The complete guide to suits: 57 rules of style

Details

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.






ADVICE FROM A SUIT-MAKER

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."

PLUS: WHAT TO LOOK FOR BEFORE YOU BUY

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)

COATS

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.














SHIRT-AND-TIE COMBOS

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.











SHOES

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)

WATCHES

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

    • Julie Bowen Faces Criticism for Joking About Barron Trump During Inauguration

      Julie Bowen has come under fire for her comments about Barron Trump. Julie Bowen made Donald Trump’s inauguration more fun to watch, but not everyone appreciated her witty banter. The Modern Family star, who often details the funny antics of her own three sons, posted a few Instagram photos during the ceremony focusing on Barron Trump, the 10-year-old son of the new president and his wife, Melania.

      Yahoo Celebrity
    • Michelle Obama’s Faces Upstaged Everyone at the Inauguration

      Michelle Obama may now be the former first lady, but on the Internet, she’s being celebrated as the reigning shade queen, thanks to her facial expressions on Inauguration Day.

      Yahoo Beauty
    • Trump administration suspends FHA mortgage premium rate cut

      (CNNMoney) The freshly-inaugurated Trump administration has halted a cut to the FHA mortgage insurance premium that Obama's team announced during his final days in office. The Department of Housing and Urban Development said Friday that the reduction to the annual mortgage insurance premiums borrowers pay when taking out government-backed home loans has been "suspended indefinitely." The cut, at a quarter of a percentage point, would have saved homeowners an average of $500 this year, according to the Federal Housing Administration. Borrowers with larger home loans would have seen an even bigger drop in their premium rate. The mortgage-fee reduction was originally announced January 9 and was

      CNNMoney q
    • Grown-up Paris Jackson hits her namesake city for Givenchy

      PARIS (AP) — Colorful fall-winter menswear shows in Paris mixed high culture, androgyny and streetwear, as Paris Jackson, the daughter of the late pop icon Michael Jackson, stepped out for the cameras at Givenchy's library show— fittingly in the City of Light.

      Associated Press
    • Kellyanne Conway Draws Laughs and Memes With Military-Style Garb

      The Gucci dress comes with a price tag of $3,600.

      Inside Edition
    • The Clinton Foundation Is Dead — But The Case Against Hillary Isn't

      While everyone's been gearing up for President Trump's inauguration, the Clinton Foundation made a major announcement this week that went by with almost no notice: For all intents and purposes, it's closing its doors. In a tax filing, the Clinton Global Initiative said it's firing 22 staffers and closing its offices, a result of the gusher of foreign money that kept the foundation afloat suddenly drying up after Hillary Clinton failed to win the presidency. It proves what we've said all along: The Clinton Foundation was little more than an influence-peddling scheme to enrich the Clintons, and had little if anything to do with "charity," either overseas or in the U.S. That sound you heard starting in November was checkbooks being snapped shut in offices around the world by people who had hoped their donations would buy access to the next president of the United States. There was a strong precedent for it in Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.

      Investor's Business Daily q
    • Years later, a child witness fills in disturbing details in infamous Miami abuse case

      Six years ago, 10-year-old twins were discovered in horrifying condition in a pickup truck parked along Interstate 95 — the body of Nubia Barahona, a girl with an incandescent smile, was badly beaten, soaked in chemicals and decomposing inside a garbage bag in the truck bed; her brother Victor was in the cab, badly burned by chemicals. The appalling case rocked Florida’s child welfare agency, which had received numerous abuse complaints against Barahona and his wife, Carmen, but repeatedly left the children in the couple’s custody. The ongoing death-penalty case against the Barahonas has yet to be scheduled for trial, but prosecutors believe the couple starved and tortured the twins for months or more — a charge bolstered by a new and disturbing statement from the couple’s own granddaughter, who told investigators that she was so terrified of her own family that she waited for years to tell her story.

      Miami Herald q
    • Bella Hadid Wears Totally Sheer Shirt Without a Bra -- See the Daring Pic!

      The 20-year-old model was spotted out in Paris on Friday.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • Are you an AT&T subscriber? Analysts say you may be part of a dying breed

      According to a report by Cowen and Company Equity Research, the Dallas-based carrier is losing more subscribers on a quarterly basis than any other American carrier. AT&T's biggest threat is posed by T-Mobile.

      Digital Trends
    • Even at his inauguration, Trump continues to make one of the worst men's style mistakes

      Donald Trump, who is now the 45th US president, continues to make one of the most egregious...

      Business Insider
    • Melania Trump channels Jackie O in blue Ralph Lauren dress

      Wrapped in pale blue Ralph Lauren cashmere and matching suede gloves, it looks like America’s new First Lady is taking style cues from a predecessor, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, during her husband’s swearing in ceremony today.

      Yahoo Canada Style
    • The inauguration is over, but these Michelle Obama memes will still help you get through the day

      Michelle Obama is all of us today. Forced to attend Donald Trump's inauguration on her last official day as first lady, Obama, who is normally the picture of grace and elegance, let things slide a little. The result? Her facial expressions at the inauguration are everything. And thanks to the internet, we can all commiserate with FLOTUS on this awful day with all of the memes. First there's all her amazing side-eye, proving that FLOTUS is a little salty, even though she's been (mostly) hiding it for eight years for diplomacy's sake: Maybe the most awkward moment of the whole day: There's this face, which is honestly perfect for all of our feels today: After all that shade, here's a good reminder:

      SheKnows q
    • President Trump’s Inauguration Crowd Doesn’t Look Like Barack Obama’s Did in 2009

      A side-by-side comparison of the crowds at former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump‘s respective inaugurations reveals that Trump’s crowd isn’t as large as he boasted it would be. Two aerial photographs of the National Mall from the two historic days reveal large patches of white ground exposed during Trump’s ceremony, spaces crowds had filled during Obama’s 2009 inauguration. Federal and local agencies estimated 700,000 to 900,000 people would be in Washington, D.C. for Trump’s inauguration on Friday, roughly half the number of people who attended Obama’s first presidential inauguration.

      People
    • Trump Already Suspends Obama-Era FHA Mortgage Insurance Cut

      The contentious cut would have saved the average borrower about $500 per year and cushioned the market against rising rates. The post Trump Already Suspends Obama-Era FHA Mortgage Insurance Cut appeared first on Real Estate News & Advice | realtor.com®.

      Realtor.com
    • Cuba Gooding Jr. Files for Divorce From Wife Sara Kapfer After 22 Years of Marriage: Report

      Cuba Gooding Jr. has responded to his wife Sara Kapfer’s separation filing two years later — details

      Us Weekly
    • ESPN drops commentator over Venus Williams 'gorilla' remark

      US broadcaster ESPN has dropped commentator Doug Adler after he compared Venus Williams to a "gorilla" at the Australian Open -- although he insisted the word he used was "guerrilla". ESPN said Adler should have been more careful during his coverage of the seven-time Grand Slam-winner's win over Stefanie Voegele. "During an Australian Open stream on ESPN3, Doug Adler should have been more careful in his word selection," an ESPN statement said.

      AFP
    • Celebrities react to Trump inauguration on Twitter

      Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, but not everyone will be tuning in. Celebrities took to social media Friday morning to share their thoughts on the inauguration, and in some cases, suggested alternative viewing. Trump, who has not been particularly popular among the celebrity circuit, inspired a #Brownout from George Lopez.

      Entertainment Weekly
    • Kansas City College Student Sent Cryptic Text Just Before Disappearance: ‘OMG Just Got Pulled Over Again’

      A 20-year-old Kansas City woman mysteriously vanished early Sunday morning after being pulled over by police after work — and her family is growing increasingly worried and confused. “None of it makes sense,” Toni Anderson’s mother, Liz Anderson, says of her disappearance. Toni left work at the Chrome Club shortly after 4 a.m. to meet up with a friend, Kansas City police tell PEOPLE.

      People