How to choose the right colour suit

Choose colour wisely to make a good first impression

Choose colour wisely to make a good first impression
Image source: Dragan Grkic

In the world of nonverbal communication, your choice of suit colour speaks volumes about you. From a more formal palette of charcoal, navy, and black, to lighter, more casual tones like browns, greys and blues, if you’re in the market for a new suit, here’s how to pick a colour that says the right thing.

Which colour suit is best?

A variety of colours allows you to tailor your choice to the occasion

A variety of colours allows you to tailor your choice to the occasion
Image source: John Kasawa

There is no “best” suit colour that applies to everyone regardless of age, skin tone, or application. But there are a few rules you can use to choose a colour that works for you.

Begin by thinking about what you need the suit for. Will it be your first or only suit – the one you’ll wear to every formal occasion? Is it to be a work suit? In which case, how old are you and what’s your job? Or are you buying a casual suit?

Take a look at yourself in the mirror. Are you dark or light haired, and what skin tone do you have? Know yourself – know your needs, and you’re halfway to choosing the right suit colour.

What suit colour should be your first?

Charcoal lends you gravitas

Charcoal lends you gravitas
Featured product: Grey suit from Samuel Windsor

Maybe you recently graduated and you’re looking for your first job. You need a suit that does interviews and which gets you through your first few weeks or months of your fledgling career, until you can afford to add to your wardrobe.

Choose either navy or charcoal, both of which are smart, formal colours which perform at interview, and are ideal for office wear. Of the two, navy has a slight propensity to accentuate youth – if it’s gravitas you need, choose charcoal. Avoid black which is somewhat stark and, unless you have a dark complexion, can make you look washed out.

Which colour suit is most versatile?

Navy is the most popular colour

Navy is the most popular colour
Featured product: Navy wool suit by Samuel Windsor

There’s always one – the uncle who sports the same beige or bottle green power-shoulder number to every occasion. Don’t let that guy be you. If you’re after a suit that does weddings, funerals, and everything in between, it’s important to go for a colour that will help you fit seamlessly into the picture.

Because the golden rule here is conformity, navy wins out. It’s the most common suit colour and as long as you’re careful with cut – single breasted, standard British – you can’t go wrong. Navy suits are also easy to dress up or down. Think, bright pinstripe shirt and snazzy tie with matching socks for weddings, plain white shirt, dark tie and socks for funerals.

If you’re looking to buy just one suit to cover all eventualities, it’s a good idea to invest in two pairs of trousers. Suit trousers are pressed more often and worn for longer stretches of time. Rotating two pairs preserves the life of a hard-working suit.

What colour suit for the office?

A cadet-blue suit with a crisp white shirt is a smart nod to the warmer weather

A cadet-blue suit with a crisp white shirt is a smart nod to the warmer weather
Featured product: Summer blue suit from Samuel Windsor

Charcoal and navy are the best suits for the office. Some people will tell you that deep brown is acceptable office wear, but as long as the “old guard” – managers who lived through the structures of the 1980s and ‘90s – remain in post, it’s out.

Warmer weather gives you some colour wriggle room – during the summer months, it’s acceptable to switch to lighter shades of grey and blue. Of the two, mid to light greys are more office-friendly than light blues which can look too casual if you’re not careful. If you do choose blue, make it a cadet-blue which carries a hint of grey, and wear it with a white shirt and black Oxfords or Brogues.

When to wear a brown suit

Brown is a good colour for those who want to appear approachable

Brown is a good colour for those who want to appear approachable
Image source: ABGJ

Earthy tones are great for gents with earthy professions; people like large animal vets who want a long-lasting, hard-wearing suit for working outdoors. Think brown tweed. Brown is also a good choice if you work with people – think teachers, college lecturers, and GPs – the warmer colour makes you more approachable.

Rich tones particularly suit men with dark hair and pale complexions. If you look good in deep navy, wines, and dark green, chances are you’ll suit brown too. Go for deep chocolatey colours and pair your selection with black or brown shoes for formal use – tan is for informal occasions.

When to wear a light or bright suit

Light suits are ideal for hot summer days

Light suits are ideal for hot summer days
Featured image: Natural men’s linen suit from Samuel Windsor

Poirot looks natty cruising down the Nile in his linen suit and panama hat, and so would you. But cruising aside, for what purpose would you buy a light or bright suit? Easy – match extremes of colour to extreme occasions.

Extremely hot? Wear linen. Want to look extremely snazzy for a party or celebration – go for a bright blue suit. Tan is ideal for graduation day. Match your colours to the occasion, and to get more mileage out of them, consider wearing them as separates too – like Prince William does when he rocks a royal blue jacket and khaki chinos.

Do you have any mens suit colour tips to share? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or drop us a line via our Facebook page.

Posted in How To - Suits.

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