The millennials' guide to wearing a suit - Executips


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The millennials' guide to wearing a suit

I get invited to weddings a lot of times and I always see a lot of young people wearing a suit. Many of them don't look put together but I don’t blame them. It’s their uncles' dress code and it isn’t taught in school.

So, let me share the basics that I know. Don’t feel bad that you're only learning now because I was past fifty when I learned from friends and from the internet.

This is a guide for all ages, actually.

Suit Size

There should be no crumpling on the shoulders. The seam on top of the shoulder should be about the same length as the shoulder bone.

The hemline of the coat should be aligned with the root of the thumb. The sleeves should be just right in length so as to show about half inch of the cuffs of the shirt. The cuff, then, should be just up to the wrist.

The pants will look better for young people if they’re slim cut or super slim. The hem of the pants should rest right on top of the shoes. It is better for the pants to be a bit short than to be too long. The waist of the pants should fit snugly because you will not wear a belt when wearing a suit.* If it’s too loose around the waist, you may wear suspenders under the coat.

Tailored suits are great. But if you buy off the rack, like I do, bring the suit to your local tailor so he can alter the length of the sleeves and also make the pants look more tapered. Just make sure you buy one with the right fit on the shoulders because that will be too difficult, or too expensive, to fix.


If the coat has two buttons, you fasten the top button but leave the lower one unbuttoned always. This tradition came from the time when gentlemen rode a horse. When you sit down, you unbutton it and fasten it again when you stand up. If the coat has three buttons, fastening the topmost button is optional. The middle button should always be buttoned. And the lowermost button, never. Unfasten all buttons when you sit down.

The ideal suit size makes you able to fasten the coat button effortlessly. Make sure you will not look like an overstuffed traveling bag with a zipper about to burst. Some men hold their breath to fake the fit but they may faint before the bride arrives.

If it's really too tight, better leave all buttons unbuttoned for a relaxed look. In buying a suit, I prioritize shoulder fit over the abdomen fit. To be honest, holding my breath is one of my tricks but there's a limit to such power. If there is no choice, I leave the coat unbuttoned and it's acceptable if we're not in the wedding entourage.

Tie and pocket square

The tip of the necktie should fall right in the center of where your belt buckle should be ( but remember, you should not wear a belt.) The widest part of the necktie should have about the same width as the widest part of the lapel. Wear a pocket square for a nice finishing touch. The pocket square should not, not, not be identical with the necktie. The identical tie and pocket square come in a set and it is not fashionable to wear a tie and a square that come from the same set. It looks too “planned” whereas the pocket square touch should look like a casual accent. It must look "Sprezzatura!" That's Italian for studied carelessness. I just learned that word the other day. I think you say it with an accent and a wave of the hand.  Search the internet on the many different ways to fold a pocket square.

Socks and Shoes

The sock color should match the pants. Some men match it with the shoes or the shirt and that is wrong. If you’re wearing a blue suit or a gray suit, brown shoes will be best. If you’re wearing a black suit, black shoes will be appropriate. The nice dress shoes are brogue, oxfords or derby. If you’re wearing loafers, don’t wear socks. But weddings require a certain formality so it will be more proper to wear laced up dress shoes. In the office or a casual occasion, leather half-boots may also look good.

Dress to kill, young man !

* Suit refers to matching coat and pants. If you’re wearing a blazer or sports coat with jeans or slacks, you may wear a belt. 

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