The grey suit has been a key component of the man’s wardrobe for decades. It makes its appearance at formal outings: weddings, business meetings – and for some people – expensive nights on the town. Wearing a grey suit automatically gives your style – no matter how casual – a modern, elegant twist. It has been said that the grey suit is a fashion essential, and we are inclined to agree.
Grey tailoring was featured heavily at Milan fashion week, and this really got us thinking about ways to “mess around” with what are the traditional “grey areas”. It’s all about an effort to take the basic elements of a traditional grey suit and adding items that will create another dimension to your style and to your look.
Grey is a neutral colour. Remember that. This allows you to let loose with the clothing that surrounds it. Mismatching with colour is going to achieve a look that’s unique to your personality. It’s the perfect twist for all seasons.
Colour combinations are something we’ve discussed in the past, along with ways to implement colour into your looks. However, the elements of the grey suit in your look are going to neutralise any colour you opt for. In conclusion: the opportunities really are endless.
Dependent on the occasion (or the season), different colour ways can be called upon. For example: On a summer’s day, you may opt for a red shirt. Where as in the winter, you may want to tone it down to a burgundy hue. Don’t look to implement too much colour; the aim isn’t to take the attention away from the traditional grey elements. You still want this to be a focal point of the look. Here are two looks pulled together to show you how to bring the colour wheel and grey together.
I’m going to be using a grey ultra slim-fit suit from Ben Sherman, taking the basic elements of the blazer and trousers and creating a look, implementing colour.
Using the blazer, colour is added by breaking the suit with red chinos. The shirt worn alone, without a tie or bow tie, will add a casual feel to match the casual, laid back approach of the chinos. The brogues anchor the look and maintains some formality associated with the grey tailoring. The grey blazer is still a big feature of this look, but the colourful chinos add another dimension and show you are not just a one-suit-man.
Using the trousers, we’re implementing colour with the red shirt. Use a camel desert jacket to slightly tone down the colour of such a vibrant piece. Other alternatives could be to go for a plain shirt and implement a colourful blazer, a look that has been extremely popular in SS12 previews.
Wearing brogues or classic penny loafers would leave room to consider rolling up the grey suit trousers, giving way to colour through a vibrant pair of socks (or all-out mankle). For a more layered look, you could pair the trousers with a vibrant, colourful jumper, layering a neutral shirt underneath.
A back catalogue of articles and self-fashioned look books may lead you to correctly assume, I had a huge crush on the smart/casual look for summer. Pairing a linen blazer with a button down shirt, tailored chino shorts and loafers has been the highlight of my summer sartorial excursion.
On a few occasions – when the sun is covered by clouds – I’ve taken a grey tailored blazer, or a pair of grey tailored trousers, and built my look around them. Again, the ability to really let loose with both of these elements of such a traditional aspect is simply due to the versatility of both elements.
Throughout the last month or two, we’ve covered popular trends and looks for summer. So take heed of this advice and use those articles to decide what you’re going to implement into your chosen element of the traditional grey suit.
For the second of our mini look books, I will be using a slim-fit, contrast lapel suit from ASOS.
The blazer and graphic tee work well together because of the imbalance thrown up by both. The t-shirt adds a casual feel, but the tailored shorts add extra elegance. A perfect imbalance.
This look is simplistic yet elegant. Boat shoes are always a hit in the summer style stakes. Don’t be afraid to roll the grey trousers up slightly and go sockless. The colour of the shirt is perfect for summer, and its short sleeve will leave you feeling free.
When you don a grey tailored suit, your outfit screams formal, so mismatching it to look more casual than formal offers originality and a chance to reel in a strait-laced look. You want to focus on the casual aspects first. As you know, a pair of grey suit trousers or a grey suit blazer is going to add a formal feel automatically, so it really depends how casual you want to go. Replacing smart brogues with plimsolls, replacing a shirt with a t-shirt, replacing a blazer with a cardigan, consider that everything in your look is disposable – everything can be substituted.
Here are a few looks to take inspiration from using a flannel grey suit from Paul Smith, available from Matches Fashion.
Using the blazer, we’re going to layer a subtle striped t-shirt underneath. This will add a hint of nautical influence – for the man who wants to show he’s not slow on the upkeep of trends. Keep the blazer unbuttoned so it looks loose and not so contrived. The chinos add a casual feel; roll them up if you want to make the look seem less fitted. Pair with a pair of converse and you’ve really mismatched what was once office-bound attire.
Using the trousers, we’re going to keep this casual. Add a cable knit jumper (big for autumn/winter 2011) and roll up the sleeves – a man is never afraid to do this. Shoes are an elegant essential of the suit, so remove them and you’re going to loose this. In this case, that’s exactly what we want.
Some traditionalists may scorn at the idea of mismatching a suit. However, they will appreciate the bevy of opportunities to enhance your style it offers up. When a grey suit is called upon, the work is close to complete. You just need to choose what shirt to wear, what footwear and the accessories to match. With mismatching, you can strip the basic rules of wearing a suit and add originality to your style.
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