Suit Etiquette for Men


Etiquette is something that goes beyond knowing the proper fork to use for the salad course (hint: it's the outermost fork). Etiquette also applies to how a person dresses. Some of these rules have obscure origins tied to fashion folklore, while others are based simply on what is visually compelling. There's a laundry list of etiquette tips to make a fashionable gentleman -- but knowing just a few will help your rock your next suit in style.

The Suit Jacket: Single-Breasted

  • "Should I button my jacket?" is a common inquiry regarding suit etiquette, but the answer greatly depends. With a single-breasted jacket, whether or not you button depends on how many buttons your jacket has. Single-button jackets should always be buttoned when standing and unbuttoned when sitting. Two button single-breasted jackets require the top button to be done and the bottom button undone. A three-button jacket will have an unfastened bottom button, with a choice of fastening either or both the top and middle button.These rules are based on the notion that a fastened lower button restricts natural movement.

The Suit Jacket: Double Breasted

  • There are less rules with a double-breasted jacket than the single variety, but none are written in stone. You will typically fasten all the buttons in a double-breasted jacket, except the bottom one -- however, you'll sometimes see a figure like Prince Charles buttoning up completely. "GQ" magazine advocates getting a double-breasted jacket tailored, as its cut gives most men a "powerful, athletic hourglass figure" that suggests "alpha-male confidence."

Dos and Don'ts of the Ties

  • The color of your tie should be darker than your shirt. For a print tie, the background color should not match your shirt's color. While a shirt is essential to wearing a tie, a shirt and tie alone doesn't make for a great look -- especially if the shirt is short-sleeved. Always throw on a jacket, cardigan or vest to accompany your tie. The length of the tie should end just at your pant's waistband -- any longer looks awkward. Add a dimple to your tie to make a great impression.

About Accessories

  • Black belts must go with black shoes, brown belts with brown shoes. If you choose to wear a belt, nix the suspenders. A belt or suspender alone is perfect; together, not so much. If your pants are tailored with a half belt or other type of side adjuster, however, forget both belt and suspenders. Vests are acceptable with tailored trousers or over suspenders, but never should they accompany a belt. A colorful pocket square says "cultured gentleman"; a pocket square that matches your tie says "I'm trying too hard."

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