Behind every great man, there’s at least one suit hanging in his closet. Whether you need it for your day job, a big presentation, or the sporadic special occasion, a jacket and trousers combination is a key piece in any modern guy’s wardrobe arsenal. But not all suits are created equal. One false styling move and you can end up looking more like a schmuck than James Bond-esque. Since the last thing we’d ever want for you, dear reader, is to commit a major suiting sin, we’ve broken down the top mistakes that will send your jacket and trousers straight into worst dressed territory.
1. Matching suit colors, but clashing textures
If you were to ask us our opinion on mixing different textures together in a single outfit, we’d say it’s a great idea 99% of the time. Go ahead — pair those corduroy pants with a plush crew-neck sweater. But we draw the line when your suit jacket and pants match in color, but clash in fabrics. In everyday, non-suiting instances, a textured monochrome outfit is a hit: Perfect your after hours look with your black jeans, a thick black knit, and cool leather jacket. But when dressing for a more formal affair, mixed fabrics look unpolished and cheap. Now you know what’s so awful about this suiting woe, but what’s a guy to do if he really wants to wear his tan polyester suit, but the pants have inherited a nasty grease stain?
We think that Liza Corsillo, assistant fashion editor at GQ, said it best: “When wearing a suit jacket, you need to either wear it with the corresponding pants (i.e. the ones you bought with the jacket), or with a pair of pants very different in color and texture. If you choose to mix and match the two should compliment each other instead of fighting each other.” And just like that, you have several faux pas-free options.
2. The wrong fit
Forgive us for sounding like a broken record, but this one is key: An ill-fitting suit can make a good garment look bad quicker than Jack Donaghy’s famous suiting words, “It’s after 6. What am I? A farmer?” Call it the Goldilocks syndrome. A suit that’s too big will have you looking like a toddler in his father’s threads. But too small, and you run the risk of splitting the seams mid-boogie at your best friend’s wedding. Not cool.
In a perfect world, you want to find an option that’s tailored, but has enough bag to still be cozy, plus features hems that nicely hit your wrists, legs, and midsection. However, the world is not perfect and you may find the most amazing suit that fits nicely everywhere except one area. You could enlist a tailor, or you could save time and money with our hacks to faking the perfect fit.
3. Opting for a black suit
The next time you contemplate investing in a black suit, ask yourself two crucial questions: “Am I going to a funeral?” and “Is this not an average suit, but a tuxedo that I’ll be wearing to some of the most important events in my life?” If you’ve answered “no” to one (if not both), resist the black suit. Sure, to the average guy, the extremely versatile color works for outfits of all varieties. Excluding suits, he’s totally right. While the inky hue is imperative for looking like a hip, metropolitan dude, it gives off eery or over-the-top fancy vibes in a suited iteration. Now, we’re not saying to invest in a tomato red option instead; however, suits are available in cool neutrals like brown, tan, and navy that yield softer results. But if you’re really set on sticking with a classic pigment, get yourself jacket and trousers combination in a charcoal grey. It’s dark enough to make a striking statement against your array of colorful dress shirts but doesn’t veer into Addams Family territory.
4. Forgetting to free the stitching
In order to keep your suit looking spiffy until the first wear, most suit brands lightly stitch some parts of the suit together such as the kick pleat and front pockets of a suit. And, depending on the company, some may even lightly attach the label’s tag to the front of the sleeve. But what some guys may not realize it that those stitches are made to be taken out. Immediately. That kick pleat should be slightly flapping in the wind, your pockets should be wide open for sticking loose change inside, and nobody should know whether your suit is Trussardi or Target. Luckily, this mistake is easy to fix: Simply cut through the stitches with a pair of thin scissors. And, just like that, your suit no longer looks like you indulged in a five-finger discount, which is always out of style.
5. Pinstripes — enough said
Once upon a time, pinstripes were all the rage amongst 1940s mobsters and investment banker of the ’80s. Sure, newly decorated Leonardo DiCaprio brought back the fine lines for his portrayal of Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, but that doesn’t mean the pattern is back in trend. These days, donning pinstripes is outdated and perhaps even costumey. And when you’re heading to a big job interview, the last thing you want is to look like you just came from a Halloween party. Got a penchant for patterns? Try your luck with a more subtle (and chicer) herringbone instead.
6. A jacket that’s too long
We get it: Dudes of different sizes have different sartorial needs. While tall guys may look great in cropped jeans, they may look too boyish on shorter guys. But the one thing that no guy (regardless of height) should wear? An ultra long sports coat. Similar to sporting a looser suit, this fashion faux pas will make you look like you stole someone’s jacket. More specifically, Shaquille O’Neal. Sure, the 7-foot-1 guy is amazing at basketball, but his sport coats look more like something a villain in some cartoon movie would wear. So, if your suit jacket isn’t supposed to graze your knee cap, how long should it be? The Huffington Post recommends finding a jacket that stops where your fingertips fall naturally.
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs