Some days going full suit and tie is just a bit much, isn’t it? You love the look of a well fitted suit, but you don’t want to be “that guy” in full uniform at that meeting with your less formal client, nor the only guy in a tie at the pub.
The good news is the suit is way more versatile than it’s given credit for. Wearing a suit doesn’t have to mean formalwear, and it certainly doesn’t always mean putting on a tie. That’s why we’ve pulled together a quick list of sure-fire styles to keep you looking sharp when you also need to dress down.
- Lose the Tie
This is the easiest way to dress down a suit, but definitely a very effective option. Just remove your tie, and unbutton the collar. This can be done with a regular solid dress shirt, although you can make things a bit more casual by opting for a more casual shirt.
This is also a solid option for when you need to change your look up in a hurry. For example, if you’re leaving the office and are meeting a client for coffee, just lose the tie, unbutton your collar and you’re good to go. You can always leave the tie in your desk and put it back on should you need it later in your day!
- Change your Base Layer
This style trick is so easy it’s almost cheating. If you want to dress down your suit while still looking sharp and sophisticated, just swap the shirt and tie for a more casual base layer. Good examples might be a t-shirt or a turtleneck. Everything else about your suit can stay the same, but just by swapping your base you’ve instantly made your look a bit more casual and comfortable. And if you’ve opted for a turtleneck, you’ll also be much warmer during those cold Canadian winter days!
Picking the right base layer is key here. Too avoid looking like a fisherman headed to a last-minute interview, you’ll want to avoid chunky knits or heavy patterns. Just keep it slim and minimal. A good turtleneck should slip under your suit and be fairly slim fitting, and not take up much more room than your shirt did. You should also avoid crazy colours here, just pick something muted or neutral to match your suit. Stick to black, navy, and off-white, because they’ll go with almost any suit you own.
T-shirts follow similar rules. You’ll want to avoid heavy weight t-shirts here, and also be wary of any deep v-necks or intense graphics. Just keep it clean, slim and neutral!
- Swap those Oxfords for Sneakers
Look, we get it. No style move has been more contentious in the past than pairing sneakers with a suit. But times have changed, and the world has embraced the sneaker. What once was fashion taboo is now men’s style 101: because every guy looks good in a sharp suit with some clean kicks. It’s a casual look that says “I know how to dress, but I also like to be comfortable”.
Just like the turtleneck, the choice of sneakers makes or breaks the look. This is not the time to run around in your beat up, chunky New Balances. Instead, opt for low-top trainers in white. White trainers don’t draw all the attention to your feet and match the paired-down aesthetic of a suit. If you want to add some flair, you can grab some white sneakers with a pop of colour, but always be sure to keep them clean (and tuck those laces!). Nothing will sink this look faster than a tired and stained sneaker. We recommend wearing a comfortable, unstructured jacket with a slim white-tshirt to complete the look.
- Denim, Denim, Denim
We’re going to go out on a limb and assume you already have a pair of jeans in your closet, if not multiple. Well good news, because wearing some denim is a great way to dress down a good blazer or sport jacket.
The benefits of this combo is twofold: it’s a great outfit you can wear for the office, date-night, or grabbing drinks with your friends, and because you probably already own jeans, you’re getting to wear your favourite denim in a whole new way! The beauty of the blazer/ sport jacket is that provided you have a great shirt rotation you can keep it on hand and make any jeans and dress shirt combo 3x more formal and put together. But just like any outfit, fit and execution are going to be key here.
First, you need to be sure you’re wearing a blazer/ sport jacket and not a suit jacket. The reason being, a suit jacket is designed to be paired with pants in a matching fabric, whereas sport jackets and blazers are intended to be paired as separates. You’ll be able to tell when someone has mismatched a suit jacket with their jeans. Additionally, you can’t just throw any pair of jeans with your jacket. This is definitely not the time for baggy, ripped denim! Your jeans should be a dark wash in blue or black, slim or slim straight, and taper nicely to a neat cuff or plain hem at the bottom. Make sure to bring your jeans to the tailor if they’re looking too long, or reach out to the MADE Styling team for suggestions. Nothing ruins a good outfit like sloppy, stacking jeans.
Your New Dressed-Down Wardrobe
Now that you know how to dress-down your suits and jackets, your wardrobe is about to get way more versatile. Just remember the rules:
- Fit is key
- Keep your shoes clean,
- Avoid bulky sweaters.
And if you’ve been inspired to try more smart-casual clothing, definitely check out our selection of shirt fabrics and sport jackets! Need some tips? Our team of expert stylists are happy to help you build your dream wardrobe. Just shoot us a message using the contact form below to book a consultation.
If these tips helped you put together a great outfit, feel free to take a picture and tag us on instagram! We love seeing what our readers and clients come up with.