How to Choose a Color for Suits

Three Methods:Choosing an All-Purpose SuitChoosing a Second SuitChoosing a Suit for a Specific Occasion

The first thing people will notice about your suit is the color, which means it will be the largest factor when making a first impression. Suit wardrobes should be built on a foundation of versatile, conservative suits, but there are events or occasions that may call for something a bit less formal. Because charcoal grey, navy blue, and black suits can be worn in nearly every circumstance, they should be the most common color in your wardrobe, but they don't have to be the only colors. Rules for suit color choices are very similar for men and women, though women’s suits sometimes require some additional considerations.

Method 1
Choosing an All-Purpose Suit

  1. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 1
    Make sure having one suit is right for you. All-purpose suits are suits that can be appropriate for nearly any occasion. These suits are great for people that don’t need to wear a suit very often and are sometimes called “wedding-funeral” suits because they are meant to be appropriate at either occasion or anywhere between.[1]
    • These suits need to be versatile so they will be appropriate for most formal occasions.
    • All-purpose suits are designed primarily to be worn to weddings, interviews, and funerals.
    • Skirts are considered appropriate for more scenarios than pant suits are for women.
  2. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 2
    Choose between a skirt or pants. In order to choose a good color or color scheme in a woman’s suit, you’ll need to determine whether you intend to wear a skirt with your suit jacket or pants. Each is appropriate for most situations, but there are some unwritten rules about each.[2]
    • Skirts are often considered a more appropriate choice for interviews, though that is not a universal rule.
    • Pant suits are considered less formal in some circles, but are commonly accepted in most situations that skirts are.
    • Purchasing separates can allow for more combinations of colors.
  3. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 3
    Choose a charcoal grey suit. Grey suits are considered extremely versatile because the color scheme is appropriate for most formal situations. Charcoal grey has some specific connotations that you should be aware of before purchasing and wearing one:[3]
    • Charcoal grey can make you seem older and more experienced, so it’s a good choice for young professionals.
    • Some see charcoal grey as a color that denotes loyalty so it’s an excellent color for meetings with your boss as well as formal social occasions.
  4. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 4
    Choose a navy blue suit. Navy blue suits have a lot in common with charcoal grey. They are both considered the most versatile suit colors and are appropriate for nearly all formal social and professional occasions. For the most part, choosing between these colors is a matter of preference, but there are some subtle differences.[4]
    • Navy blue may be a more common all-purpose color, which means it could be considered even more widely accepted.
    • Navy blue is considered a suit to “fit in” but not to stand out. It’s great for understated personalities or those who want to be judged based on what they do, rather than what they wear.
    • Women’s navy blue separates can often be matched with light grey garments for increased wear.
  5. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 5
    Choose a black suit. The black suit is the last of the three common “all-purpose” colors but is widely considered to be the least versatile of the bunch. The primary limitations of a black suit have to do with matching your complexion and accessories to it.[5]
    • Black suits are best for people with dark hair and dark complexions.
    • Black can be matched with greys to reduce the formality and soften the look of a suit for women.
    • Black suits are a bad choice for those with very light complexions or red hair as the contrast can be stark.

Method 2
Choosing a Second Suit

  1. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 6
    Buy another all-purpose suit. You may already have a navy blue or charcoal grey suit and appreciate its versatility. A second suit doesn’t have to be specialized for a certain or set of occasions; you may wish to purchase another suit with a different highly versatile color scheme.
    • If you already own a charcoal grey suit, purchase a navy blue one to maximize versatility.
    • Having two different color suits will limit the chances that people will see you in the same suit twice in a row.
    • Women may choose to purchase separates so you may have pants and skirts that both match a single jacket.
  2. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 7
    Choose a brown suit. Dark brown suits can be fairly versatile, but aren't well suited for very formal events or environments where business dress is taken more seriously. Brown suits are considered slightly more casual than most all-purpose suits.[6]
    • Be aware of how the material of your suit matches the color. Brown tweed usually denotes an academic environment, for instance.
    • Brown suits are best for people with dark complexions and hair color.
    • Some brown jackets can be matched with tan pants or skirts, but it depends on the shade and pattern of each.
  3. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 8
    Choose a light grey suit. Light grey suits are great for a number of social occasions, but are considered less formal than their charcoal grey cousins. It is best to choose a light grey suit after you already have at least one all-purpose suit to use for more formal events.[7]
    • Light grey suits are great for summer and fall occasions, but are particularly good for spring events.
    • Lighter shades of grey lend themselves well to introducing patterns in your accessories like tie, pocket square or purse.
    • Light grey separates match well with navy blue garments.
  4. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 9
    Choose a tan suit. While a tan suit can technically be classified as brown, light shades of brown and tan materials match a lighter complexion well enough that it warrants separate consideration. Tan suits are excellent for spring and summer social events, but are often not formal enough for black tie events or companies that take business dress very seriously.[8]
    • Tan suits are a great way to switch things up if you commonly wear suits to work.
    • Tan is well suited for light complexions and hair.
    • Tan skirts and pants match well with women’s open toed shoes for outdoor events.
  5. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 10
    Match accessories to the color suit you chose. Choosing the right color suit is only the beginning; you also need to choose accessories that match the color scheme you’ve picked out. Making sure you have the right shirt, belt, shoes and other accessories can make the difference between a professional appearance and a disheveled one.
    • Shirts and blouses should always be a complimentary color to the jacket. Use a color wheel to help you Coordinate Colors.
    • Match the color of your shoes to the color of your belt. Black and brown are the most versatile colors, but using others can breathe new life into a suit and help switch things up.
    • Avoid using multiple patterns when matching accessories to your suit. If your suit is patterned, your accessories should not be.

Method 3
Choosing a Suit for a Specific Occasion

  1. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 11
    Find a suit for a wedding. You need to be sure how formal the wedding will be before choosing the right color. Very formal events will always require a tuxedo, or at the least, a dark colored suit and tie. Outdoor or less formal weddings during warmer months are great events for light colored suits.[9]
    • Formal weddings require tuxedos or dark colored suits. An all-purpose grey, blue or black suit will suffice for most.
    • Outdoor weddings are great opportunities to wear a tan or light grey suit.
    • Winter weddings call for darker shades. Some brown suits may be appropriate; otherwise charcoal grey or navy blue are great choices.
  2. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 12
    Find a suit for a job interview. Job interviews require a level of formality that may not be present at many social occasions. The all-purpose suit colors are best for job interviews. These colors are considered “all-purpose” for a reason. Light colored suits are often considered too informal.[10]
    • Women are expected to wear skirts with a jacket for most job interviews.
    • Charcoal or even medium grey suits are appropriate for job interviews.
    • Navy blue suits are considered just as acceptable, but avoid brighter blues.
    • Black suits are usually considered appropriate, but might be considered too formal.
  3. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 13
    Find a suit for a funeral. Funerals are somber occasions, so it is expected that you wear dark colors. Black is the traditional choice for funerals, but dark greys or even dark shades of blue are also considered acceptable.
    • Black is the expected color to wear to funerals.
    • Suits in very dark shades of other colors are often considered acceptable.
  4. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 14
    Find a suit for a social event. Appropriate attire for social events can vary widely depending on the environment and who is having it. Many social events do not require suits at all, so see if the invitation indicates a type of attire.[11]
    • Spring and summer events follow similar rules to outdoor weddings. Light colored suits and great for casual environments, especially in warmer months.
    • Winter and fall events are usually indoors, and while a light colored suit isn’t ruled out, it can be a great opportunity to use your brown or grey suits.
  5. Image titled Choose a Color for Suits Step 15
    Wear your suits to multiple occasions by varying your accessories. The accessories you adorn your suit with can make it look like a completely different outfit. By matching different accessories to your suit you can get much more life out of the same color choice.[12]
    • Ties can be various colors, but cool colors are the most versatile when matching with jackets and shirts. Different tie colors and patterns in conjunction with shirts can make the same suit look like two different outfits.
    • Wearing different blouses under a jacket or replacing the jacket with a sweater can increase wearing options for women’s formal skirts.
    • Men’s belts are traditionally either black or brown, and their shoes should match. Women have many more options of belt and shoe colors, allowing for a greater deal of flexibility in ensemble choices.

Article Info

Categories: Color in Fashion