When most people begin to seriously shop for their first suit, they tend to err on the side of caution and go with solid colors, in particular black, grey, or navy blue. While there is nothing wrong with these color choices, especially since a custom-made black suit can fit a wide variety of dress codes and occasions, oftentimes gentlemen may be limiting themselves in their fashion sense when they do this. By picking out a suit with various patterns or subtle color contrasts, your wardrobe may in fact gain an extra notch above everyone else's. But sometimes people don't quite know where to begin in selecting a particular color scheme or style that will look best on them. What looks stunning on someone else may look lackluster on you and vice versa, so in this piece, we seek to give you some brief style tips on how to go about selecting suits with patterns and color schemes that will accentuate rather than detract from your own personal style. What might seem like common sense right off the bat can sometimes be a little more nuanced, and all of us at Enzo Custom are here to help you with that.
Picture yourself going into a department store that sells suits right off the rack. As these suits are not quite designed to fit individual body types but rather to closely fit a wide variety of measurement variations, it can be tempting to settle on solid colors, as these suits will more easily hide imperfections in the tailoring. This is especially true in the shoulders; imperfections on a black suit will be less noticeable to others than they will be on a suit with crosshatch or pinstripe patterns. With custom suits, however, this becomes less of an issue, as the suit is made to exactly match your own personal measurements. If you're going with a custom suit—and this is something we obviously always recommend—you shouldn't be afraid to expand your horizons outside of traditional black, grey, or solid tan since any patterns will fall more naturally around your frame.
Pinstripes are by far the most popular suit design when we're discussing anything outside of the solid color realm. Many gentlemen who may not be quite ready to tackle herringbone or crosshatch patterns on a suit will opt for pinstripes because of their subtlety. But as we often like to say, less is more in many cases. A black suit with very thin grey pinstripes can help accentuate your shoulder line without coming across as overly bold, and a suit such as this can work very nicely for taller men with a slighter frame. In addition to the pinstripe suit's style implications, its minimalistic pattern fares well in almost all settings where a solid black suit would be appropriate. What pinstripes lack in boldness is compensated by its versatility. For something that jumps out a little bit more, consider a suit with wider pinstripes. Just make sure that the color contrast isn't too crazy, otherwise, this may detract from the look of subtlety you're looking for.
As with anything, most of it comes down to your personal style preference. So if you're intrigued by slightly wider pinstripes on a suit then, by all means, go for it. Bear in mind that depending on your body type, a suit with large stripes might come across as a bit too severe and bold, but for those with a larger body type it's certainly a look that can be pulled off without a hitch. And don't forget, before settling on a particular look for your custom suit, you can always stop into a local department store and try things on to give yourself a better idea of what will best complement your particular style preferences.
When the term crosshatch is mentioned, sometimes people get this confused with checkerboard or even plaid. But crosshatch is an entirely different design scheme. It's best to visualize crosshatch as intersecting narrow overlaid strands, giving the suit a soft yet more defined visual texture. While a suit with a crosshatch pattern might appear to be of a solid color from a distance, the layered appearance becomes more noticeable as you get closer to it. Like pinstripes, crosshatch suits are ideal for gentlemen who want to maintain a subtler minimalist appearance while still adding a bit of nuance to their personal style. Crosshatch patterns look especially stunning when applied to British-style suits, as their more tapered and more refined appearance really shines through with that extra layer of texture. What makes crosshatch suits particularly visually appealing is the subtle color overlays between fabric strands. While the colors of each strand may be hard to tell apart, when blended together they can really make a suit stand out above all the rest in a particular room, setting, or event. Darker crosshatch patterns are ideal for office settings and business meetings, while lighter ones can give a summer suit an extra tinge of brighter color contrast. Although crosshatch patterns are not normally someone's very first pick for a custom suit, it is definitely worth consideration as a way to add more versatility to your evolving wardrobe.
One of the greatest advantages of a herringbone suit is its ability to fit well in casual settings without coming across as overly dressy. Wearing a suit made with brown herringbone fabric patterns and without a tie, for example, will give you an edge of sophistication for informal events during the day while leaving you well below the threshold for being overdressed. The pattern has an innate tendency to be softer on the eyes in contrast to the sharper aesthetic of pinstripes or solid colors. From a distance, a suit designed primarily with a herringbone pattern might seem similar to the distinct visual style of crosshatch stitching, but up close there is a noticeable difference. Just as its name implies, the arrangement alternates between ascending and descending sections of perpendicular stitches that showcase a zigzag pattern. For herringbone suits, it is usually best to go with a tighter pattern and softer color contrasts as opposed to larger and bolder delineations between lines and colors. The latter could come across as too loud for most formal settings, but even so, that particular bold look is not completely impossible to pull off gracefully. But for the novice, it's best to lean toward subtlety.
If you decide to go the houndstooth route for your next custom suit or sport coat, keep in mind that whatever neckwear you decide to pair with it should not have the same pattern. The resulting visual effect from this is very similar to wearing plaid shirts with plaid pants, and the pattern combination can be a bit too overwhelming on the eyes. Due to its more casual style, you might even be better off foregoing the tie altogether. A button-down shirt in a solid, soft shade is more than sufficient to complement the busier houndstooth pattern. In contrast to other square patterns, houndstooth jackets, sport coats, and suits display a broken checkered pattern with jagged edges along the small squares formed from the specially woven fabric. Some have likened this appearance to a dog's teeth, hence the name. This pattern is less common than pinstripe or crosshatch for full suits, but its application in settings that fall shy of formal is often overlooked. Houndstooth sport coats, as well as full suits, are great for fall and winter, as the pattern projects a warmer aesthetic than patterns you would more commonly see in formal office settings. The material on most houndstooth jackets is also usually slightly thicker, so you won't necessarily need any extra layers for bundling up when it gets chilly.
In more casual settings that might only require a sport coat, you can push your creative boundaries a little bit more by considering starker color contrasts. Just keep in mind that with any pattern—but especially plaid—a little goes a long way. Olive green, charcoal grey, or alternating neutral-tone blacks and whites can greatly complement your style and allow you to stand out in a crowd without being too overpowering. While you might want to go with pinstripe or crosshatch for suits that you'll be wearing more frequently during events or places that lean toward the formal side, plaid is still a great option for summer suits or ensembles that require a more relaxed aesthetic. From the tastefully subtle to the wildly outrageous, plaid has existed in various forms ever since humans started to develop a sense of fashion. One of the most widely known checkered clothing patterns, plaid is embraced by both formal and casual fashion realms. While the popularity of plaid suits waned toward the dawn of the 21st century, they now seem to be making a bit of a comeback, with some important conditions, of course. Contrary to the popular belief of some in the fashion world, plaid can be done elegantly so long as the color contrasts between fabric threads are not too severe. Some softer plaid patterns even closely resemble the stitching of a crosshatch suit, and if your main use for a custom suit is everyday office wear, this is definitely the look you should be shooting for.
With a variety of suit styles, colors, patterns, and fabrics to choose from, our clothiers here at Enzo Custom will help you get fitted into a suit that works best for both your personal style needs and dress code requirements. Use our custom suit builder on our website or stop into one of our physical showrooms today to give your wardrobe an extra boost.