We are often asked various questions about how to dress like a gentleman. We address many of the broader questions in our blog, but in our FAQ section below we answer those questions that only require a short explanation.
The difference between single and double breasted suit?
A single breasted blazer is characterised by a small overlap at the centre front of the jacket, whilst a double-breasted blazer has a much wider overlap, wider lapels to balance the silhouette, and two columns of buttons rather than one. The former is a more minimal approach to suiting, whilst the double breasted suit provides ample opportunity to experiment with patterned or textured cloth, which features more heavily in double breasted garments.
What are the rules for suit buttons?
When wearing a two or three button single breasted blazer, always secure the middle button. If your blazer has three, consider the first one optional- but never fasten the last button. A single button blazer should always remain closed when standing to maintain a smart appearance. Double breasted blazers should be fully fastened too with an optional last button, which, when left open can be a well-considered stylish detail.
How much shirt cuff should you show?
This is really dependent on your own personal preference, however, as a rule of thumb, you should show between 1cm and 2cm of shirt cuff. A small amount of cuff is more conservative, while 2cm shows a flash of colour. Any more than this, and it just looks like your jacket arms are too short.
Dress shirt sleeve length?
A dress shirt should reach down to what is called the kiss of the wrist. If you bend your wrist upwards, the break is where your shirt sleeve should reach. In terms of the cuff size, you should be able to slip two fingers within the cuff when it is buttoned up. This allows you to move your arms without the cuff pulling tight on your wrist, while it also allows enough space for a dress watch.
You can see more information from our tailoring video series here: Suit Arm Length
How long should a dress shirt be?
Ensure that your dress shirt is long enough to be fully tucked in and doesn’t come untucked when reaching your arms up. If you plan to wear a shirt untucked, it should fall no more than three or four inches below the trouser waistband.
How are dress shirts sized?
Dress shirts are commonly sized by collar measurement. Many British designers present this in inches, whilst European brands are more likely to offer their sizing in centimetres.
To find your shirt size, bring a tape measure around your neck (where a shirt collar would sit). Allow enough room to fit your index finger under the tape measure to ensure the shirt isn’t too tight. As a rough guide a size Small = 14 - 14.5cms, Medium = 15 - 15.5cms, and a Large = 16 - 16.5cms.
What are convertible cuffs?
A lifesaver when an invitation to dinner suddenly arises and there’s little time to change clothes; the convertible cuff can be worn buttoned up or closed with cufflinks. We’d always recommend selecting the most appropriately cuffed shirt for each occasion- in order to achieve the most refined appearance, however the convertible cuff is a truly convenient choice for the busy gentleman.
Should you wear a belt with suspenders?
The purpose of belts and suspenders is to hold trousers up, so wearing both is quite unnecessary. It also gives the distinct impression that the wearer doesn’t have much knowledge in men’s fashion, so avoid this at all costs.
Should you wear patterned socks with a suit?
Those who are daring enough to complete a suit with patterned socks should consider the colour contrast. Complimentary tones and a subtle pattern make for a playful statement, though this is a detail best avoided in formal situations lest it be considered a faux pas; the patterned sock must always appear a deliberate yet refined choice.
What are pleated trousers?
Pleated trousers are cut with excess fabric at the front which is folded and sewn into the waistband to create a concertina-like fold. Featuring a higher rise than the flat front trouser, a well proportioned silhouette is created by allowing the pleated fabric to fall flatteringly over the hips. Whilst this style is often overlooked for a more slimline aesthetic, don’t underestimate a pleated trouser with a slim-tapered leg (finished with a twice-rolled up hem), which offers a fresh, considered approach to the voluminous styles of the 1980s.
Image source: Mensfashionmagazine.com
When should you have a crease in trousers?
Perfectly creased trousers exude a confident attitude towards dressing, however a wrongly placed crease can demonstrate the opposite. Steer clear of ironing a crease into casual items like chinos or trousers which aren’t ready pressed and crisp when purchased.
When ironing trousers with a pre-formed crease be sure to follow the fold precisely and take note of the temperature at which you are pressing. An iron which is too hot will result in that dreaded shiny fabric and could even damage the cloth.
Should you wear cuffs on trousers?
Cuffed trousers have fallen by the wayside in recent times whilst modern minimalist silhouettes have overtaken, that’s not to say that this detail is long gone though. Whilst cuffed trousers are sartorially less formal than other trouser styles and are therefore too casual for suiting; modern approaches to the cuff offer a dapper detail to complete an informal get-up. Consider a neat, once folded turn-up at the end of your crispest pair of selvedge jeans to show off the outer seam, or a well tailored cuff to complete a handsome pair of tapered chinos.
Image source: mrporter.com
What is a brogue?
A brogue is any shoe which has perforated or serrated leather detail (broguing) added to its upper. The small perforations were historically designed for functionality. The original brogues were work shoes used in the wetlands of Ireland, Scotland and England. The punctuations allowed the water to drain from the shoes or boots, and more importantly allowed them to dry more quickly overnight. Eventually they make the transition from workwear to the city and became a staple in menswear not least due to the wide range of applications and designs that arose from the technique. Broguing can be used in all styles/closures of shoe and is particularly popular in Derby or Oxford shoes.
Difference between brogues and Oxfords?
Whilst many shoe connoisseurs could talk endlessly over the origins, rules, and definitions surrounding both styles, in the most basic terms, broguing is the decoration or design on a shoe (see above), whilst an Oxford is a type of shoe. An Oxford shoe has a fully enclosed upper. The shoe below is an Oxford brogue.
See our guide here for selecting colours when choosing shoes for suits.
What are wingtip shoes?
Wingtip is a type of brogueing whereby the shoe is decorated with a winged or ‘W’ shaped toe cap. Sometimes called a full brogue, this style is the most highly decorated toe cap choice and can be worn as both a casual or semi-formal shoe with ease due to its exquisite detail.
Should your belt match your shoes?
To avoid drawing attention away from your impeccably tailored suit, the colours of your shoes and belt should always match. Consider too, the tone of these in relation to your chosen suit, as badly coordinated shades can be just as distracting. There are of course a few colour do's and don'ts. Black, considered the most formal of hues, should only be paired with black leather accessories, whilst navy sits well with a deep brown or black shoe. As for the humble grey suit, the one you can always rely on, select a darker shoe, unless your suit is a particularly light shade, with which one can get away with an elegant pair of light brown brogues.
The other thing to keep in mind is your belt should have a similar finish to that of your shoes. So if you are attending a black tie event and have a part of sleek black Oxfords, then your belt should have a similar shiny finish. If however your shoes are more of a matte finish, your belt should replicate this.
Can you wear loafers with a suit?
Loafers lend themselves handsomely to suits in situations on the less formal end of the scale. Focus should be drawn to trouser length which should be cut slightly shorter to ensure a clean, crisp break before the shoe. This is particularly important to note if going sockless, in order to appear intentional and dapper.
Accessories For The Gentleman
How to fold a pocket square
How you fold your pocket square is generally determined by the occasion and your personality. For more formal events a flat fold or perhaps a one point fold are good options. For semi-formal or casual looks you can be much more flamboyant with your folds. For a range of different folds, see our comprehensive guide here: How to fold a pocket square.
What size pocket square should you choose?
This is really dependent on the type of fabric of the pocket square. For example, our silk pocket squares are 42cm x 42cm. The reason we went for this size is so that once folded it stays firmly in place in your pocket. Therefore with a light weight material like silk we'd recommend always going for a minimum size of 40cm x 40cm. In general, if you have silk squares around 30cm you will find they will slip down into your pocket during the day.
For thick materials such as Tweed, you aren't able to fold the material more than a few times without it becoming a thick pillow in your jacket pocket. Therefore for fabrics such as Tweed you don't want anything larger than 20cm x 20cm.
How to tie a tie with a dimple
Tying a tie with a dimple is actually quite a simple process. Begin by loosely knotting your favourite silk or cashmere tie, and when pulling tight around the neck simultaneously pinch the fabric of the front blade to create a tuck (or ‘dimple’) et voila! Don’t over-style the dimple too much the aim here is to be suave and effortless.
Can you wear a tie with a short sleeve shirt?
Put simply, definitely not. Short sleeve shirts are casual garments and shouldn’t be mixed with formal accessories such as ties. For sweltering summer days in the office invest in a slim fit short sleeve shirt sans tie, or grab your laptop and head for the roof terrace.
How long should your tie be?
Your tie should just touch the top of your belt. The length of your tie is not really relevant, as long as when you tie your knot it just reaches your belt, or the top of your trousers if you are wearing suit trousers or suspenders.
Tie clip rules
When it comes to tie clips, tie bars are certainly the best. These generally feature as silver or gold coloured strips that reach right across the tie’s width before folding back to form the clip behind. These are commonly embellished with chains and decoration. Avoid the smaller spring-loaded clips found in gift sets with matching cufflinks. These short and stubby versions offer enticing bold decoration but only reach about an inch or so into the tie which removes the symmetry of the whole tie concept.
The purpose of the clip is not only to decorate the tie but lift it which works especially well with a waistcoat. Aim to lift the knot so it ‘flows’ out of the collar with the tie returning to touch the shirt around 4-6 inches under where the clip clasps the tie and shirt, including the other end of the tie between. With a waistcoat aim for a bold lift, without simply let the tie hang naturally and clip, since the natural spring of the fabric will do the rest.
What is the difference between a Cravat and tie?
A cravat which is generally made out of silk or satin is tied around the neck but sits within an open-necked shirt. This is a less formal substitute for a tie.
What is the best way to store a suit?
After a long day in the city, brush off the suit with a lint roller before hanging to ensure it's fresh for its next wear. Suits should be stored on quality wooden hangers which support the shoulder structure. This will minimise the possibility of losing the shape that if you have invested in a custom suit your tailor has spent hours stitching, steaming and sculpting. Ensure that your trousers are carefully folded on the centre crease and are hung equally over the hanger bar.
It's preferable though not essential to store suits in a garment bag. But as ever, opting for a high-quality fabric bag will ensure your suit is well protected from excess moisture and dust.
What is black tie?
Black tie is a formal evening dress code. It usually comprises of a black dinner (tuxedo) jacket, matching black trousers, a white evening shirt and a bow tie, although a black tie is also generally acceptable. There is also the possibility of wearing a cummerbund, however these are swiftly being replaced by the more accessible option of a waistcoat. Shoes need to be formal black shoes such as a pair of patent Oxfords or formal pumps.
Image source: Theblacktux.com
Small details make a big impression in the realm of formal dress. Consider the difference between a black or midnight blue dinner jacket, a Marcela (textured fabric) or pleated bib shirt, and fabric choices for the bow tie itself, which should be the same material as the dinner jacket lapels.
No brown in town
The origin of this phrase is much speculated. Some argue the blackened streets of an industrial coal-burning city meant black was a practical colour to wear, while brown was suitable in the country for the same reasons. However, the greater argument is in dress codes of formality. For the ‘gentleman’ and the city elite, daywear and eveningwear codes were essential, with the image of the bowler hat and umbrella symbolising this uniform. Furthermore, black was the colour of formalwear from morning to evening dress such as in the respective tailcoats. Today the only common survivor of this is ‘black tie’ which also echoes the lesser repeated phrase ‘no brown after five o’clock’.
There is likely a strong degree of elitism associated with the phrase in order to distance the wealthy from the workers. For instance, brown was worn by workers and manual labourers. Hardwearing tweeds were preferred by those who could only afford one universal outfit at a time and repaired it to make it last.
Today, there is little reason to uphold such an archaic, tainted rule. Brown is still shunned in formal settings and offices but this is not a matter of geography and ‘town and country’ but about an aesthetic regime. Think of it more as casual and formal, just as you would not be best advised to wear a pink suit to work, no matter how elegant it is. Tweed is a fabric of academics and writers, happily passing the hours in contemplation rather than fighting through the corporate ladder. Casual saunters through town in one’s own time can be enjoyed with tweed and country brogues without concern.
The Death of Major Peirson, 6th January 1781, John Singleton Copley, 1783, © Tate, London 2014 On this pocket square we’ve used a large oil painting by American artist John Singleton Copley that depicts the death of...
This Houndstooth Wool Tie is handmade in England from the highest quality woven wool. With more texture than a silk tie, this wool tie works well with a patterned jacket or...
Luca Giordano, 1634-1705, Perseus turning Phineas and his Followers to Stone early 1680s © The National Gallery, London 100% Silk Hand Rolled Designed and Printed in Britain 42cm x 42cm Free Worldwide...
The Kingfisher Silk Pocket Square is part of our William John Swainson Collection, a 19th century British artist and naturalist. This pure silk pocket square is a perfect addition to...