So this week’s article will be the last Men’s Basics on Suits before we do another round up of what has been discussed before. Maybe I’ll throw in an extra one on ties, hats, shoes and other accessories, I don’t know. But first let’s make sure we’ve covered patterned suits. And by this I mean primarily the striped and plaid varieties.

Now, up until now we’ve been using the suit as the anchor for going wild with all kinds of suit and tie combinations. There were stripes, plaids, checks and loud colours everywhere. But when you’re wearing a suit that is based upon some kind of pattern it is important to remember a few basic rules. The first is to be mindful of the suit, so if you’ve got a plaid patterned suit on is it really wise to reach for that plaid shirt or tie? You don’t want people to go cross-eyed when they look at you right? If you’ve got a pattern on your suit then keep the shirt and the tie in solid colours.

Secondly, in regards to the shirt and tie keep them as simple as possible. You want to make them the anchor of the outfit allowing the suit to shine. Sticking with a white shirt and black tie is pretty much the fail-safe here.

And lastly, as always, keep the suit itself on the simple side, no excessive detailing, accessories or pockets. Always make sure it fits you properly, never get a patterned 3-piece suit and constantly wear it with confidence.

Change Your Stripes

I think the main reason that a lot people stay away from striped suits in the workplace, or even for out-of-office times, is because of the reputation the 80’s gave them. Huge baggy suits with the widest of the wide stripes on them were being worn by rich, arrogant men trying to be Michael Douglas in Wall Street. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

The secret to success is in the stripes. Keep them pencil thin and you can’t go wrong. Slimmer and more subtle stripes are a far more relaxed and stylish way of saying that you know how to dress for the office. Avoiding having the stripes coloured is a good idea too. Just stick with white (or chalk as they’re referred to) stripes or within the same base tone – navy with a slightly lighter blue for example.

Try to get one in black, navy or grey but I would say the one to aim for is navy. It’s just a more versatile colour that can move from the office to the evening with ease. Grey can either be too formal or casual depending on its shade and black on a night-out will make people think you’ve come from either a wedding or a funeral. Both are bad.

Ways To Wear

Ways to wear a striped suit:

  • Pair it with a white oxford-cloth shirt and a dark solid tie, hopefully knitted in black, navy or grey for a simple and stress free way of pulling off a striped suit.
  • Release your inner dandy by pairing it with a gingham check shirt. The key here is to make sure that the check lines aren’t the same size as the stripes on your suit so go for a bold gingham print in reds, yellows or greens and wear it with pride with your navy suit.
  • With a black chalk-striped suit, why not start stepping into the purple family? Go with a light lilac shirt and a darker purple tie and see how you feel. Maybe even reach for a black felt fedora and ribbed scarf for the colder months?
  • Or if you’re feeling really brave do the stripe on stripe! But the same rules applies here as it did for gingham, make sure the stripes are wider than on the suit. A really easy way to do it is to stick with the white shirt but pick up a colourful cotton striped tie to add a bit of summer flare to the suit.
Tangled up in Plaid

Here I’m using Plaid as a general umbrella term for any suit with a check pattern in it because honestly there are a lot varieties out there ranging from some seriously dandy-esque mini checks all the way through to the sophisticated Prince of Wales check. But hopefully you get the idea.

The great thing about a plaid suit is that even if you already have a well stocked office wardrobe of all we’ve covered before, this is still one that can be added to breathe new life into your working wear. The key to pulling it off is to make sure that you buy it in a dark shade, so deep blues such as navy and charcoal greys. Also keep the patterns as muted and as understated as possible so that it doesn’t look like you’re screaming out for attention. Follow those rules and you’ll be able to pair it with any shirt and tie combination you have in your wardrobe. Seriously, it will go with anything so go crazy!