Modern Suits for Men: Looking Great, Feeling Even Better
Every modern man deserves a modern suit – a suit that suits him, fits well, and makes him feel properly put together and powerful. But as the fashion landscape shifts, you may wonder, what exactly does a modern suit look like? Of course, there’s no one answer, which is why we at Oliver Wicks have created the guide below on modern men’s suits and trends to give you a general overview and help you feel confidently contemporary in your formal attire.
Just to be clear on what we mean when we say “Modern Suit” - We are talking from the perspective of elegant, professional wear. We’re a brand focused on formal, conservative, and classic styling, that also offers casual styles that would be suitable for such clients outside their office lives. This article is not geared towards ‘what’s trendy’, or young adults looking to bombard the school prom with the loudest suit that the can find. This is for sophistated attire in the present day.
With the struggles that the world has faced in the last couple of years, and the restrictions on physically going to work, it’s no surprise that the suiting world has certainly taken a hit. For gentlemen that love to put on a sharp suit in the mornings, it’s been tough, but we’re now thankful that we’re slowly returning to normality.
Suits are still a staple of many types of professional work, and always will be. They’re also versatile, stylish, and a smart choice for play, too. Embracing suits doesn’t mean sweating in stiff, uncomfortable clothes just for the sake of a look. The days of digging the same grungy suit from the back of your wardrobe for every wedding and funeral are also gone. There’s a wealth of stylish, comfortable, and cutting-edge suiting options out there, and it’s a great time to redefine menswear and masculinity with modern, tailored looks that make it clear that you can appreciate the quality things in life.
If a full two-piece or three-piece suit doesn’t seem like you, suit separates are a great alternative. The right blazer can be dressed up for the office or for a date but can also be thrown over a more casual look for a relaxed (yet stylish) day of fun.
However, there is a right and wrong way to combine suit separates! You want to combine pieces that are complementary but not matching. It’s a great way to be obviously stylish without also seeming stuffy or overdressed. There should be a clear distinction between a blazer and the pants, as seperates that are very close in color and tone will look like you’ve tried to match up as a suit, but haven’t done it very well.
Worth Noting: Blazer combos are often regarded as professional, when done nicely, but they will never be as formal as a suit. Keep this in mind if you work in a profession that has strict dress code protocols.
Style Idea: A navy blazer is timeless. Create a modern look with a crisp shirt in white or a bold color of choice, throw on some casual gray or brown chinos, match them up with some high-quality leather shoes, and you’ll look great across casual styling, right up to the mid-tier of professional formality. .
We’ve looked repeatedly at how buying a fit that suits you is the thing that goes the furthest towards elevating your look. Keep in mind, different items and styles each have their ideal look, so “fit” is not simply about finding something that sits close to your body.
Menswear has three traditional fit categories: classic, which is looser, with a degree of additional fabric allowance for comfort; slim-fit, which is cut very close to the body ; and modern/tailored, which lies somewhere between the other two.
Our modern, or tailored, suit cut is ideal for most men, emphasizing the lines of the body but not hugging any areas you might not want to be highlighted. While we believe that modern/tailored is the best option for most gentlemen, what matters most is what you prefer, and so we will always tailor to client preferences.
To clarify how this fits with the article theme, throughout history, suit styling has varied from big and baggy, to ultra slim and tight. The most universally accepted “good fit” in 2022, is the middle-of-the road fit that avoids the trends and remains a timeless classic. This is why we call the modern/tailored fit, the most suitable “modern suit”.
No matter what style you personally love, it still needs to be fitted correctly to your body. Being baggy and ill-fitting doesn’t make something “classic,” it’s just the wrong size! If you’re a little heavier around the middle, don’t make the age-old mistake of assuming baggier is better to hide areas you’re self-conscious about. Sizing up will only make a suit look comically childish.
Luckily, a lot of the hit-or-miss of buying off the rack can be avoided by opting for a made-to-measure suit or made-to-measure separates. Made-to-measure ensures that your suit flatters your body the way it’s supposed to, looks effortlessly stylish, and is comfortable for you to move around in. But even if you opt to go off the rack, you should make sure your suit fits your body correctly. Make sure the critical areas have the best possible fit and go to a tailor to tweak the details if needed.
Style Idea: Keeping to a cut that flatters your silhouette, without leaning too far towards slim or baggy, is a sure way to stay on point with modern times. The shortcoming with trends is that they come and go, but opting for our mid-cut is a sure way to ensure that your fresh new suit won’t look obsolete by next summer.
For years, leather loafers or Oxfords have been the go-to formal men’s shoes, and for good reason. You cannot go wrong with a good pair of stylish leather shoes. However, in modern times, we’re seeing more and more people make use of their suits in smart-casual wear.. This idea may work in very, very relaxed offices, but we’d stress that the angle here is about dressing up casual, not dressing down formal.
Style Idea: For a modern smart-casual look, ditch the tie altogether, and swap out your oxfords for a pair of simple, plain, clean white sneakers. We’d avoid any brand names or logos here - This is an edgy modern vibe, but a Nike swoosh kills the sophistication, as your suit makes you look sartorially sharp, while the sporting logo makes you look like you’re heading to the gym - Bad combo!
Navy, grey and charcoal remain some of the best and most time-tested suit colors out there. Every stylish modern man needs to have at least one of them in his wardrobe, and we’d suggest building that core wardrobe around something like our Navy Pick & Pick.
However, modern suiting allows you to venture further out from just the three base colors, while retaining a connection with traditional values , so don’t be afraid to opt for a couple of suits outside the standard range. Not only that, but brown suiting is finally having its day, and a sleek chocolate or warm amber wouldn’t go amiss.
Of course, you can go full-bore modern and opt for a neon pink, or tiger print suit… just not at Oliver Wicks.
Style Idea: During the winter months, colorful overchecks can be a great way to add some color into your professional and casual collection. In the summer, we can look towards light, colored linen suits that not only look cool, but keep you feeling comfortable and cool too. Our linens range from light grey, forest greens, denim blue, cobalt blue, or even something dapper like a mid-tone sand.
Unless you’re headed to a funeral or a job interview, today’s modern man is no longer tied to wearing a dress shirt under his blazer. With the advent of better tailoring and luxe fabrics, you can put together a great modern suit look with slimline knitwear or even a smart polo neck. If you’re looking for a stylish look for a night out, even a quality t-shirt can make the cut. The dress shirt will always be a classic choice, but don’t be afraid to have some fun with alternatives.
I know we said that we wouldn’t get too ‘trendy’... but this is another way that you can use a formal suit to boost your modern style in a smart-casual manner.
Style Idea: If it’s cold outside, throw a slick black turtleneck under your blazer. Enjoying summer days? Swap it for a bright white crew neck for a polished yet casual look that feels effortlessly cool.
Both the double-breasted blazer and the three-piece suit are timeless classics that fit into the modern world just as much as they did 50 years ago. This is a fantastic example of ‘classic menswear’ vs ‘modern trends’ - You can invest in garments that have passed the test of time and will never go out of style.
Imagine looking back at a fashion-forward magazine from the year 2000. You’d look at styling articles and think “Woah, that was so 20 years ago!”. The styles that we recommend today, we’ll recommend this time next year too, because quality hangs around, and glossy magazine print is only valid until the next issue comes out.
Style Idea: A great double-breasted suit speaks for itself, so don’t overdo it on accessories. Choose a nice fabric and trust the details of your impeccably tailored suit to do the rest.
The vent is the slit in your jacket that allows you to move freely. Single vent suits, with the vent down the back, are pretty traditional, but they’re often found on ready-to-wear suits, which over time has led to a less-than-idea association with lower quality. We would recommend double vents 99% of the time, as it’s not only more comfortable, but it’s also the professional norm, and perfectly suited to modern times and old alike.
For a long time, Italian’s predominately wore non-vented suits, but as time goes by we’re seeing this change to double-vents. We find this an interesting observation of how the most practical and comfortable options tend to work their way into the cultural norm in time. We’ve seen this with skinny suits as well - They’ve been popular off and on over the last century, but they tend to slip out of fashion very quickly, and the default reset point in the timeless modern/tailored cut.
Style Idea: Unless you really, really prefer the look of 0 or 1 vent, we’d recommend opting for 2, everytime.
Don’t forget to give your pants some attention, too – they’re just as much a part of your look. The flat-fronted pant remains a great choice for professional and casual wear, for good reason. With no gathered fabric at the waist, flat-fronted pants are almost universally flattering and tend to have a slimming effect. Pleats are also popular among gents that prefer a slightly more old-school look.. These aren’t the Mad Men pleats that made everyone look like they were being swallowed by their pants, but they do provide some more breathing room and a nice subtle detail.
Style Idea: Grab a cuffed or a pleated pair of chinos to add versatility to your business casual wardrobe, especially for hot summer days. They can aid your casual style too, saving wear on your dress pants as an added bonus!
Classic suits are often made of high-quality, natural wool (Oliver Wicks has long sourced ours from European mills), but that’s not the only option out there, and we encourage you to play with fabrics. Modern suiting has embraced the idea of seasonality – no more sweating through meetings in the summer months.
Linen, silk, seersucker, and lighter cotton blends all give you the benefit of a structured look with the added comfort of a relaxed, breathable fabric. The boom in men’s slimline knitwear means you can stay toasty all winter, too, or opt for a substantial winter fabric such as a bottoli tweed.
Different fabrics also allow for a mix of textures, so be bold and play around! From your suit to your shirt and even your accessories, add interest and diversity with something a little different.
We’ve also seen a continual rise in environmentally-conscious fashion. Menswear hasn’t been hit as hard with the tendency towards fast fashion, but there’s still been a sharp turn away from wasteful practices and fabrics hitting landfills. Investing in quality clothing that lasts is already a good way to stay eco-friendly, but you can also opt for recycled materials that look every bit as good as brand-new and help keep waste to a minimum while keeping you looking fresh.
Style Idea: A seersucker or linen suit adds interest to your wardrobe and is great for summer events. Plus, you can broaden your wardrobe and add visual interest to your style by playing with texture in your shirts and ties.
It’s not just the look of suiting that has changed with the times – how we buy suits has changed, too. More and more people are shopping online for what they want. With the rise of made-to-measure suiting, you can even get very close to the results of bespoke suiting, at a fraction of the cost, with just the click of a few buttons. It’s a great way to avoid the perils of off-the-rack fits while keeping the benefits of convenience and access to the latest fabrics. It’s also a great way for men in the “big and tall” category to bypass the limited choices they’ll find in-store.
Style Idea: The Oliver Wicks team has specialized in made-to-measure since before it was cool, so why not let our skilled team help you create the look of your dreams?
Now that you know more about how our classic styling fits into modern suiting, how do you make those styles work for you? First off, your most important takeaways from this article should be:
- Modern men’s suits have expanded their options greatly over the years, and there’s something for everyone.
- It’s all about you – embrace what works for you and discard what doesn’t. The classy modern man balances trend and personal taste to create something that’s uniquely his.
- Don’t take fashion trends too seriously. The modern suit has been reinvented, tweaked, gone retro, come back, and gone beyond. While even the ‘safe’ options can change over time, this generally happens over decades, whereas what’s on the cover of GQ Magazine this month may have gone out of style before you’ve rushed to the store to make your purchase.
The ideal modern suit is one that lets you cut a silhouette you can be proud of. It’s one that fits your body without restricting movement. It can lean relaxed or formal, depending on the occasion and your tastes. It can lean retro, but reinvented through a modern lens. The suit is no longer a cookie-cutter uniform to be worn to the office and formal events but something you can make truly yours, carrying you from the bar to the boardroom and even down the aisle. Even the most formal environments have wriggle room for personal style, and developing your own is a powerful way to take ownership of how you present yourself to the world.
In short, finding a look you love is easier than ever. Whether you’re looking to build your wardrobe from the ground up or simply refresh it with some quality contemporary pieces, the Oliver Wicks team is here to help, so reach out to us today at email@example.com.