Today, Reader C has an interesting question about “color rules” for suits — specifically, what colors you can wear with a gray suit…
I recently bought my first suit from BR (thanks to your post!). I plan to wear it a huge conference that the nonprofit where I work is organizing. At the store, I was trying to choose between getting a black suit or a light gray one from the same collection. The sales associates asked me what shirt I was planning to wear with my suit – I told them it was a dark navy silky top that I was wearing at that time.
Immediately, both of them said I should get the black suit because the navy would be too dark for a light gray suit. They said the gray suit should be worn with lighter colors. I did settle on the black suit but it’s because I thought I can wear it with light and dark colored tops. However the associates’ reaction got me wondering – are there rules about matching shirts with suits that I don’t know about? I thought a black suit with a white shirt is classic but perhaps I am outdated.
Maybe I’m alone here, but — whaaa? The associates’ advice doesn’t make sense to me at all. First, I would not advise someone to wear a navy blouse with a black suit unless I’d seen it first to make sure it was clearly navy blue and there was no whiff of “I got dressed in the dark and thought I was wearing all black.”
Second, I normally wear black tops with gray suits (hello, New Yorker here), as well as darker jewel tones.
Personally, I would wear the following with a black suit: any color of the rainbow, including black. (Subject to the the above caveat about making sure the navy is clearly blue and not so close to black that it looks like you didn’t know when you got up in the morning.)
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I’m a fan of wearing multiple colors at once — by which I mean that if I wore a red top, I might try to wear a turquoise necklace, or perhaps a pair of purple pumps, to add some visual interest to the outfit — but that’s just my general sense. I also tend to avoid wearing white with black — too waiter-like — but that, again, is a weird predilection — I certainly wouldn’t say that someone was wrong to do that.
Stay tuned for our upcoming course on how to feel more polished!
I would wear the following with a gray suit: Yep, pretty much any color of the rainbow. I’ve worn pastels with gray suits (I’m a fan of a yellow with gray in particular), but I’ve also worn a lot of black, blood red, mallard blue, etc.
The only “rule” I can possibly think of is that a lighter gray suit is probably going to be a spring/summer item, whereas a charcoal suit is going to be a fall/winter item — but I think ultimately it comes down to fabric. If you have a light gray tweed suit, it’s a fall/winter item, no matter what color the gray is.
Maybe I’m crazy, though (I’m having that kind of a day!), so let’s take a poll.
Have I totally missed some “suit color rules”? Readers, please weigh in…