Transform your suit. Read more to find out how.
(suit - Zara | shoes - Steve Madden | polo - Fred Perry)
(suit - Alfani | shoes - Fred Perry | tee - American Apparel)
For those young urban professionals out there who wear a suit or suit separates on the day-to-day grind, this is an entirely different story. For you, a suit has become an extension of your body--a second skin. You no longer feel the uncomfortable restriction of a tightened tie, and the stares you once got while walking to a presentation in University/College are a faded memory.
Wearing a suit can become so natural, that the same suit you wore all day is something that you choose to wear going out for drinks after work with the guys, or watching the game at your buddy's apartment. There is nothing wrong with this approach--but there is a difference between looking good at the office, and looking good on the strip.
Before I discuss how to freshen up the ordinary business suit, it's important to know that not every suit will look good over a polo or even a tee. If your suit has baggy and/or pleated pants, wide shoulders with lower arm holes, and is "roomy" in the waist, you cannot wear it casually. You shouldn't even be wearing it at all, but that's another story...
Swapping out the shirt and tie for a polo or a tee, for example, will have you work to bar-ready in 3.5 seconds. But first, there are a few rules that you should be aware of:
- Make sure that the polo/tee you choose matches the suit. An obvious way to think about this is to imagine what color dress shirt you'd usually pair with the suit (Black and white are always a safe bet, but pairing a navy suit with green, or a black suit with purple for Spring will give you some extra attention).
- Be sure that your polo/tee is not longer than your suit jacket. The look is meant to be a laid-back interpretation of your suit, so having your shirt un-tucked completes the relaxed effect.
- Pick a polo/tee that is slim-fitting. If it is baggy and longer than your jacket (I'm talking noticeably) do not tuck your shirt into your pants. It'll only make you look cheesier than the washed up 48 year old golf pro at the club trying to pick up the 21 year old bartender on a Thursday afternoon. Wear it slim or leave on your shirt and tie.
The shirt and tie aren't the only thing you're wearing that you'll have to change once you leave the office. No, I'm not talking about your hairstyle, I'm talking about your shoes. If you wear the black
leather wingtip oxfords you had on all day, you'll run the risk of inconsistencies in your ensemble. As much as I hate to jump on the bandwagon, loafers are ideal for this situation. Going too casual with Sperry's might make the outfit look cheap, and I'm never a fan of sneakers with a suit (the only exception I'm willing to admit to are old looking New Balances). Other alternatives to loafers are saddle shoes, or oxford shoes made with suede or more casual materials.
If you are bold, a second alternative to transforming your suit is wearing a tee instead of a polo. This makes the look much more casual and even "street style", so it's important that the tee you select is plain (opposed to a graphic tee with a busy design). Note: This isn't the 1990's; please do not wear a silk "formal" tee under your suit unless you're spending a night at the Roxybury. The tee you wear under your suit will look much better if it has a lower neck line; like a v-neck or a scoop neck tee. In terms of fit, the same rules apply as with the polo. With a tee, the lower neckline looks great with a longer necklace, if you want to give the look a bit of attitude. In this case, sneakers will work just fine, but as I said, I'm partial to Sperry's or even a suede buck.
- Get your suit out of its rut! Switch it up by wearing a slim fitting, shorter polo or tee.
- Don't forget to change your shoes in the process.
- Remember that a tee-under-suit look is much more casual, and much more difficult to pull off than wearing a polo. Take it slow, and build your way up.
- If you don't usually wear suits, then wearing a polo under the suit might be a baby step--just make sure you're comfortable enough in a suit to pull it off--it's harder than it looks. But once you have it mastered, a whole new world of style will open up to you....
Wear It Write.