Narrow the field of modern suit styles and suit colors, and find your look with our quick reference guide to men’s suit styles.
Men’s fashion, particularly formal wear, is evolving fast—maybe faster than it ever has. That’s exciting, but keeping up with trends can feel impossible. Men’s suiting and suit styles haven’t changed that much over the past 150 years, so once you know the basics, it’s easier to spot what’s in and why.
This is your cheat sheet, covering only the important aspects of suit style for men. We’ll catch you up on the most popular suit colors right now, the ones that have (and always will) be a smart choice, and offer some tips on how to wear them.
What Is a Suit?
When we talk about a suit, we’re not talking about the accessories—dress shirts, neckwear, pocket squares, and shoes—which are frequently lumped into the “suit” term. We’ll talk about those things here, too, but they won’t help you understand the differences among suit styles or the most popular suit colors.
Last thing: Compared to your favorite pair of denim and a t-shirt, suits are obviously formal. We’re talking about suits and formality relative to formal wear. Compared to a tux, all suit styles are considered casual.
Table of Contents
Suit Styles for Men
When you break down every aspect of suit design, it can get a little overwhelming, and occasionally results in RSVP’ing “No” and ordering sweatpants in bulk. Don’t worry—we’ll only cover the need-to-know’s of the three main suit styles, and a few good-to-know’s about the details.
Single-Breasted Suit Styles
The most common and classic suit style, and also the most universally flattering. Choose the right accessories, and a single-breasted suit will serve you well for any event, whether formal or casual.
If you’re not down with the lingo, don’t worry—”single-breasted” will make more sense after we cover double-breasted suits below. Basically, the jacket closure and buttons are almost centered, so your chest is only covered by a single panel of suit fabric without much overlapping.
Double-Breasted Suit Styles
The double-breasted suit style is less common than the single-breasted suit, but that can be a good thing if you want a unique look. Depending on the decade, this suit style has been both on- and off-trend countless times, but today’s double-breasted suit features a modern, slimmed down silhouette.
It’s called a double-breasted suit because the front fabric overlaps (or doubles over) to fasten across your body. You’re expected to keep it buttoned up, so it’s considered more formal than the single-breasted suit.
Three-Piece Suit Styles
Three pieces, one suit: A combination so good, people have been wearing it non-stop since the early 1800’s. The three-piece suit starts with the common elements of a single-breasted suit jacket and matching suit pants (pieces one and two), but ups the ante with a vest (aka “waistcoat”).
All things being equal, adding the vest makes this look more formal than a single-breasted suit alone, but wearing a vest isn’t so much a formal requirement as it is a style choice. That’s why it’s often added or subtracted to distinguish a groom’s outfit from their wedding party’s looks.
Vents, Lapels, & Button Styles
Vents, lapels, and buttons are smaller design details, so unless you’re having your suit custom made, you might not have the option to pick and choose the styling of each. Still, even small details can impact your look in a variety of ways, so let’s talk deets.
Vents—the opening(s) in the jacket around your glutes—keep your jacket from bunching up awkwardly when you sit down. Double vents are a modern style, while a single center vent is less common in current suiting. Trends change, and we’ll probably see a shift back to single vent jackets e-vent-ually (ugh, sorry). For now, double vents are the way to go.
Lapels are a little more obvious than vents (unless you’re staring at butts). Notch lapels are the classic suiting detail, and still a safe bet for the long haul. Peak lapels and shawl collars are less typical on suits, but they’re becoming more common all the time, and can make a suit feel a little more sophisticated—mostly because they’re an uncommon suit style detail, and more often seen on tuxedos.
Modern single-breasted suit jackets usually have two buttons (FYI: only button the top button). It’s unusual to see a suit with only one button—that style is most often found on formal tuxedos.
Double-breasted suits sort of have their own thing going on—they typically have more than two buttons, but only a few of those buttons are functional. Single-breasted suits can also be designed with three or more buttons, but those look a little dated right now, and aren’t as on-trend as two-button suit styles.
Choosing a suit color is arguably the most exciting part of picking out a suit. But like anything in life, there are times to go big, and there are times to show a little restraint. Most of the time, your suit color will set the stage for your accessories.
Speaking of those accessories, below each suit color category, you’ll find our accessories recommendations for those suits. Use our rec’s as a starting point, get inspired, and create your own look.
Grey Suit Colors
Medium grey is the most versatile suit color out there. You can dress it up or down with the right accessories, which makes it a great choice if you’re looking to buy your first suit, or renting a suit for a wedding or event where the dress code isn’t obvious.
Light grey is a casual suit color, so an especially good choice for the spring or summer, and for daytime events. This shade has that breezy, approachable feel we love.
Charcoal or dark grey suits tend to give off a formal vibe, and work best in the fall or winter, or basically any time you want to be taken seriously.
How to Wear It
Grey suits can handle whatever you throw at ’em, so try working some color into your outfit that you might usually shy away from. Both black and brown shoes work here, too.
Blue Suit Colors
Brighter blue hues won’t blend into the crowd like most of the other tried-and-true suit colors, but they’re not too risky or bold either—the perfect balance for most situations. This is a suit that easily transitions from daytime to evening.
Navy, the darkest and most formal shade of blue, is another candidate for “first suit you should buy,” and it’s probably the safest bet for any event. A navy suit can give off a professional feel, but a calculated casual look is easy to achieve with the right shirt, tie, and shoes.
How to Wear It
Rich earth tones do a nice job of warming up the blues, or stick to blue steel with greys and silver accessories. Add a vest for a formal three-piece look.
You might’ve noticed that so far, the darker the suit the more formal it tends to be. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that a black suit is the most formal suit color—just a few satin details away from a full-blown tuxedo.
While wearing a black suit can be an iconic look—think Tarantino films, the Blues Brothers, Johnny Cash, etc.—it can also come off as stoic or harsh if you’re not careful. Aim for “badass with style,” avoid “going back for seconds at a funeral luncheon”—see how below.
How to Wear It
Don’t let a black suit limit your outfit’s color palette—just opt for slightly subdued hues (light pink and blue, olive green, medium navy). Gold cufflinks or a gold tie clip really pop against a black suit.
All hail the king of casual suit colors. The tan suit may be the official getup of summer, but don’t be afraid to bust it out in the spring, either. It’s a great neutral shade and the perfect blank canvas for bright-colored shirts and patterned accessories. Just be careful with the ketchup—there’s no flattering way to admit you carelessly gnawed on a footlong (guilty a million times).
How to Wear It
If you want to dress up your look, the high contrast of a black linen necktie pops nicely off a tan backdrop. But the spring and summer are made for color, so lean into the season.
Bold Suit Colors & Patterns
The popular and versatile suit color options above should have you covered for the majority of casual events, but what about the occasional holiday party or fashion-forward event? Sometimes you need to get more visual mileage from your suit, but do bold colors and unique patterns belong on suits and tuxedos? Hell yes, they do. Here are two of our favorite certified head-turners.
How to Wear It
If you’re going big with your suit, it’s usually best to pull back a little on the colors or patterns of your accessories. That doesn’t mean boring—you can still do a lot with black and white. Just try not to double down on a pattern (i.e., checkerboard tie on a gingham suit). And have fun with your shoes—laces cannot contain you.
Suit Color & Style < Fit
It’s painful to pass on that insane tartan tux you’ve been eyeballing, or the perfect three-piece in the right shade of blue, but no matter the style or color, that suit is still a no-go if it doesn’t actually fit. We know that pain.
That’s why we design modern suits and tuxedos with high-end fabrics, and use machine learning (and years of suiting experience) to find your perfect fit. Whatever your suit style is, we have you covered.
Shop our full collection, or let us help you find your sizes now.