How to Wear a Suit: Everything You Need to Know

How to Wear a Suit: Everything You Need to Know

A well-tailored suit that fits perfectly is the pinnacle of men’s styling. No other type of apparel has the ability to imbue you with more confidence, swagger, and self-assurance than the right suit.

However, there is a huge difference between simply wearing a suit and knowing how to wear a suit. Anyone can throw on a two-piece and hope for the best. But to look more like a Hollywood A-Lister and less like you walked off the set of The Office, you must understand the rules of suit styling.

We’ve simplified it by breaking the suit down into its components. Pay attention to every part and create a sartorial masterpiece that will turn heads for all the right reasons.

Getting the Jacket Right

It’s the jacket that makes a suit special. Yet, get it wrong, and it’s the part that can majorly let it down. Let’s look at seven key areas to master.

Focus on the shoulders 

Ever seen a shoulder divot? We guarantee you’ll see them everywhere after reading this. It is the phenomenon where a divot forms at the top of the arm where the sleeve meets the shoulder. It ruins the silhouette and is the first suit jacket blunder you need to avoid.

They generally happen when the armhole is not wide enough to accommodate your upper arm comfortably. The fabric stretches below the divot, causing it to collapse beneath the shoulder. The key is to take time to get measured and check out suit measurements.

This sounds tedious, but it’s a wise investment in years of sartorial satisfaction. Some suit retailers even offer AI-enhanced fit guides to ease the strain of finding a divot-free fit.

Get the length right

Fashions in jacket lengths fluctuate over the years. We’ve seen long jackets that start to look like coats and butt-freezers that barely cover your belt. Right now, we’re looking for a classic cut, which is a safe bet if you’re investing in a suit for the next few years. 

You want to aim for right below the hip. An elegant compromise that covers your butt without gaining lift-off in the slightest breeze. This style allows you to move seamlessly between buttoned-up and the open, deconstructed look.

Choose a straight sleeve

You may have put in hours at the gym developing those biceps, but a suit jacket is not the way to show them off. Your goal is to have a straight line from the shoulder to the cuff, with no bicep bulges in sight.

To achieve this look make sure that your jacket is fitted, but not tight. Suit jackets that are too tight start to crease and bunch up in all the wrong places. No matter how well-cut the suit is, it won’t flatter your physique. 

Instead, get your tape measure out and ask a close friend to measure your chest at its widest part. Next, measure the sleeve length from your shoulder bone to about half an inch above your wrist bone. These two key measurements can help you find a sleeve that’s straight and the right length.

Not too long, not too short

The right sleeve length is another way to make a suit pop. The sleeve should end just before your wrist bone. While that may sound a little short, there’s a good reason. The cuff of your shirt should extend a half inch beyond the cuff of your jacket.

Depending on your cuff style, this is just enough to give a flash of cufflink or a pop of color. Either way, it’s a classic look that shows no sign of going away.

Line up shirt and jacket collars

Your suit jacket and shirt collar should perfectly align with only the tiniest of gaps between them. A gaping collar on an oversized jacket looks unkempt, while a jacket that’s too small will strain and crease.

Let’s talk buttons

While we’re seeing more double-breasted suits reemerging in the world of high fashion, the business world is still firmly invested in single-breasted suits. With double-breasted suits, there is only one option - buttoned up. But with single-breasted jackets, you’ve got options. Just be careful how you use them.

Rule one: Never fasten the bottom button. It's purely decorative. If you ever feel the urge to fasten it, resist. Jackets with both buttons done up just look wrong, as they are not designed to drape well with them fastened. 

Rule two: Unbutton your jacket every time you sit down. (Almost) everybody’s stomach bunches up a little when they sit, creating a very undignified aesthetic. Plus, there’s always a risk a button will pop at a crucial moment in a business lunch.

Rule three: If a suit jacket has one button, keep it buttoned while standing. These jackets are specifically cut to look their best when buttoned. If it has two buttons, fasten the top, and if it has three, fasten the middle. 

Match the color with the occasion

Every man should have at least one dark suit in his wardrobe. Charcoal and navy blue are classic choices and are still the most suitable for formal business occasions. You can wear them to the office daily, and they’ll never go out of style.

What about black? We don’t see a lot of black suits in the business world. That’s probably because they’re now usually reserved for weddings, funerals, and tuxedos for formal occasions. Only if it’s after six and you’re going to a black tie function can you get away with wearing one in the office. 

Light suits also have their place, but rarely in the corporate boardroom. Sand-colored suits are ideal for smart-casual occasions in summer, as they give a nod to formality yet keep you cool.

Picking the Perfect Pants

It doesn’t matter how many Zoom meetings you attend; your suit pants matter. Style is one thing, but how you wear them will affect how you look more than any other factor.

Get the length right

To nail pant length, you need to consider how high you’ll wear them and how low they’ll go. We all know to avoid high pants that cover our navels like grandpa used to wear. But the problem many guys fall into these days is wearing them too low.

The lower you wear your suit pants, the more they’ll look like athleisure and spoil the formality of your suit. High on the hipbone is the perfect point to aim for. 

Next, think about length. Specifically, we’re looking for the perfect “break”. This is the moment at which the pants touch your shoe. There are two looks to consider:

  • Business formal: Your pant leg should break just above your shoe. Let the tiniest amount of sock show.

  • Dress suit: If you’re going to a wedding or a funeral, you may want to go for a slightly longer pant leg. The hem will pool over the laces, giving you a classic, formal look.

The best suit retailers offer a range of leg lengths, typically four options: 28, 30, 32, and 34 inches. However, if your perfect look falls outside this range, don’t be afraid to request modifications when you buy. A well-fitting pant is essential for feeling confident in high-pressure situations.

Pant fashions to avoid

Two suit pant fashions that have definitely had their day are pleats and cuffs. Pleats were popular for years but have now made way for flat-front pants. They’re cleaner, less fussy, and more streamlined, giving a suit a more youthful appearance without compromising its formality.

Cuffs are another style to avoid right now. They bulk up the ends of your pant legs, making your legs look shorter. By contrast, hemmed pants without cuffs elongate your legs, drawing the eye down to your shoes without a cumbersome break. 

Vest - Yes or No?

A vest can elevate a suit to a whole new level of elegance and formality. Some advantages of wearing a vest include a better silhouette, additional warmth, and the ability to look sharp with or without your jacket.

However, vests are not suitable for all occasions. While they look great at weddings, galas, and other formal events, they can be overkill in the office. However, if you’ve got a big presentation and want to stand out from the crowd, a vest could be a great way to do it.

Just make sure you follow these simple rules for three-piece suit perfection:

  • Never wear a vest unbuttoned

  • Make sure it sits right on your belt

  • Leave the last button undone for comfort

The Shirt Maketh the Suit

Now you’ve found the perfect jacket and pants, and have navigated the question of vests, its time to complement your suit with the right shirt. It only takes one garish choice or unwise pattern selection to ruin your whole aesthetic, so proceed with caution. 

Get the right fit

The rules for shirts are similar to those for jackets. You’re looking for fitted without being tight. The collar should fit comfortably, leaving room to move, but shouldn’t gape. 

As discussed above, we want to allow a little of the shirt cuff to be visible beyond the end of our jacket sleeve. To achieve this look, buy shirts with sleeves half an inch longer than your suit jacket sleeves. 

Complementary colors

In formal wear, shirt colors should contrast with suit colors. So, if you’re wearing a dark suit, such as gray or navy blue, pair it with a light-colored shirt. White is classic, but so is light blue. Darker shirts create a sophisticated contrast to light gray suits, but they would be lost when paired with a dark suit.

Accessorize the Right Way

There are three essential suit accessories every man needs to feel confident: ties, belts, and pocket squares. Each can make or break a suit, so here’s how to ensure they elevate your style every time.

Tasteful ties

Some men use ties as an opportunity to go wild. However, this is not the way to impress in formal contexts. Instead, focus on block colors that complement your suit and shirt and enhance their elegance. Black, navy, charcoal, mid-blue, and burgundy are classy choices that draw attention in the right way and will not spark animated water cooler debates about your fashion sense.

Pocket square protocol

A pocket square is a great way to elevate your elegance. There are just two rules: choose a contrasting color to your tie and fold it with care. 

For example, pair a barely visible light blue pocket square with a dark suit and black tie to add a small pop of color. 

For business formal, keep the fold simple. The barely there look is preferable, as it adds class without making a bold statement. At a wedding or gala event, consider experimenting with something more fancy.

Nailing the belt

Belts should be made of leather, not too wide or too narrow, and should always coordinate with your shoes. Move past restrictive old-school belts with punched holes to get the right fit. Instead, look for a belt with a micro-adjust system. This allows you to get the right fit for your body, boosting your confidence and allowing for easy adjustment throughout the day.

xSuit Has It All

A suit is still the best way for a man to (almost) effortlessly increase his confidence and poise. However, suits often work against a man rather than working for him. That’s why we developed xSuit 5.0 – a modern tailoring revolution.

We started by developing the perfect fabric–TechWool–that moves with you rather than fights you. Its proprietary blend of wool and synthetic fibers gives you unparalleled 8-way stretch without affecting the drape of the suit. With built-in wrinkle resistance, it folds into a suitcase and comes out looking a million bucks.

xSuit 5.0 is also stain and odor-resistance, so nothing can dent your confidence. Combined with the xShirt and our range of accessories, you’ll be ready to look sharp and feel great all day long. 

Check out the xSuit range and find your next suit today.