The 5 rules of men’s formalwear

There’s nothing like an impeccable suit to make a man look and feel his best, yet not all men are well-versed in the rules of formalwear.
elegant male outfits on dummies in modern boutique

There’s nothing like an impeccable suit to make a man look and feel his best, yet not all men are well-versed in the rules of formalwear. Suits are no longer standard work attire, so with dressing down now the new norm, most guys probably only need to smarten up for special occasions. If you’re in the same boat, formalwear probably seems like a minefield, but it doesn’t have to be all that stressful. Simply follow these tips when you next need to suit up.

  1. Embrace color

Unless you’re attending an event which specifies a ‘black tie’ dress code, you don’t need to be afraid of wearing color. This lets you create a youthful, modern look that will be far more exciting than dull, monochrome suits. If you want to stay relatively neutral, simply switch from black to grey or navy, or choose more vibrant shades like reds, blues and greens for a bolder outfit. 

You can even mix contrasting colors for a truly unique aesthetic. Take inspiration from David Gandy and his dapper look designed by Hackett. Instead of a matching suit, the British model paired blue trousers with a grey blazer. These complementary colours keep his look fun and fresh, while both shades also look very striking alongside his navy tie.

  1. Stay comfortable

It goes without saying that men’s formalwear only looks the part when it’s properly fitted. Slim, streamlined pieces tend to be more flattering, but you should stay away from anything too tight and uncomfortable. You’re not going to look or feel particularly elegant if you’re struggling to button up your jacket and the seams on your trousers are being stretched to their limit.

The material is also important, as cheap ones probably won’t be particularly comfortable. For example, synthetic fabrics like polyester aren’t particularly breathable, so may leave you feeling humid, and irritate your skin. You’re more likely to feel relaxed and happy in natural materials like cotton, wool and silk.

  1. Be selective with footwear

Why buy many different pairs of shoes when you could choose one that goes with all your formalwear? This will make your life a lot easier when it comes to dressing up, as there’s instantly one less thing to think about. Smart black or brown footwear is the most versatile, with many different styles to choose from. Oxfords and Derbys are two examples of classic dress shoes, although you might prefer more relaxed options like loafers or brogues with a chunky sole, as these can also be worn casually. Whatever style you select, be sure they are of high quality, as this will make them more likely to last longer.

  1. Mix separates

Wearing a matching suit can save time, but unless it’s a particularly jazzy style, you probably won’t look very original. Mixing separates is a straightforward way to stand out, also letting you draw attention to specific pieces. For example, an emerald green velvet blazer will make more of a statement with plain navy trousers. Similarly, you may not be keen on wearing a bold print from head to toe, but it’s less daunting when it’s just one item. A floral blazer or a pair of polka dot trousers can easily add character without looking too gaudy.

  1. Minimize accessories

Accessories are supposed to enhance your formalwear, not overwhelm it. Let your clothes do the talking, and keep extras to a minimum. A tie is probably all you need for most occasions and will keep your outfit natural and unfussy, while a luxury watch can be a nice touch too. Things like cufflinks, pocket squares and tie pins are rarely necessary, but if you really want to add an extra something, pick just one of these accessories and make sure it matches your look.

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