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The Compass  /  JacketsStyleSuits  /  Suit Separates – Breaking Up Is Not So Hard To Do

Suit Separates – Breaking Up Is Not So Hard To Do

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Suit Separates - Breaking Up Is Not So Hard To Do

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.

Which Suits Make Good Suit Separates?

Technically, you can separate the parts of any of your suits, but you shouldn’t think of everything in your closet that you 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.

How to Recombine Your Suit Separates

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 can guide you as you combine separate pieces: Mix up solids and patterns. Here’s why.

While combining solids and solids (i.e. your navy suit pants with a light gray suit) 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 suit pants), can make for a pretty loud look.

Suit Separates - Solid on Pattern - Solid on Solid - Pattern on Pattern

What Can You Do To Make Your
Suit Separates Easier to Split Up?

There are a couple of tweaks you can make to a custom suit to turn down the formality 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 concierge@blacklapel.com 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.

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351 thoughts on “Suit Separates – Breaking Up Is Not So Hard To Do”

  1. I have an Edwardian swallowtail jacket that I want to wear to an event. It is charcoal grey. I do not have matching pants. Can I pair it with black and white pinstripe pants?

    1. Is the event in question your coronation? If so, holla at your boys. We’ve been looking to suit up a monarch for some time now. If not, a morning coat may be a bit over the top. This look is very formal and rare.

      If this is the look you’re going for, you should check out the Black Tie Guide’s section on Morning Dress. There you’ll see a gentleman in striped morning dress trousers. Note that these are not just a pair of pants he borrowed from a pinstripe suit, but a pair of trousers cut specifically with morning dress in mind. So if you’re going to do this, go all the way and get yourself a pair of proper trousers and, dare we say it, top it all off with a top hat.

  2. I have a black tuxedo jacket but I want to wear different colored trousers with it, what would you suggest?

    1. Usually when a dinner jacket and pants don’t match it’s the jacket that gets all the attention. However, you can keep the jacket black and go with non-matching pants. We suggest a medium or light gray. Take a look at our black tie look for creative types in this article to see how it looks and get some inspiration.

  3. Hi BlackLapel. I just want to us about black suit.is it ok to combine a black top with small interval vertical stripe and bottom with 3x bigger interval than the top.and the color of top is darker than the bottom.is it ok to combine?thanks for helping.

    1. It sounds like you’re talking about combining two different pinstripes, Noel. If so, we do not recommend it.

      A big part of the appeal of the pinstripe suit is the unbroken lines it creates. When you wear two different pinstripes you ruin that affect.

  4. Hi,

    My girlfriend wants towear a grey suit with a black pant. It tooks good to me. Will they both go together?? She is planning to wear this combo in a presentation.

    1. Yep, those two colors go together nicely and are professional. If she’s worried about looking informal, we’d suggest pairing separates in the same color (so, a full suit) since that will always look more formal and sometimes more put-together. Pass on our good luck for her presentation!

  5. Hey Black Lapel! You’re my favorites when it comes to advices and other kinds of info about suits.

    I have a charcoal suit with a very subtle cashmere stripe. The jacket is double breasted by the way. I break them up with jeans and black chinos on casual days. Do you think it’s a great idea?

    1. Glad to hear it, Gilbert.

      If your suit is technically a pinstripe, we never recommend breaking it up into separates. Cutting the pinstripes off at your torso could make you look disproportional. If your suit has more of a subtle stripe, like this blazer, then we’re all for pairing it with jeans or black chinos. We may even be in slight favor of the jeans, because double-breasted jackets look bad ass with jeans.

      1. Thank you for the tip. The stripes on my suit look like those on the blue jacket you’ve shown. Suits are a rare sight around this part of the country even though our school requires us corporate world majors to wear suits every wednesday. That’s why I want to dress down my suit a notch on casual days that don’t really call for a suit. However, I’m treading on thin ice as I don’t want to overdo the dressing down bit. My jeans are on the lighter side of the spectrum. So, what do you think?

        1. Proceed with caution, Gilbert. The lighter jeans get the more casual they get. When pairing with a blazer, keep the denim dark.

          Also, you’ll be happy to know that since your original comment we have published a story on giving your suits a business casual look, so you can get some other ideas on how to make the most out of your suits.

          1. Thank you. 😄 I think I’ll just pair these jeans with my polo shirts during the casual days so I don’t end up half-assing my business outfit.

  6. Hi,

    Can I wear the jacket and the waistcoat of a 3 piece suit with different colored pants? Thanks

    1. Of course you can. We even showed you how to put this look together in our article titled How to Wear a Vest and Matching Jacket. Drop your email address in where and hit the blue Subscribe button above and we’ll send you articles like these, that answer all your style questions, weekly.

  7. I’m a girlfriend on a mission to get my boyfriend a new suit as an alternative to his single charcoal gray suit+white shirt. He has blue eyes so I was planning on getting him a blue suit (jacket+pants+vest), what shade of blue would work best with black shoes/belt and would equally combine well with his charcoal grey suit? And any suggestions for a shirt/tie would be great; I didn’t realize how complicated men’s wear could be

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We hear you, Sophia. There’s a lot out there, some good and a lot of bad. We must say that the good stuff is definitely worth the investment. Check out our Spanish Blue Herringbone Custom Suit (you can add a vest once you begin customizing). Its a unique blue, matches with black shoes/belt, and can create killer combos with charcoal gray. So grab a measuring tape and get to work on your boyfriend!

  8. I have a tan corduroy sport coat and I need to wear it to a meeting for work. I have all kinds of black pants is that ok? What about shirt and tie

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This will depend on the dress code in your office. If its business casual or even more lax, suit separates are a fine choice. Black and tan suit separates, however? We’re not so sure. It’s not the best color combo and a pair of navy/dark blue pants is a much better option. Blue pants will also give you more range for shirt and tie combinations.

  9. mid-grey herringbone suit, navy vest subtle pinstripe. Both wool. Cordovan oxfords and belt. Mom says it doesn’t go but I don’t believe her. If it works, what’s the tie situation looking like?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Don’t believe your Mom? We’re not sure we can trust you now either…

      Just kidding, but moms are usually brutally honest. It’s like a rule of thumb. ANYWAYS, it sounds like you’re going for a three-piece remix as we like to call it. Very nice. Even more nice if you choose a tie that complements the suit. We’re thinking light gray wool tie with a white shirt as a backdrop. You could also give the wool a rest and opt for a navy knit tie, but still that white dress shirt because you can’t go wrong with it.

  10. Thanks for the article! I’ve got a ball coming up and I only have a navy suit jacket with black lining on the lapel. I was wondering if this would look alright if I were to wear them with black pants and black shoes. I’ve also got a dark charcoal suit but the suit jacket is a bit tight so I am kind of torn on what to wear. Also, what colour of tie should I wear with a white shirt? Thank you

    1. We don’t recommend wearing a navy blue jacket with black pants. There’s just not enough contrast between black and navy blue. The whole look becomes a muddled mix. The same is true for combining charcoal gray with black. If these are your only color options, we’d suggest taking your charcoal suit jacket to the tailor to let it out a bit so it will fit and wearing the full suit.

      As for what tie color to wear with a white shirt. That’s like asking what paint colors go with a blank canvas. Our recommendation is not to worry about the tie matching the shirt, but focus on matching you. Our rule of thumb is match your ties to your eyes. If you’ve got brown eyes look for ties with some brown in them. Blue eyes? Look for ties with some blue in them. Doing this will help your clothes emphasize your best features, one of the keys to dressing well.

  11. Thomas Dombrowski says:

    I have a light blue coat, could I wear that with just black pants?

    1. If by “just black pants” you mean you’re not going to be wearing a shirt or underwear or socks or shoes, then no. However, we’re guessing you didn’t mean it that way. We’re inferring that the question here is does light blue go with black. The answer, contrary to what many people think, is no. Light colored jackets and black pants create a really high contrast. There’s nothing wrong with high contrast. In fact, it’s generally a good thing. But as we say ad nauseum in the answer to comments on articles like How to Wear a Black Suit with Style, black and just about any light or bright color creates a jarring contrast that’s unappealing. We recommend lightening up those pants a shade or two to a gray and the contrast will be much improved.

  12. I have lite grey slacks and a dark grey jacket with a dark blue shirt and a blue and grey tie does that work together

    1. Sure, Lenny. By controlling your color palette you’re ensuring that your clothes all match each other.

      Will the outfit look good on you? Different story. Clothes matching each other is of minor importance. The main thing is how well do they match you?

      Do they fit you well? Check out the articles in our Flawless Fit category to gain a better understanding of how your clothes should fit.

      Do the colors and contrasts work with your coloring and contrast? Check out our article on Picking Shirt Colors That Match You to gain a better understanding of what works for you.

      Armed with this knowledge you’ll be able to put together killer outfits regularly.

  13. Going to a low key wedding. My girlfriend is wearing a burgundy dress. I have a gray suit that I’d like to try and separate. I’m going to skip the jacket. I was thinking of going with a gray suit and a burgundy vest, but I’m not sure how that’s going to look. Also need some suggestions on a tie.

    1. Splitting up your suits isn’t the same as wearing half of an outfit, Jay. We highly recommend you wear a jacket either instead of or in addition to the vest, lest you be mistaken for a part of the catering staff.

      You’ve got the pieces to remix a 3-piece suit by wearing the burgundy vest with the gray suit. That’s a look we’ve covered in our article on How to Wear a Vest the Modern Way.

      As for the tie, you’ve already got two colors going on in this outfit, the burgundy and the gray so look for a tie that includes one or both of those colors and you’ll have a cohesive look.

  14. grey blazer and white pant with a brown shoe?? match?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sure. They’re all neutrals. You literally can’t go wrong there. That said, as we tell just about everyone who comments here, the idea is not to get your clothes to match each other, but to get them to match you. The best way to do that is to look at yourself in the mirror first, then find the clothes that work with you. We’ve written about it extensively in our articles on How to Choose Your Clothes and Picking Shirt Colors That Match You. We highly recommend you read those before anything else in The Compass since they are the foundations of every outfit you’ll see in this publication.

  15. I have a light grey/khaki-ish jacket I am planning to wear to a wedding. Would dark blue or grey pants match better>

    1. Either pants will work, but deciding which is “better” is subjective, but one thing that makes a difference is your body type.

      If we were there we’d be able to style you directly and we’d start by looking at your height. If you’re on the shorter side (say 5’8″ or below) we’d suggest the gray pants since the dark blue will split your body in half visually making you look shorter. On the flip side, if you’re a tall guy (say over 6’0″), you might want to break yourself up a bit visually and the dark blue pants would be your best bet.

      Next we’d look at your shape. Generally the slimmer you are the more we’d steer you towards the contrast of the blue pants. A more rotund gentleman, on the other hand, might do better with a low-contrast combo like the gray pants.

      So you see, we can’t answer the question for you, but we can offer you strategies for coming up with your best look. That’s our whole mission here. We want to arm you with the information to dress from the inside out. For more on this, check out our article on How To Choose Your Clothes: Mastering Men’s Fashion From The Inside Out.

  16. I have a choice of two combinations for a wedding this weekend. Thinking of mixing a grey blazer with dark purple pants and a white dress shirt. Any recommendations on tie color?
    Second choice is a anchor blue suit with a floral print dress shirt which also happens to be dark blue with sky blue flowers (a lot of blue) thinking of off setting this with a maroon knit tie. Is this an acceptable combo?

    Thanks

    1. We realize the event may have already passed. While the Compass is not an on-demand tie matching service, we do try to answer comments with helpful advice promptly. Your best bet, though is to contact a Black Lapel stylist directly at concierge@blacklapel.com. Our stylists primarily help customers customize their Black Lapel clothes, but are always on hand to answer style questions, so we encourage you to take advantage.

      That said, here’s our advice on all shirt and tie combinations. Our general rule of thumb is to make sure the tie is darker than the shirt. Your second option would break this rule, so we’d suggest sticking with option 1.

      As for color tie to wear with option 1, we’ve got another rule of thumb. When surrounded by neutrals, match your ties to your eyes. A gray blazer and white shirt are basically a blank canvas, so if you’ve got brown eyes, a tie with some brown in it would work. Got blue eyes, reach for a blue tie. Green eyes? Light green tie it is. Simple, right?

  17. Hey there,

    Soon I will be attending my prom, I currently have a tailored Cambridge grey suit which I am thinking about wearing a white shirt and a navy tie. I was thinking about wearing a contrasted vest with it to stand out a little with the suit since it is not an extreme formal dress code.

    I was thinking about wearing either a charcoal, light navy or black vest. What would be the best combination?
    (If it helps I am 5ft 8 and have caramel skin).

    Any reply would be greatly appreciated.

    1. It’s so good to hear from a young gentleman taking pride in dressing well!

      The answer to your question is more about your personal preferences than anything else. All of the vest options you mentioned should work. The only situation in which we’d rule one out is if you planned to wear brown shoes. As you can see here, brown shoes with a gray suit can be a really sharp look, we wouldn’t recommend combining a black vest with brown shoes.

      Our top pick might be the navy vest since you’ve got a navy tie picked out. It’ll help make the whole look cohesive.

      For more on mixing up suits and vests for, check out our articles on How to Wear a Vest The Modern Way and How To Wear a Vest and Matching Jacket.

  18. Love the article! Heading up to Washington this Saturday for a friend’s wedding. I am just shy of 5’8″, and a bit heavy at about 230lbs(I know >_<) I have a medium-dark Navy blue suit which the pants don't fit anymore but the jacket is still just fine. I have some black pin dot suit pants that do fit. Now reading through some of the comments I have come to know your position on dark blue jackets with black pants to be sloppy, muddled, etc., and not particularly acceptable. However despite your recommendation against such a pairing of darks I was wondering if it still would somehow be a viable option if I were to wear either a lavender or periwinkle shirt which I have that I believe could help to add contrast to the overall outfit. If you think that this could work(I'm betting not but just going out on a limb) then I would also like your opinion on a tie because I have lots of them. Thanks in advance for your advice.

    1. You’ve picked up the key point from previous comments, we’re no fans of the muddled navy and black combination. If you’ve got a pair of pants in another blue in a different shade, then you could put together an all blue combination with a blue shirt and tie. This kind of tonal combo is guaranteed to look cohesive since you’ll be wearing several members of the same color family.

      If you don’t have any other pants and the navy blue and black jacket and pants combo is unavoidable, a light shirt will add some contrast to the whole outfit. And if it’s an evening wedding a dark navy jacket will read as almost black anyway. Still, not recommending it, but if it’s the only way to go, then…as the Emperor said to Mozart, “well…there it is.

  19. What are thoughts on a tan coat with very faint blue strips, white shirt, silver tie, and black pants? Sorry the description is a little basic. I feel like it’s sketchy as far as the light top and dark bottom but I’m new to the suit world. Thanks!

    1. We appreciate you coming to us before suiting up, Greg. Hopefully we can teach you a thing or two and steer you in the right direction. Your description is better than most here 😉 Light and dark suit separates can work, but you’re right about the black pants being “sketchy” (if that’s what you want to call it) here. Black is too strong of a color contrast against your tan blazer, shirt, and tie combination. Light and dark suit separates can work in classic color combinations like gray and blue, gray and black, blue and brown, the list goes on… The outfit you describe could work if you base it off the classic blue and brown combo. Your jacket is tan (a light shade of brown) and incorporates blue already. You’re much better off with a pair of navy pants instead of black if you wish to wear dark pants, but you don’t have to wear dark blue. A lighter shade of blue pants will work too.

  20. Got a wedding at the weekend. I’m going for a dark blackwatch tartan jacket, black skinny trousers, white shirt, skinny black tie, black braces, black chelsea boots. Thoughts? I think maybe I need a different colour tie as when I take my jacket off I’ll look a bit like I’m going to a funeral but I’m unsure what tie to go for? Couldn’t find a link to the jacket but the matching trousers are linked here to guage the colour.

    http://www.riverisland.com/men/suits/skinny-fit/green-tartan-skinny-fit-trousers-294478

    Any help would be appreciated, I’ve been a nightmare trying to decide this haha!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That’s a very cool look, Jack. Kudos to you. We understand your concerns about looking like you are going to or just coming from a funeral, but you’ll want to be careful about your tie choice so you don’t overdo it. You could rock a skinny, medium to dark or heather gray tie as an alternative, but the black tie you mention is going to make your outfit look the most cohesive.

      1. Cheers for the advice. I think I’ll stick to the black and keep it classic looking!

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Always a good choice. Enjoy the wedding.

  21. What are your thoughts on a grey double breasted blazer black turtleneck black pants combo for a wedding?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We like the idea of the outfit, John. However, does the wedding have a dress code? This is an important question to ask yourself when suiting up for any special event. If the invitation said anything in between cocktail attire to black tie, we’re not sure a turtleneck is appropriate. We suggest you read up on what wedding dress codes really mean and then reassess your outfit.

  22. Hi
    I have a wedding to go to in Maine. I just bought some Michael Kors dark blue (almost black) polyester/rayon dress pants but the only jackets I have aren’t cut well and don’t match the slimmer profile or color of the pants.

    I’m considering a white button-down shirt or a light blue check shirt.

    Could you recommend a blazer/tie combination for me?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Since we don’t know what you look like, it’s impossible for use to give you a strong recommendation for what will look good on you. That’s why we promote dressing from the inside out. But we can tell you that neutral items like navy blue pants and a white shirt leave you with a lot of options. We’ve photographed navy blue pants with a wide range of Black Lapel blazers, shirts and ties, so if you’re looking for inspiration, take a look out our blazers page for some great examples.

  23. My husband and I are attending two weddings in October one on the 1st and another on the 16th. Is it too late to wear an ecru colored blazer?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That depends on the location of the weddings, Becky. If they’re tropical destination weddings, then the answer is yes, but if they’re in, say, Milwaukee and Madison Wisconsin, that light jacket is going to stick out like a sore thumb. Thankfully, there’s plenty of time to get a an all seasonal wedding appropriate jacket.

  24. Julia Boulton says:

    Hi we are going to a Gatsby themed wedding on Saturday. My husband is going to wear a cream linen suit and I am thinking a blue shirt with gold tie with pocket square just picking out a bit of gold and a waistcoat a darker shade than the suit.(like The Great Gatsby!!) My question is does he have to have a linen waistcoat or will another material by ok?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      What a great wedding theme and this outfit sounds spot on to Gatsby. It’s a good question about the waistcoat too. A linen waistcoat would certainly complement the linen suit, but we don’t think the fabric needs to be exactly the same. A waistcoat in a linen, cotton, or wool blend will still work with the suit. And if there was one fabric we would urge you to avoid, it would just be silk. Enjoy the wedding and remember, a little party never killed nobody :)

  25. David Salvatico says:

    Guys,

    I am getting married in October in Australia, so the start of Spring by the beach. I am looking to have a suit or separates that show a more informal approach.

    With this in mind i have decided (and you can tell me its a terrible idea) to have light blue and navy as my colour choices. Not sure which as pant and which as jacket.

    Any advice you can provide would be fantastic.

    Thanks

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You mean kind of like this combination of jacket and pants, David? Yup, we approve. That’s why we shot that jacket with navy blue pants.

      Want to get a look like this? Hit us up at concierge@blacklapel.com and one of our stylists will go through all of your options with you.

      1. David Salvatico says:

        thank you guys, that is perfect.

        As i am based in Australia, how would the concierge be able to help?

        Cheers

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Of course. We don’t have anything against Aussies :) Best wishes with the wedding.

  26. I’m getting married in a courtyard in New Orleans and I love how the tux jacket looks but i cant stand the stripe on the pants. Would it be that bad to match with black suit pants?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The satin stripe is a signature detail of tuxedo pants, but if you can’t stand something, you can’t stand something. What are you supposed to do? Well at Black Lapel, we specialize in making garments completely custom from the fit down to all the bells and whistles. Feel free to send an email over to concierge@blacklapel.com to see if we are able to accommodate your request :)

  27. Hi, Our wedding is the Saturday and my fiance’s suit will be ready Thursday (I know, cutting it close…). It is a light gray suit for a outdoor wedding. I’d like him to wear a cream linen vest with either a blue or sand colored tie and maybe a yellow pocket square (if blue tie) or blue pocket square (if sand colored tie). His shoes and belt will be brown. I’m having trouble finding any sort of images with this color combo and am wondering if I’m crazy for thinking this could look good? Thoughts?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You’re not crazy, Julie, at least as far as we know. Wearing a non-matching vest is a stylish move that not enough guys do. We call it the 3-Piece Remix and we devoted a whole article to it this past winter. Of course, since that article came out in the winter it featured heavier fabrics. Had we done it with warmer weather fabrics, we might have included a gray/cream combo. That’s a low-contrast combination that works for a lot of different guys.

      Our one recommendation, the pocket square and tie shouldn’t match exactly, but they can echo each other. So if he goes with a blue tie, we suggest a patterned pocket square (like a paisley or check) that’s got a hint of that same blue in it, elegantly puffed in his jacket.

      Have fun on the big day!

  28. Hi Black Lapel, i bought a navy pin stripe suit. I gave the jacket to my tailor for refitting and he ruined the jacket. Now i have the trousers. Can yoy please tell me the best combination of jacket thaf goes with blue stripe trousers.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Ah, Sanee, perhaps you pulled the trigger too quickly on the comments. If you go back to the top of this article and read paragraph two, you’ll see that we don’t recommend wearing striped jackets and pants separately. Sorry, but there may not be any salvaging this suit. A word to the wise: don’t go back to that tailor.

  29. John Wilkins says:

    I’m going to a wedding in a couple of weeks and have a grayish almost dark silver color suit jacket that is slim fitted. I am not very interested in wearing the matching pants and would rather get a new pair of pants to go with the jacket. Do you have any suggestion on the color of pants that would go with the jacket? I am thinking a dark blue but would love to see an example of a blue that would work. Also am wondering what color tie I should wear. I have a skinny black tie available

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Gray is a neutral, so it works with a lot of colors. Navy blue and gray have been paired for hundreds of years with great outcomes, so navy blue pants like these and a gray jacket would definitely work. As for examples, take a look at our blazers collection, where you’ll see plenty of gray blazers paired with these navy blue pants. In fact, you’ll see many jackets paired with navy blue pants.

      Alternatively, you can keep things 100% monochromatic with a gray jacket and gray slacks like we did for this look or your shirt and tie to add color and keep the pants gray like we did in this outfit.

      As you can see there are lots of options for a neutral jacket, but you can’t really go wrong.

  30. Tim Rosevear says:

    My husband loves a cream colored suit with navy stripes. It’s kind of a vintage twenty ‘s look. He is tall and thin. Would this be appropriate for an October wedding? He is the father of the groom. What color shirt, belt and shoes. The suit is cotton. Thank you.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A light colored cotton suit may not be the best bet for an October wedding. Maybe if the wedding is in, say, Miami, but not if the wedding is anywhere further north where fall will be in full swing by October.

      Even if it will be warm at the wedding, we’re not fans of pinstriped suits at weddings. Pinstripes are either businesslike and serious or, like this one might be, throwback-style attention getters. Back in the 20s a suit like this would have played, but nowadays (unless it’s a Gatsby themed wedding) that might be an over-the-top look. You wouldn’t want to show up the groom. Instead, we would recommend a more fall-appropriate suit in either a darker, autumn inspired color like this Charcoal Brown Custom Suit with Blue Overcheck or, if the weather is really warm, this Tobacco Brown Linen Blend Custom Suit. Both of the gentlemen pictured in those suits are tall (6’4″ and 6’3″) and slim and would totally kill it at a wedding in these suits.

  31. Hi, we have an autumn wedding coming up. My husband will be wearing a golden beige suit and I am thinking of putting my two boys in charcoal grey. Will they look good next to each other?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hi, Kate. They’ll look good together, but we think they could look better. How about Charcoal Blue instead? Blue and beige go together better than beige and gray, and this light charcoal blue color still has slight hues of gray in it.

  32. Hello,

    Thank you for the insightful article. I have one more question for you, would be really obliged if you could help with it.
    I have to attend a wedding this weekend and was thinking of pairing my royal blue jacket with black trousers and a white shirt (probably a black tie as well) Do you think this is a good combination? Also note, that the fabric of both the jacket and trousers is nearly the same, should that be a problem? Thanks.
    .

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hi Raza, happy to be of service here. The fabric of your jacket and trousers being slightly different isn’t the problem here. We’re more worried about the difference in color of your jacket and trousers not being big enough. The key to rocking suit separates, or the “Unsuit” as we like to call it, is having the confidence to match obviously different colors. That being said, royal blue and black can still work as a color combo. In fact, we’re fans of using that color combination in black tie settings. If the color contrast is similar to or great than the contrast in the outfit in that link, than yes, you have a good suit separates combination. Also, we approve of adding a white shirt with a black tie to the outfit. Enjoy the wedding.

  33. Hey, thanks for the article… came across it on a google search. I’m looking to wear a navy blue jacket and light grey pants… Question is I wanted to wear a V Neck Tee under. White, baby blue, or either? Also I have light brown shoes or I have casual navy blue sneakers w/hint of grey in them. I have brown, grey, & black (w/navy blue trim) belts. Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hey JP, we like your outfit idea here. Great for summer. We think a white tee is the best choice and will look cool with your blue sneakers. In terms of which belt to wear, we’re leaning towards the grey, but if it’s too distracting than brown is always a safe best. Thanks for reading!

  34. Stumbled upon this site and have enjoyed the good advice.
    I’m pairing a blue jacket with light gray pants for a wedding this Saturday.

    Just wanted to hear your suggestions for shirt/tie combos. I generally like lighter shirts and dark, thinner ties but am open to suggestions. If it helps I have brown hair, light skin and an athletic frame.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hey, Randy. It’s hard to give you a good, specific suggestion with little information about you. But that’s why we wrote this guide to choosing shirt colors that match you, since you’re the only one who knows what you really look like. Check it out for which shirt to start your combination with.

  35. Can I wear cream suit and black wool trousers?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Certainly, although this sounds like a formal dinnertime outfit. Always make sure the occasion is right.

  36. Question..can i wear a darker colour grey waistcoat with a lighter grey suit trousers

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sure you can wear it. Should you? That depends on a lot of factors. What jacket will you wear over it? What kind of shirt will you wear? Where will you be wearing it? etc. But the most important factor is how does it look on you.

      We get a lot of questions here at The Compass asking about what clothes go with what other clothes and we always give the same answer: it doesn’t matter what clothes go together, it matters what clothes go together on you. It’s what we call dressing from the inside out and we’ve written a whole article about it, that is recommended reading for any man who wants to be effortlessly stylish.

  37. Alexander R says:

    Don’t know if this thread is still active. I know that navy blue and black don’t go well together, but let’s say it’s a black blazer with a navy blue tie and pants that are a mix of white and navy blue (like navy blue with a pattern of vert small white squares). Is it then ok? Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This isn’t a discussion forum, Alexander, we just reply to every comment in this publication, so yup, it’s still “active”.

      As for the outfit, black and navy are both so dark that it’ll make for a muddled look. Brighter, more saturated colors can be jarringly when paired with black so the solution is not to change the pants, but change the jacket. Having some trouble picturing those pants but, as you can see here, navy pants work with a wide variety of jackets.

  38. I’m trying to figure out what to wear to my own wedding. If my groomsmen are wearing black suits and black ties, is it ok if i wear a dark navy blue suit with the black lapels and black bow tie? I like the look more than the black suit with black lapel but is it bad to not wear the same suit color as my groomsmen? The blue will have black in it atleast, is that enough?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Wearing a different suit than your groomsmen is perfectly acceptable. We’ve been seeing it more and more lately, as you’ll see in the this gallery of great looking grooms we suited up. We’ve made grooms tuxes and their groomsmen suits. We’ve made grooms blue tuxedos and groomsmen black tuxes and just about every other combination you can think of. We say go for it, Zaman.

  39. Alvin mugisha says:

    Hello I have a wedding coming up I wanted to look smart casual and stand out of the crowd I was thinking of wearing khaki pants preferably light brown please let me know how I can match it colour of blazer shirt and shoes I am light skinned a bit brown

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Good looks, Alvin. How about a Light Blue Blazer? This one is also a linen blend fabric to keep you cool at that wedding. Depending on how much you want to stand out, this one may be more of what you’re looking for. If you decide to go with a patterned blazer, try to make sure the background fabric is light in color. This way you’ll still stand out and look appropriate for the season. To keep the smart in your look, we recommend a crisp white dress shirt and dark brown loafers. Leather shoes are optional and, in fact, suede may be a better choice for summer.

  40. Christian says:

    Is it acceptable to wear black solid pants with a dark gray jacket?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Acceptable? Yes. No one’s going to give you any grief about it. But as we noted above, the name of the game when it comes to clothing pairings is contrast. Black and dark gray have almost no contrast and make for a pretty dull combination. We’d suggest a medium or light gray jacket with black slacks, to liven this outfit up.

  41. Can a non-pattern black suit jacket work, with a white dress shirt, a neutral solid colored tie, and gray dress slacks work for a job interview?

  42. Would wearing a bone colored jacket with Black pants work?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That’s a super high contrast outfit. If you’re very tall and looking to chop yourself in half visually then it might work (though even then we would avoid the combination of an earthone (light khaki) with black and opt for navy blue instead. If you’re sub 6’3″ we’d suggest easing the transition between the top and the bottom with a medium shade of pants like we did with these rust/burgundy chinos and khaki blazer on this model who, by the way, is 6’2″.

  43. My boyfriend and I are attending a wedding in August. The wedding is at 1:00, but cocktails and the reception are in the evening. My boyfriend needs to buy a new suit, and he wants to go with black since it’s pretty versatile. For a summer/afternoon wedding, I thought a lighter color would be better. But with an evening reception and knowing that it’s a formal event, maybe black is okay? We need to avoid a grey suit because that’s what the groom and groomsmen will be wearing. Thank you!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      So the question is what to wear to a summer wedding? We’ve actually got a whole article devoted to that topic.

      In that article you’ll see that there is no mention of black. That’s because, the whole idea of black being versatile and matching with everything is a fallacy. In reality, black is the most limiting suit color you can get. Why? Because black contrasts jarringly with every color, turning what would be “a pop of color” with a gray suit into a clownish looking accessory when set against black. Black works for black tie since you don’t wear colors with it and, if you’re following the rules of black tie, you’ll only wear a tux after 6:00pm when the darkness of the fabric blends with the night.

      As for what color your beau should wear, that has more to do with what he looks like than anything else. A simple rule of thumb is to pair your jacket with your hair. If he’s got dark hair, a dark suit works. Guys with lighter hair should wear suits that are a shade or two lighter. As for colors, we don’t think you should limit your choices because one group of people at a once in a lifetime event will also be wearing that color. A suit should last him many years, after all. If he’s into dark shades, a charcoal gray suit can be the cornerstone of his wardrobe for years to come and be a worthwhile investment in his style. If somebody attending the wedding can’t tell the difference between a guy sitting in the tenth row at the ceremony and the guy putting the ring on the bride’s finger, chalk that up to user error.

      We’ve given you a lot of messages to delive to your boyfriend here, but following the guidelines above will help him be the most stylish guy at the wedding and beyond.

  44. Would wearing a blue pants and grey vest together with a red tie be advisable? Or would it be too much of a mismatch?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      It wouldn’t be a mismatch, per se, but maybe take the red down a notch. How about a maroon tie instead? The contrast won’t be as strong and it’s still in the red color family.

  45. Wearing black blazer with stripes and same color pant without stripes is good or not at all accepted.
    ?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Not acceptable. While there are tons of ways to break up and combine suit separates, you can rule pinstripes out of that bunch. If you’re looking to dress down a striped suit, read up on the evolution of striped suit style.

  46. I have a black pin stripe tuxedo, but the pants disappeared. I like the jacket – could I pair them with black (tux pants with silk stripe) and not look like I lost the matching pants?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Unfortunately not. Pinstripes are one of the only suit patterns we don’t recommend breaking up—especially in tuxedo form.

  47. Matthew Woolley says:

    Hi, I have a wedding on Saturday and am in need of some advice. I recently lost a decent amount of weight and don’t have a suit available so I’m trying to piece something together that fits. I am also colorblind, so that doesn’t help either. I have a pair of navy pants and was wondering what color vests and shirts would be appropriate? I have a grey one that still fits ok. Also if the grey vest goes with navy pants, what color shirt should I go with? I can purchase a new one in time so any suggestion would be fine. Thank you for the help in advance, Matt.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      It looks like we might not have gotten to your issue in time—we hope the wedding was still a blast. Nevertheless, we’ll still give our two cents. A gray vest certainly goes with navy pants, and the best shirt option here is just your classic white dress shirt. While Black Lapel makes custom fit, made-to-measure dress shirts (perfect for your new weight!), we recommend Charles Tyrwhitt shirts for a quick buy.

  48. Curious:

    Would black chinos with a charcoal blazer look odd? also with a white/navy/burgundy checkered pattern shirt. black dress shoes or light grey suede? Maybe a tie/bow tie? It’s for a semi-formal event. Cheers!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      No, this wouldn’t look odd. This actually sounds like a really good combination. We’d recommend the black dress shoes to go with. Since the dress code is semi-formal, a tie/bow tie isn’t required, but since you’re wearing chinos it might be a good idea to wear one. A tie in a lighter-than-charcoal gray or burgundy will look good here too.

  49. Hi My son has got his deep plum tuxedo blazer and matching trousers. The satin lapel collar is navy. Can he wear a navy waistcoat as i am unable to find a deep plum waistcoat that perfectly matches.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A contrasting waistcoat with a tuxedo can work. Be careful, though, it sounds like he’s got a lot going on colorwise already. Don’t want him looking like a rainbow. Our recommendation, skip the waistcoat and go with a cummerbund instead. Classic and classy, a black cummerbund and black bow tie always work.

  50. Hi Black Lapel, first time on the site, but I love it already. Awesome article! Just bought a pair of navy cotton pants with lighter navy polka dots, wondering what would be a great blazer combination to pair this with for smart casual events. Was thinking a light grey, brown shoes & belt to match would do well, but I don’t know how I feel about the light coloured blazer. My other question was about mixing materials, I have a great pair of dark maroon cotton pants, and was wondering if wearing tweed or silk with that is a no-no or if it could be pulled off. Thanks a lot.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Well welcome, Honz. We’re happy to have you. We think the light colored blazer is a good option for the first outfit you mention. Navy and light gray is a classic, smart-casual color combination. The polka dots sounds like they will add some sprez to the outfit too. To answer your second question, mixing materials can definitely be pulled off. A lot of times, we actually encourage it. A tweed jacket will pair well with your cotton pants, but tread a little more carefully with silk. Not that silk won’t match with cotton, but this could throw off the formality balance of an outfit. Perhaps a silk blended jacket is a better option for your cotton pants. Hope this was helpful! Come back soon.

  51. I have a wedding in Santorini mid Sep. this year. Was thinking of wearing a cream suit jacket on striped navy trousers, what’s your opinion on solid jackets on striped trousers?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Well, since Black Lapel is a brand made up of over 40 people, we rarely have one opinion on anything. The closest we get to a unanimous opinion, though, is what we said in the second paragraph of this article:
      “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.”

      Any solid colored pants would work with a cream colored jacket, though, so reach for another pair and you’ll be there.

  52. Great site! Our son is getting ready to go off to college and will need a suit maybe two. I am thinking Navy Blue and the other grey. My thought is he could mix them to get more variety, your thoughts?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      First off, congratulations on successfully preparing a young man for college and kudos to you for getting him off on the right foot with some suits.

      As for mixing and matching, one of the most stylish moves you’ll see in menswear these days is what we call the Unsuit (a tailored jacket and pants combination made with two different fabrics). Your idea about starting off with a navy blue suit is a good one. A solid navy blue suit is about as versatile as they come and works with just about any guy’s natural coloring and features.

      The standard recommendation you’d get for a second suit is a solid charcoal gray, however we’re not going to give you the standard recommendation. Don’t get us wrong, a charcoal gray suit is a great foundation piece in the wardrobe, but if you’re looking for something that can be work in conjunction with the navy blue, we recommend a lighter gray. Charcoal gray and navy blue are both so dark, they don’t provide much contrast from each other. So if you put, say, the charcoal gray pants with the navy blue jacket, you’d get a dull combination. Lighten up the gray and you give life to the whole outfit, as you can see in this navy blue jacket photographed with light gray pants. So we suggest a light gray suit or medium gray, like this Cool Gray suit as a second suit. Mix and match these two suits with each other and other items and he’ll have tons of combinations.

  53. Hey, I have my highschool prom coming up and I already have a charcoal grey pant paired with a white shirt, light purple tie and I’m looking to get a suit jacket. What color choices for the suit jacket would work best with the outfit I have?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We recommend sticking with gray for the jacket. Just be sure the gray is a different shade than the pants. That way you create some contrast and it doesn’t look like you were trying to wear a suit and mistakenly grabbed the wrong jacket.

      For a bit of added style, we’d recommend including a hint of the purple to tie in with with the tie. Then you would end up with an outfit like this. Is this mandatory? No, but it sure does bring the whole look together.

  54. We are attending a wedding in June and my 12yr old wants to wear a suit. I found a lovely grey waistcoat and pants but the jacket we have is slightly different colour – is this a definite no-no

    1. Black Lapel says:

      First of all, kudos to the young man for expressing an interest in dressing well at an early age. He’s destined for great things!

      As for the non-matching waistcoat. It depends on how different it is from the suit. As you can see in our article on How to Wear a Vest the Modern Way, we are proponents of what we call the three-piece remix. But you’ll also notice that those vests and suits are all clearly differentiated. If the vest is very close to the suit but doesn’t match that can be distracting. If there’s enough contrast between them, we say go for it! Either way, we’re sure he’ll knock ’em dead just for being 12 and suiting up.

  55. A friend of mine took my measurements o.s. and got me a nice deep royal blue suit. It was a gamble but the jacket is a perfect fit. The pants bieber will never fit me. I have tried to find a fabric that matches but the blue is just a bit lighter than traditional navy blues. I will eventually have to go to a local suit maker and try to get a very close matching fabric. In the meantime i would like to wear my lovely dark blue jacket but with what? I am going to a wedding in laur autumn in tropical qld but still want to sout up. Would a lighter grey pair of pants go with a darker blue and a brown shoe? Any suggestions welcome. I am a larger size man but like to own my look at formal type events. Thanks

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Light gray pants with a blue jacket is a classic color combination. As you can see here and here and here and here, we like this combination and go back to it again and again. So we say go forth with gray!

  56. We are having a blue/black debate. Black suit pants with a dark navy blue jacket. I say no, dad says yes. Fashion or faux pas?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re with you, Shay. Black pants and a navy blue jacket are just too close together. The resulting mishmash of dark on dark will look sloppy, like you mistakenly confused two suits.

      Black and dark blue can get along, but the black has to be an accent, like black shoes with a navy blue suit or black lapels on a midnight blue tuxedo.

  57. I need help please! My husband has a basic black suit(wool). He can no longer wear the pants. I replaced them 2 yrs ago with a pr of polyseter pants. He now needs to replace them. Is it ok to mix the two materials? I have no idea and neither does he really. He doesn’t wear his suit often.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      It’s OK, but it’s still not a great option. Even though your husband doesn’t wear a suit often, it may be time for a new suit. A black suit isn’t very versatile for matching purposes, and adding in that the jacket and suit are made of different fabrics will make him look less put-together. Although wool can work as an all seasonal fabric, it can be put off-balance when you pair it with a lesser fabric (polyester). What about upgrading to a basic dark gray wool suit? It’s a slightly less serious color, it matches with more, and should be appropriate for any occasion he does have to wear a suit for. Your husband could even still hold onto his black wool jacket and wear it with these gray pants for a less formal, suit separates outfit.

  58. Hey Black Lapel
    I have a job interview for an office position, and I had two outfits I was thinking about that I was wondering if I could get some tips on.
    My first outfit I’m considering is a black jacket, almost sky blue shirt, dark red/burgundy tie, and khaki pants.
    My second outfit I’m wondering what to pair with is black pants, navy blue jacket but not sure what color shirt tie to wear with it. Any suggestions?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      There are a lot of variables that we’d need to lock down before giving you a specific recommendation, Ken. What kind of job are you seeking? What’s the corporate culture? Is there a dress code at the office? What stage are you in careerwise? And perhaps most importantly, what do you look like? Answering those questions is more akin to personal styling and doesn’t exactly work in the comments section of a publication like this. But don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of help for you still.

      Our first bit of advice is to be careful wearing separates to a job interview. This might be fine if it’s a laid back, casual office atmosphere, but know that for sure befor you show up in a pair of chinos only to find the whole company is in suits and ties. We always suggest erring on the side of formal for a job interview. What does that mean? It means you’ll probably want to wear an interview suit. We’ve got a set of recommendations picked out for you in the Interview Suits section of this site. We highly recommend wearing one of those or something like them.

      As for the outfits, they sound fine. It’s impossible to tell if they’ll look good on you, though, because we don’t know what you look like. The answer to that question is the key to style. If the colors you wear work with your look (hair color, skin tone, features), you’re miles ahead of the average guy already. That’s why we wrote our article How to Choose Your Clothes: Mastering Men’s Fashion From the Inside Out. It’s recommended reading for anybody who’s serious about dressing well.

      Oh and one more thing…depending on where you live, it might be starting to warm up already. In that case, we recommend you check out our Hot Weather Interview Tips before heading in to the first round.

      Hope we haven’t overwhelmed you with all this. We want you to be prepared and not worry about what you’re wearing, so you can focus on getting the gig.

  59. James Kent says:

    Hey I have my school prom coming up, I currently have a lightish grey checked jacket with a white shirt, would matching it up with black pants and shoes go well? Thanks also stuck between a black tie along with it or a completely contrasting bowtie with braces.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Ah yes, it’s prom season, isn’t it? Black pants and shoes will go along well as long as your gray check jacket has subtleties of darker gray and/or black in the pattern. If the jacket has undertones of blue instead, dark navy pants will probably go along better. Your tie or bow tie dilemma can be up to you, but we like the idea of braces regardless. No one will probably see them until your jacket comes off on the dance floor, which is great timing for that look. But, just so you know, a contrasting bow tie is a pretty sprezzy look for prom, but if that’s your style, prom is a great time to express that (as long as it’s tasteful). A black tie will look more formal. Maybe consult with your date? It’s important that they’re pleased with your ensemble 😉

  60. Hi there,
    I have a wedding coming up and wanted to mix a white shirt, grey wool jacket, blue trousers, turned up to show a little ankle and brown brogues. My wife disagrees, am I about to commit fashion suicide??? Cheers

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The outfit sounds pretty inoffensive, Pete, so we’ll assume your wife is taking issue with the turned up trouser legs. In that case, we’ll have to agree with her. Pant legs with no break are a stylish choice for many guys. Rolled up pants work too when they’re jeans or chinos. Rolling up a pair of wool dress slacks is not recommended because the inside hem of your dress pants will show, revealing the stitching and breaking the clean line of your trousers. Sorry to break it to you, Pete, but the Mrs. has a point.

  61. Hi I have a formal event to go to and I was wondering if a beige blazer would look odd with slim black chinos and cognac colored dress shoes. Also if that is acceptable what color shirt and tie would you pair it with?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Black chinos with a beige jacket and cognac dress shoes is a no-no, Neesh. Why? Because black pants generally means black shoes for one. Also, if it’s a formal event chinos are too casual anyway. We say keep the jacket and the shoes, but go with dark blue or brown dress slacks. Since you’re wearing separates, which are a small step down in formality from a suit, wear the most formal (and versatile) shirt, a white one and go with a dressy tie that incorporates the color of the pants. See how changing the pants changes everything?

  62. Help please! My husband and I have a wedding to attend at the end of April in Brisbane. It still looks like its going to be damn hot. The invitation has no dress code but is a rather formal, classic black and white invite. My husband was going to wear a suit that we have had for years. Black, classic slim line cut. I was concerned he would look like the groom, an office worker or an undertaker. He tried on yesterday and the pants don’t fit. What can you team with a black slim cut jacket and look classy? If it was navy or grey I’d be all over it but black is confusing me (unless it was jeans but with a wedding obviously not going to happen. Buying a new suit is out of the question. He wears a uniform and no doubt next time he needs to wear it won’t fit. Got any thoughts? Thank you

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That sounds like quite a bind, Carolyn. It sounds like your only option is gray pants. A pair of subtly patterned gray glen plaid pants will work. If you he’s a taller gent he can go with even more contrast like these light gray pants in the ultra cool fresco fabric.

      If none of the above works then he might just have to bite the bullet and get a suit. If you do, you know where to look for a great one.

  63. Emma Bronye says:

    Nice site I wish I had found this site earlier
    pls I am thinking of combining a black suit with lilac blue pants and sky blue shirt with a pink tie for my project defence what do you think

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re all for color and creating a tonal blue outfit with those pants and that shirt sounds like it could be strong. But beware, a black suit jacket will kill this look. You’ve got lots of light bright blue going on and then a random infusion of black sounds off. The people over at UniWatch would call that BFBS (BFBS: Stands for “black for black’s sake,” a reference to teams that gratuitously add black to their uniform design even though black was never one of their team colors.).

      If you’re going to wear a tonal outfit go all the way. Switch that black jacket for a navy blue jacket (which you’ll get far more use out of anyway since navy is much more versatile) and you’ll be all set.

  64. Alhaji Mansaray says:

    I am going to a very fancy restaurant. I want to mix and match my blazer with my dress pants. I wanted to wear my solid navy blazer with a white or black turtleneck and a very light solid grey pants? I’m not sure if that will look good or will it just look random? Give me your best combo please. I have plent turtlenecks, blazers, and dress pants to choose from.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The white turtleneck and navy blazer with light gray pants outfit you mentioned won’t look random. We like the turtleneck idea as long as it’s done well. Too many guys try to pull this off with a cotton turtleneck that’s closer to a long john top than a stylish bit of menswear. We say stick with wool turtlenecks. Either go with a thin one made from Merino wool or a chunkier sweater but stick with wool either way.

      As for other colors of turtlenecks to wear, the answer is it depends. Matching your clothes to each other isn’t the trick. Men who dress well match their clothes to themselves. Without seeing you, we can’t make recommendations about what colors look good on you. That’s why we wrote our story about dressing from the inside out that shows you how to dress for your own skin tone, hair color and unique features. Check it out: How to Choose Your Clothes: Mastering Men’s Fashion From the Inside Out

  65. Mario Arnone says:

    I love this website – thanks! A “mature” male just starting his sixth decade.
    I have a black, double breasted blazer with gold shiny, lion-monogrammed buttons. We’re attending a business formal awards evening (for my wife) so she doesn’t want me to wear the medium grey dress pants I usually wear. She wants me to try to match the blazer black with dress pants, which I highly doubt. What are my other options? Thanks.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We hate to be this guy, but your wife is on to something here. Although you’re doubting her, an event with a “business formal” dress code implies that you should be wearing a full suit. It wouldn’t be difficult to find a pair of black dress pants to match your blazer—in fact, you could buy a custom pair from us! That being said, do you own any other full suits? A business formal suit is typically dark-colored with no bold patterns. Normally we’d approve of your usual black blazer / gray dress pants suit separates combination, but you don’t want risk being under-dressed at your wife’s awards evening.

      1. Mario Arnone says:

        Let’s just say that “mature” is a polite way of admitting the suits don’t quite fit anymore. I did find a pair of sharp black dress pants at the back of the closet that more than adequately did the job. If half of the 350 attendees were male, I was the only one with a double breasted jacket, although I didn’t feel out of place in the least. The light blue and brown suits did stand out however, for all the wrong reasons. Thanks for your help!

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Glad we could be of service to you, Mario!

  66. Thanks for putting this together. This has been very helpful. I love to know what color pants ( solid or otherwise) would you recommend with a solid beige suit jacket. And what do you think about the shirt? I plan to skip the tie.

    Look forward to your feedback.

    Thanks

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Beige is a neutral and can be worn with any color you like. In the photos above we combined a tan jacket with gray glen plaid pants. That worked for the gentleman in the photos, who is also the one typing this reply (Hi!). But what works for me may not work for you. The point is, matching your clothes to each other isn’t nearly as important as matching your clothes to yourself. If you learn anything from this website let it be that. To understand how to match your clothes to yourself get out a mirror and check out our story on Mastering Men’s Fashion from the Inside Out where we show you how to figure out what works for you.

  67. Hey BlackLapel, I have a pair of navy wool slim fit flat front pants, and a jakcet that has the exact same navy shade, but also has a small black box pattern, i.e the pattern is subtle navy and black boxes. Can I wear these two together? Froma distance they would look pretty similar, but close up you would definitely see the difference. Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sure, this is allowed. To play up the differences between the jacket and the pants be sure to wear a white shirt. Adding another color to this outfit would create contrast and take away from the subtle interplay between the jacket and pants. For a tie, stay with dark blue but add some texture difference with a knit tie.

      To see how we tackled a similar outfit, check out the Persian Blue Herringbone Custom Unsuit combination that we put together.

  68. Hello!,

    Thanks for the article. Very insightful. However, if possible, I would like your advise regarding matching a blue/slate suit jacket with a darker shade of pants. I do not have the matching trousers, however I was thinking about mixing it with a light blue gingham shirt and a solid tie.

    Could you please provide me with some advise?

    Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      To complement the mix you’re thinking about, we think a pair of navy or darker blue pants would look really good with this outfit. You can reference these suit separates to get an idea of what your jacket and these suggested pants would look like together, but we like the shirt and tie combo you mentioned better for spring.

  69. Hi Black Lapel
    Getting married in just ove 3 weeks
    Quite informal attire. Have opted for a Douglas blue jacket and some blue leather shoes
    As yet have no trousers or shirt
    Any inspirational ideas
    Would need a regular shirt as am an older bloke
    Still want to look good on the day
    Do not want brown or camel trousers

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Taking brown off the table leaves you with two main options:

      1. Choose a different shade of blue for the pants for a tonal outfit like we did here when we mixed a light blue jacket and dark blue pants.
      2. Go with another classic combo–blue and gray–as we did for this look.

      In either case, a white shirt is your best move. Why? It’s neutral so it complements everyone’s coloring and it works for either of the outfits above. With option one it will break up the blues and in option two it will allow you to wear any number of ties with ease.

      Of course, these are just broad strokes. For more specific guidance we’d need to get a look at you. Since it’s not possible for us to take a look at everyone who reads The Compass or shops from Black Lapel, we’ve written about how to self-assess and come up with great looking combinations every time. Give it a read to dress with confidence every time.

  70. Vibhav Agarwal says:

    Hi Blacklapel
    Thanks for this wonderful tutorial. I have a dark charcoal suit jacket. I was wondering what are my pant and shirt options with it.
    Thanks for the help

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Anytime, Vibhav. You’ll be happy to hear that a dark charcoal suit jacket has tons of flexibility when it comes to matching it with other suit separates and shirts. Let’s start with pants. Any pant in a lighter shade of gray, any shade of blue, or black are an option. Recently, we gotten in the habit of only recommending dress shirts in two colors to complete your suit separate outfits and even your whole wardrobe. Read what we have to say about that here.

      1. Vibhav Agarwal says:

        Thanks for the reply guys. A quick follow u question on it, what are my shoes options with a dark charcoal jacket and a light grey pant? Thanks again.

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Black shoes would be our first recommendation and will look the best, but if you don’t own a pair of black shoes, dark brown shoes will work too.

  71. Hi Blacklapel, we are attending a formal wedding this April. Is it ok to match a charcoal suit with black pants and black shirt? Tie should be grey? Any other suggestion how to match the charcoal suit? Thank you!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A charcoal suit would mean you’d be wearing charcoal pants. If you’re asking whether a charcoal jacket would work with black pants we say no. Black and charcoal are both very dark and lack color. The resulting combination just ends up looking muddy. As noted above, when the contrast is low you’ve got to mix things up with patterns and textures. Solid black and solid charcoal will kind of just melt together. Instead, we suggest wearing the entire charcoal suit (jacket and pants). It is, as you said, a formal wedding so the full suit will keep the look appropriately formal, while mixing things up would make for a more casual look.

      Speaking of casual looks, the black shirt is the epitome of a casual shirt and we don’t recommend one with a suit and tie. Black shirts should be kept to evening relaxed events. Instead, we recommend a white shirt. White is appropriately dressy and looks good on everyone.

      So what have we got, Jen? If you follow our recommendations the look will start to come together like this, classic and sophisticated.

  72. So, I am rush planning for my school prom. I cannot afford a tuxedo or a rental, so the next best thing I have to go for is a suit. I currently have a mid-gray (not light, but not particularly dark) pair of slacks. I just need a coat. Assuming that I cannot find the exact shade of grey to match the pants, what color coat should I look for to make it work? (Any and all suggestions help! It would be really nice to have multiple suggestions so I can work with my budget) (Tie suggestions would be great too!)

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Fear not, Joel, you can put together a great look with gray pants. Gray is neutral so you really can’t go wrong with jacket colors. Take a look at our Unsuits (pre-styled jacket and pants combos) and you’ll see that we styled a wide range of jackets with gray pants. We did some all-gray looks like the Gray Birdseye Custom Unsuit and the Gray Windowpane Shadow Check Custom Unsuit. We also paired lighter gray pants with dark blue jackets like this and this.

      The outfits in these photos are all fairly straightforward. There’s no crazy accessorizing or any fashion-forward stuff here, just good classic combinations. As for ties, you’ll notice that many of the Unsuits photos feature knit ties, a stylish modern touch that’s great for a young guy looking to impress. Take inspiration from any of the photos you see there and you won’t be disappointed.

  73. I am trying to figure out what combo to go for. I have a pair of dark brown fine herringbone suit trousers and the waistcoat to go with them. What would be the best option jacket? I also have a charcoal grey suit …would they be good combination options? As the other alternative I was thinking of a dark green weed jacket for either trouser. What do you guys think?

    The whole business of shirt, tie and shoes is a whole new issue :)

    Thank you

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Dark brown loves light brown. Stick with one color family and try khaki/tan jackets with those dark brown pants.

      The same concept works for the charcoal gray suit. Gray is achromatic (not a color, but a mix of black and white) so its color family is black white and other grays. So pair it with other shades of gray, as we did here, for a well-put together look.

      As for your question about dark green, that can work, it really depends on the actual clothes. We’re all about dishing out guidelines here, Jamie, but when it comes to specific clothing matches our best advice is still the old fashioned system stylish men have used for eons: try it on in front of a mirror and if you like what you see, walk out the door in it.

  74. I’m a working student currently so I own one nice suit for work. It’s navy. I want to know what kind of khakis I can mix in till I get another. I have gray and black mostly. Is tan a good option to have? I have black oxfords and some dark brown/cherry Kenneth Cole square toed shoes
    Also, what color ties can I pair with these outfits?
    have dark brown eyes and black hair. PLEASE HELP ME

    1. Black Lapel says:

      To answer your question about mixing up the navy suit, you can wear a navy jacket with any color of chinos you’d like. The only ones it won’t work with is navy. Wearing the same color in different fabrics can look like you’re trying to piece together a suit out of two different parts. As for all of the other questions, there are plenty of other articles here in The Compass for you. We’d suggest starting with these:

      Of course, if you subscribe to The Compass, you’ll get tons of advice delivered directly to your inbox.

  75. Johnmoreno says:

    I have a pair of heathered blue pants with a white shirt? What color blazer could I wear with it?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      There is almost no end to the colors, or styles or textures of blazers you could wear with a pair of blue pants and a white shirt. Not all of them will look good on you but without knowing what you look like, it’s pretty much impossible for us to give you a great recommendation.

      Don’t worry, though. You have all the information you need to make a stylish choice. It’s looking back at you every time you look in the mirror. Why? Because it’s more important that your clothes match your coloring than that they match each other. That’s the secret that the most stylish men all know and we’ve written a full article on how to learn master this skill, which we highly recommend. Not to oversell it, but mastering the concepts in that article will change your life!

  76. Hey Black Lapel! Thank you all so much for this tutorial. I have a wedding next week and I have a jacket I want to wear. It’s a Wool, Black and Charcoal jacket with a Tartan plaid design. I am curious as to your thoughts on pants for this type of jacket. I would like to wear a Sage green jacket with the outfit because that’s one of the colors, but it’s not a necessity.

    Thanks so much!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      So it sounds like you’ve got a decision to make about whether you’ll wear the wedding colors or go with your preferred jacket. That’s not a choice we can make for you, but if you’re a part of the wedding party, we’d suggest you stick with the program and wear the sage green jacket the bride and groom chose.

      If you’re a free-wheeling attendee, we say wear what you want. If you like the gray plaid jacket, wear it. Your description sounds kind of like a jacket we used to carry. When we did make it, we styled it with a pair of light gray pants to keep the whole look cohesive and sleek (like this). When in doubt, stick with shades of one color family like we did and you won’t be sorry.

  77. Alex searfoss says:

    I have a grey jacket and black pants what color shirt and tie should I wear

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A gray jacket gives you lots of shirt options, but pairing that jacket with black pants limit you to either a white, light gray, or something like this gray micro check shirt. If you end up going with the shirt we just linked to, you’ll probably want to rock a solid color tie, maybe a black one. Going with these options will create a flattering monochrome outfit, but depending on your skin and hair color, you might benefit from pairing subtle tones of color with your gray jacket and black pants. Wearing a white shirt will stand out in contrast to your dark suit separates, and you could wear a green or maroon knit tie to add some color—go for which ever one matches best to you coloring.

  78. Hello,

    My husband has a pair of dark grey/charcoal pants and a deep navy jacket. Does this combination work? We have an event to attend in mid-April that requires business dress. Our typical work day is khakis and a polo so the business dress realm is new to us.

    Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Yep! This is probably the most common suit separates combination, in fact, and falls right into “business dress” dress code.

  79. I have a medium gray suit jacket, wool material. What color trouser will work well with this jacket? Also, will it work well with jeans?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We really like the jeans idea—as long as they’re dark—for a more casual approach. For a more formal approach, almost any shade of blue trouser will work well with your gray wool jacket. You could also try putting together a monochrome outfit and wear an alternate shade of gray trousers. This is a great wintry look.

  80. I am in a real time crunch and my only options are: black jacket with light, medium of dark grey pants. I have lots of shitt/tie combos but as far as a jacket with my slacks – which grey would go best with my black jacket?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sorry, Scott, we’re in a real time crunch over here too, you know, selling suits and all. The suit separates combo we would’ve recommended would be the one with the most contrast, so your light grey pants and black jacket. If you didn’t end up rocking that combo this time, there’s always next time!

  81. Work has decided to move away from khakis and polo shirts to a more business look. I have navy blue and black ( not combined) slacks but no suit jacket or sport coat. What color(s) would you suggest and would you suggest a suit coat or sport coat? Keep in mind cheaper is better but not required. Thx

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We suggest a medium to dark gray blazer to match with both pairs of your slacks. These suit separates will look professional together and are perfect for getting down to business.

  82. I have a pair of charcoal slacks that fit me perfectly and was considering a black jacket. Will this work? GF literally laughed at this suggestion so now I’m unsure even tho I like it. Thoughts?

    1. Sounds like GF is a keeper Mikey, she’s onto something. A black jacket will match with charcoal gray slacks but there are a couple of reasons why it’s not the smartest investment:

      1. Charcoal gray is already very dark, wear a black jacket with it and it will become a very muddled combination of dark and dark. We suggest that you create a little more separation between the jacket and pants color.
      2. Black and gray is an easy combination if you’re worried about your stuff matching, but it locks you in to a colorless outfit. Try wearing a saturated color tie or pocket square against a black jacket and the contrast will be jarring. You’ll be limited to muted dark colors that, again, can look muddled with gray and black all around, or just black and white shirts, ties pocket squares etc.

      So what kind of blazer do we suggest? That depends. If you’ve got dark hair, try a medium gray jacket. Unlike black, medium gray looks great with saturaed colored shirts, ties and pocket squares. For example, take a look at how we styled this Cool Gray blazer with blue and lavender on this dark haired guy. If you’ve got light brown or blond hair a medium blue shade of blazer balance you out and and keep you from washing out. That’s how we styled this Spanish Blue Herringbone blazer on a light haired model. You’ll note that in that case we kept things simple with a white shirt and pocket square to let the blue of the jacket play a lead role in the outfit. These are just a couple of suggestions for what you could wear with a pair of charcoal slacks. Of course, if you want some other options for pants that fit you flawlessly, you know where to come.

  83. I have an olive and navy houndstooth jacket with navy pants. What color shirt and tie would go with this?

    1. A shirt in the light blue color family would go with these suit separates. As for a tie, you could match your light blue shirt to this Blue Striped Silk Knit Tie. Boom. There you go.

  84. My husband just bought a charcoal birdseye two button wool sport coat. He is planning on pairing this with black pants. Does this work and what color shirt/tie should he add to the mix?

    1. This works! Since the jacket and pants are darker colors, he should pick a less heavy shirt and tie combination. A white or light gray shirt would provide good contrast against these suit separates. As for the tie, we recommend adding deep green, red, or purple hues into the mix.

  85. I’m getting married and wearing a Charcoal suit with a lavender shirt, but I don’t know what type of Vest you wear. I don’t an identical vest as what would come with the suit.

    1. You should only being wearing an identical vest to match your Charcoal Suit. If you try adding in a vest of a different color or material, you run the risk of looking way less formal than you intended…which probably isn’t a good thing at your own wedding. We say stick to wearing your Charcoal suit and lavender shirt, and add in anything extra in the form of a tie, pocket square, cufflinks, and/or fun dress socks. Congrats on the wedding!

  86. DANGERZONE!!!! says:

    ****RED ALERT, RED ALERT****
    GUYS! I have a wedding to attend to tomorrow; my date is going with a blue spring-ie dress.

    I have a navy suit jacket and dark grey pants. For a spring wedding what colors for shirt, pocket piece, and shoe/belt should I wear?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Awww…sorry dude. If only we were an on demand outfit-making service…alas we are a publication published by a clothing brand. There are such services, though. Check out the Mylo app for outfits at your fingertips.

      To answer your question, it depends. You can look at any of the thousands of photos on our website for combination ideas, but it won’t look good on you unless it works for your hair and skin tone, body type and unique features. That’s why we propose dressing from the inside out. We’ve covered the topic briefly in the past and have a book about it in the works. In our story on Mastering Men’s Fashion from the Inside Out we give you some ideas on how to figure out what looks best on you. Give that a read and you’ll be able to build a wardrobe of go-to items that are ready for anything.

  87. About the last post: The blazer is actually dark blue not navy, and the shirt is a slightly bluish grey

  88. Kevin Garrick says:

    I have a navy blue blazer and am thinking of pairing it with tan/ khaki colored slacks. Besides light blue, what would be good colors for the shirt and tie to go along with them?

    1. Duly noted. One pairing that comes to mind is a white shirt and this maroon silk knit tie. This Blue & Brown Gingham is probably something you weren’t expecting, but it would blend the contrast between your khaki pants and dark blue blazer perfectly. If you go with this shirt, definitely choose a solid colored blue tie like you’ll see on the model in that picture.

  89. I’ve got a very dark charcoal jacket. What type/color pants would work well?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      An easy answer to your color question is: any suit pant in a lighter shade of gray will work well with your charcoal jacket. As for type, that depends on the level of formality you’re going for. If you’re going to work, lighter gray suit pants will match like I said, but you could also wear navy. If you’re going casual, dark, well-fitting denim will look good too. You can dress this jacket up or down, so the challenge is on you!

  90. Hi! I’m looking to match a vest (and shirt/tie) to solid charcoal blue suit pants for an event I’m working this weekend (no jacket since I have to be able to zip around).

    A pink dress shirt looks great in the suit, as does red, white or grey.

    Do you have any ideas on matching? It would be much appreciated! Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      What about this cool gray vest? That’ll have great contrast against your charcoal blue pants and you could wear a white dress shirt with this. As for a tie, take a look at this blue striped knit tie, it would tie the other colors in your outfit together well.

  91. I have these amazing dark grey flat front pants. What blazer and shirt would look good on it?

    1. You have almost endless options, Lohit, more than I can even recommend to you here. Take an inside look at this and you’ll learn the secret to what looks best on you.

  92. I need to make a dark blue pants with a blazer. Please asist in choosing the blazer color

    1. WILSON? WILSON! WILSON! Okay, here we go, Wilson. We actually have an entire page of mainly dark blue pants + blazer combinations. Check them out for inspiration!

      (Sorry, we couldn’t help but make a Castaway reference.)

  93. I have a Vicuna/Taupe herringbone vintage jacket, paired with a green Tweed vest, I’m setting it off with a green twill tie and pocket scarf to pick up/draw together both the jacket and vest,(an irish look as i am Irish, lol) I am stumped on the pants, should I go neutral with a grey or black? or/ your thoughts.. and Thank you !

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Neutral pants are the way to go. Avoid black and go with a solid taupe or gray to bring your whole look together. Easy, right?

  94. Anthony Depaul says:

    i have a beige suit jacket and im deciding on wearing a navy blue undershirt but i dont know what pants match it, i was planning on buying a bow tie with beige, light blue and ligt brown stripes, i need help on the pants, anyone have any suggestions?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      If you’re wearing a beige suit jacket, why not wear the pants from that beige suit? For an alternative color of pants, beige is a neutral so the color of the pants could be just about anything but we like blue with earthtones.

      A lot depends on what you mean by “navy blue undershirt” and what you look like. If you mean a navy blue T-shirt, then a pair of jeans would be a good choice. If you mean a navy blue dress shirt under the jacket, we would recommend against it. A dark shirt under a beige suit jacket is likely to draw attention away from the jacket and towards the shirt. All of that will pull people’s eyes down to your clothes instead of putting the emphasis on your face. Alleviate that by sticking with a white dress shirt under a beige jacket.

  95. I have a Calvin Klein silver sport coat, brown shoes and a brown belt… What are my options for pants and shirt combos?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You seem like a decent guy, James so we’re going to ignore the fact that you name dropped some other brand on our site and answer your question…Your options have almost nothing to do with the clothes you mentioned. Why? For one, they’re all neutral colored, so almost anything goes color-wise.

      But more importantly, and we can’t stress this enough, matching your clothes to each other is not what makes you look your best. Matching your clothes to yourself is where it’s at. Wearing colors that complement your own coloring makes you look great and pretty much guarantees that your clothes won’t clash. It’s called dressing from the inside out and we’re working on a whole book about it, but you can start doing it today by checking out our story on Mastering Men’s Fashion from the Inside Out.

  96. I need to match a blue suit jacket with grey pants, what can I do to make them mix well a shirt? Bow tie? Its for my children. Thanks!

    1. Kids get a lot of leeway when it comes to style, so nothing is off the table, Sara. That said, don’t make getting dressed into something overly complicated. Kids read their parents well. If you’re stressed about what they’re going to wear, they’ll feel it. What’s worse, you’ll be ingraining in them that getting dressed in your best clothes is something mystical and magical that only adults with proper training can do.

      That means keep it simple. Always keep white shirts on hand in their current sizes and, because kids grow, maybe on that’s a little too big today. That way you’ve always got a stress-free choice when it’s time to get dressed. If a tie isn’t required, we’d say skip it. Our Catholic-school-kid turned tie-loving-editor has related enough stories of how he hated wearing a tie to school everyday for us to have mercy on the under 10 crowd and say they should avoid ties for now. If a tie is required, a pre-tied bow tie will definitely elicit plenty of awwwwws from the crowd and the neck adjustments can make them a little bit more comfortable for the young’uns.

      Finally, we just want to give you some digital dap for getting your boys dressed well at an early age. Good on ya, Sara!

  97. My fiance is turning 40 next month and now deciding he doesn’t want to wear urban wear anymore so he went out himself and purchased a dark blue suede jacket. He is planning on buying some dark denim jeans to wear with it. I think it would look hideous what do you think would pair better

    1. Hmmm…now we’re talking about casual clothes, so the advice above doesn’t really apply. Is the question about wearing blue suede on top and blue denim on the bottom? Worried it’ll look like a Canadian tuxedo? You might be right. Any other color of pants would be preferable but if he’s 40 and just getting out of street wear he may not be ready for colored chinos and corduroys yet.

      Baby steps, Keia. It’ll take time, but hey, you’ve got your whole lives together. He’ll come around.

  98. I have a navy blue suit jacket with random stitches of colors worked into the fabric. Thinking of pairing with grey chinos or perhaps even dark jeans. Thoughts?

    1. Sounds good, Sean. For a true power move, take a cue from those random flecks of color and wear chinos in that color. So if the flecks are gray, go with gray chinos. Flecks are tan, choose khaki. If the flecks are white, that might be a stretch to wear white chinos this time of year, but you can wear a light gray to harmonize well with the jacket. Easy, right?

  99. Hi

    I need to match maroon blazer please assist me with the best combination

    1. If you need to match this blazer up with trousers, I would go for gray (in almost any shade) or black suit pants. If you don’t need to look so formal, you could try pairing your maroon blazer with khaki chinos or dark wash, well-fitting jeans. Formal and informal combos are both possible with a cool-colored jacket like this.

  100. I have a French blue corduroy suit coat which I love for winter. I’m having difficulty in choosing the right pants, shirt color, and tie. I have many suits and coordinate them well, but this one coat gives me trouble. Any help is appreciated.

    1. I’m picturing your suit separates to come out looking a little something like this. I know this blazer probably isn’t exactly like the one you’ve mentioned, but the concept of this outfit can be applied to yours. Since it’s winter, I think dark blue/navy pants are the most appropriate pair. You can get more creative with the shirt if you’d like and opt for a blue mini check/stripe pattern. Depending on the shirt, you’ll be able to determine if you should keep the tie simple or more creative.

  101. Hi,
    We are having a destination wedding. My fiance is wearing an english navy blue suit jacket gold buttons. It is not a suit. We were thinking light pants (yellow, off white). My dress is off white with hints of gold coloring. What do you suggest?

    1. When the jacket and pants contrast strongly (like navy blue and off white) it tends to split the wearer in half. This can work for taller guys like the 6’3″ model in these photos but, as we noted in our story about dressing for the shorter gent, it can make a short guy appear shorter. If he’s not on the tall side, we suggest your future husband stick to other shades of blue and go with a look like this one or a subtler contrast, like khaki or tan slacks.

  102. I’m getting married soon and my fiancée is adamant that the groomsmen wear grey and lilac, but she’s left the rest of the outfit choice up to me. I don’t want the lilac to be too pronounced, but I also don’t want the entire outfit to be bland. What would y’all suggest? Also, I’ll be wearing a white suit jacket that my great uncle passed to me, is there any reason I shouldn’t wear grey pants with it?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      First we’ll tackle your outfit. Without having a look at you in the white jacket and gray pants it’s tough to give a recommendation, but it definitely sounds like it could work. Black formal tuxedo pants would be appropriate if it is a white dinner jacket (aka tuxedo jacket), but if you’re talking about a regular suit jacket gray pants ought to work fine.

      As for the groomsmen, remember, a little color goes a long way. Take the lavender stripes in the tie we styled into this outfit. This would definitely fit the requirement of including some lilac in the groomsmen’s outfits. Of course, this is a blue suit, but the same tie could work with a gray suit like this one, especially when you style it with some oxblood shoes like we did. These kinds of little touches of color can really bring a gray fabric to life but won’t overwhelm your entire look if you keep the color in small doses.

  103. I have a wedding and was planning on wearing a black suit – I just realized that the pants no longer fit well (too loose) and there is not adequate time to get my old pants taken in. I can get new “off the rack” pants but after reading everything, I am thinking of medium gray pants. My question is should I go that route or just get “off the rack” black pants – will the blacks match close enough or is it better not to try. Thank you!

    1. Never go off-the-rack, Ken. Never.

      Now that that’s been established…Your medium gray pants is the better route here. You’ll be rocking what we call an “Unsuit” to this wedding. Wearing suit separates to a wedding is a good move in general because a full custom black suit will look formal and you won’t want to give the groom too much competition :)

  104. My son has a great looking pair of charcoal trousers, on the lighter side of charcoal, with a matching vest (the place I purchased it doesn’t have a matching jacket available). For Christmas, he’ll need a suit jacket for church. I would love to just buy a jacket to wear with trousers and vest, but would that look off if it doesn’t match his pants? What color jacket should I get?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sadly, Amber, your fears are well founded. Trying to piece together a suit out of very similar, but not quite the same, fabrics will result in the suit looking off. If you want to give him a three-piece suit for Christmas, you’re in the right place. If you’re looking to get him a non-matching jacket to go with the gray pants, since gray is a neutral color, there are tons of combinations to choose from. If he’s on the tall side, you can opt for a strong contrast between the pants and jacket and go with a light blue gray jacket. If he’s on the shorter side, he may want to stick with a lower contrast jacket, like another shade of gray.

      For more specific advice on finding the right jacket, feel free to use our concierge email service.

  105. I am starting a job as a bank teller. I am expected to wear either a shirt and tie w/ a suit or slacks and a sports coat. What would be appropriate color pairings or outfit choices?

    1. Bad news and good news, Tom.

      The bad news is, we can’t tell you anything too specific when it comes to color pairings. We can say that conservative is the way to go as a bank teller, but more specifically it’s pointless for us to tell you color combinations. That’s because what looks good on you may not look so good on someone else. That’s because matching colors of your clothes to each other is not really where it’s at. Matching colors to the wearer is the name of the game.

      Now some good news: the answers to your questions are looking back at you in the mirror. Don’t get scared off. Understanding what colors look good on you is not some mystical concept. It’s actually pretty simple once you know what to look at. We explained in our How to Build a Suit story and elaborated in our story on dressing from the inside out. Check those two stories out, follow the guidelines in them and you’ll be all set.

  106. I got a pair of gray slacks that have a square pattern on them. They fit perfectly, were on sale, so i bought them.

    I am now heading into a professional position and would like to incorporate them into my work attire.

    I only own 2 other suits, 1 is black with a pinstripe and the other is plain black.

    What can you suggest pairing with the slacks?

    1. Well, you can rule out the pinstripes. The plain black you can work with – maybe. I’m thinking the slacks you bought have a windowpane pattern on them. Is the pattern subtle? If so, your black suit jacket will pair well. Just got easy on the accessory pairings.

      If the pattern is bold, I don’t think either of your other suit jackets will pair with these pants. I say this because outfits that feature one windowpane suit separate are usually flip-flopped. The windowpane is worn on top, with solid colored pants on bottom.

  107. A friend of mine just handed me an old pinstripe suit of his as it would no longer fit him. The jacket fits perfectly but , unfortunately, the pants are way too small. The pinstripe is not really flashy, to the point that when seen from a distance of 2-3 meters the jacket looks like a solid. Could it perhaps be worn with another pair of pinstriped pants? Or, in general, is there any chance i won’t have to throw this nice jacket away?

    1. Sorry, Michael, but there aren’t many shortcuts in style and we wouldn’t suggest trying to cut this particular corner. Instead, we suggest finding out where the suit was purchased and seeing if the matching pants are still available.

  108. Hello, my fiance bought some gray tweed dress pants for our wedding in December but we cannot find a gray tweed vest that matches ANY where. The tweed is speckled looking with some light inflections throughout. What would you suggest as a vest alternative? Mixing the different materials throws me off so I am in need of some advice! The pants look similar to these on this site (Old navy is all I could find–surprisingly). The groomsmen will be in mismatched grays with navy accents and jewel accents in the boutonnieres. Bridesmaids are in jewel-colored lace dresses (plum, navy, dark teal, mulberry) with some mustards and emeralds thrown about the decor. My fiance wants to wear a skinny floral tie and he’ll be in an ivory shirt. HELP! Is it better to go wi

    1. Not to worry, Carrie, changing up the textures of the fabric will help to distinguish your man. Rather than trying to match the pants, use the pants to create contrast. Dark blue and light gray is a classic color combo that you could put to use. We’d have to get a look at him to give a precise recommendation on the shade of blue, but anything from inky navy to a more saturated royal could work. We’d also suggest looking for a fabric that brings out some of the flecks in the tweed pants. Fabrics that we’d show you in our showroom might be the Flatiron Blue Fine Check or the Blue Gray Birdseye (both of which can be special ordered as a standalone vest by emailing us at concierge@blacklapel.com).

      Also, while a vest is a great touch, wearing one without a jacket can look pretty casual and may not be dressy enough for the wedding. If you wanted to include a vest but help your groom stand out from his groomsmen, we suggest showing your future husband what we call a two-thirds suit (that is, a matching jacket and vest with contrasting pants as seen here on the always stylish Alexander Kraft). It’s a little used menswear trick that’s super simple (just swap out one part of a three-piece suit) but almost always delivers a sharp, put together look.

  109. I have a Burberry London Black suit jacket and I am struggling to find a way to wear. It’s a beautiful jacket that fits perfectly but I don’t have the suit pants anymore. Is there a way to make this work?

    1. Black suits are tricky. That’s why we devoted a whole story to them. Black blazers can be even trickier. Black jackets are super formal (as close as you can get to a dinner jacket), so it’s tough to wear them separately from their pants. Our suggestion is to wear this jacket more casually with a dark shirt, no tie and a pair of gray pants. Anything dressier and you’ll look like you got half way into a tux and changed your mind.

  110. Hi, i have a prom event coming up and i have deided to go with a navy blue blazer acommodated with maroon pants. However, everyone says the maroon pants does not suit my top. What should i do?

    1. This sounds like a hard look to pull off, especially for a prom, but that doesn’t mean navy blazers and maroon pants aren’t suited for each other. In fact, this outfit came to mind when you mentioned the combo. As you can see, navy and maroon can work together however, the resulting outfit ends up looking casual. Knowing how to dress for an occasion is a virtue, Shayne, and proms usually aren’t casual. I think you should rock a full navy suit to your prom and if you’re set on pulling off this color combo, you should certainly accessorize with a maroon tie and/or pocket square. Hope this helps!

  111. Hello,
    I have a pair of dark grey herringbone pants which I bought from a thrift shop. I am thinking of matching it with a (liter-shade) grey shirt and a bird’s eye black vest. I am wondering as to what colour and pattern jacket would fit best with said pieces to complete an outfit. Also should I add a tie, would it be too much to make it a patterned one?

    1. It seems like you’ve given us plenty of information to give you the answer to your question, Mike, but you skipped the most important piece: how does all of this stuff look on you? The reason why some guys look great in everything is not that they know how to match their clothes to their other clothes, it’s that they know how to match clothes to their own looks. So we’ll refer you to the answer that is staring back at you in the mirror. Here are some of our secrets to figuring out what your clothes look good on you.

      While the color choice depends on how you look, we will offer one note of caution about the outfit you’ve described. You’ve already got a lot of little pattern going on with herringbone pants and a birdseye vest, so you should be careful not to overwhelm with more small patterns in the jacket or tie. We suggest either going with solids or changing the scale of the patterns to give some visual balance to your look.

  112. Hello there, I have an event that i need to attend. I was thinking of wearing a light blue shirt, burgundy tie, blue suit jacket. I need need advice to which colour pants would match exactly. Thank you for your help. Regards.

    1. Before we get to the pants, we’ve got a few words of caution: If you’re planning to wear a dark blue jacket, a burgundy tie would probably look better on a white shirt. When wearing two dark colors they usually look better with some contrast around them.

      As for the pants, the only ones that would match exactly would be the pants that go with the suit jacket you’re planning to wear, Sam. If the event is dressy enough to wear a tie you can’t go wrong with wearing the full suit. If it’s a more casual affair where ties are optional, then a pair of burgundy chinos or corduroys would make for a cohesive look.

  113. I have a work conference coming up and I have navy blue trousers and beige trousers, both solid. What blazer color and patter should I get to match both trousers?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A jacket with an earthy brown and a bit of blue like this Charcoal Brown Blazer with Blue Overcheck or this Bedford Plaid Blazer will work well with both navy and beige trousers. Both are versatile and can be worn with lots of shirt and tie combos.

  114. I’ve never owned a suit, so I thought I would just start with a jacket, which in hindsight might have been dumb. I now have a nice fitting black suit jacket. What color pants and shirt could I pair with this? Thanks,
    Alec

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Wish you’d have asked us about this before buying a jacket. We’d have told you that black can be a severely limiting choice. Black gives you very few options because of how strongly it contrasts with any color. That’s why we suggest that guys go with a monochrome look when wearing black. That means medium or lighter gray pants are your best bet (too dark and your pants won’t be differentiated from your jacket).

      If a dark suit is what you’re after, instead of building a suit around a jacket that really isn’t appropriate for daytime wear outside of a funeral, may we suggest getting a versatile charcoal gray suit as your first full suit. Unlike black, dark gray looks great with bright, vibrant colors and it can also work with more muted colors or even black and white shirts and ties. Even if you don’t buy one from us, we urge you to forgo black and get yourself a utilitarian gray.

  115. I have just purchased an oak coloured, tweed herringbone waistcoat with chequered detail in blue and yellow with the trousers to match. However the jacket was not available in my size so I was wondering what jacket I could complete this look with. Also would it not look a little strange to match the waistcoat and trousers but not the jacket?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Here at Black Lapel we have a thing we call Two-Thirds Tuesday when we wear 2/3 of a three piece suit (i.e. the jacket and vest from a three piece suit with non-matching pants). It’s a tricky move, though, when the pants and vest don’t match the jacket. To wear a non-matching jacket with a matching vest and pants combo, the fabric has to be pretty subtle. The tweed with blue and yellow might be a little too eye-catching to pull this off. Without seeing it we can’t be sure.

      We suggest trying the vest with a different suit altogether. Try it under a medium blue suit and you’ll have another way to wear a killer suit.

  116. I am trying to complement my girlfriends dress for a wedding we are going to. She is wearing a long dress that is teal and gray, I bought charcoal gray pants and a teal shirt, then got lost when I tried to match a jacket? suggestions….Please

    1. Despite our many calls for men to stop dressing like accessories to their female counterparts this problem continues to plague Compass readers. So our first bit of advice is a bit of tough love, Tom but it’s time to man up. You’re not a lap do to be carried in her purse. Your role is not to accentuate her look. The point of getting dressed is to accentuate your own features (something that’s suprisingly easy to do if you know a few tricks). Trust us, she’ll appreciate it more if you wear what looks good on you and you bring the house down as her arm candy. In both cases she’s showing you off but this way she gets to show off how great looking you are, not how great you are at following her directions.

      We do realize that our little pep talk may be too little too late, so here’s a solution you could employ if you do go the matching outfit couple route: Go with a gray jacket. Teal is a pretty strong color and will contrast nicely against the gray (here, you can see a similar combination we put together). Don’t complicate things by adding another color. Let the shirt have the accent color and keep the jacket, pants and tie in the same neutral gray color family for a crisp look that doesn’t go overboard on the colors.

  117. Ive got a semi-formal coming up, and thinking of wearing a navy blazer. what colour trousers would you recommend? my partner is wearing a burgundy two piece.
    thanks

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You could, literally, choose any color of trousers and they would match a navy jacket. But the outfit could still be ho-hum on you. That’s because you’re matching to the wrong thing. Instead of matching your pants and jacket to each other, match your outfit to yourself. We explain how to do that in our story on Mastering Men’s Fashion from the Inside Out. Here are the Cliff Notes:

      • On a scale of 1-10 how much contrast is there between your skin tone and hair color? A 1 would be someone who shaves their head therefore having almost no contrast from the neck up. A 10 would be someone with hair as black as tar and skin as white as a sheet.
      • If you scored a 6 on the contrast scale, go for a level 6 contrast in your jacket and pants, like say, medium tan pants. If you scored an 8 on the contrast scale you might go with lighter pants like a very light gray. If you scored a 3 on the contrast scale you might go with a lighter shade of blue pants.

      Follow these guidelines, Jonathan, and matching your clothes gets infinitely easier.

  118. I have a black tie event to attend and want to know if I can wear a white shirt, black tie, grey vest, grey jacket and black pants?

    1. Black Tie has a specific set of guidelines and the outfit you described would not count. If the event is black tie you should wear either a full matching tuxedo or a combination of dinner jacket and formal pants like something you’d see here.

      For more on black tie looks, check out our Black Tie 101 story.

  119. Jesse Baxter says:

    What if I have black pants and a black blazer but the blazer has stripes and the pants don’t. Does that works

    1. Sorry, Jesse. We’re not buying it. The black suit has its place (with a tie at a funeral, without a tie for a night on the town). But black on black with stripes mixed in just sounds like a mixed message. The pinstripes say “I’m headed for the office.” Black pinstripes say “I’m headed off to audition for the role of a 20s gangster.”

      If you’re not into color and you like dark stuff, try mixing a charcoal gray and medium gray like this for a monochrome look.

  120. Can one wear a blue jacket with , and when I say blue I mean very blue (not navy or light blue),with light grey plaid trousers?

    1. Nope. You’re not allowed.

      Just kidding, David. Yes, of course you can wear blue with gray plaid. Blue and gray are a classic combination. Go forth and conquer.

  121. confusedesq says:

    I am visiting family and have a last minute interview with a legal services non-profit in the area. I did not carry any of my suits with me, but have a light/medium gray wool and linen blazer (http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/boss-trim-fit-wool-linen-blazer/4066853?origin=os) and a pair of blue flat front wool trousers (http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/boss-sharp-flat-front-wool-trousers/4010628?origin=os. Do you think this color combination would work? Or would it be too informal for an interview?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      I would only ever recommend suit separates for a more creative company interview, but I guess we have to work with what we got this time! Although suit separates are really too informal for this type of interview, the legal world is a sea of navy and gray suits, so your color combo will be OK in that sense. If you can, dress up your interview look with formal accessories and your best dress shoes. Good luck with your interview and remember, confidence is key!

      Check out “How To Nail Your Interview Look” for more pointers!

  122. Can you mix and match tweed – say a brown tweed waistcoat and trousers with a greener tweed jacket and tie? I think it looks okay, but my mrs says no.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hi Dan,

      I’m treading very lightly when I say, I think the Mrs. is wrong. You can certainly match brown and green tweed suit separates! This look sounds superbly autumnal for the upcoming season.

  123. Or two of the same size plaids in contrasting colors?

  124. Fine herringbone (medium/dark gray) with subtle solid plaid (navy)…what say you? Thanks.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      To your first question I say, “Good looks!” As for your second….when combining patterns, make sure the patterns are clearly differentiated. Contrasting colors are fine, but make sure the plaids are two different sizes. Refer to the “Pattern on Pattern” venn diagram above to see what I’m talking about.

  125. 5’6″, hispanic, short black hair

    Going to a wedding next month and figured instead of renting a tux I would rather buy a jacket. I have black, light and medium gray trousers. What color jacket/shirt would you recommend with one of those pants for the best look?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      I’m guessing you need to stay formal if you were considering renting a tux, your jacket and pants combination needs to stay fairly formal as well. I think this Charcoal Gray Blazer would go best with your light gray trousers, as you can seen from the entire outfit in that link. To make this look less business-y, add in a fun tie to look more festive. You could also opt for a Navy Blazer, because it’s always a good idea to have a custom navy blazer, and you can use that outfit for more look inspiration! Also check out this weeks Look of the Week for a twist on classic formal wear! Enjoy being the best-dressed man at that wedding 😉

  126. Can I wear a tuxedo jacket with a different pant? Black tuxedo jacket, black shirt, dark burgundy pants, black shoes.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’ve seen that move done well, Mike. We’ve even suggested something similar for the creative types in our story on choosing a New Year’s Eve tuxedo.

      Proceed with caution, though, Mike. There is a high degree of difficulty to this move. If there is not sufficient contrast between the black jacket and the burgundy pants the whole look could end up being a mushy mix of colors. The combination worked in our New Year’s Eve look because A) the pants are a medium gray that clearly stood apart from the jacket fabric and B) the pants had a pattern to help differentiate them as well. A pair of dark burgundy pants doesn’t have either of those things going for it.

      The safer choice: Stick with black tux pants and change up the color of the jacket like we did here with this royal blue dinner jacket atop black tuxedo pants.

  127. Dark navy/blue suit jacket with dark charcoal pants. Is that fine?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Fine? Yes. But is fine the goal? Aren’t we aiming higher than the verbal version of a shrug? The sharper choice would be to create a bit more contrast between the jacket and pants. How much? That depends on your personal preference, but we say the darkest gray you should look at for the pants is medium gray like these sharkskin pants.

      That little change of shade is enough to take an outfit from fine to fly. Give it a try, you’ll be shocked at what a little contrast can do for your look.

  128. Hi there,
    My husband is trying to build a formal look for a summer wedding in England we are going to. We are wondering what shirt and pants color match this jacket: custom tailored lined linen jacket that is cream-colored with the slightest hint of yellow in it. Looks great with husband’s blonde to light copper hair and lightly tanned skin (with some redness in it).
    The ceremony is at noon outside at a castle ruin and the reception is at 4:30 til late indoors at quaint farm location. Bride says it will be a more formal theme.

    To formalize this perfect summer jacket, we’re thinking darker trousers and shirt, a tie pin, and/or pocket square.
    Trousers: navy blue? Light or dark gray?
    Shirt: blues look fantastic on him; purples can, too. Or a light shirt that contrasts with a darker tie and darker trousers?
    Any suggestions or guidance are *greatly* appreciated!

    Annie

    1. Black Lapel says:

      These types of outfit questions are all better answered when we can get a look at the wearer, so you should definitely encourage your husband to contact us at concierge@blacklapel.com and work with one of our stylists to find some great clothes.

      That said, we can give some general answers here: Navy trousers work if you want to give the look a little bit of contrast. Gray ones run the risk of clashing with cream and yellow colors in the jacket. As for a shirt, white is always our first choice. Why? White shirts go well with everyone and look good on everyone. You can’t have too many of them. In this case in particular, we suggest a white shirt since the jacket is light in color. Wearing a shirt that’s darker than your jacket is a tricky move to get right and when you’ve got blonde hair the degree of difficulty goes up significantly. We say simplify things with a crisp white shirt.

  129. Aquanautica says:

    Light black blazer and navy blue pants( with light blue business shirt, dark blue tie) for weeding. What do you think?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The only thing I’m thinking is that you should wear a white dress shirt instead of a light blue one. A blue shirt might be a little too much blue, which would then throw off your black jacket. If you wear a white shirt your dark blue tie will pop more and your outfit will be more memorable. Hope this helps!

  130. Can I wear a black suit jacket with dark blue pants and blue shirt for weeding?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A black jacket and dark blue pants is a classic formal wear look. I would switch your blue shirt out for a white one though, so you avoid clashing any blue/black tones. Otherwise, it sounds like you are going to be one classy dude at this wedding. Enjoy!

  131. I am getting married in Mexico. My finance bought a navy blue dinner jacket that he was going to wear with kahki/lighter colored pants. The problem is that it has black lapels. Does he have to wear this with black pants now? Our wedding color is navy blue and we didn’t want him in anything too formal like an all black suit.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hmmm…this is a conundrum, Kristen. The problem is you’ve got two competing ideas. On the one hand, your fiancee’s got a dinner jacket which is, by nature, formal eveningwear. Yet, on the other hand you mentioned not wanting to look too formal. That contradiction isn’t going to be resolved by pairing the jacket with khaki pants.

      Our advice, tell your fiancee to consider a suit. If he doesn’t want to look too formal the dinner jacket’s going to have to wait for a black tie affair (and, yes, he should wear it either with matching tuxedo pants or black tuxedo pants).

      If you’d like some more specific counsel, feel free to contact a Black Lapel stylist by emailing concierge@blacklapel.com for one-on-one advice.

  132. Hi. I have a pair of light to mid grey pants to which I lost the jacket last time I wore the suit. What colour jacket would best go with this colour pant?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A medium gray pair of pants is about as neutral as they come. That means you can wear any color jacket you like. Our rule of thumb, match your jacket to your hair to frame your face. If you’ve got black or dark brown hair, a dark jacket like a charcoal gray or a navy blue will work well. If you’ve light lighter brown hair, then consider a jacket that mirrors that. If you’re a blond, try, you may not want to reflect your hair color as much, but instead, you might go with a lighter, blue.

      The point is, the answer to your question is staring right back at you every time you look in the mirror. Match the colors you wear to your skin and hair color and you can’t go wrong. For more on how to do this, check out our story on Mastering Men’s Fashion From the Inside Out where we break down some of the secrets to color matching.

  133. white jacket with black lapels. should I wear a black or white shirt? with a black or white or burgundy tie? and with what colour of trousers and shoes?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hmmm…that’s a tough set of questions to answer without any context. Without knowing anything about what you look like, how you intend to wear this, or what you have in your closet we would have to recommend the safest options:

      • Replace the jacket. We don’t recommend anyone wear a white jacket with black lapels. (We know it’s a thing but we haven’t seen it look good on anyone yet.)
      • Go with a white shirt if you’re going to wear a tie (Our rule is simple, never wear a tie that’s lighter than your shirt. Since that’s impossible to do with a black shirt, we don’t wear ties with black shirts)
      • The burgundy tie gives you more options, so go with that. Wear a black tie and you’re pretty much forced to wear black shoes and a black belt which, in turn, limits your pants colors. Burgundy leaves the door open to more colors in the rest of your outfit.
      • As for the trousers and shoes, there are just too many to choose from to possibly give a specific recommendation. That said, we love our trusty navy blue pants because they’re so versatile you can wear them with just about anything.

      But, as we said, these are just the safest, most versatile choices we could give you. The true answer to the question “what should I wear?” is looking right back at you back in the mirror. You’ve just got to look carefully. We show you how in our story on Mastering Men’s Fashion from the Inside Out. Check it out.

  134. I have a grey apartment 9 suit coat and a pretty heavily saturated Teal dress shirt. What color pants should I be looking for?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Well Ryan, while that may be a great looking shirt, you probably don’t want to build your wardrobe around it. Instead, think in terms timeless style and look for versatile pants you can wear with a number of different shirts and jackets. For us, that means navy blue and light gray for year-round wear and a couple of pairs of seasonal pants, like flannel for the cooler months and lightweights and linen blends for warmer months. Speaking of seasonal choices, check out our story on Pants You Can Count on For Summer Business Casual for more on summer’s best slacks.

  135. I’m 5 foot 6. I have a tan trousers/slacks. Can I wear a black suit jacket with them? If so, what color shirt,tie qnd shoes do you recommend?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We wouldn’t recommend a tan trousers and black suit jacket combination, Bill. There are a few reasons for that:

      1. Black suits are so formal and somber, they are extremely difficult to split up into a more casual separates outfit.
      2. The combination of black and tan is better as a beer than as an outfit. Tan is part of the earthtone family and so it works better with earthy and watery (blue) colors.
      3. As blogger Brock McGoff, aka The Modest Man, told us in our story on dressing for the shorter man, at 5’6″ you should avoid a super high contrast combination of jacket and pants so that you don’t cut yourself, visually, in half.

      So, what do we suggest? We like lower contrast combinations like we did in the Light Blue Gray Sharkskin Unsuit that combines two shades of blue, or the Charcoal Gray Unsuit. Tonal combinations like these are really easy to put together because you, essentially, take color matching out of the equation.

      Our stylists would be happy to give you more detailed recommendations about putting together your outfit if you’d like. Just email us at concierge@blacklapel.com and we’ll help you create a great looking outfit.

  136. Rhys Gennery says:

    What colour trousers would best go with a navy waist coat and navy blazer?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      If we were dressing a mannequin, light gray pants would be our first choice. But you aren’t a mannequin, are you, Rhys? You’re an individual, and each individual is different. If you are under 5’8″ our recommendation would change. Or if you were heavyset, we might adjust our suggestion.

      The point is, color combinations are the last thing you need to worry about. The truth is, if the colors match your body and your coloring, you can wear any color combination and it will work. Sadly, if the color contrast doesn’t work for you, your outfit is doomed to clash. For more on this, click on the links above and check out our classic How to Build a Suit story that explains a foolproof way to match colors to you.

  137. I have a summer wedding in August and want to buy a new suit, but as two separates. Any suggestions on what works best? The only thing I already have is black Loake derby shoes and I’d quite like to wear a bow tie. Cheers

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sounds like you’ve got the makings of a great look, Alex. To give you a good recommendation, we’ll need to get a little more pseronal information, so let’s turn this conversation over to email.

      Our stylists are on hand to help out at concierge@blacklapel.com.

  138. Would it be appropriate to wear a pinstripe suit (black) jacket with a black solid pant?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Nope. See the section on Which Suits You Should Separate above, Joe. Pinstripes suits are an all-or-none thing. We don’t suggest wearing a pinstriped jacket without the pants.

  139. Black pinstripe pants, blue shirt. What color jacket? Either suit jacket or sport coat?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      As we said above, we don’t recommend breaking up pinstripe suits, Bob.

      Black is a tough color to break up anyway. The contrast is almost always either too subtle (like the black and navy) and looks mushy or too extreme (like black and white) which can look tacky. If you like dark pants, try charcoal gray pants instead and pair it with a patterned jacket, like this houndstooth, that incorporates the charcoal gray as we did in this Unsuit.

  140. I have a black suit with thin blue (large) checkers. I’m a bigger guy at 6’3″ 300lbs. I’d like to combine the jacket with different pants (and vice versa) but continually go back to the safe zone of matching jacket & pants with a blue shirt. Any recommendations you have would be greatly appreciated!!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We don’t recommend breaking up a black suit. Black doesn’t play well with others and is an extremely unforgiving color for a jacket. Instead, we suggest breaking up your gray and blue suits. Why? Because these colors are part of color families that let you mix and match the pants with close relatives. For instance, A charcoal gray jacket and a medium gray pair of pants combination (like this) or a blue on blue combo (like this) is stylish and will work for a bigger guy because it doesn’t cut you in half the way two opposing colors in the jacket and pants would.

  141. Black Suit Jacket. Grey/Pinstripe Trousers. White/Pinstripe/Black Shirt. Red almost Burgundy skinny/blue striped skinny/white and black striped thick/black thick tie.
    For a ball/prom formal night out

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Usually we urge guys not to break up pinstripes, but if you are going to break that rule, doing it with subtly striped pants is preferable.

      Still, we’d love to see you swap out those slacks for the bottom half of the black suit for a formal affair. Otherwise, you’re good to go.

  142. I have a charcoal grey blazer/suit jacket since I couldn’t afford a whole suit for this interview. Should I wear black pants or regular grey pants?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Black pants and a charcoal jacket can make for a pretty mushy combination since black and charcoal are not that far apart. The gray pants are the better option, as long as they are not too close to the charcoal gray either. Contrast, more than color, is the key. How much contrast you should create between your jacket and your pants depends in part on your height (as we have pointed out in the past, shorter guys shouldn’t overdo it with the contrasting tops and bottoms) and partially on your skin and hair color (as we pointed out here, guys with high contrast faces should match that level of contrast in their outfits).

  143. I have two almost identical suits that I would like to separate. They both have a very fine houndstooth pattern, one on a light grey base and the other on a light tan base. Any suggestions?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Treat a houndstooth like you would any other pattern, Ryan. We suggest combining the jackets of these suits with solid pants. Wear the gray one with gray pants like these cool grays, or these light grays. For the jacket with the tan base, try some pants that match the accent color in the jacket.

      Don’t just stick with these recomendations, though. Experiment a little. If you follow the solid-on-pattern and pattern-on-pattern guidelines above you will come up with some stylish combinations.

  144. Vito Giustino says:

    I’m thinking of wearing a mid to lighter gray suit separate jacket with a pair of charcoal gray pants,& also the shirt I intend to wear with it is a light powdery blue blue shirt with a slight white pattern.Haven’t decided yet if I’ll be wearing a tie with the whole get up.Should I be ok?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’ve been known to combine a gray jacket and pants with a light blue shirt, Vito. So, clearly, we like the look. We do it with a bronze knit tie for a sharp textured look.

  145. Hello, I found your articles very helpful, but now I have a bit problematic question to ask. It’s not stricktly about matching jacket and pants, but what to do with color of shirt. See, I have solid black pants, black shoes, black belt with silver metal buckle, but shirt and jacket are little bit tricky. I don’t own black or grey jacket which would be easy to combine. Instead, I have solid, very light blue jacket, which almost looks white under some light, and another solid light-cream-grey-ish linen colored jacket. I hope that I managed to explain jacket colors good enough. My question is, which jacket would you recommand me to wear for casual, but still “nice outfit” evening event, and what shirt colour would fit best with these jackets and black pants? It is very important to me, because my budget is very thin, so I really have to make it work with these jacket colors. I had an idea for maroon, burgundy or dark purple shirt for that cream linen jacket with same color pocket square, but because all that thinking, I’m not sure those combinations are even ok.
    Thank you very much!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The black pants are really tough to match with either of those very light jacket options. Black slacks and light colored lightweight linen just doesn’t work.

      Why not build around the jackets rather than the black pants? Try the cream colored jacket with a white shirt and some chinos, like we did here, for a cool summertime look. Or, if you’re going for a more formal look, pair the light blue jacket with some navy blue pants like we did for this look.

      We think you’ll find that if you use the jackets as the foundation of the outfit and work from there, you’ve got lots of stylish options.

  146. I have a blue and red check blazer and I am not brave enough to wear the matching trousers. What colour trousers would you recommend? Here is the picture of the suit jacket….

    http://m.topman.com/h5/product?productId=17207998

    It does look a lot better on than in the picture

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hmmm…wearing that suit would take some serious sartorial gumption. Not our style, Mike, so we’re a little short on advice for how to make this one work. We do like our plaids, though. When we’re looking for what to wear with them, we look for an accent color in the plaid and wear a solid version of that color somewhere in the outfit. You can see how we did this with the blue accent in our Bedford Plaid Blazer here, or with the maroon in our Knickerbocker Blazer.

      Of course, our accent colors aren’t as loud as the hot pink and purple accents in the suit you linked to. So we’d suggest playing it safe with a darker shade of blue, like navy pants. Actually, we’d suggest donating this suit to the local Good Will and getting something you don’t have to be brave to wear, but that’s a different story.

  147. Light charcoal blazer, light pastel purple patterned oxford shirt, khaki pants, whiskey shoes/belt. cool for a casual wedding? I will double check with bride/groom for dress code.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sounds pretty cool to us, James. If the bride and groom get back to you and their dress code is actually more formal than you originally thought, check out our Decoding the Dress Code: What To Wear To A Wedding story for more outfit ideas!

  148. is it good to wear a black solid color suit jacket or a blazer with black khaki striped formal pants?(for male)

    1. Black Lapel says:

      “Black khaki striped formal pants,” you say? That’s a new one for us. We can’t picture it, therefore, can’t recommend it.

      If you’re thinking of breaking up a black tie look (aka a tuxedo), we offered up some stylish ways to do that in our recent New Year’s Eve feature and our story on how Blue is the New Black Tie.

      If you’re referring to mixing and matching a black jacket and pinstripe pants, we’re sticking by our statement at the beginning of the article above, pinstripes are off-limits in our book when you’re recombining suit pants and jackets.

  149. Hello,

    I am thinking of matching my charcoal grey jacket with another dress pant. What color would you advise? The event’s dress code is cocktail…do I need a tie or will a white shirt and pocket square work just fine? Thanks in advance

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Charcoal gray pairs well with a lighter shade of gray. As you can see in this Unsuit we created, we love the idea of creating contrast with texture rather than color, so we paired the solid charcoal jacket with a lighter pair of birdseye gray pants.

      A word of caution, though, Akin. If the invitation reads “cocktail attire” a suit and tie is appropriate. Wearing an Unsuit may make you stand out (in a bad way) if everyone else is in a suit. Same goes for the tie. Ask yourself, what do you gain by resisting the dress code? Why not just suit up? Worst comes to worst you’re dressed better than everybody else and you’re the one everyone says looked like a million bucks.

  150. Brian Smith says:

    Hi, I have a navy blue blazer with grey windowpanes that are not particularly outstanding. I was thinking of pairing it with a white shirt, black pants, and navy or black shoes. Alternatively, I was thinking of pairing it with grey pants and brown shoes. Which is the better option in your opinion? Or, is there another style that I should go with in terms of shirt, pants, shoes, tie combo?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Ahh windowpanes, a Black Lapel favorite. Your windowpane blazer sounds like a good fit for the alternative outfit you mention. The grey pants will be a better look for spring and tie in nicely with the windowpane jacket.

      The all navy will give you a more serious, business-like look. When the situation calls for more a darker, more somber color, you can put them on instead.

  151. I accidentally stumbled on your site while looking for advice on what to pair with navy trousers. I had a job interview and did not want to wear a navy jacket with it. I paired it with a cool white shirt blouse and a gray suit jacket. I felt confident when I walked into the board room. (Yes, I am female:-) Thanks for the advice on pairing the two colors in solid , creating a contrast that works!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      So glad we could be helpful, Rhoda. Much of the style advice we dish out works for both genders.

      We’ve also seen that some women know how to wear menswear better than most men (like those stylish ladies Sarah Ann Murray and Esther Quek).

      Anyway, good luck with the interview process!

  152. Would wearing separates to a wedding be appropriate?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That depends on the wedding, Ali. Obviously, separates are not appropriate for a black tie wedding. If it is “Black Tie Optional” and you don’t wear a tux, a suit is the best choice. If it’s a more casual wedding, separates can work.

      But don’t take our word for it, there’s no harm in asking the bride and groom to clarify the dress code. It shows you care enough to come correct to their wedding and they’ll appreciate it.

  153. I was wondering if I could break up two suits and wear a grey jacket a maroon shirt no tie and black trousers. Would this look blend together

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That’s a pretty dark combination, Mike. That’ll work for evening, but we recommend adding a little more contrast to the outfit if you’re planning on wearing it during the day. You’ll be shocked at what swapping out the maroon shirt for a white one will do for the overall look.

      For more on contrast and coloring, take a look at our story on how to build a suit which is chock full of advice that also applies to putting together separates outfits.

  154. richard oseji says:

    I have a grey suit I wear a black shirt n black pants with it and it looks great.now I want to ditch d black shirt 4 a white and black polka dot shirt.polka dot(white n black) black pants n grey suit,is that okay?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Mixing up a solid and a pattern is an excellent start to creating a suit separate look, but there might be a little too much polka dot in the look you’re describing. Wearing separates definitely allows for creativity and personal expression, but it also requires restraint. So we say pick one of your white and black polka dot items and let that be the star of the show. For example, try the shirt with the black pants and gray jacket for a sharp monochromatic look.

  155. I have a Charcoal jacket with a subtle glencheck sort of pattern, I don’t know if i can go blue or just grey, then how light and how dark

    1. Charcoal gray is a neutral, Trent, so you can pair it with just about any color. You’ll notice that the word contrast came up again and again above. The trick to wearing two different garments together is contrast, the colors are almost irrelevant.

      If you like gray pants with your gray jacket, that’s fine, just make sure there is enough contrast in the shade. If the jacket is charcoal gray make sure the pants are light enough to create some contrast. If you like blue, then be like a Michigan Wolverine and go blue! The same contrast advice holds up. Don’t go with a dark navy blue that hardly distinguishes itself from the jacket’s dark gray. Go with a brighter, lighter blue.

      Of course, we realize that you may not have lighter pants. We know a place where you can get some. Hint: you’re already on the website, just click shop at the top of the page or go straight to the pants section here (just sayin’).

  156. What about grey solid dress pants, and a navy blue pinstripe jacket? If that works, what color shoes/belt should I wear, and shirt?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Are you trying to convince us that a pinstripe blazer without the matching pants is a good look? Sorry David, but we’re sticking with our story (see paragraph two above), no pinstripe separates for us.

      Now, if you said you were going with a navy jacket with gray pants like we put together in the Navy Blue Unsuit, we’re all for it. In fact, we even highlighted exactly how we like to wear it in the January 8th Look of the Week where we paired it with some oxblood shoes for a well-put together look.

  157. Kevin miller says:

    Would it be bad to pair Navy dress pants with a bit of a pattern and a black jacket?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The navy blue of the pants and the black of the jacket are so close in shade, combining them would be a misstep. The end result would come off like you were trying to pass off the look as a matching suit.

      As we noted above, for solid-on-solid combinations, look for contrast. Try the navy pants with a gray jacket (like this combo) instead. As for the black jacket, keep using it as a suit since black really ought to be saved for more formal occasions anyway.

  158. Mark Sanders-Ferriera says:

    I will be going on a seven day cruise. Have a three piece black suit to “dress up” with tux shirt, bow tie etc for formal nights. My thought now is to try and break up the suit with say two additional pants, dress shirts and regular ties. My questions are first what colors would you suggest for the pants and shirts (besides white) in what combination and are two additional pants with mixing different colored shirts and ties enough to make five more outfits?

    I am considering purchasing an additional tan blazer as well. However, this depends on space.

    Since I am first flying across country before boarding the cruise I am limited for space. However, I do want to look like a gentleman at dinner. Not a mish mash of uncoordinated pants and coats. Thank you.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Contrary to popular “black goes with everything” thinking, black is a tough suit color to break up. Wear it with another dark color, like charcoal pants, and there’s no contrast to your look. Wear it with too light of a color, like a pink shirt, and the contrast is jarring. The problem is, black doesn’t really harmonize with any colors.

      That’s why we suggest packing some gray pants (like these and these). As for shirts, the simplest solution is to only pack white shirts. If you do want to stray from white, a black shirt will work with the black suit for an easy somewhat casual night time combo. On land, we might suggest a dark colored shirt and knit tie for a semi-casual look with a black jacket but that’s more of a fall/winter look that probably would have you looking out of place on a cruise.

      Of course, you could avoid all of this planning/maneuvering by packing a tux and a suit that is easier to break up like a navy or medium gray. Both of those suits can me mixed up six ways from Sunday with just about any shirts you like. Its worth a second thought.

      Happy cruising!

      1. Mark Sanders-Ferriera says:

        Thank you. Great advice. Since I live in Palm Springs and the cruise is a Carribian cruise, I decided to add a light weight tan suit to the wardrobe. This, has already simplified the matter of breaking up into other combinations.

        I have one other question for you, perhaps you can help me with. I need to admit, it has been several years since retirement and all suits, ties, shirts went out the window. That being said, I have always been a conservative dresser, towards the “classic” look. It appears times change. I always kept to the “solid shirt, pattern tie or pattern shirt, plain (or very muted) tie” rule. However, I am seeing more and more pattern upon pattern. Has this become popular and if so, any rules to go by. I found a lovely window pane shirt, tan with the panes in a darker tan and blue. I matched it color wise with several ties, but for the life of me, not sure if in good taste.

        Thank you for helping to get back into dresser wardrobe.
        Mark

        1. Glad we could help, Mark!

          As for your question about shirts and ties, your tried-and-true method of matching a patterned shirt with a muted or solid tie (and vice versa) is a smart way to dress. That said, experimenting with two patterns can be lots of fun and really help your look. We highlighted some guiding principles for combining shirt and tie patterns in our How to Match Your Shirts and Ties story. The third combination we highlighted there shows you how to pull off the pattern-on-pattern look with (to use an SAT word) aplomb.

  159. This article reminded me of a question I have always wondered since shopping with my mom when she would say, “Oooh that’s a good color on you” or “I really don’t like that color on you” I have pretty much always been clueless to what makes colors look good or bad on you. If you could help me out with understanding this or do a post on this that would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Color theory is some deep stuff. Having at least a cursory knowledge of how fabric colors work together and work with your skin is an essential part of being a stylish man. We’ve touched on this in the past, but we’ll take your suggestion and do a bit more on it in the future.

      Thanks for the suggestion, Jack!

    2. Jack, check out this VERY good guest post from Robert @ Restart Your Style, posted on Effortless Gent. If you don’t read EG, it is full of awesome advice.

      http://effortlessgent.com/contrast-clothing-combinations/

      Cheers!

  160. Any suggestions for breaking up a black suit? I’ve got a great jacket, but the pants have a stain on them.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Black suits can be pretty serious looking (think funerals) so go casual with the pants to make the jacket a little more laid back.

      What kind of casual pants? We like neutrals like grays and khakis, but it really depends on your own coloring. A lighter-haired guy with light skin should be very careful about wearing black and we would suggest that this guy wear khaki chinos and a white T-shirt (perhaps with some white Chuck Taylors). A guy with darker hair and darker skin, on the flip side, can go with a more medium gray chino or even black jeans. In either case solid pants are the way to go, since the difference in texture between the wool jacket and the cotton pants and the differing colors give this outfit enough contrast.

      Oh, and by the way, when you want to replace that old stained black suit, we won’t say where to get a new one but the name rhymes with “crack the shell.” 😉

      Try it with a white V-neck T-shirt, khaki chinos and some white sneakers

  161. Matt Raines says:

    great article, I was wondering if you guys could put up an article on style at the horse races, since the derby and preakness are coming up this may.
    thanks

    Matt

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Great idea, Matt! Keep an eye on The Compass this spring (you can sign up for our emails on the right side of the page above) for a piece on racetrack style.

  162. For shorter guys (5’7), is it better to have dark blazer and light pants or light blazer and dark pants?

    Thanks Black Lapel

    1. Black Lapel says:

      For shorter guys the answer to your question is “none of the above.” Creating a sharp contrast in shades between your upper and lower halves won’t do you any favors. Instead, stick with two analogous colors like the royal blue jacket and dark blue jeans we paired here. Also, you can pair neutrals like gray and tan with similarly shaded colors and add interest with a pattern. For instance, you could pair a patterned navy jacket and dark gray slacks like we did in this pairing.

      As long as you don’t split your body in half with a hard line between your jacket and pants, you can still apply all of the concepts above, Jason.

  163. nikhil udgirkar says:

    I can see the length of the blazer. It appears that the blazer is slightly shorter in length compared to the suit I see on your website. I want to ask whether the length of the blazer has been kept deliberately shorter if Yes, whether this trend will remain in vogue in the near future? Also can you tell me what more color combos would make a perfect pair of separates?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Perhaps there is a trend toward shorter jackets in general out there but that’s not what we’re advocating (we’re not much for trendiness around here).

      Rather, we’re suggesting that you consider making a jacket you intend to wear independent of matching pants a little shorter than your usual suit jacket. The reason is, when you’ve got a suit on, your button creates a natural midpoint close to your waist. This, in turn, lengthens your legs. When your pants and jacket are different fabrics the optics change. The bottom of your jacket is now more of a dividing line between your top and bottom half. Moving the bottom of your jacket up a smidge helps to lengthen your legs, visually.

      As for color combos, the easiest way to make it work is always include one neutral like gray or tan/khaki. This gives you the most color options and lets you focus more on combining textures and patterns.

  164. I like the idea of adding casual details to suits and am particularly fond of 5/16″ edge stitching like on that example. But why should a sport coat be made an inch shorter than a suit jacket? It seems to me that one’s optimal jacket length works well for a reason, whether or not it matches their trousers, but I am open to other ideas of course.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      When it comes to jacket length, like a good legal document, priority number one is to cover your butt. That said, many stylish men prefer their sport coats a bit shorter.

      It depends on your body but here’s why a lot of guys look good in slightly shorter jackets when the jacket is worn without the pants. When you’re suited up your button stance creates a natural midpoint close to your waist because of the waist suppression. This, in turn, lengthens your legs. When your pants and jacket don’t match the optics change. The bottom of your jacket is now more of a dividing line between your top and bottom half. Moving the bottom of your jacket up a smidge helps to lengthen your legs, visually.

      Again, this is not a hard and fast rule, but it does work for a lot of guys and is worthy of exploration.

      1. I believe nowadays many people already have their suit jacket cut (too) short already, so when the sport coat retains the same length, it’s already at its optimum length.

        1. Black Lapel says:

          That’s the power of custom, Joshua. You can choose to make your jackets shorter or longer than other guys’ prefer, it’s your choice.

  165. That was a fantastic article. One for those who’ve started building their suit collection.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks much. We hope it helps you mix and match with style.

  166. Henry Hernandez says:

    What about jeans?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You can wear your jeans with your jackets. The sportier the jacket the better (try the customization suggestions at the bottom of this story). Stick with dark wash, slim fit jeans to give you the most options, Henry.

  167. Keep up the great work! Any particular advise for splitting up a three piece? I’ve also got a light brown tweed windowpane check in vest and blazer, without matching pants. Any advise there?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Tweed is a great fabric for separating because it allows you to create some contrast in textures between the tweed and smoother fabrics like worsted wool and cotton. The vest can be worn casually with jeans and an oxford shirt (for more on that, check out our How to Wear a Vest Casually piece).

      The jacket can also be done casually with jeans, but we like chinos for this look. Look for chinos that bring out an accent color in the jacket. For instance, if the windowpane lines in the jacket are red (like the ones in this Knickerbocker Windowpane blazer, then go with a pair of pants in that same red. Finally, if you want to take things up a notch in formality, try going with a more formal shirt (not oxford cloth), adding a tie and going with some wool slacks that complement the light brown tweed like these.

      One more thing, Jordan. In all of the above cases, a pair of mid-brown brogue shoes are a great option for your shoes. They’re just versatile that way.

    2. Another suggestion: Grey wool trousers. They go with almost any sport coat or waistcoat choice. In fact, a good rule of thumb for me if something will be versatile is imagining it with a pair of, say, mid-grey flannels.

      Try ties that are made of wool fabrics or knit (either wool or silk, but wool knits are not very common anymore).

      1. Black Lapel says:

        All good suggestions, Jovan.

        You’re right about the wool ties, too, the knit versions aren’t always available. Luckily, brands like J.Crew are still doing wool knits (like this one and this one).

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