The complete guide to suits: 57 rules of style


View gallery

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

Everything you need to know about suits, including what to look for when buying them, how to get them tailored, and the coats, shirts, ties, shoes, and watches to wear with them.

Rule #1
We've said it before and we'll say it again: Fit is everything. Even the world's most expensive suit will look bad if it isn't tailored to the contours of your body.

Left: Blazer ($1,595), pants ($295), and shirt ($295) by Burberry Prorsum. Tie ($130) by Band of Outsiders. Pocket square ($65 for three) by Brooks Brothers.

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

Rule #2
Some think button-down collars are for casual wear only, but they can work great with dressier looks as well.

Rule #3
Polka dots are a great way to bring energy to a suit. Make sure they're big enough to be recognizable, but not so large that they're goofy.

Rule #4
A tried-and-true pattern like herringbone or glen plaid in a muted shade makes an impression without crossing into the realm of garishness.

Right: Suit ($3,595) by Isaia. Shirt ($550) by Kiton. Tie ($150) by Alfred Dunhill. Belt ($295) by Ermenegildo Zegna. Shoes ($660) by Church's.

Rule #5
Visible stitches around the edges of your lapels (called pick-stitching) aren't necessarily a sign of a well-made garment anymore. However, they can be an attractive decorative flourish—as long as they're subtle. No contrast stitching!

Rule #6
Some say you shouldn't cut the stitching in your jacket pockets, because putting objects in them will cause your jacket to lose its shape. Don't listen. It's pointless to have nonfunctional pockets, and a concert ticket or a business-card holder certainly won't do any damage.

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

Rule #7
Some think three-pieces are stodgy, but when the waistcoat is cut close to the body and hemmed to the belt line, you'll look slim and modern.

Rule #8
Your tie bar should never be wider than your tie.

Rule #9
The difference between classic and cliché is often in the material. The timeless appeal of this gray suit begins with its super-luxe cashmere wool.

Left: Suit ($9,900) by Brioni. Shirt ($145) by BOSS Black. Tie ($225) by Isaia. Tie bar ($70) by Paul Stuart. Pocket square ($75) by Polo Ralph Lauren. Shoes ($1,015) by Hermès.

Rule #10
Always unfasten your jacket buttons when you sit. No exceptions.

Rule #11
Never fasten the bottom button of a double-breasted jacket (unless it has only a single row of buttons).

Rule #12
Avoid over-accessorizing. If you're already wearing a pocket square and a tie bar, you'll want to reconsider that clever lapel pin.

View gallery

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

Rule #13
When wearing corduroy, steer clear of fusty wide wales, but don't go so narrow that the material starts to look like velvet.

Rule #14
A dark, patterned pocket square provides a welcome visual anchor to a light-colored suit.

Rule #15
When it comes in a sandy tan rather than the usual rust or chocolate brown, this cold-weather suit gets a dose of sunny energy.

Right: Suit ($3,895) by Belvest. Shirt ($185) by Gitman Vintage. Tie ($195) by Michael Bastian. Pocket square ($25) by Club Monaco. Shoes ($660) by Church's.

Rule #16
Save the bulky shock-resistant sports watch for the gym or your outdoor-adventure excursions. It has no place with a suit.

Rule #17
Save yourself some embarrassment: Always remove the stitching on the vents and the label on the left sleeve before wearing a new suit.

Rule #18
It's fine to flip up the collar of a casual cotton jacket, but when you're dressed more formally (say, in a black suit), you should always leave the collar down.

View gallery

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

Rule #19
When you go without a tie, it's best to keep your shirt collar on the smaller side.

Rule #20
Call attention to special suit material—like this marled wool—by keeping your accessories to a minimum.

Rule #21
Tailoring your pants a little bit short will add distinctiveness to your simple look.

Left: Suit ($1,195) by Calvin Klein Collection. Shirt ($250) by Patrik Ervell. Shoes ($1,600) by Salvatore Ferragamo.


Patrick Grant, the owner of the Savile Row fixtures Norton & Sons and E. Tautz, shares his tailoring tips.

Rule #22
Get a Uniform

"Men do well when they find something that works for them and stick to it, rather than continually try to reinvent the wheel—one of our customers must have 20 double-breasted jackets in the same cut. If you establish your own sense of style, you don't subject yourself to the vagaries of fashion."

Rule #23
You Can't Beat English Tailoring

"I definitely have friends who wear Italian-style suits, which are softer and have less structure. But I prefer English tailoring, which gives suits more shape and a well-defined shoulder. To me, it just looks sharper."

Rule #24
Mind Your Silhouette

"You can tell a good handmade suit by looking at it from 50 yards off—it's about overall harmony and balance. The trousers should be slim, the shoulders narrow, the waist nipped."

Rule #25
Don't Go Too Short

"A suit jacket should come down to the first knuckle on your thumb. Too many people are cutting short jackets now, and they just make men look too heavy in the middle."

Rule #26
Keep Your Cuff Buttons Buttoned

"I think undoing the button on your cuff looks kind of naff. It doesn't signify quality anymore because there are plenty of working buttonholes done by machines."

Rule #27
Go For Side Vents

"Most of the suits being made on Savile Row have two vents because it's considered almost cheap work to do fewer. A jacket with one vent or no vents uses much less cloth, and it's much less sewing."

Rule #28
Gray-Flannel Suits Always Look Good

"They just work brilliantly with everything. They're elegant without being stuffy and look beautifully luxurious."


Rule #29
When your jacket is buttoned, you should be able to fit a fist between your chest and the fabric—no more, no less.

Rule #30
Before buying a suit online, try it on in a store first to make sure the shoulders fit, as sizing varies widely among brands.

Rule #31
Your jacket sleeves should reveal about half an inch of shirt cuff. If they don't, try a short size instead—you could save yourself a trip to the tailor later on.

Rule #32
Choose fabric according to how often you'll wear the suit. The most versatile option is a soft but durable wool like super 120 (a measure of yarn fineness; any higher is too delicate for daily use).

Rule #33
Your pants should sit at your waist (not your hips). You should be able to fit one finger into the waistband comfortably.

View gallery

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)


Remember, people see your coat before they see your suit. If you've gone to the trouble of putting together the perfect ensemble, you owe it to yourself to finish the look with the right top layer. Whether you want single- or double-breasted, a classic or a bold color, a solid shade or a pattern, there's a well-cut coat to suit you.

Rule #34

A double-breasted overcoat should be slim so it doesn't billow when open.

Right: Coat ($4,500) by Hermès. Suit ($3,500) by Dior Homme. Shirt ($195) by Calvin Klein. Tie ($135) by Ralph Lauren Black Label.

View gallery

Photo by Jennifer Livingston

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

Rule #35
A slightly cropped overcoat will elongate your silhouette.

Left: Coat ($885) by Luigi Bianchi. Blazer ($1,600) and pants ($585) by Adam Kimmel. Shirt ($225) by Hamilton. Tie ($150) by Alexander Olch.

Rule #36

View gallery

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

A pattern is a great complement to a neutral suit.

Right: Coat ($2,080) by Dsquared2. Blazer ($425) and pants ($225) by J. Crew. Shirt ($125) by Polo Ralph Lauren. Tie ($70) by Club Monaco. Pocket square ($60) by Alexander Olch.

View gallery

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

Rule #37
Like a gray suit, a gray overcoat is always in fashion.

Left: Coat ($5,135) by Brunello Cucinelli. Suit ($3,295) by Billy Reid. Shirt ($90) by Club Monaco.

Rule #38
Navy coat

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

Navy goes with any suit in your wardrobe—including black.

Right: Coat ($10,960) by Kiton. Suit ($995) by BOSS Black. Shirt ($700) by Brioni. Tie ($155) by Ralph Lauren Black Label.

View gallery

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

(Photo by Jennifer Livingston)

Rule #39
Camel will give you the ultimate luxe look.

Left: Coat ($2,995) by Maison Martin Margiela. Blazer ($500), vest ($150), and pants ($158) by Banana Republic. Shirt ($495) by Alfred Dunhill. Tie ($50) by Express.


View gallery

(Photo by Brian Finke)

(Photo by Brian Finke)

Show some personality by mixing and matching patterns and shades—the contrast is what you're after.

Rule #40
Offset a bold tie with a subdued shirt.

Right: Shirt ($335) by Paul Smith London. Tie ($125) by Polo Ralph Lauren.


View gallery

(Photo by Brian Finke)

(Photo by Brian Finke)

Rule #41
Modernize your winter knit tie by wearing it with a trim, shortened collar.

Left: Shirt ($295) by Maison Martin Margiela. Tie ($125) by BOSS Selection.


View gallery

(Photo by Brian Finke)

(Photo by Brian Finke)

Rule #42
Two variations of the same color always look good together.

Right: Shirt ($495) by Isaia. Tie ($125) by Z Zegna.


View gallery

(Photo by Brian Finke)

(Photo by Brian Finke)

Rule #43
When you feel creative, pair dark chambray with a bright, spirited tie.

Left: Shirt ($395) by Ermenegildo Zegna. Tie ($135) by Gant Rugger.


View gallery

(Photo by Brian Finke)

(Photo by Brian Finke)

Rule #44
The pattern-on-pattern look is office-appropriate without being predictable.

Right: Shirt ($700) by Brioni. Tie ($125) by Polo Ralph Lauren.


View gallery

(Photo by Brad Bridgers)

(Photo by Brad Bridgers)

With these updated styles, your biggest problem won't be figuring out how to wear them—it'll be deciding which gorgeous pair to choose.

Rule #45
An unexpected color like mossy green will bring out a new dimension in a navy suit.
Fratelli Rossetti ($690)

Rule #46
The Chelsea boot pairs perfectly with tapered trousers.
Banana Republic ($158)

Rule #47
Worn with a black suit, a black suede captoe delivers a tonal match that will add some texture to your outfit.
O'Keefe ($545)

Rule #48
The black single-monk is the sleekest, most sophisticated, most versatile shoe around.
Church's ($610)

Rule #49
For a bit of Euro flair, wear a tasseled loafer with pants that graze the middle of your ankle.
Tod's ($625)

Rule #50
A dark-oxblood shoe is a beautiful complement to a charcoal-gray suit.
John Lobb ($1,640)

Rule #51
Brogue boots add the perfect rugged touch to your favorite casual suit.
Allen Edmonds ($375)

View gallery

(Photo by Brad Bridgers)

(Photo by Brad Bridgers)


Don't drag down your outfit with a substandard timepiece—find one that shows you're fully invested in every last detail of your appearance.

Rule #52
White face, gold indices, brown leather strap—you can't go wrong.
Movado ($795)

Rule #53
Oversize, elegantly designed numerals add some panache.
Panerai ($39,800)

Rule #54
A tank watch, marked by its rectangular shape, spells refinement.
Cartier ($14,200)

Rule #55
An all-black timepiece is a great match for a solid-black or gray suit.
Bell & Ross ($4,600)

Rule #56
A watch your grandfather could have worn will look just as great on you.
Omega ($6,800)

Rule #57
You can wear a chronograph with a suit if it's simple.
TAG Heuer ($5,100)

More from Details:

How To Build the Perfect Home Gym

Top 5 Midnight Snacks to Help You Sleep

Is Skim Milk Making You Fat?

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Tiger Woods Doesn’t Regret Cheating on Ex-Wife Elin Nordegren

      The 40-year-old professional golfer opened up to Charlie Rose on Thursday.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Pictures of two Egyptian children engaged to be married trigger outrage — once again

      CAIRO – While celebrating his eldest son's lavish wedding, at which a number of famous singers and belly dancers performed, Nasser Hassan decided to "double the joy," he later recalled. He announced that his son Omar would marry his cousin Gharam. At the wedding, held in a province about 75 miles north of Cairo, the guests didn’t find it strange. Some would later tell Egypt’s Al Watan newspaper that there was “nothing inappropriate,” adding that it was only “an engagement, not a marriage". Omar is 12 years old. His fiancee, Gharam, is 11. Egyptian laws prohibit official registration for marriages for anyone under the age of 18. But the practice remains prevalent. According to UNICEF, 17 percent

      Washington Post q
    • There's a chance Eric Trump hasn't paid for a cup of lemonade for years

      Eric Trump appears to have committed one of the cardinal sins of fast food: Putting a soft drink in a free water cup. The noted map enthusiast was caught with a clear cup of lemonade in his hand at an In-N-Out restaurant after Wednesday's presidential debate.  Although Trump's stolen beverage was conveniently absent from his own Instagram photo, the truth emerged when he took a a pic with another customer...who is now an inadvertent whistleblower. SEE ALSO: The Trumpkin is back to make Halloween terrifying again this is a photo of my homey grant with trumps kid at in-n-out & trumps kid is drinking lemonade outta the free water cup... — Kush Vonnegut (@xwnklmnx) October 20, 2016 For the record, In-N-Out confirmed to BuzzFeed that clear plastic cups are indeed for water only, so Trump was clearly on the wrong side of the law here. But after seeing something as viscerally disturbing as this theft, it's natural to still have a few questions. For instance:  Why did Eric Trump elect not to buy a cup of lemonade? Has Eric Trump ever paid for a cup of lemonade? Has his wife's purchase of a drink created a loophole that allows Eric Trump to take some of her drink and put it in his cup? Can a nice cup of lemonade, one of our society's best achievements, ever truly be owned? How do you celebrate after a big @realdonaldtrump win?! #InNOut #teamtrump #MAGA  A photo posted by Lara Trump (@laraleatrump) on Oct 19, 2016 at 9:53pm PDT Anyway, stealing a fountain beverage is an unforgivable offense and we cannot imagine ever doing it. Ever.  Nope, we have never done this.

    • An embarrassing situation at the Al Smith Dinner

      'The O'Reilly Factor': Bill O'Reilly's Talking Points 10/21

      FOX News Videos
    • Deer walks up to hunter and demands head scratches

      Hunter Jordan Maxon from New Richmond, Wisconsin, had a very odd encounter with a very friendly deer.  After setting up a deer stand in a clearing, Maxon looked around to see if any wildlife had wandered into the area before he started hunting. That's when he noticed a buck about 70 yards away.  "I figured I'd wait for him to leave the clearing, however, after five minutes of standing there, he wouldn't leave," Maxon explained on YouTube.  SEE ALSO: Deer fearlessly leaps through house window, becomes viable stuntman Instead of leaving, the buck approaches Maxon, who gently convinces the dear to come a bit closer with noises you'd use to coax a cat or dog.  The deer comes so close that Maxon is

      Mashable q
    • Trump gains on Clinton, poll shows 'rigged' message resonates

      By Emily Stephenson and Amanda Becker NEWTOWN, Pa./CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gained on his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton among American voters this week, cutting her lead nearly in half, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling released on Friday. The polling data showed Trump's argument that the Nov. 8 election is "rigged" against him has resonated with members of his party. "Remember folks, it's a rigged system," Trump told a Pennsylvania rally on Friday.

    • Jennifer Garner Carries Her Daughter’s School Project in High Heels

      Jennifer Garner is a bonafide super mom. She’s raising her two daughters, Violet and Seraphina, alongside ex-husband Ben Affleck, and she manages…

      Hello Giggles
    • 4 Things I’ve Regretted Telling Guys on the First Date

      The shortest date I ever went on was fifteen minutes. Drink orders weren’t even taken and coats were barely unzipped by the time we both looked each other in eye and the braver one of us, probably not me, said maybe we should call it a night. It wasn’t that we weren’t attracted to one another. He looked exactly like he did in his photos on the dating app, and I like to think I look similar enough to mine that a guy knows what he’s getting himself into when he meets me in person. The date ended because somehow, in the first couple of minutes, we both skipped the mutually agreeable topics like the weather and how annoying our commutes were today and jumped right into politics. Before menus were

      Glamour q
    • Bermuda Triangle mystery solved? Experts say 'air bombs' sank ships and brought down planes

      The mystery of Bermuda Triangle may have been solved according to a new documentary. A documentary by the Science Channel showcases new satellite imagery from NASA over coastal Florida, revealing "a series of hexagon-shaped clouds," which meteorologists say can produce 170 mph (273kmph) wind air bombs above the Bermuda Triangle. Steve Miller, a satellite meteorologist from Colorado State University, says that the straight-edged appearance of the clouds is pretty unusual.

      International Business Times UK q
    • Tiger Woods Takes Manhattan (8 photos)

      Tiger Woods was a busy man this week as he made the rounds in New York City to promote his new brand and celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the Tiger Woods Foundation. Here's a photographic look back at his spin around the Big Apple. 

    • Draymond Green kicks up his leg again

      Draymond Green kicked up his leg again in the Golden State Warriors preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. Portland, who trolled GSW before the matchup, called Green out on it. Shortly after that, Trail Blazers guard Allen Crabbe bumped into Green, and the two exchanged a few words while their teammates separated them. It wasn't a huge deal, but the fact that Green let his leg fly - after that same action (whether it was intentional or not) was part of why he was suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals that the Warriors lost - is odd, to say the least.

      USA Today q
    • Miesha Tate Picks Ronda Rousey Over Amanda Nunes, If…

      No one in the world is more qualified to breakdown the UFC 207 main event between women's bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes and former titleholder Ronda Rousey than Miesha Tate. Tate has fought Rousey twice, coming up short both times. Rousey hasn't fought since losing the belt to Holly Holm at UFC 193 in November 2015 by knockout.

      MMA Weekly
    • Amy Schumer’s Instagram post about the debate is the most accurate thing we’ve ever seen

      If it’s one thing we can agree on, it’s that Amy Schumer is a comedic angel sent from the heavens above. Girlfriend…

      Hello Giggles
    • Donald Trump has a small lead in 3 national polls

      Donald Trump found himself ahead in three national polls Friday morning. The Republican...

      Business Insider
    • U.S. warship challenges China's claims in South China Sea

      By Idrees Ali and Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Friday, drawing a warning from Chinese warships to leave the area. The U.S. action was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, U.S. officials said. The Chinese Defense Ministry called the move "illegal" and "provocative," saying that two Chinese warships had warned the U.S. destroyer to leave.

    • Mom Sobs as Son With Autism Snuggles With New Service Dog: 'The Connection Is Life-Changing'

      For years, Shanna Niehaus had watched her son try to make friends, but to no avail. So when he finally found one, she couldn't contain her emotions.

      Inside Edition
    • How to Make New Friends as an Adult

      When you no longer have school to introduce you to fellow classmates, it can be hard to make new friends. Never fear, we have a guide to help out.

      The Cheat Sheet q 47 min ago
    • Carrie Underwood Slays in a Metallic Minidress with Her "Handsome Hunk" at CMT Artists of the Year Event

      Carrie Underwood shone like the country star she is at a CMT Artists of the Year event in Nashville on Wednesday. The 33-year-old looked absolutely radiant in a metallic patterned minidress with strips of sheer paneling flanking her chest and back. Unexpected as it was glamorous; Underwood's dress bestowed an added sartorial surprise with an elegant black train that trailed down the backside of her skirt. Underwood wore her blonde bob in relaxed waves for the event and complemented her gol