The white suit, while impossibly seasonal and perennially underused, is a devilishly stylish bit of tailoring. You would probably be surprised to know that the versatility of white tailoring rivals the timeless staples that are navy and grey suits. Consider the white suit your summer equivalent of the two.
While slightly impractical for most, the neutral colour makes it much easier to wear than first perceived. Of the three recently tackled alternative suit options, the variation we focus on today garnered a lot of attention within the FashionBeans community.
A white suit should be treated neither as a work nor a business suit, because it’s not. Nor should it be worn in weather that doesn’t resemble the height of summer. This seasonal staple is meant solely for off-duty wear and only when the mercury is pushing the limits.
How To Wear: The Full Suit
The white suit as a collective has garnered more than a bit of a bad rep over the years. With the now horrifically out-dated examples of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and Al Pacino in Scarface, white suits at the forefront of many minds are a style sin.
Dispelling these preconceptions is thankfully not too difficult a task with the right suit – and the correct accompaniments. Firstly, the suit simply has to be well-fitted – there is no room for error here unless you really do want to look like one of the two Tonys (trust me, you don’t.) Keep the suit slim in the waist, arms and legs. The shoulders should not slouch off your own and the trousers should have very little break – they should be kissing your shoes, not hugging them.
If you’re aiming to keep an air of formality about you, try pairing your suit with a striking gingham shirt. You can see in the lookbook above how well blue gingham works with block white.
Alongside some loafers/monk straps (black or brown, it’s your own discretion) and accessorised with a well presented pocket square, a full suit look would be hard pushed to fail:
- Austin Reed Slim Fit Navy Gingham Luxury Shirt
- Drakes Silk Polka-dot Pocket Square
- Asos Penny Loafers In Leather
The first look is best reserved for the daytime. So when it comes to an evening out, look to contrast the white suit with a black shirt. The monochromatic combination is incredibly arresting and works best when the tie is left back in the drawer and a button or two loosened up.
Stick with black for the accessories – try a dotted pocket square and dark dress shoes, slippers or loafers depending on occasion and preference:
The white suit can be carried off in a casual manner. Consider pairing your new venture with a plain tee and trainers, or even some coloured suede buck or derby shoes.
A grey crew neck t-shirt is a classic part of the capsule wardrobe, but you can always change up the look with a wide (not low) scoop or V-neck. If you’re opting for trainers, keep them simple and structured; classic Chuck Taylors alongside suits are a bit stereotypical, dated and not really that stylish. Instead, look for something with minimal branding, a so-called “grown up trainer” if you will.
How To Wear: As Separates
With any good suit, you always have the option of splitting the jacket and trousers and using them in separate outfits – one of the many benefits of a tailored piece. For a more broader and in-depth look at separating your suits, take a glance at Part 78 of Mr Allinson’s guide to the basics of dress.
Starting with the jacket, at first it might seem a little intimidating, what do you pair with a white blazer? Take some advice from GQ (they tend to know what they’re talking about) and treat it like a staple navy blazer: pair it with everything! This mentality immediately makes it a far more clearer and welcoming option.
For this first look, try a daring shorts and jacket mixture for your own personal take on the ‘shorts suit’. Start by pairing the white suit blazer with timeless, well-fitted navy shorts.
An on-trend printed short sleeve shirt will stop you from overheating and ensures the look will still make a statement if the weather becomes somewhat jacket unfriendly.
Footwear, again, is nothing but a sea of opportunity; a pair of rich brown leather sandals will compliment both the light and dark shades in the look.
You could easily swap out the shorts for chinos and the sandals for something more structured if you wanted a more covered up and conventional way to blend a white blazer into your attire.
Suit separates do not have to mean casual. Try working some white into your summer wedding looks – the “don’t wear white at a wedding” adage only applies to our female counterparts, luckily.
Go back to the favoured black and white contrast by rocking your white suit jacket with a pair of black suit trousers. Keep the shoes and tie black and the shirt a safe neutral – sky blue is a great option – for an easy but standout formal look.
You could decide to inject some colour via a pocket square (a rich burgundy would be a smart choice) or you can tie it to the rest of your outfit with a black version:
- Reiss Explorer Classic Fit Shirt
- Spencer Hart Slim Knitted Silk Tie
- Topman Black Slim Trousers
- Grenson Black Patent Toe Cap Ernie Shoes
Separates: White Suit Trousers
The bottom half of your white suit is a true summer essential in itself and should, like your blazer, be treated as if it were a timeless pair of navy chinos or even jeans – yes, they go with everything.
White trousers were the topic of conversation as we prepared for the summer season (in true British, misguided optimism.) We featured a full breakdown of this key piece, with the ‘how to wear’ segment and detailed lookbook offering need-to-know advice, so look no further for styling tips on pulling off your separate white suit trousers: Men’s White Trousers.
Men’s White Suits
- Asos Slim Fit Suit Jacket
- Austin Reed Contemporary Fit White Cotton Jacket
- Linen Suit The James3/sharp5 By Boss Black
- Pure Cotton Suit Amaro/heise By Hugo
- Topman Bone White Skinny Suit Jacket
- D&g White Slim Fit Cotton Tux Blazer
- Polo Ralph Lauren Abrahams Unstructured Linen-blend Blazer
- Band Of Outsiders Cotton And Linen-blend Suit Jacket
- Oxford Circular Knit Blazer
Have Your Say
Now we want to hear your opinion:
- Have we finally convinced you to add a white suit to your wardrobe?
- Are you still deterred by the fear of stains and dirt?
- How would you style a full white suit?
- And what about separating them?
Let us know in the comments below…