Well-Groomed Q&A: Can A Navy Suit Be Formal?

Q: My boyfriend had recently bought a Jack London navy blue suit for my formal. We've had trouble deciding what colour or patterned shirt he should wear inside the suit :( And if he is suited to wear a bow tie or tie? He's decided to wear brown shoes though, but would black be a better choice for a formal occasion? I'll be wearing an orange dress and nude coloured shoes. Many Thanks --Monica

A: Hi, Monica. I gotta say, I think the "formal" ship has already sailed. By choosing not only a suit, but a navy suit, you're fighting an uphill battle to try to make it formal. At this point, I think you should strive for an impeccably stylish look, rather than a formal one. So, stick with the brown shoes. As I mentioned here, black shoes are a valid choice for a navy suit, but you mentioned that your shoes are nude. No matter your skin tone, nude shoes have a brown base to the color, so a darker brown shade for your guy's shoes would compliment your look. And let's face it, you want to look like a coordinated couple. 

As far as shirts go, he can choose bold stripes with blue peekaboo paisley cuffs, or a subtler polka dot and checkered pattern. It depends on how big a statement he wants to make. A white pocket square with orange stitching adds contrast to the dark navy. Since we're focusing on creating a stylish look, rather than a conventional one, I think a bow tie would further send the message, "I might not be formal, but this look is very intentional." Style is about intention. If your guy looks like he purposefully chose his look, rather than cobbled together random accessories, then it will be a winning choice.

What do you guys think? Can a navy suit be formal?
David Jones suitCole Haan oxfords, Scott James shirt, Ike Behar shirt, Beau Ties bow tie, Scott James pocket square

1 comment:

Hillary said...

What is formal these days?

I mean, unless you are partying with folks with a lot of money / old-skool WASPy folks, or it says "black tie only," I think you have a lot of freedom. Standards for dress have loosened up a lot.

I do agree that a purposeful stylish/playful look will stand out in a way that is a reasonable substitute for others being more "formally" dressed.

That said, if it DOES say "black tie" - he needs a tux.

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