Everything You Need to Know About How to Wear a Suit
Special occasions call for special attire. A men’s suit is a great formal clothing option that ensures you look your best when the event requires it. But there are lots of features, functions, and “unwritten rules” when it comes to wearing a suit, and beginning that journey can be a bit intimidating.
With this guide to wearing a suit, you’ll feel confident in putting together a look that’s ready for your next special occasion. Even more helpful is the fact that you can find all your men’s dress clothing needs right here at Kohl’s, making us your one-stop shop for all your formalwear needs. So let’s dig into the details of wearing a suit, and help you instantly elevate your formal look!
- How to Choose a Suit
- Must-Have Suit Accessories
- Wearing a Suit Jacket or Blazer as Casual Wear
- A Suit with Shorts – How Does That Work?
- Tailoring Your Suit for a Better Fit
- Dos & Don’ts About Men’s Suits
- Misconceptions About Men’s Suits
- Current Suit Trends
How to Choose a Suit
There are many components of a men’s suit that all come into play when you’re choosing one for your wardrobe. Knowing how the features work together with your body type, your style, and other factors will help you pick the right suit.
Types of Fits
You’ll want to select a suit that fits you properly, and in a way that makes you feel comfortable. There are several types of suit fits available, each one providing benefits that can help your look stand out.
This is the traditional fit of men’s suits. Classic-fit suits offer width through the shoulders and chest, as well as relaxed arm holes and sleeves. A classic fit jacket provides a full fit through the body, and the suit pants have a straight leg opening.
Classic suits are versatile, and work well in a wide variety of formal events. A classic suit looks great for weddings, work events, job interviews and more.
Choosing a slim-fit men’s suit gives you a contemporary look, with a more narrow silhouette that’s on trend. Slim-fit suits feature a close fit through the shoulders and chest, as well as higher, more narrow arm openings and sleeves. The jacket fits close to the body, and the dress pants can have straight or narrow leg openings.
Adding a slim-fit suit to your look instantly injects modern appeal to your closet. Slim-fit suits can be worn to all formal occasions, just like a classic-fit suit. That said, a slim-fit suit does hug the body more than a classic-fit suit, so ensure that a suit in that fit feels comfortable and will continue to do so for the duration of the event.
Extended-size suits are also available for men of various builds. If you are 6’2″ or shorter and your waist measures the same or larger than your chest, you should order a big size. If you are 6’2″ or taller and your waist measures less than your chest, you should order a tall size.
Big & Tall suits are all about proportionality. Big-size suits feature jackets with wider shoulders and proportional pockets. Tall suits offer extended-length arm sleeves and pant legs.
Types of Materials
After looking at the fit, the next thing to consider when selecting a suit is the materials and fabric. Most men’s suits are made of wool. This is due to the fact that wool is a natural, breathable material that looks great, too. That said, wool can be a bit too warm if you’re attending an event in the middle of summer.
In the case of a warm-weather event, you might opt for a linen suit. Linen is lightweight and offers maximum comfort in elevated temperatures. Be aware that linen does wrinkle and stain quite easily, so it’s a material that needs fairly frequent dry cleaning and care.
Another natural fiber, cotton is a popular choice for men’s suits. They offer similar properties as wool: breathability, softness and ease of movement. However, cotton can easily wrinkle, and will not offer the elevated appearance that wool does.
Some suits are made of synthetic fibers like polyester. In lots of cases, suits made of polyester actually feature a fabric blend, where polyester and a material like cotton or wool are joined together. A suit that is made of polyester is great for budget-conscious shoppers. That said, polyester or polyester-blend suits will wrinkle a bit more than wool suits, and won’t allow for as much breathability, either. This makes polyester suits ideal for wear in spring or autumn.
Types of Occasions
The type of event you’re attending is a huge factor in deciding which suit option is right for you. In the same vein, the number of times you’re expecting to wear the suit can also play into your decision.
While those two words might not seem to go together at first glance, a casual suit is a great way to instantly upgrade your everyday wardrobe. You can select options with new bold colors and contemporary slim fits. You can also mix and match your casual suit jacket or blazer with chino pants and even jeans. Incorporate some stylish sneakers, and you have a look that will get noticed as you meet up with friends on the weekend.
If your work requires you to wear a suit each and every day, you can choose one that checks the boxes of a solid, basic men’s suit. This means selecting one in a standard color, like navy, black or gray, picking a suit made from a traditional material type, and opting for a suit with a classic/timeless fit.
This is the type of occasion that most guys equate suit-wearing with. Think of events like weddings, graduations, galas, cocktail parties and others. For these occasions, you want a suit that fits you as best as possible, as well as one that shows off some of your personal style and fashion sense. If you’re a traditional type of guy, pick timeless cuts and colors that are also great for work wear. If you’re hoping to show off your on-trend and modern style, go for slim-fit styles in bold colors, paired with matching accessories and shoes. While you’ll want to stick to any guidance provided by the event hosts, you can still find ways to show off your individuality with a formal suit.
Must-Have Suit Accessories
A suit looks great on its own, but it’s the important add-ons that really bring the complete ensemble together. Knowing how to coordinate with suit accessories can really take your total formal ensemble to a whole new level.
A suit and tie go hand-in-hand. If you’re attending a formal event, the tie you choose to go with your suit can let your style shine, and allows for some personality and customization. But there are some things to know about ties and how to pick the right one before you add it to your outfit.
Style of Tie
Men’s ties come in a variety of styles, but the two most popular picks are neckties and bow ties. Neckties are the traditional type of tie you’d see with a suit. When choosing one, you need to take the length and width of the tie into consideration.
The necktie you pick should be no wider than 3 to 3.75 inches in most cases. When tied, the tie should be long enough to reach your waist. Ensure the width of the tie also is in proportion with the width of the lapels of your suit jacket or blazer. If it’s not, it will stand out and make the balance look off.
Should you pick a bow tie, the bigger consideration is the shirt you wear with your suit. When you’re attending a formal event and want to wear a bow tie, go with a dress shirt that features a wing-tip collar. For less formal events, standard dress shirt collars will work.
No matter which tie style you choose, the pattern, color and fabric are also important. In terms of pattern, choose a solid or lightly patterned tie to match with a solid suit. If you intend to stand out, contrast your shirt with a boldly colored tie. If wearing a patterned tie, ensure that the pattern does not clash with any other patterns you’re wearing on other clothing pieces.
As far as fabrics are concerned, the time of year comes into play. Heavier wool ties, just like wool suits, are better suited for colder months. Cotton ties are lighter and would work best in summer when paired with a linen suit.
Another formalwear accessory that could work its way into your look is a pair of cuff links. While cuff links can be added to pretty much any formal look that includes a suit and dress shirt, they are essential if you’re attending a black or white tie event.
These events typically call for a tuxedo, and most tuxedo dress shirts are designed to accommodate cuff links. This means that the cuffs on the shirts will not have a button closure, and instead rely on cuff links to hold the cuffs together. When looking for dress shirts like this, look for ones that feature barrel cuffs, French cuffs or single cuffs.
Wearing a Suit Jacket or Blazer as Casual Wear
We touched on it earlier, but suit separates can potentially work into your everyday look as a sport coat or blazer, making them more than just something you dust off only when special events take place. That said, you need to look into the suit coat’s features to see if it really works outside the realm of being part of a complete men’s suit ensemble.
For example, if your suit coat features more formal details, like coordinating buttons and padded shoulders, or is of a flat texture like sharkskin, you should not wear it as a blazer. These components of the suit jacket basically force the jackets to be worn together with their matching pants.
Suit coats that do make great blazers include those made of casual fabrics like linen, tweed or cotton. Suit jackets that offer contrasting buttons and other casual details are also great as blazers.
How to Style a Suit Jacket as a Blazer
Wearing a proper suit jacket as a blazer means you can coordinate it with a variety of other bottoms, including casual pants in a variety of colors, as well as jeans. Depending on the setting and style you’re looking for, you can wear anything from dress shoes to sneakers with a blazer or sport coat look.
Underneath the suit-jacket-as-blazer outfit, you can wear a variety of different tops to match the setting you’re in. The common option to consider is a cotton button-down men’s dress shirt. Choosing one that fits well is key, and selecting an option that provides a bit of stretch ensures comfort. A dress shirt also accommodates a tie, giving you the ability to dress the look up even more.
You can also wear a men’s polo with your blazer. These tops are easy to wear, easy to care for, and look timeless. Be sure to tuck in your polo to keep the outfit looking crisp. Short-sleeve polos are a great pick for this outfit in summertime, as they give you the ability to remove the jacket if you get too warm.
And for laid-back, yet smart-looking style, you can even wear a blazer with a T-shirt. This look requires the tee to be clean, well-fitting and free from any signs of holes or other wear. But with the right T-shirt, you can create a smart-casual look that is perfect for wear when heading out to Sunday brunch with friends and loved ones.
A Suit with Shorts – How Does That Work?
A trend that’s coming into its own, and one that’s being worn by celebrities on red carpets around the world, is a men’s short suit. This is a typical suit style that swaps suit pants for shorts. This outfit is great for summertime wear, but it needs to be done right and have a great fit to ensure it looks as intended.
The length of the shorts is key. The hem should sit just above your knee cap, no more than three inches above it. They should not extend past your knee caps, which will give you a more baggy look. The shorts need to fit you properly, and slim-fit options are the best bet.
Since this kind of suit is designed for wear in warm weather, you might wish to choose one made of linen, due to its lightweight, breezy feel.
Tailoring Your Suit for a Better Fit
No matter what kind of suit you choose, how it fits you matters more than any other factor. An ill-fitting suit can immediately diminish the elevated style you’re going for. Since this is not the look you want, you need to ensure your suit is custom tailored to your individual body type.
The main thing to remember when getting a suit tailored is that a tailor can remove fabric pretty easily. However, making something bigger is more challenging. Essentially, when choosing a suit off the rack, opt for one that’s a little bigger than you’d wear so that alterations can be done.
Even then, there are some restrictions to how much adjustment can be done. Generally, alterations can take your pants down two sizes, and your jacket down one size, so keep that in mind.
Dos & Don’ts About Men’s Suits
If you don’t wear a suit very often, there are facts you’ll want to know to make the experience easier and help you look your best! Here are some dos and don’ts about wearing a suit that will help you in your quest to pick the perfect suit for you.
- Do keep the last button of your jacket open, and unfasten all buttons of your jacket when you sit down.
- Do coordinate your accessories. For example, if you wear a silver-tone watch, make sure your belt features a silver-tone buckle.
- Your shoes and belt should match. As an example, a brown belt should be paired with brown dress shoes.
- Don’t wear a basic pair of standard white crew socks or low-cut socks. Choose long dress socks in a color that complements your suit and tie color selections.
Misconceptions About Men’s Suits
There are some common misconceptions about wearing suits. These inaccuracies and common beliefs can make the idea of wearing a suit a bit daunting and could even prevent you from choosing to wear a suit. Let’s dig into the misconceptions and separate truth from fiction.
- Misconception 1 – Suits are expensive: While it’s true that a suit can cost a solid chunk of change, it’s due to the fact that it’s made of durable, high-quality materials designed to last for a long time. If you’re a budget-conscious shopper, you can likely find a decent suit on sale, giving you a more affordable option than buying one from a high-end men’s store.
- Misconception 2 – Suits are uncomfortable: This may be the case when you first wear your suit, but over time your suit’s fabric will soften. This will make the suit feel better with each wear.
- Misconception 3 – You must wear a tie with your suit: Formal occasions do call for a tie to be worn, but less casual events allow you to dial things back a bit. Wearing a suit with a dress shirt, sans tie, gives you an on-trend look. This is a great option for an outdoor event held in summer. It’s a cooler way to wear an elevated ensemble.
- Misconception 4 – Don’t mix blue and black: Despite common belief, blue and black can be worn together. They are actually a great combination. Add a black tie to your navy suit, and wear a pair of black dress shoes. This is a classic, refined look that is always in style.
Current Suit Trends
While many of the components of men’s suits remain in style every year, there are some modern trends that can help you build a modern look around a brand-new suit.
Play With Color
One trend you might consider as part of your wardrobe is a suit style with a broad selection of colors. This trend is more geared toward the times you’re wearing a suit to more casual, social events. Colors like green, purple and pink are in, and can be incorporated into the suit itself or to the accessories you add on to the look.
Try to Keep it Traditional
Another trend to keep an eye on is the increased inclusion of traditional patterns as part of a suit. Bold pinstripe and plaid patterns are popular in the social space, and are no longer reserved solely for executives or lawyers. Add a patterned suit to your look when heading to a wedding or cocktail party and get ready to make an impression.
The athleisure trend is taking over all aspects of fashion, and it is making its way into the world of men’s suits, too. Athleisure suits are made of stretchy fabric, the kind usually seen in tracksuits or other active gear.
This shift to athleisure style in men’s fashion also means that guys can add sneakers into their suit ensemble. Again, make sure that your shoes coordinate with the suit and look appropriate; they should be very clean and without scuffs or damage. Sneakers also won’t work well in more formal situations, either, so be aware of the surroundings as you opt for an athleisure suit look.
When looking for new clothing to instantly upgrade your closet, shop the wide range of men’s clothing at Kohl’s, including suits that are great for formalwear. Along with suits and suit separates, we offer men’s dress shirts, ties, dress socks, dress shoes and more, allowing you to build your look with options all in one convenient place!