Introduction To Separates

Sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. When it comes to building and adding to your own style, often it can be easy to stick to what you know suits you. And nothing suits a guy like a suit. Once properly tailored to your body it has the ability to make you feel indestructible. You also have 75% of your outfit already sorted, so from a practical viewpoint all you have to worry about now are shirts, shoes and ties.

Don’t get me wrong, you will look great. There’s a reason the suit hasn’t drastically changed in design (aside from small tweaks) since the 19th Century – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, there is still so much more potential in your suit than just wearing it the way that is expected. Separate the pieces and you will find there is even more fun to be had.

Key Considerations

However, as always, there are a few things that need to be observed first. The most important of these is fit. I know, I know, I’m starting to sound like a broken record – but hear me out. First of all, fit is the one thing you can learn and use to instantly take your look from a few quid to a million bucks.

Secondly, I’m not really talking about just the suits here (because you should have already read my pieces on how to buy a suit that suits your body shape and size). I’m talking about maintaining the silhouette you’ve created. So if you’re wearing the jacket without the trousers, your jeans or chinos will need to be tailored in a similar way to the suit trousers in order to not look out of place with the jacket, and vice versa. You want to maintain a slim, but not skinny, fit from head to toe.

Once your fit is sorted out all that’s left to do is nail the kind of look you’re going for. If you are using part of your suit in your look I can only assume that you are going for some kind of smart/casual combination, so there will be an element of dressing down the jacket or the trousers. The easiest way to do this is to split your look in half and go smart up top and casual down or the other way around: A) An Oxford cloth shirt and the jacket with a pair of jeans and trainers/brogues or B) Trousers with a casual tee and leather jacket.

Another option is to think of your look in terms of layers. If you go smart on the inside with trousers, and a shirt and tie combination, why not go casual on the outside with a denim jacket and some low profile Converse?

What follows are a few tips and suggestions for what to wear when you separate out your suit.

Utilising Separates: The Jacket

Men's Separates - Using Your Suit Jackets Individually

  • We’ve seen it a million times but there’s a reason a blue suit jacket, white shirt and beige chinos is so popular. It just works. Mix it up with cool accessories or coloured boat shoes in purples, yellows or greens.
  • Jeans and a t-shirt has got to be every guys go-to casual look. Add the jacket into the mix and your ready to head out in the evenings. Make sure you wear some smart lace up shoes and you’re all set. Maybe even swap in some coloured denim in blues, pinks and yellows to hit up one of this summer’s biggest trends.
  • Take some inspiration from our Italian counterparts and pair a brown suit jacket with white jeans. Trust me, you won’t look back.
  • Been struggling to figure out what to pair with your new slimmed down cargo trousers? Easy, a heather grey t-shirt and a khaki suit jacket.
  • Breathe new life into your old shirts by having the collars swapped out for collar bands (granddad collars), it’s a really simple alteration and adds a casual summer cool to any look.
  • Don’t sweat the details between a blazer and a jacket too much. Most jackets are cut like blazers these days anyway.
Utilising Separates: The Trousers

Men's Separates - Using Your Suit Trousers Individually

  • Keep a really formal suit trouser, such as a navy pinstripe, anchored down with simple casual pieces like a white t-shirt and a brown leather jacket.
  • When considering any jacket to pair with the trousers, make sure it’s fitted to your body with just enough breathability. Tailored trousers and a baggy jacket is definitely not the look you want.
  • Hate the idea of wearing trainers with a suit? Well, you’re not wearing a suit any more, just the trousers. Get over it.
  • Remember what materials you’re working with. Tweed trousers are going to look best paired with other rugged materials such as corduroy, denim and beefy cottons.
Example Outfits:
  • Allsaints Matsue JacketAllsaints Matsue Jacket
  • Topman White Linen Short Sleeve ShirtTopman White Linen Short Sleeve Shirt
  • Shore Leave Stone ChinoShore Leave Stone Chino
  • Sebago Red Waxed Suede DocksidesSebago Red Waxed Suede Docksides
  • River Island Suede Boat ShoesRiver Island Suede Boat Shoes
  • Band Of Outsiders Suede-trimmed Boat ShoesBand Of Outsiders Suede-trimmed Boat Shoes
  • Topman Navy Skinny Suit JacketTopman Navy Skinny Suit Jacket
  • American Apparel Organic Fine Jersey Short Sleeve V-neckAmerican Apparel Organic Fine Jersey Short Sleeve V-neck
  • Reiss Clements Natural Sole BrogueReiss Clements Natural Sole Brogue
  • Allsaints Sodium Cigarette JeansAllsaints Sodium Cigarette Jeans
  • Cheap Monday Tight Skinny JeansCheap Monday Tight Skinny Jeans
  • Topman Dusty Mauve Stretch Skinny JeansTopman Dusty Mauve Stretch Skinny Jeans
  • Reiss Victor B Single Breasted Cotton BlazerReiss Victor B Single Breasted Cotton Blazer
  • Reiss Dustin Bold Check ShirtReiss Dustin Bold Check Shirt
  • Allsaints Sodium Cigarette JeansAllsaints Sodium Cigarette Jeans
  • Asos Slim Fit Suit JacketAsos Slim Fit Suit Jacket
  • American Apparel Sheer Jersey Short Sleeve Summer T-shirtAmerican Apparel Sheer Jersey Short Sleeve Summer T-shirt
  • J Brand Denim Trooper Slim-fit Washed Cargo TrousersJ Brand Denim Trooper Slim-fit Washed Cargo Trousers
  • Allsaints Cargo Biker Leather JacketAllsaints Cargo Biker Leather Jacket
  • American Apparel Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T-shirtAmerican Apparel Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T-shirt
  • Asos Slim Fit Pinstripe Suit TrouserAsos Slim Fit Pinstripe Suit Trouser
The Final Word

So there you have it guys, a quick guide on how to start separating your suits with success. But I encourage you not to stop at just what I’ve said – keep experimenting and find new combinations that add your own personal style.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments section below, especially if there’s anything that you would do differently. It’s all about team work here, people!

Matt Allinson