In the post-pandemic landscape many of us have returned to work with a renewed sense of energy and style, but the shift toward hybrid or remote work models has meant that the rules around corporate attire have changed for a lot. For the most part, this has meant more flexibility around what you can wear - many offices have thrown out the rulebooks when it comes to demanding a suit and tie, or at least pivoted to only requiring a full suit for important meetings or client-facing days. The most common thing we’re hearing from customers, though: ‘I’m really enjoying wearing tailored, adult clothes again.’ Feedback is surprisingly overwhelming, in that after a couple of years of wearing pyjamas (and a decent top, for Zoom, of course) throughout the work week, the ritual of ironing a shirt, lacing your shoes and putting a comb through your hair each morning is a much-needed punctuation mark in your daily schedule.
With that in mind, we’re offering an alternative to your standard chinos and button-down set up: the sophisticated spin that is tailored wool separates. While offering the flattering silhouette and reliability/flexibility of your go-to staple wool suits, playing with a different jacket and trouser in a ‘suiting separates combination’ still allows you to express a little more personality, flair and laid back Italian-inspired elegance. However, it’s not always quite as simple as reaching for your two favourite suits and mixing them together, and there are a few guidelines to mastering the often-overlooked look in style.
Colour coordination. It’s a simple enough idea: pick two colours that complement each other nicely. The biggest no-no with matching colours actually comes from picking two that are too similar - slightly different shades of navy or charcoal can be at risk of looking accidental, like you grew out of a jacket and threw another in the mix, so we suggest sticking to starkly different tones. Grey and navy go together wonderfully, and are both neutral colours, so there’s no risk of looking mismatched when you put them together. Adding a bolder colour, like a red or green, to navy or grey will also work, as the neutral colour pulls it back, but it’s worth remembering that you should be restrained in your shirt and accessories if there’s another colour taking the lead.
Pattern focus. In a similar way to letting a single colour shine, you should be wary of overcooking the pattern-play, lest you look like a tailoring kaleidoscope. There are some sartorial wizards of Instagram who can make a check jacket work with a different pair of check trousers, but it’s a pretty advanced play that can go wrong with the slightest mistake. As with all classic tailoring tenets, less is usually more. Keep your statement piece focused on one garment, and then let quality and perfect fit shine on the rest.
Fabric match. The texture of a fabric is a commonly overlooked component of matching a pair of trousers with a jacket, and while there are no hard and fast rules, it’s always a good idea to consider how similar they are in style. A pair of light linen suit trousers can look silly when put next to a thick flannel blazer, whereas wool and wool will always be consistent and complementary. However, this rule doesn’t apply so much if you’re dealing with a ‘casual blazer’, rather than your standard corporate suit - more relaxed details like patch pockets, unlined construction and mismatched buttons give a jacket a more laid-back vibe that sets it up to be more easily paired with any textured fabric trouser, from chinos to linen or blends.
The best part about suiting separates is the extra usage it gets you out of your favourite suits. A navy and grey suit suddenly gives you four different combinations, and your spring racing or special occasion bold windowpane statement piece can suddenly get a lot more wear, when worn more reservedly with a neutral jacket or trouser.