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  • Writer's pictureStefan S.

The Navy Suit: All You Need To Know

Updated: Nov 12, 2023

Do you know what material your first navy suit should be made out of? If it's better to get a three piece or a two piece one? How about what accessories go great with it? Or perhaps what outfits you could build that will start turning heads when you walk down the street?


In this quick guide I will answer all these questions and more and offer you all you need to know before your next purchase of a navy suit.


Also, make sure to stick to the end for a lightning round of the most common questions you might have about navy suits, finally answered.


 

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. History

3. Characteristics

4. Do's And Dont's

5. Intermission

6. Recommended Brands

7. Accessories

8. Inspiration

9. Questions & Answers

10. Conclusion

 

Introduction


Do you know what color your first suit should be? (Many men get this wrong)


Hint: It's not black


The first suit that any young man should buy when he decides to start taking an interest in fashion (Or when he has an upcoming school prom and wants to impress his date - Whichever comes first), should always be navy.


Not only is it the most versatile color out there (meaning that it can be paired up with plenty of various other clothing items), but at this point, it has become all but a staple of the modern day gentleman.


By the way, if you have not taken the quiz to find out what type of style suits you the most, you can do that over here:

Great. Now that we have established that every gentleman needs a navy suit (and maybe some underwear, but that's negotiable) in his wardrobe, it's time to learn how to correctly buy and wear one. Because, after all, there is a huge difference between looking like a clueless kid who went shopping with their mom and a suave James Bond type gentleman who knows exactly what he's doing.



 

History of The Navy Suit


In order to fully understand the history of the navy suit, we have to take a step back in history. Destination: The Regency period; more exactly, the early 19th Century.


Back in those times, the concept of the modern suit was non-existent. And if you were to go back in time, travel to Savile Row and request a garment where both the pant and the jacket would be made out of the same material, you would probably be accused of sorcery and burnt at the stake (True Story).



Although suits were not "a thing", what was commonplace amidst the aristocracy, was the color blue. That was the standard color most coats would have and would often be paired with white (or off white) breeches.


A bit later on, suits started becoming increasingly popular in select circles (circa. 150 years before suits started becoming increasingly popular on Netflix). In the beginning they started out as "casual" leisurewear that would often be worn in the countryside, and it would take quite a while until they were deemed appropriate in the larger cities.


Finally, towards the end of the 19th century, both navy and grey suits would have become the norm and during the early 1900s virtually every man had at least one blue serge suit.


Fun Fact: A modern suit (Matching jacket, vest and trousers) was called a "Ditto Suit" and throughout the 18th Century was considered far less formal than an outfit made out of a dark colored jacket and light breeches.
cc: The Reminiscences and Recollections of Captain Gronow (1850)
Regency Era Style
 

Characteristics of The Navy Suit


There are a few things you should know before buying your next (or first) navy suit: stuff such as fabrics, variations, and fit.


Fabrics

Wool

Wool is the most popular material on the market. It looks great, doesn't wrinkle easily, it's comfortable and is appropriate for both summer and winter

Worsted

Most woolen suits are worsted. They are stronger, finer and smoother than simple woolen ones.

Cashmere

Cashmere is a fancier, yet at the same time more expensive option that should be considered.

Cotton

​While cotton is a cheaper alternative to wool, one must not forget that it is probably not the best option for summer, as it does absorb sweat.

Linen

​Linen is a very popular summer choice because of its lightweight and breathability. Furthermore, while linen will easily wrinkle, this is something to be expected, unlike with other materials, and you will not have to iron it.

Tweed

Tweed is a great material to wear during autumn and winter for less formal occasions, such as visiting the Scottish countryside, grading university papers or starting a shady business in 1920's Birmingham.

Synthetics

Synthetic suits such as those made out of polyester are typically deemed lower quality. They are usually mixed with wool.

That being said, most suits will contain at least a certain percentage of synthetic materials (such as polyester). When buying a suit, you should aim for that number to be as small as possible.



Variations




  • Three Piece vs Two Piece: This one is simple. If your budget allows it, always go for a three piece suit. While it will always be the more formal choice, you can easily simply not wear the vest and your three piece- will turn into a two piece suit.

  • Single Breasted vs Double Breasted: This greatly depends on the amount of suits you already have. I would never go for a double breasted suit as my first suit. However, if you already have a pretty impressive collection of suits in your wardrobe, a double breasted one would be a nice addition.

  • One-Two-Three Buttons: If it's not broken, don't fix it. I have personally always appreciated the classical two button suit more than it's less- and more gifted brothers.

  • Slim vs Wide Lapels: The extremes are definite NO-GO zones. If your lapel is either the size of a McDonalds French Fry or of an entire Happy Meal (Weird comparison, but go with it), you're better off not wearing a suit. Keep in mind that wider lapels will make you look more "Old Money".

  • Patterns: If you've already got an impressive collection of suits, it may be time to experiment with patterns: pinstripes, chalk stripe or even plaid, you name it!


Fit



So how exactly should a suit fit so that you don't look like a met-gala participant? Well, you should pay close attention to the following indications:

  1. Your shoulder should fit properly, not sag and the shoulder line should fall directly on where your shoulder ends.

  2. Your suit should not crease in the front when you close your frontal button.

  3. Your sleeve should not be too short nor too long. It should reach that little bone you have right before the hand starts.

  4. Your pants should not be too tight, nor too saggy

  5. Your pants should not be too long. They should reach exactly down to your shoes.

  6. Most importantly: Make sure not to have a collar gap. This is crucial.

 

Do's And Dont's


Now that you know how to buy the right suit, it's time to learn how to wear the suit right. Truth be told, it's better to wear a shirt and pants than to wear a suit the wrong way.


Therefore, without further ado:


How To Wear A Navy Suit

  • Wear a complementing shirt: white, powder blue and white striped are perfect choices, but don't be afraid to experiment with less mainstream options such as salmon pink or maroon.

  • Do wear a dress shirt: One common mistake I see a lot of guys make is wearing suits with casual shirts. It's called dress shirt for a reason.

  • Wear the right shoes: Both brown and black leather work great with navy suits. Choose black if you want to go more formal, choose brown to stand out for the sea of black. For a more relaxed (casual) choice, you could opt for loafers as well.

  • Wear navy socks: The sock should be a continuation of the pant. This will not only make you look taller, but it will create a seamless connection between your pants and your shoes.

  • Don't be afraid to experiment: Spezzato is an Italian term for combining pants, vests and jackets from different suits and creating one outfit. Do you know what would work great with a blue blazer? (Hint: It's grey pants)


How Not To Wear a Navy Suit

  • Don't wear the wrong colored shirt: Rule out options such as navy or black when it comes to shirts. You want there to be a clear contrast between the layers.

  • Don't wear t-shirts or polos: Unless your name is Robert California, I would advise against wearing a polo shirt with a navy suit.

  • Don't wear sneakers: I know it's a trend, but suits are among the most formal attires, whereas sneakers are as casual as they come (well, other than flip-flops... please don't wear flip flops... like ever... anyways, back to it). While it's not necessarily a fashion "mistake" per-se, I would personally advise against it.

  • Never go sockless: This is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make when wearing suits. If you're wearing dress shoes, this is a massive faux-pas. Though it's extremely common nowadays, it goes against all rules of classic menswear and will get you imprisoned in any modern self-respected society (well... not really, but still...)

  • Don't wear a belt: If you are wearing a three-piece navy suit, one should never wear a belt. Instead opt for a pair of suspenders. If it's a two piece, then please do wear a belt. It's a very underrated accessory.


 


Intermission


Wow! You've made it this far? You have a high five from me!



Before you go on, I would like to take this moment to ask a favor of you. If you have found the information in this blog helpful, make sure to share it on your social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter) by copying the URL at the top of this page. It would really mean a lot to me.


Thank you!


 

Recommended Brands


Not all brands are created equal. Below I will offer you an assortment of brands that I would personally recommend and divide them into 3 distinct categories: inexpensive, affordable and exclusive.

Category

Brand

Price Range

Inexpensive

Gutteridge, Massimo Dutti

$300 - $500

Affordable

​Hugo Boss, Brooks Brothers, Polo Ralph Lauren

$500 - $1000

​Exclusive

RL Purple Label, Tom Ford, Huntsman

$3000+

The quality will naturally vary based on the price of the suit and in some cases even on the reputability of the brand.

 


Accessories


Now that we have gone through all the technical information and we have our suit in hand, it's time to learn how to style it. Below you will find a list of 10 items that work great with navy suits. This will include accessories, shoes and clothes.


Furthermore, the images are clickable, leading you directly to the website of the brand that sells said product.

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