According to certain bodies of opinion on gentleman’s fashion, the very idea of not wearing a suit - for formal attire, at any rate - is simply unthinkable. The notion of separates is frowned upon as a vulgarism no doubt originating in the ‘sports casual’ movement, which can only lead to everything we know about sartorial, sophisticated masculinity being undermined.
Thankfully, such views are nowadays widely considered old-fashioned and are on the wane. Wearing separates - i.e. trousers, a jacket and perhaps a waistcoat that have not been tailored from the same cloth - is not only perfectly acceptable for business wear and for occasions, it can also achieve outstanding results.
The trouble is, many men lack the confidence to opt for the separates option. With a two- or a three-piece tailored suit, there is a degree of security - it has, after all, been designed and made by a professional whose skill in creating a pleasing overall effect you would like to think you can trust.
With separates, the emphasis is on you to come up with your own combinations, of colours, of patterns, of fabrics, of cuts. There are risks involved - what if the selections that you think look great in the changing room mirror turn out to be a source of mirth for everyone else?
Fortunately, there is nothing to be worried about. As long as you follow a few simple rules, and avoid really going leftfield with your choices, it is hard to fall completely flat on your face wearing separates. Here are the key things to remember.
Make a virtue of simplicity
The decision to opt for separates usually stems either from becoming a little tired of the restrictions of a suit, or from a desire to make a statement. If it’s the latter, you may be tempted to make some bold choices in terms of colour and pattern. Unless you are really confident about what you are doing, or really want to draw attention, resist that urge.
Separates work best when you keep things simple. Keep to understated classics that you can’t go wrong with in a suit - blacks, greys, navy blues, maybe a bottle green or brown, simple checked patterns. For most people, especially if it is your first foray into separates, the most flamboyant you will want to be is perhaps a white pair of trousers or jacket.
Create a contrast
The whole point of wearing separates is to break up the uniformity of a suit, so you might as well make the effect apparent. In fact, a noticeable contrast between jacket and trousers tends to create the best effects in separates. If you choose a pattern for top or bottom, go for plain for the other; if you like the look of a dark tone for one, go for something lighter for the other.
In many cases, grey is your friend in separates. Not only does it look good in different sizes of check pattern, it also gives you lots of flexibility of tone, and can be paired effectively with black, browns, greens and blues of different shades.
Strip back your accessories
With separates, you are creating an eye catching effect with how your jacket and trousers complement one another. There is no need to get experimental with your shirt or your tie (if you wear one at all). In fact, if you go too loud you will probably spoil the effect of your separates combination. Stick to a plain white shirt, or at most a pale blue. And if you do go for a tie, keep it plain and understated, perhaps matching the colour of your trousers or jacket, whichever one is in a colour.
Looking for the perfect jacket and trousers to match up for your new separates look? Why not come and get them made to measure for the perfect fit and premium quality - we’ll even give you some friendly advice on matches. Contact us today to book an appointment.