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

    • Foreclosed mall once valued at $190M is auctioned for $100

      TARENTUM, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania mall that was foreclosed on after its owners failed to repay $143 million has been auctioned off for $100.

      Associated Press
    • One by one, 3 utility workers descended into a manhole. One by one, they died.

      When a utility worker in Key Largo, Fla., noticed that a section of a paved street was not settling properly, he decided to remove a manhole cover and descend into the earth. Moments later on Monday morning, the 15-foot-deep hole went silent. Sensing the man was trapped, a fellow utility worker climbed into the drainage hole to rescue him. When he, too, stopped responding, a third worker entered the same hole. All three men died, overcome by poisonous fumes underground, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. A Key Largo firefighter who made a desperate attempt to save the men also became unconscious within seconds. The firefighter, Leonardo Moreno, an eight-year veteran of the

      Washington Post q
    • Fox News' Tucker Carlson perfectly exposed a guest trying to spread a hoax on air

      Fox News host Tucker Carlson began his interview Tuesday night with an unusual demand: "Tell me what your real name is." While the man Carlson was talking to claimed to be Dom Tullipso, director of operations for a business called Demand Protest, Carlson said a "law enforcement-level background check" revealed that name "does not exist" — and Carlson wasn't convinced Tullipso's business did either. The man never exactly admitted that the whole business is, in fact, a hoax, but he does give a pretty good display of what Carlson dubs "performance art." At one point, Tullipso (if that's really his name) claims his support for "national treasures such as Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Peyton Manning." Yes, football-playing, Super Bowl-winning Peyton Manning.

      The Week q
    • The internet roasts a photo of Donald Trump writing his inauguration speech

      When times get tough, at least you can still meme. President-elect Donald Trump is slated to deliver his inauguration address on Friday, so he teased his Twitter followers with a little behind-the-scenes photo of himself writing a speech at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. SEE ALSO: Don's Johns: Port-a-potties get censored for Trump’s inauguration Writing my inaugural address at the Winter White House, Mar-a-Lago, three weeks ago. Looking forward to Friday. #Inauguration pic.twitter.com/S701FdTCQu — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2017 The staged photo and Trump's cold, dead gaze sent the internet straight into "meme mode alpha," where it was pointed out that Trump was actually holding Sharpie marker, which may or may not actually be closed. @realDonaldTrump that is a blank piece of paper and you're holding a closed sharpie pic.twitter.com/ekCcH8eTXe — Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) January 18, 2017 @cajunmonkey439 @realDonaldTrump It is *obviously* a sharpie. pic.twitter.com/gdD2AUhBKX — Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) January 18, 2017 .@realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/8CSroNshBR — XpeK (@peKofX) January 18, 2017 Surprised that you didn't just use this photo as your epic, bigly speech pic.twitter.com/SezwzToFg4 — Roland Scahill (@rolandscahill) January 18, 2017 good job @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/Ioj869Tfy3 — uhhh (@_uhhhhhhh) January 18, 2017 pic.twitter.com/pAKcXAEAkD — Sam Grittner (@SamGrittner) January 18, 2017 @realDonaldTrump #NotMyPresident #TheResistance #conflict #Putin #Inauguration In house security cam Mar a Lago pic.twitter.com/diwnpjAS3F — Beo Bachter (@kaysintBB) January 18, 2017 Early draft of Donald Trump’s inauguration speech. #TrumpSpeech #MyFirstWordsAsPresident #MAGA pic.twitter.com/qgo1glv5cG — Tom ❄️ (@TommieWho) January 18, 2017 Exclusive sneak peek at Trump's inauguration speech! pic.twitter.com/6W6ex0Ks3z — Kara Calavera (@KaraCalavera) January 18, 2017 Trump's Inaugural address leaked... pic.twitter.com/J8soJQ4Ira — Jordan Uhl (@JordanUhl) January 18, 2017 Exclusive: #Trump's Inauguration speech leaked! #TrumpInaugural #trumpgrammar pic.twitter.com/XzrXXpnjxD — Gerry Stergiopoulos (@GerryGreek) January 18, 2017 According to CNN, Trump did write his inauguration speech himself. BONUS: NBD, just a massive alligator out for a stroll

      Mashable
    • Biracial Actress Meghan Markle Recounts Her Family’s History With Racism: ‘It Still Haunts Me’

      Meghan Markle is opening up about her family’s history with racism and the discrimination she has experienced being biracial. The 35-year-old actress, whose mother is African-American and father is Caucasian, penned a candid essay in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day for TheTig.com — the “inspirational lifestyle” website she founded and serves as Editor-in-Chief.

      People
    • Sasha Obama Catches Some Sun in Miami (61 photos)

      Following their European tour with First Lady Michelle Obama earlier last summer, the first daughters are bringing their chic sense of style to the streets of NYC for a father-daughter weekend with the President. Since moving into The White House eight years ago, Sasha and Malia Obama's style has transformed along the way. Click through for a look back at the teenagers' best fashion moments over the years. From Harper's BAZAAR

      Harper's Bazaar
    • People are talking about the confusing Photoshop fail in Selena Gomez’s Instagram selfie

      We all know that Selena Gomez is beyond beautiful and is no need of Photoshop. But one picture floating around the internet…

      Hello Giggles
    • American Airlines is banning carry-on bags and overhead bin use for basic-economy passengers

      Flying American Airlines just got a bit more affordable. On Wednesday, the world's largest...

      Business Insider
    • Beretta Unveils the New Tikka Tactical Bolt Gun

      Beretta unveiled the new Tikka T3X TAC A1 tactical bolt-action rifle at SHOT Show 2017. “It’s the game-changer,” said Philip Jones, rifle product manager at Beretta USA. “As far as precision rifles go, we think this is really going to set a very high and new bar.” The TAC A1 features a “very smooth, very dependable” Tikka bolt action and a two-stage trigger that can be adjusted to between 2-4 pounds, Jones said. “One of the things that is obviously very important with this rifle is durability,” he said. “If you look at the AR-compatible stock on this gun, it is a machined- aluminum piece with a steel hinge.” The folding stock has a monopod mount, height-adjustable buttplate, a cheek piece that

      Kit Up! q
    • Virginia man convicted of 2006 slaying of family is executed

      JARRATT, Va. (AP) — A man convicted of killing a family of four, slashing their throats and setting their home ablaze after they left their front door open while preparing for a New Year's Day party in 2006, was executed Wednesday.

      Associated Press
    • Largest Land Animal Ever: Massive Alligator In Florida Video Is Dinosaur Cousin

      A massive alligator walking through a nature reserve in central Florida has become a viral sensation after a video of the monster-like creature was uploaded to Facebook Sunday, according to local media reports. Florida resident Kim Joiner posted the video after she saw the animal at the Circle B Bar Reserve in Polk County.  “I love Circle B. Nature at its best,” Joiner wrote in the Facebook the post. It has since been shared more than 18,000 times. Joiner described the animal in an interview with a local news station. "It looks like a dinosaur," News 6 anchor Justin Warmoth said. "Is that real?" News 6 anchor Kirstin O'Connor asked after watching the video. "Yes, it's real," Joiner said. She

      International Business Times q
    • We Simulated The NFL Conference Championship Games, And There Was One Giant Upset

      The 2016-17 NFL Playoffs has found its final four with just the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, and Atlanta Falcons remaining after a highly entertaining Divisional Round. If you take Madden 17’s Wild Card predictions from our simulation of the entire NFL Playoffs, coupled with our simulation of the Divisional Round individually, Madden 17 is sitting at a cool 6-2 heading into what should be a very interesting Championship Round.

      UPROXX
    • Ex-president George H.W. Bush moved to intensive care; wife hospitalized

      Bush, who at 92 is the nation's oldest living ex-president, has been at Houston Methodist Hospital since Saturday after experiencing shortness of breath, family spokesman Jim McGrath said on Wednesday. Since then, Bush experienced an "acute respiratory problem stemming from pneumonia" and was sedated for the unspecified procedure, his office said.

      Reuters
    • ‘Monster Mom’ Sentenced to 43 Years in Prison for Killing Her 11-Year-Old Daughter

      On Tuesday, an Illinois judge dubbed a 35-year-old woman a “monster mom” before sentencing her to 43 years in prison for the 2014 murder of her 11-year-old daughter, PEOPLE confirms. Addressing the courtroom, 19th Circuit Court Judge James Booras questioned how anyone could treat their child the way Nicholette Lawrence did. “Who would lock a child up in a closet furnished only with a sink and feed the child only a bowl of cereal a day?” Booras asked aloud, according to a court transcript obtained by PEOPLE.

      People
    • Michelle Obama took her final stroll through the White House, and we are sobbing so hard

      The moving vans have arrived and the Obamas are gearing up for the transition to their new home in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington,…

      Hello Giggles
    • Donald Trump Tells Democrats Boycotting His Inauguration: Give Me Your Tickets

      'I don't want the celebrities there. I want the people there,' Trump spouted.

      Inside Edition
    • The Street q
    • Burning Tehran tower block collapses

      Iranian state television airs pictures of a high-rise building collapse in Tehran after a huge fire engulfed the upper the storeys. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

      Reuters Videos
    • Jorge Posada falls off Hall of Fame ballot after just one year

      The first member of the Core Four eligible for the Hall of Fame might be the only member who never gets the call. New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada received just 3.8 percent of the vote Wednesday, falling off the Hall of Fame ballot after just one year. The fact that Posada was not inducted into Cooperstown shouldn’t come as a major surprise.

      Big League Stew
    • Date Night! Amber Rose Shares Steamy Kiss with Val Chmerkovskiy During New York City Night Out

      Amber Rose and Valentin “Val” Chmerkovskiy may have kept their Dancing with the Stars romance under wraps in the beginning, but they’re clearly past that stage now. The 33-year-old radio show host and her 30-year-old ballroom dancer boyfriend have been all over one another recently – sharing smooching shots on Instagram and flaunting their PDA during Monday’s Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. On Wednesday, Rose shared a shot of her and Chemerkovskiy locking lips during a night out in New York City.

      People