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Uncovering Menswear’s Secret Weapon, the Unsuit

Two of menswear's secret weapons - the Light Blue Sharkskin Unsuit and the Blue Shadow Stripe Unsuit. Both by Black Lapel
We love our suits (that’s not even a joke). We should, we’re in menswear (and, of course, we make them). But even a group of suit-loving menswear types like us realizes that suits aren’t the only option for looking great. Some situations call for a combination of pants and jacket that aren’t made from the same fabric. In fact, we believe some of the most stylish men on earth, some of the menswear icons we look to for inspiration, are so stylish because of the way they combine blazers and pants. It’s not that these guys don’t suit up well, its just that they get a lot more menswear street cred from their ability to combine. If you want to get to that level, you need to master the unsuit. What’s an unsuit?

noun ˌənˈsüt
A jacket and a pair of pants that are made from
different fabrics but can be worn together for maximum stylishness.

Two of menswear's secret weapons - Full body Light Blue Sharkskin Unsuit and the Blue Shadow Stripe Unsuit. Both by Black Lapel
We’ve written about how to pair jackets and pants to make great looks in the past. But we found that some readers had trouble pulling it off. It seems the theory wasn’t enough, guys wanted to see combinations in action. And so we developed the Black Lapel Unsuit, a pre-paired jacket and pants combination that you can buy and wear like a suit, all together, or separately.

Where to Wear an Unsuit

You can wear an Unsuit anywhere a jacket is appropriate but a suit is not mandatory. It’s perfect for the business casual office with a dress shirt and a tie, but you can also wear an Unsuit more casually without a tie or with a light sweater instead of a shirt. This last look also works well for dates and evening events as well.

A classic menswear combination, Warm Gray blazer and Navy Blue pants. Both by Black Lapel Another of menswear's secret weapons - the Navy Blue Unsuit by Black Lapel A menswear staple, navy trousers, meets the gray windowpane jacket to form this Gray with Purple Windowpane Unsuit by Black Lapel

How to Wear an Unsuit

The trick to the Unsuit is not to overthink it. While you can drive yourself nuts trying to come up with some amazing shirt and tie combination, true style comes with a little bit of I don’t give a damn that the Italians call sprezzatura. A flawlessly fitting white shirt and a solid colored knit tie is a can’t miss dapper look that requires minimal effort to put together. When the jacket and pants are already paired with style the rest of the outfit ought to just fall into place naturally. If you’re spending more than a few minutes stressing over a shirt and tie combo it means one of two things. A) you have an inadequate shirt and tie collection (in which case, check out the Black Lapel shirts and ties) or B) you’re over-analyzing the situation (in which case, check out our three secrets to Mastering Men’s Fashion from the Inside Out to get make looking dapper easier).

Blue and gray, two of menswear's favorite colors, are at it again in this Blue Shadow Stripe Unsuit by Black Lapel.

DIY Unsuit

The Black Lapel Unsuits were created to give you some pre-built combinations, but that doesn’t limit you to the ones we’ve paired. If you’d like to put together your own Unsuit, we’ve covered guidelines for pairing jackets and pants in the past. Tell us what you come up with in the comments below and, who knows, your combination might show up on the Black Lapel Unsuits collection.

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6 thoughts on “Uncovering Menswear’s Secret Weapon, the Unsuit”

  1. Max says:

    Hey There! Good info but I have a question about when it is appropriate to wear an “unsuit.” I am going to graduate school and looking to intern with lobbyists and legislators. Would an “unsuit” be considered inappropriate in a setting like this?

    And if so why would it be? Excuse the ignorance, I am pretty new to the this sphere of menswear.

    I picked up a beautiful jacket by Topman for an incredible price and am having a tough time finding the matching pants.


    1. Black Lapel says:

      In the halls of Congress a suit is the smart choice and conservative is the name of the game no matter which side of the aisle you’re on. In Washington a dark suit is a uniform for the Capitol Hill staffers and the K Street lobbyists (see Ryan Gosling in The Ides of March for reference). That’s why we suggest investing in a staple suit in a dark blue or gray that fits you great and is well-constructed and durable enough for you to put it through its paces.

      Most guys start off with a Navy Blue or Charcoal but that doesn’t mean you have to follow the crowd. We always suggest that you consider a few things that you’ll find in this article when choosing a suit. And, of course, for more specific one-on-one advice, you can take advantage of our concierge service in which a stylist will help you build your wardrobe by emailing us at concierge@blacklapel.com.

  2. Antome says:

    Great look.
    Personally I always avoided the tie so far, for elegant occasions and I sort of recycled “casual” elements to resemble a suit, a white (or some other colors) shirt and a light coat (depending on climate). Of course with black shoes.
    As for the shoes, no socks is ok to me, but on myself I prefer the white matching with shirt I mentioned before :), while I find no socks more suited for shorts, but only with loafers and such lightweight and low cut shoes, heavier shoes are usually higher cut, though, so below ankle socks cut it perfectly.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Good gameplan Antome.

      Dressing in seasonally/climate appropriate colors seems like common sense, but so many guys overlook this important part of building a wardrobe.

  3. Wow ! great look you guys. I loved the pink shirt look by the pool table.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re glad you dig it Marcos. That shirt (which is a super soft chambray) is one of our faves too.

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