How To Wear Patterned Suits and Blazers

Now that you’ve got your solid suiting game on lock, you’re probably looking for that next step; that style move that’s going to take you from college star to blue-chip draft status.  Yep, you’re ready for patterned suiting and blazers. Inspired by English and Italian tailoring traditions, the right patterns are now the go-to way to elevate your game. Feel like you’re ready to start making moves? Good, we’ve got you covered with all the must-know details you need to take your closet to star status.

A Patterned State of Mind
Obviously, it takes some confidence and courage to make the move into patterns, but the simple fact is, you CAN pull these off. Despite what you may think, they’re not only versatile but also easy to wear when styled properly. So whether you’re looking to add some juice to your standard suit rotation, or looking for a next-level blazer move with denim and chinos, there’s never been a better time to dip a Solo cup into the patterned punch bowl.

Know Your Patterns
Now that you’ve got your head right, let’s dive into some details. Since there are a wealth of patterns out there, you’re gonna want to know what’s what so you know how to put it all together. (Not to mention, further impress that person who probably just complimented your steeze). While there are many variations on these basics, for the sake of clarity we’ve narrowed it down to a quick primer on the just the essentials.

Windowpane - Once exclusively the realm of uppity British sartorialists, a windowpane consists of a square pattern (thin or thick stripes) arranged in a grid style that looks like, you guessed it, a windowpane. Windowpanes can come in subtle varieties so they’re a great first step into plaids if you’re a newbie. Just keep the base color to one of the classics, like navy or charcoal for instance, and you’re good to go.

Glen Plaid - A legendary pattern originally favored by royalty, glen plaid comes in many stylish variations. It ups the pattern quotient with multiple grids and often incorporates a stripe or two of color for added impact. Like windowpanes, the pattern can come in many different sizes from small to brash, so know that there’s definitely a glen plaid out there for everyone. Additionally, glen plaids can often incorporate a windowpane of color (sometimes called a Prince of Wales plaid) for those of you who really want to turn some heads. Then again, you could also just go H.A.M. and make it a three-piece with a vest.  Just sayin’.

Pinstripe - Maybe pinstripes make you think Corleone vibes from 30’s era mobsters, but the simple fact is, this classic pattern is both a power suit staple and easy to wear.  Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s a reason the Yankees have had the best uniforms in baseball for over 100 years. The modern breed of pinstripes aren’t just for boardrooms and meetings (though they kill it there too), they’re stylish enough for your next wedding and versatile enough to be dressed down.

 Three Keys To Styling Success
So now that your mind’s right and you’ve got knowledge to drop, let’s bring it all together, shall we? There are three keys to keep in mind when styling patterned suits for success:

  1. Simplify It With Solids - While they are bold, pattern suits are ultimately very easy to style if you just start simply. For the beginners (and for the most versatility), let the suit do all the talking and pair it with a solid white or blue shirt and a solid or very subtly patterned tie (solid knit ties work exceptionally well also). It’s that easy.

  2. Check The Scales - If you’re ready for more of an advanced move (you’re damn right you are!), you can definitely go pattern-on-pattern for a look that really lets ‘em know you’re James Harden in 2018. Just be sure to keep the patterns at different scales (read: no matching-sized plaids) and balance out the boldness of the plaid in your suit with smaller scale patterns in your shirt and tie. So, something like a micro windowpane shirt paired with a thinly-striped or foulard-patterned tie is an ideal place to start.

  3.  Adopt An Accent - Another way to approach your suit and tie combo is to choose an accent color in the suit’s pattern, say, a blue windowpane or stripe, and use that as the color focus for your shirt and tie combo.  Matching off of the accent color is going to keep everything looking complementary and cohesive but not overly matchy. 

Now that you’ve added a shot of sartorial steroids to your closet, get ready for a few compliments, some shrugs of envy, and probably a high-five or two.