Most men choose a suit’s color based off of two factors. 1) The salesman says the color looks good and 2) it looks like a suit he has purchased in the past. The problem here is that most men do not know what colors compliment their complexion and instead of choosing a color that enhances their looks, they choose a color that simply fits in. The result is a closet full of suits made from the wrong fabric.
The purpose of this article is to open your eyes to the world of men’s suit colors and encourage you to choose a fabric that compliments your individual style.
The Triad: Navy Blue, Black and Charcoal Gray
These three colors dominate the men’s suit industry, and for good reason. Most men are complimented by one or more of these dark colors. Dark suits have the ability to seamlessly transition from business to pleasure, in addition to a slimming effect of the silhouette. Let us talk about each color quickly
Navy blues strength lies in its sheer dominance. Most men own at least one, and if you have ever walked into a business meeting you can be sure more than half the men will be clad in one. But this is its chief weakness; how can you stand out when 90% of your body looks exactly the same as over 50% of the room. We tend to forget that our clothing sends off strong signals, and if you want to be anything but average you want to present yourself as such, not always try to blend in. In addition, those with a very light complexion need to pair navy blue with rich colored shirts; a white or ice blue shirt will drain the color right from their face. Finally, young men are advised to avoid this color as that it has a habit of accentuating youth.
Navy Blue suit made by WW Chan, Hong Kong
A more difficult color to wear, it is perceived by many as the choice for funerals and weddings. No argument there; however, it is so much more for the man with the right complexion. No other color has such a slimming effect, and depending on the dress shirt it can go from regular office wear to drinks with friends at the hippest clubs in Asia. The key to wearing black is being a high contrast individual (which as most Asians are) is a man with dark hair with light to medium colored skin. The effect is a properly framed face to where all the attention is drawn.
Black suit by Kilgour, London
Charcoal gray suits projects an image of authority, stability, and professionalism. It is an excellent choice for a first suit, especially for young men as that it does accentuate youth (unlike Navy Blue). Although clearly lighter than black or navy blue when placed side by side, it nonetheless is just as acceptable at all business functions and interview situations. Possibly the most versatile color, it looks good with almost any colored shirt imaginable.
Charcoal grey suit made by A Man Hing Cheong, Hong Kong
Colors more men should consider.
Brown ranges from a light through a deep chocolate hue. Many men look their best in earth-tones, making the brown suit an important part of their wardrobe; it is also a popular color for causal options including tweed suits and sports jackets. One caveat: until the early 1980s, brown was not considered a color for business (we can thank Ronald Reagan for their return). While the times have changed there are still some members of the old guard who continue to hold to the old rule that brown does not belong in town. This should not dissuade the well-dressed gentleman from wearing brown with confidence, but it is important to be aware.
The navy suit for warm weather, tan is an excellent choice. Less flashy than white, it none the less commands attention and can set you apart from the crowd while keeping you cool. If you live in a cold weather city, a tan suit is ideal for spring and summer while in a warmer climate it is appropriate year round. The tan suit pairs well with white, light blue, or any pale pastel shirt. Best of all, this gives you the chance to really make your dark ties stand out.
A color that falls between gray and brown, taupe is a great choice for the man who has a couple of the basic colored suits in his wardrobe and is looking for a color out of the ordinary that still maintains a professional appearance. Great for use year round, the taupe suit is a little less dressy than a charcoal suit but more likely to draw compliments because of it’s ability to compliment a man’s finer features.
A great spring and summer color that doesn’t draw attention to the wearer but instead signals a suave persona confident in his own skin, light grey is an excellent choice for any complexion. Live in a warmer climate? Then light grey is appropriate year round. The light grey suit pairs well with white, light blue, and almost any pale colored shirt, although if you are light complected you may want to go with a bolder hue.
The classic color of summer. You don’t have to be Tom Wolfe to stay cool and look great. White compliments all but the lightest complexions, and even then the right shirt choice can remedy that situation. The key to wearing a white suit is confidence, especially in Hong Kong where a suit in this color is hard to come by.