You woke up and realized your one and only suit was RUINED. If you wear something else, what would your boss, your colleagues, the pretty waitress at your favorite café… all think of you?
Shameful, right? Of course not!
Suits may be a big deal in some cases – but they’re not “do or die” if you want to be super stylish.
The truth is there are alternative options that give you an equally sharp appearance.
So here are 10 ways to look SHARP without a suit (whether there’s no suit available or you just want to change things up).
Suit Alternatives Tip #1: Wear A Sports Jacket Or Blazer
It’s one of the best things about being a man…
You’ve got two other similar jacket types to go for besides the suit! And people rarely pay attention to the minor differences.
First off is the sports jacket. When you get the right kind, it automatically makes you appear more masculine and sophisticated. But it’s also more “relaxed” compared to a suit jacket.
It has great flexibility for most casual settings. And that’s why I particularly LOVE the sports jacket and jeans combo!
And then there’s the blazer. It has certain features that a sports jacket doesn’t – like a contrasting color for the buttons (brass, silver, gold, etc.) and a distinctly smoother weave.
You should probably stick to its “niche” color of dark blue since it never seems to fail. And don’t rule out wearing a blazer with jeans! It’s worth trying too.
Suit Alternatives Tip #2: Leverage The Power Of Color
Considering you’ve got enough blues/whites for “base” clothing… try to have fun with color!
Because at some point, you want to get off your comfort zone and show people that you also look amazing in pink or yellow – or even in colored patterns.
So do explore colors for your shoes, shoelaces, neckties, and most definitely pocket squares.
It’s cool how a short piece of fabric (which you could fold up in various ways before tucking into your breast pocket) can do wonders for a jacket.
Pocket squares are the perfect example of “small but terrible” – they drive a lot of attention to whoever has them on. So if you haven’t already, learn how to wear a pocket square so you can start some interesting conversations in a room full of strangers!
Suit Alternatives Tip #3: Accessorize With Authority
You don’t buy accessories (hats, jewelry, etc.) for the sake of bragging rights or one-upping others. It’s to highlight individuality. The “you” in you.
That’s why we always see Jack Nicholson wearing his signature sunglasses. He says they make him “Jack Nicholson” – as opposed to just being “a 60-year-old balding man” without them.
And I’ll tell you what I think is the most powerful accessory for guys: a quality watch.
Suit Alternatives Tip #4: Focus On Fit
A car can’t function without wheels. Humans can’t live without oxygen. And stylish clothing can’t exist without the right fit.
But what exactly do you have to consider when it comes to nailing the fit?
Two key components are:
1. That the item ensures enough comfort and freedom of movement.
2. It shows off your physique in the best light.
Both of those aren’t always going to apply to an off-the-rack piece. Chances are you’ll need something custom-adjusted or custom-built based on your body type.
So check who the skilled tailors are in your area. Make sure to know their names and befriend them. They will give the best services if you make that kind of effort. You’ll end up getting well-fitted shirts and even well-fitted jeans or casual clothes.
Suit Alternatives Tip #5: Switch Up Your Shirt Style
When you’ve got the fit checked off – it’s time to look into the ways you can “customize” your shirt even further.
One simple technique is to choose a pattern that reflects your vibe or personality (which can be influenced by the setting itself):
• Solid-patterned: for business/social events; consider colors like light blue, lavender, gold or pink since they elevate the mood better
• Striped: useful for conveying a stricter, more business-like vibe; the thinner the stripes are the more formal the shirt tends to be
• Checked: the most casual pattern; great for weekends when you’re giving off a relaxed vibe (but larger guys should avoid checked shirts since they exaggerate width)
And maybe you’ll want to take things a step further. So why not ditch the necktie if it’s not needed – and focus on getting a strong shirt collar? That requires knowing the ideal size and weight of the collar spread for your shirt. But it will definitely give you an edge over men who aren’t as attentive to their “weak” or “unsteady” collars.
Suit Alternatives Tip #6: Bring In A Vest
Vests are excellent alternatives to a suit, especially when you’ve got a more muscular or athletic body.
Why? Because they don’t have any fabric to cover the sleeves – so you wear a shirt under an odd vest and the double-layering builds up the chest, shoulders, and arms.
And if you’re wondering if vests really have to fit close to your body, the answer is yes! It’s a big part of how to wear a vest properly.
It’s supposed to make you look like you could be a medieval horseman who uses it to keep warm at night. Or a knight who uses it as padding under his armor.
Those were the men for whom the vest was originally created for. And you can bet they were well-built!
Suit Alternatives Tip #7: Pick A Stylish Piece Of Outerwear
Now if you’re going to be spending time outdoors, it makes sense to pick out a very stylish piece of outerwear.
That means choosing among different types of jackets and coats:
The number one factor here is the weather. If you’re in the middle of winter, you’ll surely be needing something like the Overcoat.
Not only does that jacket keep you warm. It shares the traits of sharp-looking casual clothes.
But let’s say you live in LA – and you’re hanging out by the beach but not swimming or tanning.
That’s when you’d want something like a field jacket (US soldiers wore a version of this to deal with the warmer climate during the Vietnam War). A fabric like green suede would work best on it.
Suit Alternatives Tip #8: Grab A Stylish Sweater
When the temperature is pleasantly cool, I’d go with a well-fitted sweater without a doubt.
The best part about a sweater is it covers up your shirt and you’re not expected to take it off indoors. So if it looks fantastic on you – there’s no need to “nail” the shirt underneath.
You want to select your sweater based on:
- Thickness (a cardigan feels different from a sweater blazer, for example)
- Pattern (simple solids are best for formal settings while stitched/woven in ones are for more relaxed or casual settings)
- Style (V-neck, turtleneck, shawl collar, etc.)
Check out this guide to choosing a men’s sweater for more information.
Suit Alternatives Tip #9: Level-Up Your Footwear
It’s a truth many guys tend to forget. People can make assumptions about you based on your shoes.
Therefore – don’t underestimate the power of polished and quality footwear. Factors like the leather used, stitching, and even the price all come into play here.
You want to figure out which dress shoes and dress boots can level up what you normally wear. If you go to the office in work boots, upgrading to dress boots might benefit your professional image (as long as they’re appropriate for the environment).
Suit Alternatives Tip #10: Go Monochrome
Ultimately – you want everything to come together in your outfit. Where no item “clashes” with the rest or spoils the entire thing.
In order to achieve that, try a monochromatic outfit with a low-contrast palette. You want people’s eyes to “flow” up and down your profile without being distracted by specific details. And that requires you to:
- Avoid stark contrasts (especially from bright details or multiple visible patterns)
- Stay within the same color family (this streamlines your overall appearance)
- Add only one bright color to an ensemble of dark colors – putting the bright color on top (this will draw people’s eyes to your face when they see you)
1. Build A Wardrobe You LOVE
This means “condensing” your wardrobe so it only contains clothes that make you feel great every time. They should lead to a set of go-to outfits that allow you to stand out. Self-discovery is the key here.
Find out what colors, patterns or layers you enjoy wearing that others don’t – and practice wearing them with confidence.
2. Invest In A Stylish Bag
Step up your bag game and understand what to look for in a quality leather bag. It must be a bag that only gets better with age. The price might give some people a heart attack but if you can see it’s good for your style – it’ll make you look sharp for life. Yes, even when you have gray hair and dentures!
3. Master Your Grooming
If you can make small improvements in your grooming (whether it’s a shorter hairstyle, a different beard style or an alternative hair product) you may just be surprised by how much positive attention you’ll receive in the next few days.
Click below to watch the video – Look Sharp Without A Suit: