In the second and final part of this round-up of everything that has gone before in the Men’s Fashion Basics series, we focus on the more formal end of the spectrum.
From waistcoats and overcoats all the way to tuxedos, we’ll be covering what to look out for when it comes to fit, colour and design. Who knows, we may even have a chance to run over a few brief miscellaneous tips, with regard to colour and patterns.
A Formal Round-Up
So let’s dive straight back into it, shall we?
When it comes to the jacket, make sure that it hugs your shoulders, is slim in the body and that it covers your bottom.
The trousers should be slim, not skinny, and have a break that suits your personal taste – I tend to go for a slight break so that I can show a bit of sock when walking or sitting down.
Notch lapels are more business appropriate whilst a peak lapel communicates elegance and power. Number of buttons and vents is your prerogative.
For your first suit, go for something in a solid navy or grey and then expand from there – burgundy, olive, khaki and French blue are all viable options. Black is NEVER suitable for business or the day time (if you want something similar, go for charcoal grey instead), but can look very modern and stylish when worn in the evening.
As long as the suit fits you properly, you can dress it up or down to your tastes. Think dress shirts, grenadine ties and Derby shoes or neutral t-shirts, trainers and chambray shirts.
Same fit as a suit jacket but cut a little shorter in length. They can still be solid in colour but I tend to think they look better when they have a pattern or interesting colour involved such as brown windowpane check, navy plaid or pastel shades.
Look for jackets that have softer shoulders and minimal lining for a comfortable fit that feels more like wearing a shirt than a jacket. Try pairing them with everything from a classic jeans and t-shirt combination to a pair of corduroy trousers and a rugby top.
And don’t forget to add a flourish with a pocket square.
I tend to size down on these as they seem to be cut a little big in most stores.
If you want to wear for business then look for 100 per cent wool versions and opt for neutral, timeless colours. You can also pick them up in materials like tweed and corduroy, which are slightly more casual and can be paired with other rugged items like jeans, flannel shirts and tees.
Take this seriously as it’s the one time that you need to look your very best. There’s also a lot of really great tuxedos available at reasonable prices right now and, in the long run, will save you money over renting.
Make sure the fit is razor sharp and go for one in a black wool or cotton with a grosgrain lapel and matching bow tie.
For a classic look, pair it with a white French cuff dress shirt. If you are looking to get more use out of your tux jacket, why not try combining it with a pair of black jeans and a white t-shirt?
If the coat is going to be worn over a suit jacket regularly you’ll want to make sure there is a bit of extra room in the shoulders. Otherwise, aim for a snug fit and length that ends a couple of inches above your knees.
What type of coat you get is up to you. My favourite has always been a navy pea coat as it’s (you guessed it) versatile, simple and classic – I can wear it with pretty much everything in my wardrobe.
You should be looking to own: a pair of black cap toe shoes, a pair of brown Oxfords, some burgundy penny loafers, some tan brogues and possibly some suede variations of the above for good measure.
As always, it’s important to keep them clean and well maintained. Nothing ruins a great look, especially a suit, more than a pair of grubby, unmaintained shoes. Or Crocs.
Hats, Scarves & Umbrellas – again, this comes down to personal preference but it tends to work best when you heed this advice: if you tend to wear a lot of colour and patterns in your everyday wardrobe then stick to solid, neutral coloured pieces to help anchor your look. However, if you tend to be a more solid, neutral person already then why not use these accessories to add some depth and character to your outfits?
Ties & Pocket Squares – these are the definition of personal taste and style so my only advice is this: you can never have too many of either.
Tie Bars, Collar Pins & Other Vintage Accessories – please, for my own sanity, use these correctly and in the manner that they were designed. Nothing drives me crazy more than a guy who is wearing a tie bar with a cardigan or waistcoat (because your tie is already secured in place with the clothing) or a collar pin with no tie. Urgh.
Belts – leather, suede or horse hair, just always make sure they match the colour of your shoes.
Gloves – leather or wool, avoid fingerless style and stick to a neutral colour for maximum versatility.
Take a picture or save the colour wheel below on your phone. Remember that colours opposite each other are complementary and easy to pair together, whilst colours that are contrasting have three colours between them and are more difficult (read: rewarding) to combine:
Furthermore, try to stick to the two out of three rule: no more than three colours in an outfit and make sure at least two of them are neutrals.
The two out of three rule also works well when it comes to combining patterns, so make sure you always have a least one item of clothing that is anchoring your whole look as a solid.
The easiest way to pair patterns together is to make sure that each pattern is different in size – you literally cannot go wrong with this.
Finally, don’t forget to wear whatever you choose with confidence – it’s the key to pulling off even the most outlandish look (after fit, of course).
Even if you don’t feel entirely confident when stepping out the door, fake it until you make it. That’s all I’ve ever done!
So there you have it, a brief summary of all that has come to pass in the Fashion Basics series so far.
Here’s to many more instalments and make sure you let me know your thoughts in the comments section below…