The Essential Navy Suit

Here at Fashionbeans, we tend to talk a lot about investing in simple, classic and versatile pieces. These are the sort of items that, when not present, will make your wardrobe simply fall apart. They are pieces that you can rely on time and time again to be incorporated into a look with ease and little thought and still look stylish. The idea being, if you invest in the enough of the right pieces, you should be able to get dressed in the dark – each item will go perfectly with the other.

But what exactly are these ‘essential’ pieces anyway? With so much going on in the world of men’s fashion and style it can be hard to keep up with the constant updates and changes. It can sometimes seem an impossible task to even start.

But luckily, this is where Fashionbeans comes in! Over the course of this editorial series, it’s our aim to highlight the top ten items that every guy should own, explaining why they should have a place in your wardrobe along with just how versatile each item can be. And first on our list is the ever present and classic navy suit.

First of all, if you don’t have a navy suit, what are you doing? It’s easily the most versatile item a man can own. You could wear it 3 times during the working week with different shirts, shoes and ties and no one would be the wiser. Then, as separates, you’ve also got a great pair of trousers and a blazer, increasing the options available to you. Due to its neutral colour, classic structure and versatile nature, the navy suit is a piece of menswear that will simply never go out of fashion.

As you may notice from the photos below, this particular navy suit is the same as the one given to me by T.M. Lewin for our article on what tailoring a suit can do for you. Let me tell you, it’s seen plenty of action since then and it just keeps getting better each time I put it on.

Look 1 – All Business

There’s nothing more classic than a navy suit paired with a white dress shirt, a dark neutral tie and a pair of black dress shoes. It’s the perfect look for any business/formal situation. It would even work at an evening wedding in a pinch.

However, I do find this particular look quite conservative so I decided to add a few personal touches to the look. A white oxford cloth button down shirt is slightly less business appropriate but when paired with a navy suit can still look very formal.

Penny loafers are pretty much the only dress shoes I wear in the summer – they aren’t too heavy to walk a couple of hours in and are great for going sockless in. And then I decided to go for some subtle pattern mixing with a black polka dot tie and a floral patterned white pocket square to add a visual point of difference to another wise ‘straight down the middle’ look.

What this look does demonstrate is how easy it easy to wear a navy suit. Swap out the shirt for something in blue, pink and lavender or something in a stripe, gingham, print and keep the tie in a dark neutral and you can’t lose. It really is as simple as that.

Suit – TM Lewin. Shirt – Uniqlo. Tie & Pocket Square – Reiss. Shoes – Barker

Look 2 – Business Casual

As soon as the summer rolls around (when we shot this), I tend to try and keep every look I wear as simple as possible. In the heat, anything that even remotely complicates my outfit is chucked away. And I seem to find myself turning more and more to polo’s as a solution to my problems.

Here I simply changed into a blue and white horizontal stripe polo shirt and swapped my loafers for a brown suede pair and carried on. This could work perfectly for someone who is heading out straight after work as these items could easily be kept at work for such an occasion. The neutral colour of the suit means that the stripe is anchored in the look and we all know how well brown and blue go together.

You could easily mix this look up by adding a solid polo shirt in an interesting colour like yellow, pink or orange or pick up a patterned casual shirt that compliments the navy.

Polo Shirt – Gap. Shoes – ASOS

Look 3 – Cuba-inspired Casual

This is a look that you could have found me in at any time of the day this summer. I think it really shows how versatile a pair of suit trousers can be by themselves.

You could easily trade the polo shirt for a short sleeve madras shirt, chambray shirt or a casual t-shirt and it will still look as good. Because the trousers are made from lightweight breathable wool and have been tailored to fit me just how I like it, they’re pretty much the most comfortable pair of trousers I own.

When the heat was starting to get to me, these were pretty much the only trousers I would wear outside of shorts and I’ve always been inspired by the Buena Vista Social Club style-wise, so I couldn’t resist pairing them with this slightly fuller cut, retro patterned polo.

Polo Shirt – Reiss

Look 4 – Travel Casual

This is actually what I turned up to the shoot in and is pretty similar to how I would turn up if I was travelling a good distance on a train or a plane. I’ll always wear my jacket rather than risk wrinkling it in my bag (I even do it on my way back from the gym).

Because the jacket is cut a little longer than a more ‘modern’ jacket, I decided to flip the collar and tuck in the pockets to make it look more like a lightweight coat than a blazer. Then it was just a matter of pairing it with some of my favourite casual pieces – olive cargos, a striped tee and some Jack Purcell’s. Ideal.

Cargo Trousers – Uniqlo, T-shirt – Reiss, Trainers – Converse

Final Word

So there you have it guys, a few ways (both formal and causal) that you can style a navy suit that should hopefully persuade you that it deserves a permanent place in your wardrobe. Obviously, these were just four choice looks, but once take into account the various colour, pattern and texture variations you could with them, the possibilities soon become pretty high.

But as always, we want to hear from you guys. Do you think the navy suit is an essential piece of menswear fashion? How do you tend to style it and why? Let us know!

And remember to keep your eyes open for Part 2 of this editorial – the white dress shirt

Matt Allinson