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The Unspoken Rules of Wearing a Suit

You might need to wear a suit for any number of occasions; for work, a wedding, a christening or even to impress the in-laws at a formal function. However, wearing a suit can come with its rules, and they can seem a little tricky at first. With such a smart style, it’s important to get it right or risk standing out for the wrong reasons (your poor suit etiquette). Alongside the huge choice of colour and style, suddenly shopping for a suit can feel quite confusing. So, if you’re hoping to invest in a timeless suit, here are some unspoken rules that you should know.

Wearing the right size 

First of all, your suit should fit you perfectly. There isn’t much worse in men’s fashion than an ill-fitting suit. With this in mind, you may want to consider going to a tailor to make sure that your suit is personalised to you. It’s important that your suit fits you properly on your shoulders, as this is the biggest giveaway that you have bought the wrong size. There are a few pointers you can remember to ensure your suit fits you at various points. One of the biggest ones is the cuff of your jacket. This should sit no lower than the base of your palm, and no higher than your wrist bone. Your shirt sleeve should then peek out from underneath your jacket cuff, but no more than 1cm. This creates a smart look with the jacket fitting just right; not appearing too large or too small. The length of your trousers is also crucial to creating a careful, smart look. Generally speaking, your trouser hem should just kiss the top of your shoe. If any fabric falls around your shoe and looks baggy, your suit will immediately look too big and untidy. When it comes to your suit accessories, make sure your tie just reaches your waistband or even sits slightly shorter. This creates a presentable appearance and ensures your tie doesn’t look too big or small for you.

Photo: Craig Landale
Photo: Craig Landale

It’s all in the detail 

When it comes to wearing a suit successfully and stylishly, it’s worth remembering that the little details are what make the biggest difference. There is an unspoken rule that you should keep it to a maximum of 3 accessories for your suit. If you’re wearing a three-piece suit, your waistcoat is counted as one of those accessories. You can make a statement by wearing a bow tie or a normal tie, but choose wisely. Your tie should always be darker than your dress shirt. It’s also important to match the width of your tie to the width of the lapel on your jacket. Remember that thinner lapels are more modern than wider ones. A Windsor knot is often best for tying your tie; whether you do a full Windsor or half Windsor depends on the size of your head. If you have a larger head, opt for the full Windsor. If you opt for a pocket square, give yourself some freedom. This is the most versatile part of your suit, and it doesn’t necessarily have to match your tie in colour or pattern. Choose a contrasting style for a contemporary look if it takes your fancy. Another important style note is to remember that your shoes and belt should match in colour. Finally, you should never fasten the bottom button of your jacket. Keep it undone to create more freedom for movement, as well as a more flattering silhouette.

Photo: Craig Landale
Photo: Craig Landale


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