Quantcast
The Compass  /  Style  /  The Right Suit Colors For Your Wardrobe

The Right Suit Colors For Your Wardrobe

Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on Tumblr
rotating suits with multiple suit colors

Picking Suit Colors: The Basic Rules

There are so many choices when it comes to picking suit colors but when it comes down to it, there are three main categories: shades of blue, shades of gray (including black) and shades of brown. When building your suit wardrobe, you don’t want it to rely on the same routine color. This will make your day-to-day look boring and overly routine. On the other hand, you don’t want to fill your wardrobe exclusively with vibrant, exuberant colors. While it is okay to wear these overtly stylish suits from time-to-time, in most cases the dress-code and context won’t allow it.

The Suit Color Breakdown

So, what suit colors should you be building into your wardrobe? We recommend a mix along the lines of the below chart. You can think of your suit collection in increments of five (a typical work week). The percentages below will apply best to a collection of 10 suits (we dig suits okay?) but feel free to round up or down based on your target number.
pie chart depicting the percentages of suit colors
As you can see, we clearly favor blue. In fact, we recommend you deploy up to 50% of your suit collection to varying shades of blue, from a classic solid navy blue suit to a mid-range blue herringbone all the way to something spirited like a blue toned windowpane. Why do we love blue so much? For one, a navy blue suit is a great foundation piece. Second, it’s perfect for special occasions including wedding attire. Blue is extremely wedding friendly because it pairs well with most popular wedding colors and bridesmaid dresses of many shades. So, you not only have your foundation piece, but you have a suit that can be utilized in multiple situations. It’s universally appropriate, and for guys reading this post feeling a bit overwhelmed because you’ve yet to purchase your first suit, the navy blue suit should be your first.

After blue, you will want to make sure you have a healthy stock of gray suits, and at least one black suit. This is because just like navy, gray and black suits are foundation pieces. For the men who work in strict business-formal offices, gray suits fit the dress criteria perfectly and are a neutral palette on which you can style virtually any colored shirt and tie combination. And in regards to having a black suit in your arsenal, there will be solemn occasions in life when the dress code calls for a black suit, so make sure you are prepared.

Lastly, your suit wardrobe can have some character too. A brown suit can elevate your suit game and help break the monotony of the navy and gray rotation (oh, and it’s easy to wear, too). And if you really want to add some zest, you can opt for a more colorful suit like olive green or burgundy. However, we would always recommend you build your wardrobe around foundation blue and gray pieces first.
As you’ve probably already noticed, the rules of dress codes have been changing as of late, but the rules for building a collection of suit colors that will have you sharply dressed in any occasion still remain the same.


Rules of Thumb For Picking the Best Suit Colors

Rule #1 – Always pair your suits & your hair

four suit colors that match with models hair

This is the number one rule for a reason. This rule yields great results. But interpreting this rule is the trick. It DOES NOT mean that if you have brown hair you must wear only brown suits. Instead, focus on matching your hair’s shade to your suit’s shade. If you’ve got dark hair, dark suit colors naturally frame your face and will look better on you than someone with light hair. It also doesn’t mean you can’t wear lighter shades – only that darker ones will look better on you in comparison. So if you’ve got dark brown hair, a dark brown suit will work best for you, but so will a dark gray suit or a dark blue suit. The key word is dark.


Rule #2 – Go in order

line graph depicting suit color importance

As we covered above, when you are first building a wardrobe, start with foundation colors like the classic blues and grays. As you build, push further toward the edges with less expected colors.


Rule #3 – Play to the base

the best suit colors to play up the base

This advice isn’t just for politicians. When considering patterned fabrics, many men get hung up on the fact that there are multiple colors in the fabric when all you need to focus on is the base color. A gray plaid suit is still, all-in-all, a gray suit. Does the windowpane pick up the blue on your eyes? Great. The pinstripe hue is in your favorite color? Perfect. But there is almost always one dominant color in a fabric. That’s the one to focus on when you’re building your collection.


Rule #4 – Don’t overthink it

Remember a suit is just one ingredient in the dish called an outfit. Your choices in shirt colors and accessories like ties, pocket squares and socks can all take their chromatic cues from your suit colors. So the simpler your palette, the easier it is to dress well.

Our Favorites:

Now that you know how to pick your suit colors accordingly, here are our favorite suits inspired by the rules.

Email this to someonePin on PinterestShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on RedditShare on Tumblr

Like What You See? There's More.

We'll send you style advice and intel for the modern man.


9 thoughts on “The Right Suit Colors For Your Wardrobe”

  1. what about for salt-pepper hair color??

    1. Hey Ken!

      Salt & pepper hair is easy to work with! It’s actually pretty simple. Depending on the ratio of salt-to-pepper, your light gray suits and dark gray suits are going to play to both tones in the best ways. Navy suits will also always be a good option, as long as you keep in mind the salt-to-pepper ratio.

  2. Matching one’s suit to one’s hair in certainly a sound principle, but where should bald guys take their colour cute from? Hopefully not a 1970s Telly Savalas “Kojak” safari suit in off-white!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      LOL. Definitely not—Kojak’s style is all his own. Although now that we think about it, that would be an excellent Halloween costume.

      Anyways…bald men should take cues from their skin tone and eye color. If your skin and eyes are both light, stay away from really dark, saturated suit colors. If your skin and eyes are both dark, the opposite is true. If your cues are mixed (dark skin and light eyes or light skin and dark eyes), you have a bit more wiggle room. That being said, we recommend you still stay away from stark contrast.

  3. It’s interesting that this excellent article implicitly reinforces the message which many of us have learnt through making an expensive mistake – namely that a black suit is easy to buy, and very difficult to wear.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Preach! We steer guys away from the black suit on the regular, so we’re glad you already know better. Thanks for reading.

  4. Great update on your old “Pick suit colors that match you” post.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sounds like you’ve been checking out The Compass for a while, Gilbert. We’re happy we can help.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *