How-to Guides

Guide to Choosing a Suit Color

suit color

Choosing a suit color can be difficult if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for a safe suit color to wear to any occasion, choose a navy blue or charcoal gray suit.

How to Choose a Suit Color

The first thing you have to worry about is what the occasion is and what is appropriate. Black is socially acceptable for a funeral, however white and pink are definitely not.

Obviously this will vary depending on culture, but think black for funerals and proms, blues and grays for the office, and more relaxed colors like tans and browns for weddings and other festive social gatherings.

Next you have to think about your own complexion and what will match up well with your skin tone. If you happen to be very pale you may want to stay away from khaki colored suits as well as other colors that will only make your skin look washed out.

People with a naturally darker skin complexion or a good tan can usually pull off a tan suit very well. However, this skin tone doesn’t always look as good in navy blue colored suits. This is a color that goes very well with light skin complexions.

Just keep in mind that everybody’s skin tones are different and that the same person can have a different skin coloration depending on how much sun they have gotten recently. In the end, you’re going to have to try a few colors out to see what looks best on you.

Lastly you have to consider what each color suit says about you. For instance a navy blue pinstripe suit gives off a portrayal of power and authority where as a blue suit in a lighter shade gives off a more relaxed aura.

The Colors

 

Pivotal Colors – Purchase suits in these colors before any of the others.

 

Blue Suits

This color suit can be worn any time of year and is equally appropriate as business or casual attire. With the expanding variety of shades and cuts, it is easy for almost anyone to find a suit in this color that fits their body type and personal sense of style.

Blue clothing is fantastic for job interviews, business meetings, and even dates. The color blue stands for honesty and loyalty. This is why people looking for jobs wear blue as their power suit. Its also why politicians wear this suit when they are lying….sorry I mean running for office.

Another great quality of blue colored suits is that they look good on all skin tones. Both light and dark skin shades will look good in this color suit.

 

BLUE SUITS EXAMPLE

blue suits light blue suit
These are pictures of suits in blue. One is a light blue and the other one is a nice dark navy blue.

As you can see, they give off two completely different looks. The light blue one looks very relaxed and would be great for a party out on a yacht or a summer wedding in New Orleans.

The dark blue one is fantastic for the boardroom, an interview, or just another day at the office. It looks very clean and professional and would not get any unwelcome attention.

Navy Blue Suits

Navy Blue suits can be worn by anyone to pretty much any occasion. The most useful application for this color is in the business world.

These types of suits make powerful statements and are useful as power suits. Interviews and important business meetings are the driving forces behind this suit colors prominence

For this reason, the navy blue suit is fantastic for interviews. It says to the interviewer that you are a trustworthy person and should be taken at your word.

This color also has the advantage of going well with most traditional business colors. You’ll find that both white and blue shirts go very well with this color suit.

A navy blue suit with a clean white shirt and a blue tie gives off a nice and clean look while the navy blue suit, white shirt, and red tie give off an exciting look.

If you can only afford to buy one suit, it should most certainly be a navy blue one.

Gray Suits

Wear these to the office, to a funeral, and maybe even a social occasion. The office worker looking to add to his wardrobe should look towards this color immediately.

When choosing this color, you have two main options to choose from.

The first option is to choose a charcoal colored suit. This suit is a mainstay among business suit closets and is a great choice for the office.

Also, because of its coloring, this suit makes a fantastic suit color for winter.

The dark shade of this type of gray is formal enough for day time weddings as well. A charcoal gray suit can also come in a pinstripe model which many people also wear as a business suit.

A light gray colored suit is also great for business settings and is light enough to be a nice summer suit. Add window pane or check patterns to it and you have a less formal, yet still elegant suit to wear.

GRAY SUITS EXAMPLE

van heusen suit

 

As you can see, even though each of these suits are the same color, the different shades of gray make them look much different from each other.

The first gray suit looks much more formal than the second gray suit. It would be great for an interview or a day at the office.

This being said, the second gray suit would be great for a formal party, wedding, or casual day at the office.

All materials can be found for this suit with the most prevalent being wool. It is a good all year round color so the material choice is really up to you.

All skin tones are welcome to use this shade without any negative effects. The reason for this is because the color is so neutral that it meshes well with anything. Take this into consideration when you’re buying shirts and ties.

In conclusion, this shade is great because it is neutral in color and can be worn by anybody to any event.

Safe Suit Colors – These are standard colors that won’t stand out too much.

Black Suits

The black suit can be worn almost anywhere. Wear this to funerals, weddings, and all formal occasions. Also wear it to the office or anywhere else you would like.

Some Americans believe that this suit is not appropriate for the office and that it should only be worn to funerals and to affairs after five pm.

This may have been true at one time, but many people are now wearing this color suit to work.

Many Asian countries have been wearing this color suit to work for decades and it is very common to see Japanese business men in this color suit.

If you’re an American, you’ll have to make up your own mind.

When I was in outside sales, I frequently wore a black suit to work. We didn’t have a strict dress code and I could wear any shirt and suit color that I wanted.

The suit matched up well with light yellow and light pink shirts. It was also a good way to have a suit for funerals and an extra suit to throw into the work rotation.

When just starting out, building a work wardrobe can be costly and it was nice to be able to make use of the extra suit.

White shirts can also be worn with this suit in a work setting, but I would recommend wearing a nice tie so that the tie will stand out as your focal point rather than the suit and shirt.

The only note of caution is to the office worker or salesman trying to appeal to customers. Sometimes this suit paired up with a bright shirt can come off a little too flashy and should not be worn in these situations. On the flip side, worn with a white shirt and boring tie, this suit can be very disappointing to look at.

Make sure you wear black shoes and a black belt with this suit. Informal occasions might warrant burgundy shoes with a burgundy belt, but all other situations should warrant black accessories.

Materials

Materials for this garment run a wide spectrum but will always be available in wool. In the past you wouldn’t have seen these suits in too many summer fabrics, but these days I see suit companies making them in cotton quite often.

BLACK SUIT EXAMPLES

black suit black suits
Here are a couple of examples for you to look at. The picture on the left features a dark silver tie that blends the white and black of the suit and the shirt together.

The picture on the right features a brighter tie that stands out brazenly on the light shirt contrasted by the dark suit.

Brown Suits

Brown suits are the perfect color for certain occasions such as church, weddings, parties and other events.

While not appropriate for everyday wear at the office, these suits can offer a fresh change from a traditional navy or charcoal.

When To Wear It

The last few decades have loosened the dress code for this color suit. Many men will now wear this color suit on casual Fridays and in less formal workplaces.

If you have this color suit in your wardrobe and you’re not sure if it’s the right occasion, save yourself from a fashion faux pas and put on your classic charcoal gray or navy blue suit.

BROWN SUITS EXAMPLE

Below you’ll see a picture of a three piece suit in brown. It has two buttons as well as pinstripes running down it.

Style

This suit usually comes in two and three button tops, two and three piece outfits, and single and double-breasted jackets. If you want to add even more style to this suit, you can sport pinstripe and plaid or herringbone and checkered patterns.

Also, shop around for the type of brown that fits your skin and frame the best. There are a spectrum of suits under this category, from chocolate-y, darker tones to light browns and tans.

Some people suggest a pink or dark blue shirt to go with a suit that’s brown, but this look may be a bit retro in a contemporary setting.

Material

Like most suits, you will generally find this in wool, but because this particular color works year-round, you’ll probably be able to find whatever materials you prefer.

Conclusion

Specific body types do not necessarily lend themselves to brown suits, but darker men typically look best in this color. The quick takeaway: DON’T count this one out from your wardrobe! It may be the best way to break away from the mold while maintaining a classy look.

Tan Suits, Khaki Suits, Beige Suits, and Taupe Suits

The tan suit happens to be an excellent alternative for those times when a normal black or navy suit won’t cut it. Tan is by nature a neutral color, which means it’s not going to ever go out of style.

When people refer to a khaki suit, they typically mean a tan or beige colored suit. Just something to keep in mind when searching for different suit colors.

These suits make sense for a wide variety of situations, whether personal or business. In today’s less-formal workplaces this color suit is becoming more and more common, as it’s a great change from the normal overload of gray and navy.

Suits that are tan come in many different designs and the type of suit you ultimately decide on will be based on a multitude of factors. One important consideration in whatever decision you decide upon is what your style is and how it reflects your personality.

Another key factor to consider is what type of occasion or gathering the tan suits will be worn in. Certain events lend themselves better to less conservative suit colors while other events demand a classier looking traditional suit.

People with a nice tan or with naturally darker skin tones look great in this color suit. Unfortunately, men with very light skin can sometimes look out of place in this color suit. It just doesn’t seem to go well with light skin complexions.

I got the pictures below off of big stock photo. If you’re unfamiliar with big stock, it is a site where you can buy credits that you can use to get pictures. I rarely use them for this website though because the suit pictures are almost always of people in really goofy poses.

Luckily I was able to find the same guy wearing both a beige suit and a blue suit. This should demonstrate how much better a person can look in the right suit. For you half empty glass kind of guys, it will demonstrate how much worse a person can look in a suit color that is wrong for them.

TAN SUIT EXAMPLES

beige suit
blue suit

These suits can be augmented with any number of combinations.

My favorite look is the white shirt, black tie, and black pocket square combination. This look gives off a sleek professional appearance which is not often seen with a beige colored suit.

The usual shoes to wear with this color suit are brown or dark brown with a matching belt color of course. Black shoes are also perfectly acceptable with this color suit.

In conclusion, I’d say wear this colored suit if you have both the occasion and the skin tone to go with it.

Just keep in mind that this isn’t an essential garment for your suit closet.

Bold Colors – These colors are not recommended for most everyday situations.

Baby Blue

The baby blue suit was one of the most popular formal suits in the 70’s and early 80’s. This suit was seen at events such as weddings, proms, and even parties. Men could even be seen wearing this suit to disco clubs throughout most major cities.

Light blue suits have fallen out of favor over the past few years but can still be seen on men at retro parties and events. These suits look great on any skin complexion and any body type.

Accessories to be worn with this color suit are white, black, and blue. Shoes worn with this color suit are generally black or burgundy, but I’ve seen pictures of people wearing white or brown as well.

Just remember that when you wear black, brown, or burgundy shoes with this suit, you should wear a matching color belt. I suppose also if you are bold enough to wear this suit and bold enough to wear white shoes with it, you could also find yourself a white belt to match up with it.

The typical shirt color to wear with this is either a white shirt or a blue shirt. However, I’m sure there are people that have tossed on a pink shirt to wear with this. It seems lots of people love to throw pink shirts on with just about any color suit these days.

Pocket squares can be white, or they can match the color of the tie. Traditionally the solid black or blue tie is worn with this suit color.

Although I wouldn’t recommend wearing this suit color, a navy blue tie with white circles would look good with this suit color.

BABY BLUE SUIT EXAMPLE

baby blue suit

This is a picture of a man wearing a baby blue suit in a two button model. It is a two piece suit with flat front pants.

The tie is navy blue with white dots and the pocket square is white. Surprisingly enough, the suit actually looks modern.

It appears that it may be made out of linen or seersucker, so it may be appropriate for folks living in the southern part of the United States.

Olive Suits

Wearing an olive suit is not for everybody, but if you can pull it off you will have a nice addition to your wardrobe.

This color is great to wear in spring and summer weather in a cotton or poplin model. Haspel tends to make a few olive models from time to time.

We all know that the Haspel suit is fantastic for warm weather conditions, and it goes splendidly with the color olive.

All body types can benefit from this color as it tends to shy away from favoring any particular build. Thicker people will not look any thicker in olive and thinner people will not look any thinner.

Men with olive skin shades however should steer clear of this particular suit. The reason for this is that it tends to make these people look almost “zombie like” in appearance.

Dark skin tones can work well with this color and lighter skin tones can work well also. If you’re very pale though, you might want to be careful wearing this suit color.

Unless its Halloween, you probably don’t want to walk around looking like somebody from the cast of the Walking Dead.

The traditional white shirt seems to be the best shirt to accompany this suit. This shirt provides a nice contrast between the color of the jacket and will set off a powerful color scheme if matched with an appropriate tie.

Shoes usually look best in brown with this suit color and can really be set off nicely with a tie in red. This being said, a pair of black shoes will also work with the olive suit.

WHEN TO WEAR AN OLIVE SUIT

An olive colored suit is not a traditional business suit and probably should not be worn to a formal office setting. One would expect to find this suit color in less formal suit settings.

For instance, you might find this suit being worn at the country club or perhaps a local hunting club.

Olive colored tweed suits used to be very popular among hunters hunting in the English country side.

Maroon Suits

For quite awhile, the maroon suit was out as business wear, then it made a comeback, and now it has nearly vanished again.

A maroon colored suit shouldn’t be worn on a day in court or for a formal meeting, but some people may find it to be a good day-to-day relief from the routine blue, gray, and brown.

You can match a maroon suit with brown or black shoes.

As far as accessories go, you can simply go with a classic white shirt and either a white or black pocket square. The tie can be in a subdued color to match the suit or it can stand out as a focal point.

Just try not to make the tie too outrageous as you are already standing out with your suit color selection.

White Suits

A white suit is not a suit anyone should be wearing to the office.  In fact, unless you are going to a theme party, you probably won’t ever where this color suit.

This being said in some parts of the country like Hawaii and the deep South, this suit may be perfectly acceptable.  You still wouldn’t wear it to the office, but you might wear it to a party, wedding, or prom.  Just keep in mind, lighter suits are only appropriate for day-time weddings.  Even people in tropical climates will wear a darker colored suit to night-time wedding.

Get this suit color in  a lightweight material like linen or cotton and you can’t go wrong.

Conclusion

As you can see, you really do have many options when choosing a suit color.  Luckily, these options will get smaller and smaller as you define when and where you’ll be wearing your suit.  Follow the guidelines above and you can’t go wrong.

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