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YOUR GUIDE TO
FORMAL ATTIRE

Put your best-dressed foot forward this autumn
and avoid common formalwear pitfalls with our
guide to formal dressing

The main event

Suits, Jackets & Trousers

The classic two-button, single-breasted jacket with back vents is a great investment purchase. It can be styled more or less formally for a variety of occasions and dress codes, from weddings to smart office settings. Nail the basics: choose a simple style in black, navy or grey and remember to fasten just the top button of the jacket for a considered style. You can then add personality with accessories and shirting.

Flat-fronted trousers provide a cleaner, streamlined look. Trouser hems should sit at the top of your shoe, just brushing the top of the heel at the back. Skinnier styles look better with a slightly more cropped length.

SUITS BUYING GUIDE

 

“When you’re looking for the right suit, start with the colour and then the fit. Choose one that is versatile and can be worn for many occasions”

-CHRISTOPHER GADD,

MARKS & SPENCER FORMALWEAR DESIGNER

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Any occasion

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A night out

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The big event

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Office ready

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Keep it classic

Shirts

A white shirt is the cornerstone of any tailored look. Find your perfect fit and invest in a few to make looking stylish an effortless exercise. Less formal occasions can allow for a more playful shirting look; softer colours like light blue, pink or yellow can look great, as can traditional patterns such as stripes or a subtle check.

Get the right fit: look for a style that skims the body – you want ease of movement without too much excess fabric on the sleeves or chest.

Remember; fasten all buttons, from sleeve to collar. Even without a tie, a closed top button creates a sharp finish.

SHIRTS BUYING GUIDE

 

“Shirt and tie combinations are always best kept simple. The proportions of the shirt collar, tie width and suit jacket lapel should all work together”

-CHRISTOPHER GADD,

MARKS & SPENCER FORMALWEAR DESIGNER

Personalise your look

Shoes, Socks & Belts

Shoes can make or break a smart look. Invest in the right pair to finish off your formal outfit. Black suits demand a black shoe, while brown shoes work well with navy or grey suits and more relaxed outfits. Brogues or Oxfords are a safe bet or try a monk-strap for an updated formalwear look.

Great socks are a must for a formal outfit; choose a colour that harmonises with your shoes or show a bit of personality with a subtle pattern or colour.

 

“Belts break up the block colour of a suit and add visual definition when you take the jacket off. Always match your belt to your shoes”

The final polish

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Belts & braces

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Go into detail

Finishing touches

Have some fun with the finishing touches of your outfit: a great watch really sets off a suit and cufflinks are a chance to inject a bit of individuality.

Waistcoats are a nice addition to a smart suit; match the colour or pattern to your suit for a streamlined ensemble.

 

“Add personality to your look with a pocket square. Keep it subtle with white or a light shade; add interest with a pop of pattern or colour, fine stripes or tonal paisley work well”

Fancy formal

Black tie

For a black tie event, only formal will do: the occasion should dictate whether you go for a tuxedo, tails or a dinner suit. The classic look usually consists of a two-button suit, white shirt, bow tie and a subtle flash of pocket square.

Go for a high-quality white shirt to lend a premium look. Your tie or bowtie should be black or in a subtle monochrome pattern and a cravat should be black or grey.

Keep your shoes formal and highly polished; opt for a Derby or monk-strap style.

 

“With a black tie look, remember that it is all about keeping your outfit timeless, sharp and not overdone”

-Christopher Gadd,