How to wear a suit without looking like an amateur

9 min read

You’re going to attend a business event. Be it a networking party at a trade show or a gala dinner at an upscale hotel, you’ll want to look professional and sophisticated.

Many men, while brilliant in their professions, might stumble over style matters. We feel their charisma can shine through better if they turn up dressed tastefully at business events. Think of all the opportunities they might have missed because of their shabby attire!

And the worst thing is, in Asian culture, people tend to be more reserved; most likely, they won’t tell you that you look awful.

So we’re here to help you. Here’s how you can suit up for success – and not look like an amateur.


#1 No tight fit, please.

We get that you want a sleek look. However, wearing an overly tight shirt will make you look like you can’t wait to show off your gym results. You’ll feel uncomfortable, and so will the people looking at you. Whatever you do, stay away from an overly hugging fit.

tight fit suit
An overly fitted outfit (image source)

That said, avoid an overly roomy fit as well. The baggy look with over-extended shoulder pads and sagging chests? So five-years-ago and really unattractive.

Opt for a balanced fit, one that accentuates your silhouette and brings out your assets and yet camouflages your flaws.

How to wear a suit
A balanced fit, created by Common Suits


#2 Choose your shirt collar wisely.

Besides the conventional pointed collar that you see on most off-the-rack shirts, there are actually at least six to eight more options that you can explore. We will discuss in more detail later on, but in short, you can follow these guidelines.

● If your face is angular – spread collar (wide angle)

● If your face is round – point collar (narrow angle)

shape of collar
Choose your shirt collar according to your face shape  (image source)

You’ll be surprised to see the difference that a shirt collar can make in relation to your face shape. If your face is angular, a wide-angle collar will soften it; if your face is round, a narrow-angle collar will sharpen it.

It’s not easy to find a shirt collar in the shops that’s just right for your face shape; do get your tailor’s advice.

In addition, you may need to pay more attention to your shirt’s colour. A white dress shirt is a staple that has existed since the beginning of time and still remains as a piece every man should have in his wardrobe. Here’s an in-depth article on shirt and pattern matching.

#3 Fabric makes a difference.

A suit in 100% polyester – avoid it at all cost (image source)

Never 100% polyester. You can spot a polyester suit from across the room. One tell-tale sign? The ugly shiny edges of the lapel and the side seams of the trousers. During ironing, the polyester content melts, and your jacket or trousers turn shiny. The shiny parts age your outfit and make it look at least two to three years older even though it may be new.

Instead, opt for pure wool fabric. It’s natural and more resilient to heat, so it won’t turn shiny if you press it at the right temperature, i.e. the “pure wool” setting. If not, go for at least a quality wool-blend material.

#4 Play around with the pocket square.

You’re at an event, and everyone’s dressed to the nines. Imagine a sharp-looking gentleman wearing a well-fitted navy blue suit. Looks familiar? Yup, that’s you. Now look around you. What do you see?

Five more guys in similar-looking suits!

Don’t you just hate it when that happens? We do too. What can you do in this situation?

Add a pocket square. The pocket square is a very useful accessory for self-expression and a well-chosen one set you apart from the sea of navy blue suits.
● Get the right type of pocket square. Make sure the colour and pattern of your pocket square do not exactly match those of your tie; that will look tacky. Alternatively, you can match the colour of your pocket square to that of your shirt, or choose complementary colours.
● Wear the pocket square in an interesting style. Practice the various ways of folding your pocket square and have fun with it.

Don’t be afraid to be adventurous. With more practice, you’ll know the best styles for yourself.

how to wear a suit singapore
A good example of matching your pocket square with your outfit (Image by Common Suit)


#5 Consider wearing a double-breasted suit.

A man in a well-cut double-breasted suit will definitely get him more double takes. It is a very empowering and authoritative look. It creates an inverted triangle shape that makes your silhouette more streamlined, especially if you are a bigger or wider man.

It makes a man look more masculine and classy.

double breasted suit singapore
A tailored double-breasted suit makes for a more flattering silhouette (Image by Common Suits)

It’s safe to say that in general, a tailored double-breasted suit looks more flattering than an off-the-rack one, because a double-breasted jacket requires a more precise fit.

It thus demands a more advanced level of drafting as compared to a single-breasted jacket. If you are keen on a double-breasted suit, be sure to look for a local tailor.


#6 Try beltless pants.

A well-fitted pair of trousers doesn’t need a belt to be held in place. Hence, if you opt for a beltless pants, you’re sending a subtle message:  ‘Your pants are tailor-made’ – you’re someone who appreciates details.

beltless pants singapore
A variation of beltless pants  (Image by Common Suits)

You’ll also gain an additional 3–4 cm in height because your visual leg line will now start higher. Simply put, you’ll look taller.

A beltless option also makes your entire outfit more streamlined and cleaner, since there isn’t a clear division between your top and bottom, allowing a smooth transition from top to toe.

It makes your life easier too: you don’t have to match your belt to your shoes. Plus, if you’re a minimalist, you’ll definitely love beltless pants. It’ll complement your style very well.


#7 Get a really nice pair of shoes.

dress shoes, wholecut oxford from Paul Evans
Wholecut oxfords in oxblood from Paul Evans (image source)

Many men are not willing to spend more on their dress shoes. They believe that it is unnecessary to spend more than S$400 on a pair of dress shoes, as long as their outfits look good. This is simply not true. Here’s why:

● Shoes are the end point of your entire outfit, and that’s why they matter. Remember a wonderful movie you watched? The producers usually spent more effort on the last 10–15 minutes. That’s because they wanted to create a memorable ending for the audience.
● Women pay attention to your shoes. We can’t control how women see us, but according to a study, 64% of women judge a man’s fashion sense based on his shoes.
● A really great pair of shoes reflects who you are because it takes a lot of time and effort to take care of your dress shoes. It involves discipline, patience (try it once and you’ll know why) as well as a far-sighted mindset as dress shoes are a great investment.

#8 Be nice with good manners.

Common Suits
Image by Common Suits

You may look like a million bucks in a perfectly fitted suit, however, people do make judgments based on the way you carry yourself too.

When you behave as a true gentleman, you may or may not be able to stand out from others. But one thing is for sure: if you’re rude and inconsiderate, you’ll look uncultured, no matter how well you’re dressed.

Whether you’re wearing an off-the-rack, tailored or bespoke suit, keep in mind that every effort you put in represents your sincerity and respect for the people you’re meeting.



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