Let’s be honest gents – every guy should know how to suit up and look great in formal clothing.
But styling a suit isn’t just about wearing a matching jacket and pants – it’s far more complicated than that.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the accessories you wear with your suit play just as big a part in how you look than the cut, quality and color of the garment itself.
This might sound like a tall order, but don’t worry – we’re here to help. In this article, we’re going to run through everything you need to know about how to accessorize a suit.
Today I'm going to show you how to match:
- A Classic Men’s Watch
- A Belt That Matches Your Shoes
- Neckties That Complement Your Suit Color
- Patterned Pocket Squares
- Timeless Jewellery (Rings, bracelets and more)
This article is brought to you by The Ollie Oral Care System. After all, nothing pairs better with a suit than a bright, healthy smile.
Ollie is built around a powerful sonic brush, that is designed to polish your teeth while being gentle on your gums.
I have already talked about how the Smart Clean has helped improve my gum health. But did you guys know that you can also sign up for a subscription service to help give your teeth EVERYTHING they need for only $12 a month?
Introducing the Ollie system – your one-stop shop for better oral hygiene. Ollie will send you a new set of brushes, floss and toothpaste every 90 days, along with a lifetime warranty. Make this the last toothbrush you ever buy and click here to get a great deal on the Ollie Complete Oral Care Box!
How To Match Your Watch With A Suit
Watches are the king of men's accessories. You can wear one any time, any place and putting a watch on is part of most men's morning routines.
I’ve deliberately put this point first because choosing the right watch is the most important decision you’ll make when it comes to your accessories.
Your watch should always match the formality of your outfit. If you’re wearing a suit, then you should be wearing a dressier timepiece.
A metal bracelet or leather strap are usually the best choices for formal occasions, but if you want to get really dressed up then you can opt for a pocket watch.
Just remember – the more formal the outfit, the more formal your watch should be.
How To Match Your Belt With Your Suit
As with your watch case and strap, you'll want to match your leathers and metals to the dress code of the rest of your outfit (no fancy dress belts with a pair of Bermuda shorts to a cookout). This includes matching the type of leather, e.g. brown suede with brown suede.
There are time-tested rules on what belt to wear with shorts, jeans, dress pants, and suits. Here's a quick breakdown:
- Casual: Webbing, canvas, leather-backed canvas, or colorful braided leather.
- Smart-Casual: Heritage workwear, tooled leather, or rodeo belt.
- Business Casual: Plain, stitched leather belt.
- Business Formal: Plain, stitched high-polish leather belt. Or, consider trying suspenders.
- Black Tie: Wear suspenders and trousers with no belt loops. (Don't worry, if tuxedo pants with belt loops are all you have, your cummerbund will hide it.)
- White Tie: Always suspenders.
NOTE: This doesn't mean you need a million belts, one for each dress code and color of shoes you own.
As a starting point, I recommend a black or dark brown belt to match the shoes you wear to work – typically where you want to make the biggest impression. Then, try a smart-casual belt that matches your favorite off-duty, weekend shoes you wear to restaurants and events. Slowly build up your collection from here, focusing on the belt which will work with the most amount of shoes in your closet and the outfits you wear when looking to make a good impression.
Of course, this process can be avoided if you have interchangeable belts and buckles that can be swapped around depending on the occasion and the other metals and leather colors you're wearing.
How To Match Your Tie With Your Suit
Don’t buy a tie without something to match it to.
Remember, the tie is the accessory, not your suit. Buy jackets and suits first, then shirts and finally ties.
If your tie and shirt are both visibly patterned, the tie pattern should generally be bigger (not necessarily different shapes – wide and narrow stripes, for example, play together just fine). Note that, although the tie pattern size rule is a handy guide, there are exceptions like pin-dot patterns.
Imagine the men's style color wheel to coordinate ties with shirts and jackets. Go for either complementary, triad or analogous colors.
Cooler tones like deep blue, olive green, and royal purple are most versatile – they don't fight with other colors for attention. Warm tones like red, orange and yellow are riskier to match but more eye-catching and go well with a navy or charcoal suit.
If you can only buy a few ties, go for darker colors. They'll be more versatile and easier to match because they read as more neutral.
Here again, match the level of formality. Bolder patterned shirts, button-downs, and chambray shirts are more casual and go well with knit and other casual ties. Plain dress shirts deserve nothing short of silk.
How To Match Your Pocket Square With A Suit
Even if the suit rental place recommended it for your senior prom back in the day, your pocket square isn't supposed to match your tie. You want matched colors but contrasting – yet complementary – patterns.
Alternatively, pick up shirt or jacket colors in the pocket square. Make sure it's not so similar to the jacket that it disappears. For instance, with a navy jacket, white with navy polka dots is better than navy with white dots.
Matching your pocket square to your outfit isn't just a matter of coordinating colors and patterns. You also need to match the formality of your outfit. The most formal color for a pocket square is plain white. This is suitable for serious business suits and tuxes and is a good choice for a job interview. At the other end of the spectrum, an eye-catching floral pattern is probably best avoided if your office has a strict dress code.
Another aspect of matching formality is your choice of pocket square fold. A presidential fold is the most formal and subtle option (that goes perfectly with that white pocket square), while the puff fold is probably the most relaxed and ostentatious. Check out my pocket square fold infographic to learn 9 different options.
How To Match Your Jewellery With A Suit
Tie bars, cufflinks, bracelets, necklaces, and rings should match the metals in your belt and watch and complement the overall style of your outfit.
Keep in mind that shiny accents inherently draw the eye, so wear it somewhere that can carry the weight of that. Simple is generally better.
You also want to be sure to balance your wrists and hands. The human eye loves symmetry and balance – don't stack up one wrist with rings or one wrist with bracelets and leave the other bare.
If you're starting out with accessories, look for jewelry in dark, neutral colors (e.g. a stone bracelet with hematite, onyx). This will increase the versatility and make your accessories easier to match. Look for understated pieces – stones in men's jewelry always have an impressive effect, and you don't want to end up with an expensive accessory that's not really appropriate to wear to anything.
Let's not forget about bags! Click here to discover why a great backpack is a man's best friend.
Add small extras to your outfits gradually as you begin to get more comfortable with the general laws of accessorizing. Don't be afraid to experiment to find your own signature pieces.