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Guidelines to Wear a Three Piece Suits

In a world that is growing ever more informal, the three piece suit perhaps can draw too much attention.  But as with anything we wear as men, the way you wear a three piece is an important part of pulling off the look.  Since remembering things in threes comes naturally to us as humans, we can think about a three piece suit three different ways as well.

Three-piece suits create a single, unbroken stretch of suit fabric from the ankles to the shoulder. The smooth drape of the cloth gives your body a handsomely balanced appearance so you look like you just stepped off the fashion runway.

The waistcoat of a three-piece suit can be worn as dress-casual clothing excluding, of course, those vests whose design clearly requires a jacket, such as the backless vests of formal wear. Other advantages include:

  • It's a striking fashion accent and looks suave
  • It's versatile - omit it and wear the suit solo for a two-piece suit look
  • It's practical - with or without a suit jacket, you look dapper and well-dressed

 How to Wear It

The vest (also often called a waistcoat) is the major differentiating factor in a three piece suit, and it can be matched to the rest of your suit or a different, but complementary color.  It should cover your trouser belt line, but not by much, and because of this you do not normally wear a belt with it.  You also always leave the last button on your waistcoat undone, not just for style, but for practicality.

The waistcoat should be form fitting, but not overly so.  Most of the time men have bad experiences with three piece suits the waistcoat has been the culprit.  If it doesn't fit right, it throws off the feel of the outfit, ruining it for the wearer, and it throws off the look for those around him.

All other rules regarding two piece suits regarding color, cut, patterns, etc. still apply.

When to Wear It

As we alluded to before, a three piece suit does, on its own, bespeak formality, so you'll do well at formal events like weddings or big horse races, for example.  But given that those may not happen frequently for most of us, you can adapt it for other occasions - possibly wearing the suit to work and then ditching the jacket if you are headed out with friends after work (weather permitting).  Remember too that wearing a denim shirt can also change the look and feel of the suit and tone down the formality.

Why to Wear It

On the practical side, owning a three piece suit kills two birds with one stone.  A well-tailored suit will look just as good without the waistcoat, allowing you to have two "different" suits.  But more importantly, a three piece suit can be that element that sets you apart - not just on the street or out on the town, but at work.  It's not an everyday suit, but an "any day" suit.  Any day you wear it, and wear it well, you'll look and feel great - and people around you will take note.

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