Mixing elements of your bespoke or made-to-measure suit into your casual wardrobe will give you a whole new, on-trend look.
We live in an era where workers are just as likely to be found in a café than an office, workplace dress codes are becoming less rigid, terms like ‘business-casual’ are the norm, and it’s acceptable to wear designer jeans to luxe bars in central London.
In the fashion world, the lines between formal and informal dressing have officially been blurred.
According to an article in the Telegraph, at the Pitti Uomo menswear fair in Florence in fall 2017, many of the best designers – Ermenegildo Zegna, Fedeli, Bruello Cucinelli – showed how it was done. These designers, who pioneered so many casual trends – added some sharp-suited refinement to their collections. They called it the “new formal” – but could it also be just as correctly labelled the “new informal”.
It’s almost a quiet fashion-industry rebellion against the sports-luxe trend that saw gents wearing outfits akin to gym kit to boutique bars, and mixing up the wrong types of trainers with poorly-tailored trousers.
But all this doesn’t mean that having a complete bespoke or made to measure three-piece suit made is a mistake. Far from it. This new paradigm in dressing offers you the opportunity to create a multitude of new looks that make a subtle nod to the catwalk while suiting your lifestyle and happily giving you better value from your investment.
How to combine bespoke tailored pieces with your casual wardrobe
To those who possess the ability to pull amazing outfits together that conjure effortless elegance all before their morning coffee, this concept isn’t anything new or difficult. A velvet blazer here, a pair of flannel trousers there…it’s seems so simple.
However, if you are used to having a very defined ‘weekend vs business’ wardrobe, you may be a little apprehensive about diving into this way of dressing. My advice: simplicity is your friend. Here are some basic guidelines.
Getting more wear from a three-piece suit
If you’re planning to wear your bespoke or made to measure suit as separate pieces, there are a few things to consider before you have it made. Simplicity is key, so a soft shoulder rather than the traditional British firm shoulder will give you a relaxed look with a nice, clean shape.
Fabrics with texture allow you to break up a suit without it looking like you’ve thrown on your corporate suit jacket and added a pair of flannel trousers. With that in mind, Herringbones and Birdseye fabrics are out of the question – they are far too corporate. Pinstripe is making a come-back, so could be an option if you are particularly brave.
This whole look revolves around jackets and blazers. Think of them as the foundation of your entire wardrobe. You can easily wear the suit jacket separately with dark jeans, chinos or flannel trousers. Keep the shirt simple – you can’t go wrong with a crisp white shirt with a semi-cutaway collar.
Waistcoats match nicely with well-tailored jeans (not ripped, 80s Wham style though!). Wear with a white or blue shirt with a little texture. For this to work, the waistcoat opening needs to be cut to the sternum or it will look like you’ve worn something out of the 90s. Double breasted is also super on trend. Think David Gandy in this GQ style file.
Wear the trousers with a crisp white shirt and contrasting blazer for a failsafe outfit. This is a great look for lunch out with your friends, a casual date or a relaxed day at work.
Our seasons are less harsh than years ago, so blending seasonal fabrics isn’t the faux pas we believed it was in years gone by. Mixing flannel with cotton isn’t a crime, as long as the colour palette blends well, for example a navy flannel jacket can look very sharp with a pair of crisp white, cotton chinos.
N.B. If you are getting more wear out of your suit, do look after it. I’ve put together some helpful hints for taking care of your bespoke suit in this post.
More ideas for mixing formal clothing with casual wear
You might think an overcoat is just to be worn with a city suit, but it looks amazing with dark jeans and a chunky roll neck sweater for weekends, whether you are in the city or country.
You can wear your dinner shirt more than just once a year with your tux. They look cool year-round with a smart blazer and dark jeans or trousers for cocktails and dining on the town. Our aubergine trousers (below) are just the ticket.
Create a smart winter look by mixing a sports jacket with a roll-neck sweater. Block colours, or patterns and textures in the fabric of the jacket are important for this look. Don’t be afraid of wearing statement blazers that reflect current trends in fabrics.
However, be mindful of choosing shoes that rest on the classic side of what’s in fashion – it is unlikely that those fancy sneakers will still have the desired effect in a years’ time.
Harvey Nichols has some lovely ideas about blending tailoring and casual in this feature post.
When it comes to colour, there are a few guidelines to ensure you pull this look off elegantly. Stay within the same colour palette – if you’re wearing neutral add a simple pop of colour like burgundy or navy. Try not to go too broadly across the colour spectrums. It can be done but tread with caution: under no circumstances mix moss green with electric blue!
Items to add to your wardrobe to achieve this look
Dress codes will always exist, but there is definitely room for greater freedom and creativity with this new set of rules for combining the formal and the informal. It does mean that traditional tailors need to be willing to look beyond designing suits solely for one use – business or pleasure – but that’s a challenge that the team at Alexandra Wood are rising to with aplomb.
Words by Katrina Strathearn @ Veracity Content