Building Your Wardrobe:
The Two Suits No Gentleman Should Be Without

By Paul Briden


If you’re just beginning on your sartorial journey you may well be wondering where to start when it comes to purchasing your first few suits; it’s a big step, but fortunately there are a few tried and tested staples that it’s well worth going for first. In fact, both the navy suit and medium-grey suit, when well-tailored, will almost certainly look superb on any gentleman and are therefore two items any man who takes the art of dressing well seriously should never be without. These classic options are an excellent choice on their own, but with both suits in your repertoire you also open up a wealth of flexibility and variety for different looks and styles for virtually any occasion.



In each case we recommend opting for a three-piece suit with a waistcoat, simply because this maximises the flexibility of this “capsule wardrobe” and gives you many more choices when it comes to both casual and formal ends of the spectrum. This is because you can wear the individual components (waistcoat, jacket, pants) as separates and swap them between suits; although we should caution that this is less appropriate in extremely formal situations, most of the time it’s perfectly acceptable and we recommend doing so wherever the opportunity presents itself.

As a side note, another great starting suit option is charcoal, as it lends itself particularly well to more formal wear such as job interviews or smart events. It is, however, less flexible when it comes to crossing over separates with the other two colour choices.

Let’s take a look at some of the outfits you can put together from the pairing of grey and navy three-piece suits…

Grey Two-Piece Suit

Omitting the waistcoat, this is one of the most classic looks from the whole repertoire. There is rarely an occasion where a grey two-piece cannot be styled appropriately; it can be formalised with a white shirt and a dark tie, an ideal look for situations such as job interviews. On the other end of the spectrum an open collar on a blue shirt and with a jaunty pocket square brings things right down to the casual, perhaps for some after work cocktails! A grey suit is effortlessly made into something spectacular with the use of blue and white for your shirts and accessories - it’s difficult to put a foot wrong here! The lack of a waistcoat makes this outfit, even when smartened up with a tie, less formal than a full three-piece, which can be useful in a whole range of situations from weddings to a day at the races.

Navy Two-Piece

Similar to the grey two-piece but with the much darker hue edging further towards formality when needed. You can still make a navy two-piece very casual with the expressive and playful use of colourful accessories and shirts (and of course you can always ditch the tie!), but adding a dark tie and white shirt bumps this one up to something much more formal than the grey suit. If you’re invited to any event (apart from Black Tie) where someone says the dress code is “formal” or “smart” then this will certainly fit the bill.

Navy Jacket With Grey Pants

This is unquestionably the most classic and useful “non-suit” look made by pairing separates; combining grey pants with a navy jacket frequently passes in plenty of business environments, particularly if dressed-up with a tie. This is without doubt the easiest style using separate to pull off and most men look great in this combination of items. Again though, this does work as a more relaxed ensemble when dressed-down without a tie and with a patterned pocket square, which is quite a good holiday look or if you want to dress up for dinner at a resturaunt.



Grey Jacket With Navy Pants

Less conventional than the Navy Jacket/Grey Pants look, but the combination of colours still works here nonetheless. The grey jacket lends itself more readily to a wider range of colours and patterns for ties and pocket squares than its navy alternative (again, blue works really well with grey), and this is certainly the more casual-leaning iteration of the available separate jacket and trouser combinations.


Grey Three-Piece Suit

While a well-tailored three-piece suit always looks great, rarely does it ever look as good as it does in a nice grey fabric - one of the most pleasing things about the cut of a three-piece is the continuous and uninterrupted lines from top-to-bottom, and this is easier to observe on the lighter fabric of the grey suit. This is a very formal option (though arguably a bit less than a navy three-piece) and is an excellent choice if you want to look amazing at a wedding (even better if it’s your own!) You also have a great range of choices in accessory colours as a neutral grey goes with pretty much anything.



Casual Vest

If you’re feeling bold it’s possible to pull off pairing a separate waistcoat with weekend casual wear, such as denim jeans or even chinos. A grey waistcoat works particularly well in this role. We’d recommend sticking to a shirt, however, but to tie or not to tie is up to you! This is a fun look for checking out that new craft beer bar in the trendy part of town!



Grey Vest & Pants: The Sleeveless Suit

If you want the tailored look but it’s too warm for a jacket, then simply wearing the waistcoat and pants is a perfectly viable option, particularly in less formal working environments.



Navy Suit With Grey “Odd” Vest

There were a few times at various points throughout the 18th-20th centuries when it was quite in vogue for gentlemen to wear a suit with an separate or “odd” contrasting vest in a different fabric - and with very good reason too; here you get the sharp look of a three-piece suit with the playful and somewhat less-formal element of a contrasting waistcoat. This is certainly one for the adventurous types as you need to own the look with confidence, but if you have the will to give it a go we’re sure you’ll enjoy it!



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