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Formal wear

The Gray Suit, Right for Every Occasion

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A great suit is like an armor: when you’re wearing it, you’re unstoppable! There is something in the fact that you’re wearing an expensive piece of clothing that skyrockets your belief in yourself.

if you’re not the type who needs to wear a suit daily, you probably don’t wear it in the evening or during the weekends, either. Since you don’t want to spend a lot of money on suits of different kinds and colors, you probably want one that you can wear every once in a while.

Is this you? No problem, then, the gray suit to the rescue!

Many corporations use gray suits (along with navy) to dress their employees. It’s a pretty conservative color but you can still stand out if you know how.

Although many don’t like it because it makes you look older, gray contrasts great with all skin complexities. In other words, YOU CAN’T GO WRONG BY WEARING GRAY.

Since we’re talking contrasts, you MUST keep in mind your skin tone before you make your pick. It’s simple: you’re in one of the following three categories: dark skin, medium skin or fair skin. For instance, Bill Clinton has fair skin, David Beckham has medium skin and Ricky Martin has dark skin.

The idea is this: if you have darker skin you should choose a lighter gray, if you have whiter skin you should go for a darker one. If you have medium skin you can go for either one, just try different shades to see which one is best for you.

Is it fashionable? Who wears gray anymore?

A lot of people weary gray but most men prefer to go for blue when it comes to suits. Here’s a few pictures of celebs wearing gray: Taylor Lautner, Brad Pitt and Chris Brown:

photo: socialitelife.celebuzz.com, celebspin.com, ivenus.com

What kind of shirt should I wear with my gray suit?

The gray suit is very flexible: it works with both white shirts and black shirts and, if you want a colored one, you’re free to experiment with some of the shirts that match (for instance, pink or purple).

Before you start looking for the shirt, decide WHERE you will wear it along with your suit. At work or business meetings? At formal dinners or a wedding? At the theater? If it’s a more casual occasion then you can go for a colored shirt, drop the tie and even unbutton a button or two.

photo: z.about.com, asuitthatfits.com

Since you probably already have a few white shirts in your wardrobe, they will match great with your new gray suit…

What about the shoes and the belt?

Again, gray shows us its flexibility. You’re probably way ahead of me thinking that a pair of black shoes and a black belt would go great. Agreed, but black isn’t the only option.
Let’s face it: too many men wear black because they don’t know what else to wear (same goes for women who, when in doubt, they choose the ubiquitous black dress).

Don’t get me wrong, you can look great in a gray suit and shiny black shoes. But why be afraid of brown?

photo: thesartorialist.blogspot.com, celebridoodle.com

Brown will show others you have good taste and that you know how to stand out in formal situations. A word of caution, however: go for dark brown when you pick your shoes. Light brown won’t look good with your gray suit.

What about the tie?

photo: z.about.com

If you’re wearing black belt and shoes, then a tie like the ones in the image above will go great. In fact, go ahead and try out several colors to see which one you like best. (*Tip: Try an orange tie. THis goes very well with gray. Make sure that the two colors have the same shade.)

Why do the ties above work well? The secret is the following:

If you have an all black outfit, white, some shades of gray and a drop of color are all you need to make a fashion statement.
Check the Be Stylish ™ package for dozens of similar style tips.

The patterned gray suit

If you want something more interesting, pick a suit with a herringbone pattern:

herringbone pattern

At the end, I want to make sure the info in this article really stuck to you. It would mean a lot to me if, unlike the other 99% of men, you would actually apply what you read and skyrocket your style.

Here’s a small quiz for you. Only two questions – easy to do:

  1. What are the three main types of skin and which one is closest to YOUR skin type?
  2. based on the answer to the previous question, what shade of gray would best suit you?

If you’re a serious style student of mine, you should take at least a couple of minutes to reflect on each question. After that, go through the malls and try on some clothes. You’ll be amazed at the results. 🙂

Tags:
George Lavas

George is dedicated to fashion and style for men. Based between London and Tucson, Arizona he enjoys writing about lifestyle and fashion from both sides of the pond. George created BeStylish.org to help readers create a strong sense of style with minimum effort believing that everyone can look and feel good, all day, every day.

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47 Comments

  1. Talat May 1, 2010

    Excellent advice; I agree 100% with this. Gray is extremely versatile in the wardrobe. The drop of color with the tie totally rocks! For less formal occasions, I’ve also used the suit jacket top, with dark wash blue jeans, going with a polo or dress shirt with a hint of blue.

    Reply
  2. sidali October 6, 2011

    wearing a long sleeves brilliant white shirt with dark blue tie will fully match the gray suit man.

    regards

    -syed ali –

    Reply
  3. Doug November 24, 2011

    would a dark grey suit, white shirt, bright orange tie, dark brown belt and dark brown shoes work?

    Reply
  4. George November 24, 2011

    Talat :

    Excellent advice; I agree 100% with this. Gray is extremely versatile in the wardrobe. The drop of color with the tie totally rocks! For less formal occasions, I’ve also used the suit jacket top, with dark wash blue jeans, going with a polo or dress shirt with a hint of blue.

    You’re absolutely right. Grey works well with both black and brown so, if you have a grey suit, you can wear it with either black or brown shoes.

    Reply
  5. George November 24, 2011

    sidali :

    wearing a long sleeves brilliant white shirt with dark blue tie will fully match the gray suit man.

    regards

    -syed ali –

    Indeed. You can add a pocket square to take things further. The rules of formal style say that a white shirt should be matched by a white pocket square, by the way.

    Reply
  6. George November 24, 2011

    Doug :

    would a dark grey suit, white shirt, bright orange tie, dark brown belt and dark brown shoes work?

    Like a charm. And, as I suggested to Syed Ali, go ahead and add a white pocket square to the outfit – it’s gonna look amazing.

    Reply
  7. eric December 7, 2011

    I have a quick question:

    What color combinations will go well with camel shoes? I am black as well if that will make a difference.

    I am thinking silver gray suit but the rest, i am not sure.

    Thanks

    Reply
  8. shahid January 19, 2012

    please gude me,i have charcoal grey suit,,wanna wear on wedding of my brother,,which shirt and tie combination to use,,my skin color is brown

    Reply
  9. jules March 12, 2012

    I am representing my group for a power point presentation. we are all women. is it appropriate to wear dark brown trouser suit and striped long sleeve shirt that is slightly longer than my suit? pls help me.

    Reply
  10. George March 14, 2012

    eric :

    I have a quick question:

    What color combinations will go well with camel shoes? I am black as well if that will make a difference.

    I am thinking silver gray suit but the rest, i am not sure.

    Thanks

    Grey, green, yellow, white, brown. Just make sure you don’t overdo it by making the entire outfit too colorful.

    Reply
  11. George March 14, 2012

    shahid :

    please gude me,i have charcoal grey suit,,wanna wear on wedding of my brother,,which shirt and tie combination to use,,my skin color is brown

    You definitely need a white shirt or white with green/brown/blue micorchecks or stripes. based on that you pick the tie (solid or with a pattern).

    Reply
  12. George March 14, 2012

    jules :

    I am representing my group for a power point presentation. we are all women. is it appropriate to wear dark brown trouser suit and striped long sleeve shirt that is slightly longer than my suit? pls help me.

    Sorry Jules but I can’t give you any women’s advice…

    Reply
  13. Simon Mitchell March 29, 2012

    I am going to be in Cannes for MIPTV this year and I have bought a grey suit, it is not as formal as the film festival but there will be executives from all of the top studios. I am a junior and very lucky to attend so I want to make a good impression. What shoes and shirt do you suggest I wear with the suit

    Reply
  14. ephantus wagereka njoroge March 30, 2012

    am purchasing a grey suit for a wedding and the theme of the wedding is purple. which shirt colour and tie should i wear?

    Reply
  15. Eedouard April 18, 2012

    Gray suits are great. Pretty much my favorite. They’re versatile and just look cooler than navy suits, but that’s just me.

    Reply
  16. Henri May 19, 2012

    I just bought a fresh lighter grey suit. I’m planning to wear it with black shoes and belt and a pink shirt with narrow white stripes. What do you make of this? And further on which color tie and pocket square would work. I’m thinking black tie and a white/pink square. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    1. George May 19, 2012

      Henri,

      The combination sounds really good.

      Another great outfit starting from the gray suit is to wear it with brown shoes and a brown belt. I’d choose a more conservative shirt in this case (e.g. white).

      Reply
  17. Marco June 28, 2012

    Great!! Im wearing gray this saturday!

    Reply
  18. khan October 7, 2012

    I have short height, brown skin, black hair, athletic build. I am wearing a light grey suit for a wedding at night. I am thinking of wearing a white shirt. Can you please advice me on what tie and shoes to wear.

    Reply
    1. George October 7, 2012

      Hey Khan,

      The shoes + belt can be either brown or black. Both work well with grey.

      The tie should be darker, so it can contrast with the shirt.

      Reply
  19. Mohammed October 8, 2012

    Hi

    I’m 22 year-old engineer who started the career recently. I’m in the process of building a economic professional wardrobe that also includes casuals (my place of work allows casuals). Kindly let me know how do I choose the clothing, footwear, belts and other accessories. I’m a lean guy with 165cms in height, brown eyed and slightly brown hair (as these details could help you in advising me colors to choose). Let me know how to make the wardrobe with few simple, stylish yet elegant clothing.
    Eagerly waiting for your reply.
    Regards..

    Reply
  20. alfan October 11, 2012

    I’m 26 year old short height(5.8″), brown skin, black hair, athletic build. Planing to wear Nevy pin strip Suit with white shirt.could you help me with a tie.Since its my wedding its should be the best

    Regards
    Alfan

    Reply
  21. zain October 14, 2012

    I have feldgrau(green colour )suit.kindly tell me which colour of shirt and tie looks good with this suit.

    Reply
  22. John November 7, 2012

    Hello,

    I’m representing my company at a formal charity event in Boston, and I’m thinking about buying a new suit. I was thining of buying a gray suit, but since I don’t wear suits often I wasn’t sure if it would be formal enough or not. I would say I have a medium skin tone, would a charcoal gray suit work w/a lighter blue shirt underneath?

    Reply
  23. George November 7, 2012

    Hey John,

    You’re absolutely right! Gray is indeed formal enough for business encounters, especially a darker shade. A lighter shirt will contrast well with it, indeed.

    George

    Reply
  24. David November 12, 2012

    Hey

    I have a work christmas party in a few weeks and was considering wearing my grey suit however I feel this will be too formal, so I am thinking about wearing my grey suit trousers with a cobalt blue shirt, however I think this is a little plane how can i stand out in this outfit?

    Reply
  25. shstsy December 5, 2012

    my brothers wedding is one week away, we have chosen a light grey suit. our bridal theme is orange and lime green. which shirt colour, tie, shoes and belt would look best to match with our theme colour…they were proposing black and silver waist coats as well as tie and white shirt…what do you think?

    Reply
  26. Mike January 2, 2013

    I need help selecting a tie color to go with a grey suit and light blue dress shirt. I also plan on wearing black shoes, and a black belt. Please hgelp, I don’t have much time.

    Reply
  27. Dony March 29, 2013

    I Picked a dark gray 3 piece suit for my marriage.Could you please suggest the best colour tie for it which suits the occasion ?

    Reply
  28. George March 29, 2013

    Dony :

    I Picked a dark gray 3 piece suit for my marriage.Could you please suggest the best colour tie for it which suits the occasion ?

    Hey Dony.

    Congrats for your wedding!

    Since you’re the groom, you have to be the best-dressed man there, no doubt about it. On the other hand, you need to keep it a little more formal than your guests.

    What I would recommend is a white shirt with fine stripes or microckecks, that also has a french cuff. This will allow you to wear cufflinks. Add a white pocket square with a pattern.

    If the pattern of the pocket square is the color of your cufflinks, you have a killer outfit.

    Of course, this is just an suggestion, let me know if you need more help.

    Reply
  29. Craig April 10, 2013

    I have a day at the races this weekend and will be wearing a new light grey suit. I was thinking of wearing brown shoes and belt with this suit? am i right in choosing a dark brown shoes with a light grey suit?.. also i will be wearing a whithe shirt with white pocket square and wasnt sure what color tie to add to it… my first thought was a navy blue…?help…

    Reply
  30. George April 10, 2013

    Craig,

    Looks like you don’t need my help, you have everything figured out! I would choose a lighter shade of brown for your shoes and belt but dark brown is OK as well.

    Reply
  31. Craig April 10, 2013

    So my thought on tie color is ok? i wasnt sure and have some doubts.. any other color ties you would reccomned with a light grey suit, white shirt and brown shoes..?

    much appreciated.

    Reply
  32. Sunil April 12, 2013

    Hi George. I am 28 years old. I am planning to wear a Navy blue suit with a waistcoat for my wedding reception. I have the following 4 questions
    1. Can I wear brown (or dark tan shoes) and belt with it ?
    2. I have bought a white shirt, but now I am planning to go with a sky blue shirt.
    3. Also, I have a baby pink pocket square to match my wife’s dress. I am planning to buy a blue tie with baby pink lines or other designs on it
    4. Should I just go for a baby pink cravat instead of a tie ? Please advise.

    Reply
  33. ali shah June 4, 2013

    Hey George !!
    first of all thnx a lot for som great tips !! 🙂
    i hv never been rly experimental with all this suiting up bu now i have too
    i need ur advice !! i have brought som really nice light brown shoes and i was planning to get a matching light brown belt and wear it with grey suit !! ( i did read the caution regarding light brown shoes tho but i don’t have a choice now ) which color of shirt n tie shud i get (Purple,white , brilliant blue ,sky blue . . . pink !! )
    Also . . can i wear these shoes with a dark charcoal/grayish black suit with a crisp white shirt and matching grayish tie !!?

    (my skin tone is well fair i guess )

    awaiting ur reply
    thnx
    regards

    Reply
  34. Lawrence Abiodun June 20, 2013

    What is the best way to combine an Orange Shirt with a Grey Suit. I need this information because I am helping a friend to plan for his forthcoming marriage.
    Thanks

    Reply
  35. George June 20, 2013

    Hi Lawrence,

    That’s a great question! I would go for either a light or a pale orange or for a medium orange with white stripes. I think having a medium orange uni shirt would be too eye popping.

    But with light orange or orange + white stripes you’ll be fine. You could also add an orange pocket square and don’t forget the tie.

    Reply
  36. john August 15, 2013

    i have a friend’s wedding coming up soon and am planning on wearing my light grey suit with brown belt and tie. what do you suggest is a good color/pattern combination. i am thinking about white shirt with a paisley patterned tie and if i go along with this pattern i am thinking about getting a white paisley pocket square to match the shirt. if i were to head this direction what color tie should i get? i am also open to any other combination of colors/patterns that would go well with my suit. what do you think?

    Reply
  37. Abhishek August 24, 2013

    how do you select a tie while wearing a gray suit and brown shoes and brown belt?

    Reply
  38. Lukus August 24, 2013

    I am white, but tanned, I have a grey suit with slim lapel that I’m happy with along with a burgundy slim tie, I’m stuck on shirt shoes and belt though? Any help would be appreciated!

    Reply
  39. vipul September 2, 2013

    I am having a black shirt and black trouser,with having a black waist coat,i would like to wear the red tie on it,hows it looks like,when i m wearing it.please mail,on my email.id..thnku:)

    Reply
  40. John October 14, 2013

    Hey!
    I have a medium/ steel grey suit that I bought recently. I need to wear it to an outdoor night event. I was planning on wearing a white shirt. I have tan brown oxfords and a similar belt. What color solid tie should I wear? I was planning in wearing a pink silk tie or a lighter grey tie but I don’t really know much. Any advice would be helpful. Also, please tell me if I need to buy a different color shoes like a dark brown or should I wear black oxfords with a black belt.
    Thanks in advance.
    Cheers.

    Reply
  41. anil November 19, 2013

    i have grey suit with white shirt,black shoes,black belt which color tie n pocket square should be used for marriage ceremony

    Reply
  42. Subbu April 18, 2014

    Hey George,

    Im getting married next month and have purchased a light grey 3 piece suit for the occasion. By the way Im short (5’5″) of athletic build and brown skin. Could you suggest what color shirt, tie and pocket square to go for? I had golden yellow and blue in my mind since my partner’s dress has those colors. Am open to the shoes and belt color.

    Reply
  43. Gina May 8, 2014

    Help. My son is wearing a gray suit (vest too), white pleated tuxedo shirt with cuffs, black bow tie… BUT he’s adamant on wearing his black and white oxford wingtip shoes… I don’t know if they go or is this a huge blunder???

    Reply
  44. Daniel Martinez November 17, 2014

    I purchased a Mid Grey 3 piece suit and I have chocolate brown shoes and Corrado Cognac shoes not sure which one to wear? Also not sur what color shirt and tie to wear with the suit?

    Reply
  45. Eddie October 29, 2015

    I will be attending November wedding and I have this Billy london slim fit medium gray suit and a dark purple shirt, would this match if not please help and advise me and also what color of tie for this just in case this matches?. Thank you.

    Reply

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