button up shirt for something a bit more laid back so maybe a polo shirt, crew-neck jumper or a v-neck t-shirt.
Why not try swapping those black/brown chunky lace ups that you have to carry around on your feet to the office everyday for something a bit more breathable? See how it feels with a pair of boat shoes or espadrilles on. If you find those a bit too extreme for your suit then instead go for a simple and structured casual shoe. I’m sure you all know what I’m going to suggest (white or black Adidas Stan Smith’s I hear you say?) but most of the time a low cut loafer in black or brown will look just as good. I also find that a simple black and white canvas shoe like the ones that Vans or Converse make also works really well.
Dress Down Examples
Here are some examples of ways to dress down your suit that will hopefully give you the push you need:
- With your grey suit why not try taking it out into the evening for some after-work drinks? On your way out swap whatever shirt you were wearing for a black one and lose the tie and belt while you’re at it. And if you weren’t wearing some low cut black shoes then you should now put them on. You can lose the pocket square too.
- A navy suit is one of the easiest to dress down because it goes with pretty much anything. But why not try it with a colourful striped polo shirt in complimenting tones. This way you strike the right note between smart and casual and during the summer months you can take off the jacket and look more like you came from a picnic than the office. Maybe a brown pair of boat shoes would be the best choice to help this look along?
- The Black suit is always the most difficult to transcend but you can’t go wrong with a white v-neck Tee. Try it with some smart and stripped down trainers or some plain black flip flops if it gets too hot… but always ALWAYS wear it with confidence.
- And for any of the summer suits you may have brought in camel, pale blue or white why not try them with a chambray shirt? You’d be surprised how well a light blue one will make even the stuffiest of suits ready for a beer.
So there you have it, a brief insight into how to start dressing down your suits. But my best piece of advice is to have fun with it and see what works for you. There’s nothing better than finding out your take on a casual suit and making it your own. Take a look at what other people are doing around you and see what you think is usable as well.