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Blue suit in two different ways - dressed-up and casual alternatives

I speak a lot about versatility. And how it is one of the most valuable features of a good suit. It naturally helps if you can wear the same suit in different ways.  And I don't mean just the fact that whether or not you can wear the suit with different kind of accessories. But whether you can dress the suit up or down and wear it for formal or more casual occasions.

In this post I will give you just a quick look and example on how to wear the same suit in two very different ways. How to make it work for business meeting or for dinner on one day and for a casual city stroll on the next one.

How to wear the same suit in different ways - blue suit with the white shirt and printed silk tie

Dressed-up for dinner.

Same suit in different ways - 2 styles to wear the navy suit

Earlier I wrote about how to pack light for a weekend trip. This is kind of a continuation of the same theme. An idea of what to keep in mind if you are heading for a short trip and you want to keep your bags light.

Last weekend we visited Tallinn for just a one night. We had planned a dinner for the evening and then just strolling around for the next day. As I started packing I had in mind that I wanted to wear a suit for that dinner. But I did not want to take a lot of garments with me. So I decided to wear the same suit for the evening and for the next day. With a button-up shirt, a tie and suede loafers for the dinner. And with a polo shirt and sneakers for that casual Sunday. So I packed with me:

  • 1 navy blue suit (with check plaid pattern)
  • 1 white button-up shirt
  • 1 white polo shirt
  • Some accessories
  • Suede tassel loafers
  • Some sports gear and underwear

And for the boat trip to Tallinn I wore dark blue denim slacks, a white button-up shirt and a blue suit jacket. And the sneakers.

How to wear the same suit in different ways - white linen pocket square details.

White linen pocket square - appropriate for formal and casual attires.

Blue suit with printed silk tie - suit up for dinner

I will start with the attire for that evening dinner. We had a reservation for a restaurant called Tuljak. A very nice and cozy place nearly by the sea, just a little bit outside of the center of Tallinn. If you visit Tallinn, I highly recommend the place - tasty food, good service and a nice wine list. As we also celebrated the birthday of my spouse, I wanted to dress up in a more formal way.

How to wear the same suit in different ways - navy blue suit with light blue silk tie

Ready for the evening. Or for a business meeting.

Herrainpukimo mtm-suit and DLA oxford shirt

In principle a patterned jacket or suit is always more casual than a plain one. Therefore I consider them as an optimal choice for this kind of relaxed yet chic occasions. If you would like to dress the attire down just a notch, you could just change the suit trousers for some light colored cotton slacks.

The suit here is one of my oldest mtm-suits and made by Herrainpukimo. It is a dark / navy blue wool suit with black restrained check-pattern. It has been one of my favorites due to the versatility. I have worn it to work with grenadine ties and calf leather shoes. But I have also worn it for Friday nights with roll neck sweaters and sneakers.

How to wear the same suit in different ways - getting ready for dinner and tieing the tie

Getting ready.

However the fit of the suit is not the best one for me and therefore I don't really wear it that often nowadays. If you take a close look of the picture where I wear the jacket with a tie, you can see there is a little gap between the jacket and shirt collar. It's a little thing and most people won't even notice it. It's a thing that can't really be fixed cause it's a consequence of unbalanced proportions on the jacket. And you can only see it if I wear the jacket with a button-up shirt and a tie. But as you know, it is those little things that you base your decisions. And that gives you the feeling whether or not you want to wear some particular suits, shirts or accessories.

How to wear the same suit in different ways - The light blue flower print tie close-up

The new DLA sample tie in sunlight - light blue saglione silk with little flower print. Untipped with hand rolled finishing.

Light blue printed silk tie with a navy suit

I recently got a shipment from our factory. The package included three new sample ties for DLA. I have been thinking about a new line of classic business ties as addition to the essential DLA selection. We haven't yet made any decisions but the tie you see here is one of the sample ties. It is a lightweight light blue silk tie made of high quality printed silk with a little blue floral pattern. As all DLA ties this one is also untipped and finished with hand-rolled edges.

To be honest, in my opinion this is a perfect business tie. Wear it with a plain dark blue suit and black oxford shoes, and you have a classic CBD (conservative business dress) attire. But I feel that it was a good choice for the dinner as well. The light blue color is a good choice for summer and the flower print enlivens the attire in a right way. And different shades of blue always go nicely together. In general I have recently started to like light blue ties for some reason. Especially as a part of simple, sometimes more casual office outfits. But it's good to keep in mind that light blue accessories work best with darker blue or then light colored suits and jackets. But for example with dark gray shades it does not work that well.

Finally I paired the suit and tie with the white DLA oxford shirt and suede tassel loafers by Crockett&Jones. Simple and classic choices.

How to wear the same suit in different ways - The suede tassel loafers in sunlight

My favorite tassel loafers - brown suede by Crockett&Jones.

Suit with polo shirt - casual attire

Then to that more casual option. And another kind of way to wear the same suit. Even though a suit in general would be business-oriented, by the right choices and combining you can dress it down and make it more casual. And that way it is a perfect alternative for an outfit featuring a sport coat and odd trousers for example. And  in my opinion this kind of attire is in fact even more casual than suit jacket with cotton slacks and button-up shirt.

How to wear the same suit in different ways - the runway collar with blue suit at the bar of Hilton Tallinn Park

The runway collar - at the lobby bar of Hilton Tallinn Park

The runway collar

If you have been keeping an eye on the contemporary menswear circles, you may have noticed the trend that has been sweeping around this summer. For example at the pictures from Pitti Uomo you could notice the popularity of this trend. And this trend is not in fact a design thing, but an affectation on how you wear your shirt collar. And they call it as the runway collar.

The trend is named as a runway collar because the open shirt collar isn't held down by the lapel of a jacket. Instead the collar 'runs away' and flaps freely above jacket collar. At this point you probably think think that "I have seen that earlier".  And for sure you have. The same way than the high-waist trousers or wider jacket lapels, the runway collar has been part of classic men's clothing already for decades. And now it is more popular again. At least in some circles, as it is not a thing for everyone.

How to wear the same suit in different ways - wearing the runway collar on the streets of Tallinn

On the streets of Tallinn.

Some people don't like it and some say that it reminds of the 1970's disco and kind of "cuban style". But the thing is, this has been done since the 1920's. So about 100 years men have been popping up their collar over their jacket lapels to make their attires more casual. If you want to know more and learn the history about the runway collar, I recommend to take a look at the recent blog post by a young American Ethan Wong (Street x Sprezza).

How to wear the same suit in different ways - the polo shirt and runway collar without the jacket

The polo shirt without the jacket.

The collar is important

The runway collar is not for everyone's taste. And actually it is not for everyone to wear. I personally feel that it's kind of a cocky look. And if you can't pull it off naturally, it can easily look that you try too hard. Try too hard to be cool.  But if you like the idea, I suggest you try it. That's the way you will find out whether it's your thing or not.

And keep in mind that whenever you have a shirt with a collar, you need to pay attention to the type and quality of the collar. Polo shirts or popovers are not exception. I personally prefer rather soft collars. And especially for this kind of more casual use and if you gonna try the runway collar, it is important that you avoid those too hard and formal shirt collars. But remember that soft does not mean sloppy. One of the most important features of a shirt collar is that it keeps the shape when worn under a blazer without a tie. And if you decide to wear the collar popped over your jacket collar it is important that the shirt collar is big and soft enough so that it settles well over the jacket collar.

For the other day with the suit I chose to wear a short-sleeve lightweight cotton polo shirt / popover with a very soft collar and five buttons. As it was quite a sunny and warm day, the choice proved to be a good one. And well, with an attire like this, you can easily take off your jacket if the weather gets too hot.

How to wear the same suit in different ways - classic Superga sneakers with the suit

My trusted Superga sneakers with the suit.

Sum up - three tips wear the same suit in different ways

The point of this write-up was to come up with a few thoughts on how to wear a suit in different kind of occasions. A suit does not always need to be that formal. And how by few changes you can change the whole look to be appropriate for different purposes. As a sum-up here are three points to keep in mind, if you want to survive two days is a row with the same suit. Two days with different kind of schedules - from dressed-up to casual.
  1. Choose a (single-breasted) suit in darker shade of blue and with restrained pattern (I recommend checks, plaids or windowpane for example).
  2. Make sure the suit is lightweight enough to wear with sneakers. Avoid details such as padded shoulders and ticket pockets. Try high-waisted trousers.
  3. Wear a white shirt. White shirt is always a safe choice and it will serve as a foundation for any attire.

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