Every couple of decades, wearing casual suits return. Your parents might have had a leisure suit, complete with flared pants and a matching polyester jacket, in the â€˜70s.
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By the â€˜80s, that wouldâ€™ve been traded in for one with big shoulder pads and tapered pants â€“ and for New Wavers, wearing it with a ruffled or silk shirt wouldâ€™ve been essential.
Although it disappeared throughout the â€˜90s and â€˜00s, the casual suit has been experiencing a revival through a few forms: The colorful or patterned head-to-toe ensemble, the unstructured navy or brown getup youâ€™d pair with a tee or turtleneck, and the linen suit, reserved primarily for summer.
Yet, even with these disparities, a casual suit trumps its structured, possibly double-breasted counterparts in a handful of instances: Business casual offices where youâ€™d dress up without a tie, cocktail parties and networking events, weddings, and nights of clubbing in the city, where youâ€™ll be expected to abide by a dress code excluding jeans.
With these points considered, this two-piece ensemble still comes with particular rules. So, whether youâ€™re getting one tailored or youâ€™re shopping around for your first casual suit, think about:
How Should a Casual Suit Fit?
Youâ€™ll nearly always buy a casual suit off the rack â€“ likely for a couple hundred or less. Because of this, the fit may be awkward for certain body types. Or, if you simply eyeballed it online before making a purchase, you could have a suit thatâ€™s too big in some places and constricting in others.
Thus, be mindful of how the suit fits your frame. No matter your body type, it shouldnâ€™t be too loose and definitely not too tight. Pants, ideally, fit slim but arenâ€™t too skinny around your legs, and the jacket has a hint of structure without being boxy. Too, any blazer should fall right to your hips â€“ not above and not below.
As such, if youâ€™re buying a suit in a brick-and-mortar store, try on as many fits as you can, until you get the desired one. If youâ€™re buying it online, know your measurements in inches before referencing a size chart. In both cases, youâ€™ll want to have a few alterations done before you take it out for a spin.
How Do You Match Your Shirt and Suit?
Traditional dress shirts? Leave them on the hanger. Instead, pair your suit with another casual piece thatâ€™s somewhat fitted but not too tight. If you still want a collar, a polo or a camp collar shirt will do. As one variation, consider a turtleneck.
But, for a smoother fit, nowâ€™s your opportunity to try out a suit with a tee. Just be sure itâ€™s not too busy with patterns and graphics and doesnâ€™t loosely hang from your frame.
This doesnâ€™t mean that button-downs are off the table. Rather, go for a relaxed approach: Chambray or silk over cotton, with the collar unbuttoned. As you wonâ€™t be wearing a tie, itâ€™s not necessary.
How Do You Match Your Shoes to Your Suit?
If youâ€™ve got a pair of lace-up, low-top dress shoes you polished once last year, keep them where you last left them. Just as with your shirt, formalities arenâ€™t appropriate. Instead, youâ€™re striving for that â€œI just look this goodâ€ aesthetic without trying too hard.
In terms of footwear, you have a wider range. Casual lace-up boots and oxfords, plus Chukkas and Chelsea boots, are all perfectly game. As well, for a step down, try out sneakers â€“ although avoid anything directly athletically themed.
Rather, that solid white or black leather pair, like a set of Stan Smiths*, has a particularly understated yet sophisticated quality: Youâ€™re on top of current trends, but not to the point youâ€™re pattern-clashing with the rest of your outfit. Or, to push it, think about matching your solid-color suit with a pair of two-tone canvas high-tops.
What Are Appropriate Accessories To Go With Your Suit?
As already mentioned, your tieâ€™s way too formal â€“ unless, as we saw at the recent New York Fashion Week: Menâ€™s, youâ€™re thinking about a â€˜70s-esque silk neck scarf. So, if ties are out, how should you accessorize?
A contrasting pocket square, in this case, is a necessity for just the right pop of color. Just make sure the hue also pairs well with your shoes and shirt. As well, menâ€™s brooches add a metallic accent when pinned to the lapels.
Plenty of shapes are out there, from skulls to animals, with bejeweled and even chain-accented styles adding more statement value to your look.
How Do You Wear Colors and Patterns in a Suit?
Although pinstripes have been a decades-long option and plaid adds more of an impact, suiting now spans soft pastels to loud purples, reds, and neon shades and encompasses prints of all types.
Thus, if youâ€™ve always wanted to try out a patterned suit or to just forget about navy for a while, nowâ€™s your chance.
Yet, the same rules about dressing still apply: Know which shades will clash, or turn into an eyesore, and understand which hues work for your skin tone. That pink pastel option might accent your reddish undertone, but a blue-based floral print neutralizes and complements it just fine.