For many men, bright, statement tailoring can feel like the final frontier. Compared to the reliable conservatism of navy and grey, colour is often something you only come around to after you’ve exhausted the traditional neutral tones and their many variations in detail, whether that’s pinstripes or checks or finer patterning.
In truth, it can be a little intimidating to picture yourself in a bright suit, if only because they are more difficult to style, and less versatile for a range of occasions. But if chosen thoughtfully and with taste that reflects your appetite for attention, a vibrant suit can be the missing link to a truly seasonal and personal wardrobe, injecting much-needed vibrancy and variation in your wardrobe rotation.
With that in mind, we prepared this three-stage approach to buying a vibrant suit, from beginner to expert.
The easiest way to give colour a try is to introduce a lighter shade of blue. It’s a particularly strong option for the warmer months, helping you inject some Riviera-style playboy charm in to your wardrobe, but you would be surprised by how year-round wearable it can be with the right combination of accessories. The best thing about a vibrant mid-blue suit is how versatile it can be—opt for a crisp white tailored business shirt and silk tie for mid-week corporate dominion, choose a knitted tie and loafers sans-socks for relaxed weddings and casual Fridays, and throw it over sharp white sneakers and a tee/knit for modern casual flair. It’s a legitimate boardroom-to-bar player.
Intermediate: Olive Brown
Brown is a surprisingly easy-to-wear and understated suiting colour, particularly in cooler months of the year that lean in to the warm and earthy vibes it captures. When taking cues from the sartorial traditions of American presidents, remember that Ronald Reagan wore a brown suit well, while Obama caused an international tailoring controversy with a poorly executed shade of ‘taupe’—the key is to opt for a darker shade of brown and then accessorise accordingly with neutral tones (like navy) and subtle patterns. Steer clear of vibrant colours and patterns and let the brown suit do the heavy lifting. Think: British aristocracy or a wise professor sipping whisky fireside, and avoid 70s era disco funk vibes.
While we’re listing a maroon suit as ‘expert’, that’s not necessarily because it’s hard to wear. It’s just eye catching, so it’s less appropriate for formal or conservative occasions, and it’s also therefore more likely to draw public attention to any styling mistakes. Basically, a maroon suit is a special event garment and therefore ideal for fun-loving occasions like the races, casual weddings and smart events like engagement parties. Again, just let the maroon do the work—stick to blues, browns and whites with your other accessories, lest you look more like a novelty event than the main event. A navy knitted tie and white tailored shirt can dress it up, while a white tee and sneakers can dress it down, taking you through a surprisingly wide range of yearly events, particularly across the warmer months of the year.