Suits make getting dressed simple. Don’t believe us? Just consider wearing suit jacket separate from your trousers to look sharp and put-together. In fact, wearing suit separates is one secret weapon of the true stylish men but you need to know the basics to remix the suit and steal their killer look.

In this post, we discuss how to pull off the style of wearing suit separates like a pro. But before that, let’s see why you should consider suit separates in the first place!

Unless you own a walk-in wardrobe filled with clothes of every style and color, you will (sometimes) feel like there is nothing to wear. And this “I have nothing to wear” syndrome is not just limited to women; whatever the reason, men too fall victim of it some days. It’s just like you are lacking in sartorial inspiration.

Michael Kors aptly explains this phenomenon: “70 percent of the clothes you own should be meat and potatoes. 30 percent should be icing and fluff—that’s color, pattern, shine, and accessories.”

Irrespective of your gender, this is a common thumb of suit you need to follow and also applies when wearing suit separates. Planning your outfit in advance, at least the night before also helps.

However, what is more important is building a classic wardrobe with a few keys pieces. For example, a good quality navy or gray suit can be worn time and again with some solid/patterned dress shirts without looking reparative. Similarly, you can mix the suit jacket and trousers and add a splash of pattern to make a bold statement.

What Makes Clothing Interchangeable?

Building a classic or interchangeable wardrobe is easy when you know the rules of the game. Each piece you own should match majority of the complementary items in your closet. For example, if you own a blue dress shirt or a navy suit jacket that matches 8 out of the 10 pairs of trousers/jeans is interchangeable. Likewise, a red dress shirt or a pink pin stripe suit is not as you can hardly match them with more than 1-2 other items in your collection.

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Your wardrobe should contain at least 60 percent of classic interchangeable pieces, if you want to join the separatist movement. The higher the percentage of compatibility it has, the better it is. Let’s consider the following chart borrowed from RealMenRealStyle that shows how you can “extract three hundred unique outfits from 20 clothing items.”


Which Suits to Separate

Technically speaking, you can remix any part of the suit as long as you follow the basic rules. That being said, it doesn’t mean that everything in your closet can be put together as suit separates. This is especially applicable if you are trying to wear pinstripe suits separately as the beauty of pinstripe lies in keeping the lines cascade continuously from top to bottom. Wearing just the jacket or the pants will break the lines, making your look incomplete.

Solid, dark suits such as charcoal and navy are your items to experiment with when wearing suit separates, although purists consider this practice as a sartorial crime. But if you can overrule their arguments neutral colors like gray or blue are your best candidates for mixing and matching, provided you know how to do it. But make sure you are wearing contrasting bottoms, something in olive green, gray, light khaki, brown, or light blue.

Recombining Suit Separates

Once you have finalized the candidates, it’s time to recombine them. Remember that this practice is both an art and a science; there are some rules while a lot depends on your creativity and personal style. The science part or the thumb of rule here is to mix up solids and patterns.

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  • Combining solids on patterns is the easiest approach to suit separates as it not only simplifies the choice but also brings out the exact amount of contrast.
  • Although solids and solids such as wearing a solid gray jacket with navy suit pants does not violate any rules of mixing and matching, it hardly looks interesting. In case you are combining two solids, one of the colors must be more striking to create a contrast in your look. Combing with a solid, navy blue jacket with green trousers or vice versa is a good example here.
  • Wearing two patterns, on the other hand, is quite a loud look. But if you are wearing it, go for a contrast such as windowpane against checks to clearly differentiate two patterns.

Mixing Formal Casual

If you are into layering and your work environment allows mixing formal casual, there are various ways to soften your standard business look with suit separates. For example, a fine knitted cardigan can work wonder. Swap your suit jacket with a fine knit jumper to dress down your look.

Similarly, you can wear a shirt/polo shirt and a pair of jeans with a black suit jacket for a more casual look. You can even add a splash of pattern by combining stripped/checked shirts with a complimenting suit pant and skip the jacket altogether.

Some More Rules to Follow

Mixing and matching your suit styles is fun. But before you split up a suit, you need to follow a few rules.

Focus on the fit. This is the first thing you need to consider. You should maintain a coherent silhouette while wearing suit separates. With a slim-fit suit jacket (i.e. slim on top) you should wear a similar fit jeans or chinos (slim on the bottom) as a half loose/half fitted look is still a fashion faux pas. Tailoring is your best bet when combining your suit styles and that goes for both the suit and the pants.

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Though most fashion conscious men are aware of the importance of tailored items, they cannot always afford them as bespoke suits are usually expensive, making them reserved for the high end consumers. But thanks to online retail stores like OWNONLY for brining affordable line of tailor-made suits, pants, blazers and dress shirts for men into the market, average buyers can now opt for bespoke items without breaking their banks.

With such online tailor offering you can easily make your personal style a reality and add accent to your suit jackets to make them more appropriate to wear as separates.

Additionally, consider the materials. For example, wool fabrics are not a good choice for mixing and matching but cotton and linen are. Tweed again should be worn with other rugged materials like corduroy or denim.

In the End

Wearing suit separates is all about playing with colors and patterns. But the rule of thumb is to style it correctly to look professional. Make sure you are wearing the right dress shoes and other accessories are apt to help you pull it off.

Brian Zeng is the Head of Marketing and Public Relations at OwnOnly, which is a new-age online apparel store offering customized suits, shirts and blazers for the modern man. You can find him on Twitter.