Now that you have the necessary building blocks for an ensemble, how do put it all together?
The typical challenge one faces are:
1. Which suit to wear, when?
2. Which shirt to wear with this suit?
3. Which tie to wear with the suit/shirt combination?
4. Which pair of shoe to wear with the above combination?
5. Which belt/suspenders to wear?
6. Which pocket square?
7. Which socks?
8. What happens if both suit and shirt are patterns (checks, stripes, etc.)
9. How can I mix patters? Which patterns go together? Is there any rule for mixing patters?
10. How to mix colors?
1. Which suit to wear?
In a previous post I described that the widely used colors for suits are: Gray, Navy, Blue, and Brown (or various shades of these colors). The darker the color, the more formal it is.
Assuming that your suits from the colors mentioned above, let’s see what shirt and tie choices you may have.
In this category we have a spectrum of colors from light gray to charcoal gray. Charcoal is a very versatile color for a suit and shirts of various colors are compatible with a charcoal/gray suit. Let us not discuss the white shirt because a white shirt goes with any color of suits. Besides white, your choices are various shades of light blue, light pink, cream, and, in fact, gray is such a versatile color that most pastel colors (mostly light shades of any color) go with a charcoal suit. Medium blues and medium pinks are also possible. Since charcoal itself is a dark color, try to avoid shirts in dark colors unless you want a very dramatic effect.
The above two photographs show two different shades of gray. On the left is a bluish gray while the one in the right is brownish gray. Shirts of two different colors are shown, blue and pink. Black and brown shoes can be worn with both the shoes. Notice the pocket square do not match the tie; instead it matches the shirt. Also, one could easily wear a white shirt with both the suits.
The picture on the left shows a gray suit paired with a white shirt. The right picture shows a gray suit with a light pink shirt.
The above picture shows a light gray check suit paired with a check shirt, and a check tie paired with a check pocket square. Mixing various patterns demand knowledge of pattern mixing. We will discuss this topic in detail later. Also, notice that the above is a three-button suit and only the middle button is fastened. I could also fasten the first two buttons of a three button suit.
The above photograph shows a bluish gray suit paired with a white shirt, a blue/white check tie, and white pocket square. The white of the tie goes well with a white shirt and white pocket square.
A white pocket square can be worn with any suit. When you are in doubt or can’t find the right pocket square, use a white one. The color of your socks must match the color of your trousers unless you are wearing a white suit, in which case your socks must match the color of your shoes. Please note that the “rule” is that one never wears white socks with a suit. White socks are only for sports. Also, when you sit, you must unbutton your suit.
The above picture shows a bluish gray striped suit paired with a light blue shirt (not very clear). The tie is red with blue dots. The blue pocket square coordinates well with the blue dots of the tie and light blue shirt. The shoe is an oxford whole-cut.
The next important suit color is blue. All shirts that go with gray also go well with blue.
The above shows a blue shirt paired with a white shirt and red tartan tie. The blue of the pocket square matches the blue of the tartan tie. The shoe is a captoe oxford. The top button of the two-button is fastened.
Top shows another blue suit with a cream shirt and a patterned tie with some brown on it and a pocket square with some brown color. Brown shoes and blue/brown argyle socks.
The above picture shows a dark blue/navy suit, white shirt, lavender and white striped tie, and a white pocket square. Black shoes and belts go well with this ensemble. Brown shoes and belt can also be worn with this outfit.
The shoe is an oxford cap toe.
The above picture shows a navy (or is it gray?) paired with a white shirt. A red tie with white polka dots go nicely with the white shirt and white pocket square.
The above shows a blue peaked lapel two-button suit with a light blue shirt, blue and yellow tie, and blue check pocket square.
There was a saying once, “No brown in town.” However, that is not the case these days. Brown is an acceptable suit color for business wear.
The photo above shows a light brown suit with a blue shirt and tie. The photo below shows a mid brown suit paired with a white shirt and red tartan tie. The blue pocket square coordinates with the blue in the tie. Don’t you agree that this suit is a tad long?
The next one is a three button, notch lapel, light brown linen suit (look how the trousers have creased!). The pocket square coordinates with the blue shirt. The tie is brown with some dots in it. The shoe is a brown laced shoe.
The next suit also is a light brown linen suit; this time it’s two button. Worn with blue shirt and patterned tie. The shoe is a brown double-monk.
The next is another light brown two-button linen. It has been worn with a brown and white Bengal stripe shirt, a brown tie with yellow dots, and a pocket square with some brown in it. The shoe is a brown suede ankle boot.
The next is a brownish gray glen plaid with rather bold stripes. It has been paired with a very light blue checkered shirt (you can hardly see the check in the picture) and a tie with many small dots in it (also not very clear in the picture). The pocket square also has some blue in it. It was an experiment with checks; how to wear four patterns and not look like a clown. I would appreciate your comments.