The suit is certainly not dead, but it is changing. Casual suits for men offer a great way to stay looking smart, whilst expressing your own personality.
There will always be a call for formal business suits, particularly for men who work in corporate environments. However, as today’s menswear leans towards ‘laid back cool’; the suit has had to evolve, or risk fading into fashion obscurity.
Whether made in seersucker, linen or cotton; a casual suit is effortless cool personified something we salute here at Alexandra Wood, but there's always a time a place and that's where we tend to guide the best; ensuring you're dressing correctly for both yourself and for the occassion.
Comfortable and easy to style, casual suits are becoming more appealing to men worldwide. If you’re searching for the perfect casual suit, this guide will take you through when and how to wear one, what fabrics to consider and what details to look out for.
When should I wear a casual suit?
Casual suits are fun and flexible. Free from the rules and criteria that apply to formal suits, they can be worn in a multitude of ways for a variety of events.
A casual suit – or ‘relaxed suit’ as we like to describe them – is a great choice for events such as Wimbledon, The Henley Regatta, formal summer parties and beach weddings.
Occasions aside, a casual suit will give you more wear for your investment as they offer the versatility to take you from a business casual work environment straight to the bar without a missing a beat.
How do I wear a casual suit?
A casual suit can be worn in any season. The key is being mindful of what you wear it with, and ensuring your suit fits perfectly.
There are a few different ways you can style your casual suit.
Layer your look.
Layering colours and textures is all about experimentation and having fun. You can keep your look super simple with a crisp, white tailored t-shirt under a fine knit, or smarten up with a striped shirt and silk tie for a quirky look ideal for a smarter summer party.
Wear the jacket or trousers as separates.
Unlike a business suit, wearing either piece separately is allowed with casual suits.
Wear the jacket with neutral chinos, or the trousers on their own, and pair with either a crisp white t-shirt, button-down shirt or a nice knit. Casual suit trousers also work well with smart knitted polo shirts.
Add interest with shoes and accessories.
For a breezy weekend look, it’s acceptable to pair your suit with a t-shirt and clean, unbranded leather fashion trainers with a sleek profile. In winter, a leather lace-up shoe like a Derby (less formal than an Oxford) works well.
If you want to smarten things up for a dinner party at home, add a pocket square and smart loafers.
What lapel should I choose for a casual suit?
When wearing a casual suit, you're not bound by the rules that dictate what a classic, professional business should look like, so you can be a little more playful with your proportions. That means you choose between a peak or classic notch lapel.
The ideal width for this is 3 1/4'' – it’s a classic lapel width and won’t date or look out of place with a button-down shirt or a t-shirt. If you're feeling adventurous, go for a wide lapel, but be careful: the extra width will draw attention to broad shoulders and throw out your proportions.
Should a casual suit be unconstructed or structured?
Thanks to the advances in suit styles and garment technology over the last decade you can now choose from hundreds of fabrics and a variety of construction methods. These range from the conventional, structured suit that you’ll regularly find 'off the peg' to a more relaxed, unconstructed suit.
A structured suit has an interfacing (also known as a canvas), which gives the chest more shape and definition. An unconstructed suit is where the suit has no lining (just in the arms for ease of dressing) so it drapes naturally.
An unconstructed suit is great if you like a ‘lighter than air’ feel to your casual suits and you want to enhance your shape. If you're more interested in hiding your sins, then a structured suit is a more favourable option and of course, they are more appropriate if you are wearing them to work.
What are the best fabrics for a casual tailored suit?
Interestingly, despite its tendency to crease like you’ve spend a night wrestling with a tiger, linen is still a ‘go to’ fabric for men who want a cool summer suit. Other fabrics, in particular linen blends offer you the same level of comfort but without the ironing. These blends can be a combination of linen and silk, linen and cotton or a blend of all three and are available in a great range of colours. However, if you're aware of how a linen suit behaves and love it for all its flaws, then who are we to stop you.
A natural fabric that is timeless, yet super on trend. We adore its smooth texture and ability to hold incredible colours. So, from a classic navy to a vibrant pink (yikes!) this is an easy choice for all seasons.
Seersucker is a thin, puckered, all-cotton fabric, commonly striped or chequered, used to make clothing for spring and summer wear. It feels delicious to wear as it’s super lightweight and feels like you're barely wearing anything at all. There isn't a huge variety of colour ways and designs and you'll find that they're mainly blue and white thin stripes or a navy. However, our bespoke service offers customers the option to dye a plain white seersucker in a number of colours.
4. Lightweight wool
The world of fabrics has changed greatly over the years, so even a classic wool with an alternative design can be a great choice. A lightweight wool in a houndstooth design for example is a nice option for an off-duty look.
5. Jersey fabric
Yes, you read it right. A soft, stretch jersey fabric is an ideal choice for an autumn/winter casual suit. From subtle to quirky, a jersey casual suit is one of the most comfortable, crease free suits you could possibly own. This suit can be made in a classic suit style, or an unconstructed design with a drawstring trouser.
Casual suits at Alexandra Wood
Alexandra works with you to guide you to style success, by creating you a bespoke casual suit that works for you, your occassion and your personality. With so much choice, you need someone with an expert eye to skillflly guide you through the process.
With private appointments available in Savile Row and our headoffice store in Hertfordshire where we house our casual suit range, there's plenty to choose from.
Our limited edition ready to wear casual suits change regularly to reflect the seasons and our inspirations. If you can’t find exactly what you’re after, consider our semi-bespoke or bespoke services to have a bespoke casual suit created just for you.
To read more about how Alexandra works to design, tailor and style you to success step this way.