The three-piece suit cheat sheet every man needs but is afraid to ask for

Some time ago, we went over the very basics of wearing a suit. We went over the rules when wearing a two-piece suit. This time, we are upping the ante a little more: we are going for the three-piece suit.

A three-piece suit is comprised of a jacket, a vest (or waistcoat), and a pair of trousers, all made from the same fabric. It is worn with a button-up shirt, a tie, and, preferably, suspenders.

It is an elegant look, appropriate for business and formal environments. It’s not the kind of thing you’d wear to a casual outing or even every day unless your job demands it.

The main idea behind the three-piece suit is to give men a handsome and balanced look by creating one long, uninterrupted line of fabric from the ankle to the shoulder.

Let’s talk a bit more about this amazing manly look, from the fit to how and when to wear it.

The Fit:

Compared to a two-piece suit, a three-piece suit is very unforgiving when it comes to the fit. All the rules we mentioned in the two-piece suit entry still apply, but there are some that are exclusive to the three-piece suit.

The addition of the vest to the suit really complicates the fitting because it takes a great deal of expertise to fit a vest properly. In the case of vests that are part of suits, they are made and fitted as if they were the outermost garment, to give the wearer the opportunity to remove their jacket and still look elegant should they choose to.

This means the vest must fit even in the areas that would be under the jacket.

The bottom of the vest should cover the waistline of your trousers to avoid any part of the shirt except the collar showing and breaking the illusion of the continuous piece of fabric all along the body. The trousers are worn with suspenders because a belt buckle would cause a rather unattractive bulge on the vest.

The neckline of the vest must be wide enough so it doesn’t go under the shirt’s collar but it should still peek from under the jacket about one or two inches.

As for what type of fabric to go for, wool is considered the best option, as it remains rather cool in the summer, making the suit more comfortable. Wool is also very soft to the skin and resistant to continuous use.

Another popular fabric option is cotton, which is also soft and resistant. Just keep in mind cotton suits need to be ironed constantly to keep the sharp creases sharp.

The Look:

For maximum formality, all three pieces of the suit must be made of the same fabric. The vest pulls the whole outfit together and gives structure to the look.

Wear your three-piece suit with a shirt buttoned all the way up and a tie with a small knot.  A big know would make the chest area look stuffed and uncomfortable.

Keep your jacket buttoned at all times, except when you’re sitting down and never wear a double-breasted jacket -the kind that has two rows of buttons- open like a blazer.

There are many colors and styles of suits, enough to ensure you will find one that matches your personality, personal style, and needs.  You can introduce some variations to the look for less formal occasions, just make sure not to mix and match too many different pieces, as you will end up looking unkempt.

You can also skip the vest and wear the suit as a two-piece when the added formality is not needed.

You can remove your jacket and wear your vest alone, which is the reason why it must fit correctly all over. You can also wear a mismatched vest, just make sure the contrast is clear but soft, and not exaggerated.

As for the colors, consider your three-piece suits as investments, and stick to the classic colors like black, charcoal, and navy.

Wear your suit with a white or light blue shirt. White shirts are a staple and go with suits of all colors, and light blue is one of those colors that suits almost everybody’s complexion. This also goes for the ties.

You can use the tie to add a bit of color to the whole look but try to avoid strident colors or patterns.

Just a few three-piece suits can give you a wide variety of variations for different levels of formality.

Three-piece suits go great with all suit accessories, just keep these as elegant and traditional as the suit itself.

Where to wear:

A three-piece suit is for elegant or business-like situations. It’s ideal for weddings, opera recitals, and theater outings. Many business atmospheres also are great for full three-piece suits.

The less formal variations are ideal for friendly outings to restaurants or more relaxed gatherings.

Three-piece suits are great for individuals with a strong personality and personal style, but they really can make any man look elegant and handsome.

Just stick to these simple rules and you will find the right suit for you, so you can stand out from the crowd on your next elegant outing.

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