How to ace wearing separates and get more out of your tailored clothes
Men look damn hot in formals. I mean, there’s nothing sexier than a guy who can pull off a tailored suit with flamboyance! Case in point: Everyone’s favourite (so-called) gentleman spy, James Bond. However, the suit, though incredibly stylish and elegant on its own— can sometimes come across as too matchy-matchy (reminiscent of one’s kindergarten days), which can make it seem, well, basic. That’s when you turn to ‘separates’ for revving up your fashion game!
WHAT ARE SEPARATES?
In simple words, it’s a technique involving clothes that can be worn in different combinations. It’s the art of combining non-matching jackets and trousers to get the most out of your tailored clothes. Basically, any items of tailoring—such as blazers and trousers—that don’t come from the same suit. For example: A pair of considered separates that look similar but don’t match perfectly—such as a pair of grey chinos worn with a black jacket made with another fabric—will totally give off studied nonchalant vibes! Separates are for those men, who on certain occasions, don’t want to fit in or wear something conventional or conformist.
HOW TO WEAR THEM
You may think, this is easy. Anyone can put together two different garments, right? It is a little more complex than that, though—as it takes a bit of work and thought to nail the best colour and fabric combinations. Mixing colours up keeps things more relaxed, seemingly effortless than wearing a two-piece, without straying into sports jacket and jeans territory.
There are two approaches to doing this. One, which is more difficult to pull off, is mismatching two suits—making it a strong style statement. The other, which is more subtle and therefore, easier to do, disguises the parts of two suits to make it look like you’re wearing a sport coat and odd trousers. The trousers don’t always have to be tailored. A pair of suit trousers could be swapped out for chinos in most cases and still be classified as separates. It’s all about how it looks as a whole. Man’s Life lists out the rules to get the most out of your mix-and-match menswear looks….
1. THE RIGHT FIT
It doesn’t matter if you wear designer clothes or high-street brands, if the garment doesn’t fit—it’s pointless. When it comes to wearing separates, the garments should be tailored in a similar fashion for a streamlined look. This way, they will look well put together, as opposed to looking like you’re wearing them because you couldn’t find a matching pair! With separates, proportions matter—so pay attention to matching the fit of your outfits as you would with colour and textures! So, slim-cut with slim-cut, and classic with classic! For example: Pairing an oversized blazer with slim-fit jeans just won’t work.
2. TEXTURES MATTER TOO
Texture is often overlooked, but highly impactful. The key lies in selecting fabrics that work together. Choose textured jackets or fabrics with texture—such as heavy cotton twill (weave pattern characterised by diagonal lines) and pique (weaving style which gives parallel cords or geometric designs in the fabric) cotton.
3. THINK INFORMAL
It’s easy to think of separates as ‘formal dressing’ because after all it revolves around trousers and blazers. Not true! In order to break free from this, choose more relaxed pieces without structured tailoring—such as a jacket without all the usual padding! Stick to laid-back jackets with natural shoulders, and choose them in various fabrics.
4. CREATE CONTRAST
Colours should look good together, but shouldn’t be too similar in tone. It’s important to make the colour of the top and bottom different enough from each other to retain some semblance of contrast. Having said that, we are not saying that tonal dressing (wearing different pieces together that fall within the same colour family) won’t work with separates!
SEPARATES COMBOS FOR THE WIN!
When done right, suit separates are perfect for flexing your sartorial chops. Fail, and you’ll end up looking like a wannabe! We don’t want that now, do we? So, here are some combinations that are fail-proof and sexy AF!
BLACK BLAZER + GREY TROUSERS/CHINOS
A foolproof pairing that’s understated and sexy! This look will be right at home in a boardroom and on a night out, albeit with a few tweaks. The black blazer and grey trouser team work well for life’s more formal occasions. Besides, most guys will have at least one black blazer or jacket and a pair of basic grey trousers—making this look the easiest one to pull off! The reverse combo of grey jacket and black trousers is equally dashing as well as you can on the Loki star Tom Hiddleston!
EDITOR’S TIPS: For an off-duty weekend look, swap the buttoned-down shirt with a Cuban-collared shirt or a polo tee and team it with chinos. You could even wear a turtleneck for a dinner date if the weather is nippy! Swap the more formal brogues for smart low top sneakers.
STATEMENT JACKET + WHITE TROUSERS
Usually considered as a summer staple, white trousers are actually quite versatile. We’d recommend you take it out for a spin all year around, barring monsoon! Most guys shy away from wearing white bottoms because it takes a lot of confidence to carry it with conviction. White trousers are for men who know who they are and what works for them! The standout piece in this pairing is the jacket/blazer. Go for a bold check-patterned one or one with florals. Or go for one in rich hues and fabrics like velvet or silk/linen mix.
EDITOR’S TIPS: Most colours work of warm and dusky Indian skin tones. Deeper shades work better on those with lighter complexions. Pair it with an open-collared shirt or a polo T-shirt with loafers, and a pair of wayfarers. It’s paramount to ditch the skinny cuts and stick to slim fits to pull off that effortless cool-guy look!
GREY JACKET + NAVY TROUSERS
Timeless and classy, this combo can even be worn in reverse. As in, you could pair a navy jacket with your grey trousers, and it’d score you major style creds too! This look is for a man with an impeccable taste or so you’d seem—as it’s all about looking confident and super stylish!
EDITOR’S TIPS: For a business meeting, team this with a crisp white shirt, a classic leather-strap timepiece and black Oxfords. Switch things up for a lunch date: Pair this with a printed/plain T-shirt, a smartwatch, and loafers.
UNSTRUCTURED JACKET + PLEATED PANTS
A jacket without the usual padding will fall more softly over the shoulders—and do away with the seriousness of a more structured suit jacket. Choose softer fabrics and go for a more relaxed fit even with the pleated trousers or pants. These will take you from Fridays at the office to cocktail hours with ease!
EDITOR’S TIPS: Stick to browns, beige, whites, blacks and blues for the pants. You could pair them with other neutral hues or go the tonal route with shades of beige, brown and white. Loafers, espadrilles or low to trainers work the best for this duo.
Using suit separates will expand a small or minimal wardrobe and give you countless formal and smart casual outfit pairings! Combining light and dark neutrals that complement each other is the safest way to get started!
[Images Credit: Shutterstock]