One of the great things about suits is that they make getting dressed simple. On one hanger, you’ve got most of your getup for the day covered. So it’s easy to understand how a guy can fall into a rut and keep his suits all together all the time. But true varsity players (the guys who strangers ask, “where’d you get that?”) know how to remix the suit by wearing suit separates. These guys aren’t geniuses, they’re just smart about how they break up their suit into separates. Joining them in the separatist movement isn’t hard. Here’s how to pull it off.
Technically, you can separate the parts of any of your suits, but you shouldn’t think of everything in your closet that your purchased together as suit separates. While pinstripe suits look sharp as cheddar when you step into the boardroom, they don’t hold up to being worn separately. The whole pinstripe look depends on keeping the continuous lines going all the way from top to bottom. Breaking up the lines, by wearing just the pants or just the jacket, makes your whole outfit look incomplete, like you half-assed the outfit.
Purists would argue that wearing the parts of a dark suit like a navy or a charcoal as suit separates is a sartorial crime. We give these dudes the Heisman stiff arm and keep on stepping because A) they tend to be little scrawny dudes who we can push around and B) they’re talking nonsense. For one, who couldn’t use an extra pair of neutral slacks in gray or blue? Second, splitting up a dark suit is fine, you just have to know how.
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Once you’ve rounded up the candidates, finding ways to recombine your suit jackets and pants is both an art and a science. The art part depends on your personal style and creativity (though, we will happily give you our opinion in the comments section below if you’re putting together a separates combo). And now for the science (because you know we like to drop science). There is one principle that you can guide you as you choose combine separate pieces: Mix up solids and patterns. Here’s why.
While combining solids and solids (i.e. your navy suit pants with a solid gray jacket) is not in violation of any fashion rules, it lands somewhere between sleepy and snoozer on the scale of sartorial interest. The other end of the spectrum, wearing two patterns (i.e. a check jacket and windowpane pants), can make for a pretty loud look.
There are a couple of tweaks you can make to a custom suit turn down the formality on a suit and make it easier to split up. (By the way, a Black Lapel stylist can take care of all of these customizations for you. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org when you’re ready to order).
Got a suit you’d like help separating? Tell us about the suit in the comments below and we’ll help you stylishly break things up.