The Suit and Tie Guide

“A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life.” – Oscar Wilde

A suit is the staple of a man’s wardrobe, but it’s not just something you put on. It demands consideration, careful choice and needs to be paired up with appropriate accessories and even your personality. When chosen well, a suit can turn every man into James Bond. When chosen poorly, the man wearing it looks ridiculous. So, without further ado, we present you with a fail-proof suit & tie guide that will awaken your inner Don Draper, and make you a true suit expert.

Matching Colours

There are three basic rules for combining suit, tie and shirt colour: vary the shades (ties should be darker than the shirt), don’t pair up bright complementary colours and use contrasting tones. Here are some examples of how to do it:

Black suit, white shirt and black knitted tie (the classic “black tie” style), 

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 Navy Blue Suit and Burgundy Polka Knitted Tie.

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Tan Suit, Blue Shirt and Green Polka Dot knitted tie


Monochrome Suit, White Shirt and Grey Tie. 

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Navy suit, White Shirt and Brown Knitted Tie and Pocket Square


Charcoal Blue and Grey Polka Dot Knitted Tie with Blue Striped Shirt.

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A Simple Navy Blue Tie and Suit combo and White Shirt

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Suit Styles

There’s no doubt that well-made custom suits are the best option for every gentleman. Nevertheless, to be able to tell your tailor what you really want, you have to be familiar with different suit styles/cuts:

  • American cut is known more for its functionality than its stylishness. Still, Don Draper wore it in Mad Men, so it can’t be that bad. The American cut is characterised with non-padded shoulders, soft silhouette, single-breasted jacket and loose-fit sleeves
  • British cut is another classic style, but upgraded with tighter sleeves, defined shoulders and structure in general. In Mad Men, it was the signature of Don’s business partner, Roger Sterling
  • Italian cut is the most fashionable suit style out of the three. It’s very tight-fitted, provides a trendy silhouette and the jacket has two or no vents.

Tie Styles

Ties can be of different length and width. It doesn’t matter how tall you are, the tip of your tie has to be right at your belt line, not above, not below. As for the width, really wide ties give the impression of a strict politician, rather than a man with style. Super-skinny, however, sends out a non-professional and just-left-high school vibe. Always go with a reasonably narrow option.

Suits for Different Seasons

You won’t wear a lightweight tan suit in the middle of the winter, right? That doesn’t mean that you can’t find awesome winter style ideas that include a suit and a tie. Just look for half or fully-lined suit jackets, deep colours, and thick fabrics (wool, cashmere, tweed, flannel, and herringbone). For spring and summer, turn to lightweight breathable fabrics (cotton, linen, chambray, polyester and seersucker).

Tie Colour Is a Statement

If you want to add some extra stylish punch to your suit, you can do that with a tie colour that matches your personality and the occasion. Here are some helpful clues:

  • Red is associated with power and ambition
  • Burgundy reflects elegance
  • Navy means maturity
  • Light blue symbolises youthfulness
  • Pink is romantic
  • Black is formal
  • Brown portrays seriousness
  • Purple is associated with nobility

Hopefully this guide will help you, not only to find the perfect suit for you right now, but also to learn how to effortlessly select and match suits, shirts and ties in the future.

Peter is a men's lifestyle writer at HighStreetGent magazine, living between London and Brisbane. Follow Peter on Twitter for more style tips.


November 06, 2020 — Matthew Boulding

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