Wardrobe Essential: The Grey Flannel Suit

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eHow Style Blog

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When building a wardrobe, it’s always important to begin with a solid foundation of quality basics. With cooler temperatures around the bend, every well dressed man needs a classic grey flannel suit. Always both correct and stylish at once, you can’t go wrong in grey flannel.

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Who can forget Gregory Peck’s performance in the 1956 movie “The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit?” The movie’s story focuses on conformity and the struggle to find individuality in a rigid corporate environment, and the grey flannel suit is used as a symbol of that conformity. These days, we are fortunate that rules have relaxed.

Despite the fact that the men in the photo above wear matching suits as a mark of dreary sameness, there’s no denying that they each look sharp. A grey flannel suit works well on young and old men equally, complementing most complexions and hair colors. As far as conformity is concerned, the tables now are turned. With so few jobs requiring that level of conformity now, the grey flannel suit is hardly as ubiquitous as it once was, and wearing a good one marks you as a knowledgeable man of style.

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More recently, we’ve had the example of Don Draper from “Mad Men” to guide us. Taking place in roughly the same time period as “The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit,” the character of Don Draper reminds us that it wasn’t just stuffed shirts and corporate stiffs that wore these suits. Cool guys did it, too, and that’s even truer today.

Grey flannel suits, being neutral in color and having soft texture, are easier to style in a number of ways than many other business suits. The easiest is to dress it up with a clean white shirt, simple tie and shiny black lace ups. Try wearing a shirt in a stripe or soft pastel color with brown loafers to soften things up a bit, while keeping that elegant edge. Add a bow tie for a bit of whimsy if the situation allows it.

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You can even give the suit a  casual edge, something that doesn’t work with other suits. Pair it with a long sleeve merino wool polo sweater in black, like Patrick McGoohan did in the 1967 television miniseries “The Prisoner,” for a casual night out or even a trip to the store for a few groceries and some flowers.

A turtleneck sweater in black, tan or navy can be dashing as well. In a pinch, it’s also one of the few suits, along with seersucker in summer, that you can wear the parts separately. The trouser will work well with almost any other jacket and the coat can be paired with a pair of good jeans. Just don’t break the pieces up too often otherwise they’ll wear unevenly.

Consider getting a grey flannel suit. As I always say, whether you’re shopping in thrift stores or expensive boutiques, get the best quality you can. The gray flannel suit is a classic that should last you a long time. How do you wear it?

Photo credits: An Affordable Wardrobe, 20th Century Fox, AMC, ITV

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