If you were in the market for a suit at any point in the last five years, chances are you gravitated towards one of two staple colours in the tailoring canon: blue or grey. And you would have been right to. This is the suit at its most traditional and versatile.
But it’s also quite boring. Yes, you could probably wear the same navy suit five days straight and nobody would notice. But don’t you want to be noticed? Isn’t that part of the reason we buy nice clothes so people take note of how damn good we look?
Well, great news: you will stand out with a colourful suit. Even better news: they are trending right now, with Hollywood big shots Timothee Chalamet, Chadwick Boseman and Mahershala Ali leading the way with a spectrum of tailoring shades on the red carpet.
Bold colour tailoring may not be especially practical, but it’s a damn sight more interesting than city banker grey, and, when worn well, a whole lot more stylish. And you don’t need to be parading down runways or red carpets to wear it, either. Whether you need something special for cocktail attire, or you just want to jazz up your office suit game, you’ve come to the right place.
5 Suit Colours Every Man Should Consider
Admittedly, there are some huge risks at stake here. Get it wrong, and you’ll look like an extra from Saturday Night Fever (although that may be your intention). Get it right though, and you might look like Robert Redford in the original Great Gatsby – surely a sartorial dream feat for any man.
“When it comes to wearing light colour tailoring, it’s a matter of either going all the way or only half way,” says Mats Klingberg, founder of leading menswear independent Trunk Clothiers. “With all the way I mean the entire outfit in tonal light/white/cream and with half being only the jacket in white, cream or beige and the trousers in a darker colour like navy.”
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? With cream and light coloured tailoring in general though, it’s as much about where you wear it as how. “The opportunities to wear cream or white tailoring are more limited than wearing darker colours for sure, I do think that it has to be warm and sunny.” Throw on a light Cuban collar shirt, loafers and a pair of Wayfarers and that’s your next summer wedding suit sorted.
For those looking to branch out from navy or mid-blue, green – especially darker shades – could be a good option. It’s surprisingly versatile, and will combine well with the blues and neutrals that likely already make up much of your wardrobe.
Let’s be clear that we’re not suggesting garish, Joker-esque shades, in the same way we wouldn’t advise estate agent bright blue. Subtle, dark bottle green is the way to go, as demonstrated by young Chalamet at the Oscars.
Green is still green though, so it’s recommended you keep things safe elsewhere – a simple plain white shirt and black shoes will do the job nicely. For a more casual look, a simple T-shirt and low-key sneakers will dress down an unstructured suit perfectly.
Another good entry point for guys who usually shy away from colour, Burgundy is relatively easy to wear, complements most skin tones, and works well as separates, so you get the most bang for your buck.
If you want to break away from the usual shirt and tie combination – although a white shirt and navy knitted tie works well in this case – try going tonal. Creative director of Savile Row house Gieves & Hawkes suggests using “a pastel tone of the colour, for example a strong red linen/wool suit with a pale pink shirt.”
When combined with a burgundy suit, a shirt or tee in a light pink has show-stopping potential, and has a little whiff of ‘70s TV presenter about it, in the best way possible.
Admittedly, pastels can be hard to pull off. But for summer-ready tailoring, there is arguably nothing more stylish right now.
Ice cream shades have been popular with some of the world’s biggest menswear names including Louis Vuitton and Dior, who paraded them down their SS19 runways in the form of loose, streetwear-inflected tailoring. Pinks, pale greens and blues aren’t going anywhere and work well dressed down with light coloured shirts, T-shirts, and clean white sneakers.
Take a leaf out of Chadwick Boseman’s book and keep the rest of the look muted – you don’t want accessories to be competing for attention.
As part of the 1970s domination of menswear over the last couple of years, the colour brown has made a comeback in a big way. Long reserved for geography teachers and the elderly, brown is now cool, especially when implemented in some #throwback tailoring.
You don’t want the suit to become a costume though, so avoid going down the rigidly structured, oversized lapel route, the likes of which actually would have been worn in the ‘70s. Instead, modernise the look with a soft cotton number, with little to no padding in the shoulders, patch pockets and a two button front.
With the accessories you can nod to the disco decade, but don’t go over the top. A simple striped tee, tonal patterned socks and penny loafers will do the job without making you look try-hard.