After a considerably length critique on the suit and its history, I thought we should explore ways of dressing down the suit. That way, we can feel smart enough to feel important and look like we care for our dress, whilst retaining an edge that highlights our idiosyncrasies. This flair is normally apparent in the little details, though there are more obvious ways of creating a relaxed appearance and with some consideration; we can still look as good as when we are dressed to the nines.
Yesterday, Ben’s excellent article on dressing down a traditional suit covered altering your complimenting pieces in order to create a more relaxed aesthetic. Today we will be looking to progress this even further; creating true smart casual looks through choice of suit or utilising the pieces separately.
If you are intent on sticking with the traditional full ‘suit’, there are ways you can create a dressed down appearance without breaking it up. The material of the suit – as much as any additions – is key, and can often indicate whether the gentleman is vying for an office or less serious vibe. For example, wearing a chino suit as opposed to a flannel one shows you are ready to have a drink outside the office, rather than swig from your flask when your CEO has his back turned.
Suit materials which give off a much more relaxed impression include light cotton, chino and seersucker – the backbone of spring/summer tailoring. Throw on one of these suits with a casual denim or chambray shirt and you have a sharp, easy to wear look that shows you are ready to relax.
A brighter palette also exudes a much more laid back attitude, drawing parallels to trends on the catwalk, rather than eternal style where monochromes and staples rule the show. Suit colours such as cherry red, sky blue or even white are perfect for the spring/summer seasons, whilst you can transition to autumn/winter by substituting them for burgundy, olive and camel versions. By pairing an olive suit with a bright orange tee [shown below], or even a chunky jumper, you create enough colour and disparity in fabric to show your jovial side.
Before we get into using the suit as separates, this is another way in which you can utilise your traditional suit and still create a more relaxed outfit. By simply losing the blazer, you cut the suit in half, meaning that it instantly doesn’t look so smart or ‘dressy’. If you going out after work for some drinks with your colleagues (or a potential mate), this is the perfect way to dress down the whole look in an instant.
Simply lose the tie, unbutton a couple of buttons on your shirt and throw on another jacket over the top. Here are a few suggestions:
The traditional suit and the more dressed down alternative, share similar attributes. Strictly, they share the same fabric top and bottom, yet rules aside for a moment, wearing trousers and a jacket in different colours is a clear rejection of conventional formal dressing – perfect when trying to dress down the suit.
This attitude to treating your individual suit pieces as separates you mix and match is very Mediterranean in influence and a trend that seemed to develop from the catwalks and editorial campaigns of the major Italian brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Armani and the like. It is something we don’t often see in Britain, even though it gives you endless possibilities and allows you to dress the look up or down depending on your preference.
Not only that, is will also revitalise your work wear and wardrobe. Suddenly, instead of being faced with the choice of a navy, grey, black or brown suit, you can pair your grey suit trousers with your black suit blazer to create a whole new look. Or how about navy trousers with a brown blazer? Breaking up the uniformity of the traditional two piece relaxes the look instantly, but that doesn’t mean it is not work appropriate – as long as you keep it fitted and create sharp, clean lines, you will always look smart. See the look book below for the perfect example [bottom left].
However, today we are here to show you how to dress down your typical work wear, so the three key components you can alter when adopting this approach are:
Example Outfit 1:
Example Outfit 2:
Example Outfit 3:
Example Outfit 4:
Our final approach to dressing down the suit comes in the form of using each piece as an individual item in their own respect. Bringing the rules back for a moment, this method does not actually involve dressing down a suit. It is generally used in order to smarten up a more relaxed look rather than dressing down a formal one. However, we want to encourage you to get as much use as possible out of your tailoring, and by separating your suit it creates infinite possibilities when pairing with the rest of your wardrobe.
As the combinations you can create using just your trousers or just your blazer are almost endless, you will all have your own personal preference in regard to wearing each piece. With this in mind, I will provide a few general tips to consider when creating your outfits:
Example Outfit 1:
Example Outfit 2:
Example Outfit 3:
So there you have it, a complete two part guide on how to dress down your suit and get much more use out of it on a daily basis. Now we want to hear your opinions and/or personal techniques:
Let us know in the comments below…
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