THE GOLDEN GUIDE – MATCHING SUITS, SHIRTS, AND TIES

Seek wisdom and you shall find. Here is the treasure map you need – match your suits like a pro.

Here are the rules to ensure you look great, whatever you’re wearing. 

Generally, you should work three main pieces: a suit, a shirt, and a tie. You want to coordinate the three perfectly. If you follow the rules, you’ll be good to go.

Here’s a plaid suit with a striped shirt, a striped tie, and two different patterned pocket squares – very busy with numerous patterns. If this appeals to you, just keep the colors similar.

  1. Up to TWO of your pieces can have patterns; the third should be a solid print (unless you’re a billboard or fashion expert (or faux pas?) like our mannequin above – for everyone else, limit yourself to two patterns).
  2. If your patterns are the same, they should have different scales of size.
  3. If your two patterns are different, they should have the same scale.

PRO TIP: Your tie is also important! Be sure to match the width of the tie to the width of your lapels.

Just remember, these are guidelines to make dressing easier. If you have a combination that works for you, go for it. Just feel comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing. Be you – no one else can be.

THE REAL REASON SUITS ARE STILL SHARP

For as long as men want to dress stylishly, the suit and other menswear will have a home. Some may argue its practicality and use, but suits are the go-to ensemble for the well-dressed man. The right suit frames the face, broadens the shoulders, and narrows the hips; it creates an imposing and debonair figure.

Additionally, there’s a feeling you get when you see yourself in the mirror for the first time. In a brand new suit, standing tall, adjusting your tie, feeling like James Bond.

The truth is, classic suits make a man classically handsome, tuxedos raise the ordinary to Hollywood handsome, and a perfectly tailored jacket frames a man and makes him feel powerful. Collared polos and t-shirts simply cannot rise to the occasion the way a suit does, nor is it appropriate in many situations.

Not only that, there’s no better set of clothing to personalize. Suits come in a variety of fabrics, colors, prints, and fits. You can wear a suit and be fashion forward, loud, or classic. Whatever you want to present each day, it should have a place in your closet.

From a blazer that elevates a t-shirt to a three piece suit, menswear is, and always will be, in fashion. Style and respect are demanded by the suit – the finery of the clothing is the path to romance and self-confidence.

EIGHT WAYS TO WEAR THAT SUIT

Whether you’re new to the suit game or just need new ideas to stay sharp, take a look at the basic options below and see what inspires you.

SOLID SUIT

  • Solid suit, striped tie, striped shirt. With this combo, make sure one has a wider stripe than the other.
  • Solid suit, striped tie, plaid shirt. Stripes and plaids are two different patterns, so keep the scales similar. Try a narrow stripe with a mini check or a wide stripe with a large plaid.
  • Pro Tip: Solid suit, paisley/polka dot tie, striped shirt. Seems tricky, but keep the scales of the pattern at a similar size for a great looking combination!

STRIPED SUIT

  • Striped suit, solid shirt, striped tie (of a different scale).
  • Striped suit, solid shirt, plaid/polka dot tie (of the same scale).
  • Pro TipStriped suit, striped shirt (of a different scale), and a coordinating/contrasting solid colored tie.
PLAID SUIT
  • Plaid suit, solid shirt, and a plaid tie (of a different scale).
  • Plaid suit, solid shirt, and a striped tie (of the same scale).
  • Plaid suit, solid shirt, and a paisley/polka dot tie (of the same scale).
  • Plaid suit, striped shirt, and a solid tie, all in coordinating colors.
  • Pro TipPlaid suit, plaid shirt (of a different scale), and a solid tie. This one is a hard one to pull off, but if you have guts and confidence, hell, go for it.

So, gentlemen, with the above in mind, look in your closet, get dressed, and take on the world.

HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR SIZE: BLAZERS/SPORT COATS AND PANTS

How to Measure Yourself for Blazers (or Sport Coats):

Take a measuring tape and wrap it around thefullest part of your chest (under your armpits). If you measure 40 inches around your chest, then your chest size is 40 inches and, likewise, your suit jacket size is 40. 

The letter after the jacket size is thelength of your jacket (both body and sleeve). Your options are short (S), regular (R), long (L), or extra long (XL).

Generally, a “short” is suitable for people 5’8” and shorter; a “regular” is good for individuals 5’9” – 6’ feet tall; between 6’1” and 6’4” is considered “long;” people 6’5” and taller need “extra long.”

How to Measure Your Pants Size: 

Do not base your dress pant size on your jeans size. Why? Jeans and casual pants are “vanity sized” (not to mention the fabric has more stretch). Just because pants claim they are a size 34 does not mean they actually measure 34 inches around.

The best thing is to physically measure the waistband of a pair ofdress pantsor slacks that fit you well and sit at your waist (not lower, like jeans are often worn). If you don’t have dress pants, measure your actualwaist (just above where you’d wear your belt).

The measurement of your waist or the waistband of your favorite dress pants is yourpant size. If your waist is 34 inches around, your pant size is 34 or 34W (W stands for waist).

Options for Tailoring

Manufacturers often, but not always, think ahead and include extra fabric at the waist and seat in case the pant needs to be let out (or taken in) up to two additional inches.

Pants also come with aninseam measurement. This represents the inner seam of the pant leg, from the seat seam below the zipper down to the bottom hem. Pants can be purchased unhemmed or pre-hemmed — in this case, it will have two numbers separated by an ‘x’ (e.g. 34×32). That second number is your inseam.

In traditional men’s tailoring, most dress pants should hit the back of your dress shoe and have a small break in the front.

More Men’s Suit Guides: 

  • The Fat Man’s Guide to Buying a Suit
  • How to Match Your Socks to Your Suit 

HOW TO MATCH DRESS SOCKS TO YOUR SUIT

Socks can make or break an outfit. They can mark you as sartorially savvy or as an amateur. The purpose of this guide is to help you to choose the right dress socks, so that you can wear your suits confidently. Suggestions herein range from conservative to fashion-forward.

The Basics of Choosing Socks to Wear With a Suit

Match the dressiness level of your socks to your outfit. Always wear dress socks with a suit. Save the athletic socks, even if they are black, for the gym. Some people prefer to wear over-the-calf socks because they stay up better than mid-calf socks. However, mid-calf socks are what’s most commonly available in stores; it’s also in good taste to wear them. 

The Conservative Approach to Matching Socks to a Suit

The most fail-safe, basic approach to matching socks to a suit is this rule: dark socks go with dark trousers. Match the tone of the sock to the trousers. For example, wear a dark brown sock with a dark brown pant. (Do not wear a light brown or mid-tone brown sock with it.) If you do not have socks that match your trousers, the second option is to match your socks to your shoes. It will, at least, not break up the line of your outfit.  

The Creative Approach to Matching Socks to a Suit

If you prefer a more fashion-forward approach, coordinate your socks with your outfit — tie their colors into one element of your outfit, like your trousers, tie, shirt, or shoes . Your socks will become the element that pulls your whole outfit together. The following list enumerates your options for creative socks, from the most conservative choices to the most daring:

 

THE FAT MAN’S GUIDE TO BUYING A SUIT

It’s happened to the best of us: your suit pants are getting tight and your jacket will not close anymore. Is it time to move up to the next suit size, or should you buy a portly suit? 

WHEN TO STAY IN A STANDARD SIZE SUIT

With a standard size suit, your chest measurement is your size. Whether you should size up in a standard size suit or buy a portly (also known as “executive cut”) suit depends on how much your stomach protrudes past your chest; if it only protrudes an inch or two, you can get away with a standard size suit in the next size up. For instance, if you are a 42, you could go up to a 44 in a standard cut suit. 

WHEN TO BUY A PORTLY SUIT

If your stomach protrudes more than two inches past your chest, a portly suit will probably fit you better. A portly suit, or executive cut suit, is a suit that has not really changed in the shoulders and chest, but room has been added to the stomach of the jacket and the waist of the pants. The jacket is also slightly longer than a standard sized jacket in order to drape well over the stomach and avoid being too short. 

One of the most unflattering things that can happen to a bigger guy is when his jacket is too short and draws attention to his stomach. What you want is for the jacket to flow over the belly completely, creating a seamless line with the pants. 

HOW TO MEASURE YOURSELF FOR A PORTLY SUIT

Measure your chest – that’s the size you will buy. Measure your waist as well to make sure that the suit you are buying has a similar pant size. If your actual waist measures larger than the pants that come with the chest size you measured as, you may need to size up since not every portly suit is cut the same.

WHERE AND HOW TO WEAR YOUR PANTS

Should a fat man’s pants sit at his waist or below his belly? The most flattering way an overweight man can wear his pants is at his waist, slightly below his belly button. An issue that arises is that pants worn at the waist on a larger guy are inclined to fall down. The solution is: suspenders (or as they’re known in the UK, braces). Suspenders are the fat man’s best ally when wearing a suit. While a belt will create an unflattering line and bulge, suspenders allow for a clean, sleek line. They’re also a fashion-forward, confident look.

When you get your suit pants tailored, be sure to wear them at the height you plan to wear them (either at the waist or below the waist) to avoid hemming them too short or too long. This is especially important if you will not be wearing suspenders, since the tailor will have you wear your pants on your proper waist when measuring you; if you plan to wear the pants at the smaller part (your hips) and your pants are measured worn at your proper waist, the result will be pants that are much too long.

GENERAL TIPS FOR FAT MEN BUYING SUITS

Balance proportion: Do not go too slim in the pants. While you don’t need to wear wide-leg trousers, a leg that is too slim and too tapered will look out-of-balance with the upper body. You can still wear a slim leg, but not too slim. A classic fit pant leg is likely to look the most proportionate. 

Colors and patterns: Big guys look best in solid colors. Darker colors have a slimming effect. Light colored suits are tricky, as are patterns like plaid and horizontal stripes. If you prefer a patterned suit, vertical pinstripes are flattering on larger bodies as long as the stripes are not too bold.  

Having trouble finding portly suits in stores? Visit our portly suits page for a variety of high quality portly suits at affordable prices.

More Men’s Suit Guides: Should You Buy a Black Suit? | How to Wear a Seersucker Suit | Wool Suits vs. Synthetic Suits

SHOULD YOU BUY A BLACK SUIT?

The answer is : Maybe, but it definitely shouldn’t be your first suit. Navy blue or charcoal will probably serve you better. 

BLACK SUITS ARE FORMAL

A common misconception is that black suits are a basic that every man needs in his wardrobe. However, a black suit is really the most formal option aside from a tuxedo. It really should only really be worn to  funerals, weddings, black tie optional events, and to nightclubs or parties. While not necessary to wear to religious services, a black suit can achieve the level of formality that you need in that setting. It is too stark and high-contrast to wear in business settings – wearing a black suit to the office, a job interview, or court room is a fashion faux pas. It’s overdressed for most occasions, and in a business setting it marks you as a novice. 

ALTERNATIVE: NAVY BLUE AND CHARCOAL SUITS 

Your staple suits are navy blue and charcoal gray – those are the two you need to own. They are appropriate to wear in business and normal social settings, as well as to weddings and funerals. You’ll get much more wear out of a navy blue or charcoal gray suit. A navy suit can also be split easily – a navy suit jacket can be worn with jeans or khakis like a sport coat, which is another way you’ll get value from it. 

HOW TO WEAR A BLACK SUIT: HIGH CONTRAST

If you do wear a black suit, wear it with black shoes and a white shirt. Black necessitates high contrast. The only time it is advisable to wear a colored shirt with a black suit is for a nightclub look – a black shirt or burgundy shirt without a tie, or a turtleneck look sleek and fashionable in that setting. 

TO SUMMARIZE…

Just starting your suit collection? Start with navy blue or charcoal gray. If you have a large suit collection and want to own a black suit, by all means buy one. Just know that it is not a fashion staple and should be reserved for formal occasions. 

More Men’s Suit Guides: Wool Suits vs. Synthetic Suits | How to Wear a Seersucker Suit | The Fat Man’s Guide to Buying a Suit