If you want to be a hardboiled detective, you need real life traumatic experiences, a drinking problem, an addiction to nicotine, a gun, and a bad ass suit. If you want to look like a hardboiled detective, or just a well dressed man or responsible business person, you still need the suit. Suits, to be exact. One gray and one black will get you through everything from interviews to drinks to shoot outs.

Back in Black

If you can only have one suit, go with black. It is timeless and appropriate at a funeral, an interview, or a first date. Talk about utility! Your suit doesn’t have to be pure black without any striping or accents. We are looking for a suit, not a tuxedo after all. You can try on suit jackets in a department store or wherever to get an idea about what size you wear, but to get the best fitting suit you should be measured by a tailor. Or, you can buy a somewhat cheaper unfitted suit and pay some extra later to have it tailored to your exact dimensions. When picking a suit, look mostly for subtle striping and a little bit of style without going too crazy with thick pinstripes or plaid anything.

You’ll want to go with a classic single breasted suit with two or three buttons – a double breasted suit is one that folds over itself significantly rather than just buttoning simply in the front. When wearing the jacket, the bottom button is left open out of a tradition that may date back to King Edward VIII and his portly belly, or it could just be for a cool flaring look. With a three button suit, you may want to leave the top button open as well.

Feeling Gray

I personally think that gray suits are awesome and should be worn more and more. Most suited to the warmer months of the year when black or navy can seem a bit heavy, gray has a lighter feel while still looking great and demanding respect. Regarding color, go lighter rather than darker because hey, you already have a dark suit. That’s not to say dark gray isn’t appealing, but if you want the most amount of variety in your look, lighten it up a shade or two.

The mechanics of wearing a gray suit are the same as with any suit, though you can get away with a bit more in your accessories. For instance, brown shoes and belt look good with a gray suit, but not with a black suit. A purple tie can really shine on its own when in stark contrast to the lighter grays, instead of blending in with the black.

Clothes Make the Man, Accessories Make him Cool

Just kidding. Mostly. But when it comes to rocking a suit, just as important as the actual garment itself is what you’re wearing with it. With darker suits, dark leather shoes are a must, that is, black. As mentioned, with gray suits, you can use different shades of brown. It needs to be repeated, I suppose, but you should know this by now: Your belt must match your shoes. Your socks should match your shoes as well. Brown socks with brown shoes, black with black and so on. A suit should never meet a pair of athletic socks and only in rare instances would a white dress sock be appropriate. Say, if you’re a pimp or a drug dealer or wearing a white linen suit in Havana.

For the tie, either forget it completely or stay with mostly solid colors. Novelty ties shouldn’t leave your closet- actually they shouldn’t even be in there. When in doubt, solid colors and thinner, rather than thicker, ties. Accent the whole thing with classy cuff links or a nice watch and you’re ready to tuck a pistol in the waist band and clip the badge to your belt. Or just get drunk at the Christmas office party, but look really good while doing it.

Top Photo Credit: Andrew Snavely


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