Real People: Dressing Down a Suit

There are no fewer than a thousand guides at this point on how to dress down a suit, but many of them involve ruining the kind of elegance that makes suits attractive in the first place. The best way to dress down a suit, I think, is to do what RT in Copenhagen has done here. 

  • Wear a suit that’s inherently more casual. Textures, colors, and materials will affect how a suit looks. RT’s suit is made from tropical wool (Minnis Fresco, to be exact). Although wool is typically more formal than cotton or linen, the rougher texture and slightly lighter color keep this from looking like the silky, dark business suits you’d wear to boardroom meetings. 
  • Think of the jacket’s details. Here, RT’s jacket has soft, unpadded shoulders, little structure to the chest, and patched, rather than welted, pockets. These can seem like small details, but when added up, they can have a powerful effect.
  • Dial everything else back appropriately. There’s no need to go as far as wearing whimsical socks or bubble vests. You can just dial everything else back a notch or two, so they’re in harmony with your suit. So, instead of a crisp, white shirt — which sometimes can seem a bit formal — try something patterned or light blue. And instead of sleek, formal oxfords, try loafers, derbies, or even chukkas. 
  • Forgo the tie. But if you do, leave the first two buttons of your shirt unfastened, so you get a slightly more attractive collar line, and use a pocket square. 

As for what RT is specifically wearing above, the blue Fresco suit was made for him by Napolisumisura (a bespoke tailoring house that’s touring the US right now, incidentally). The light blue shirt with very fine white stripes is from Vincenzo di Ruggiero. It has a soft, unfused collar, which makes it ideal for casual wear. Finally, the burgundy pocket square with a crosshatching pattern is from Bottega Veneta, the dark brown belt from Edward Green, and the dark brown derbies from Crockett & Jones

Real People: Unassailable Combinations

People pity the poor peahen, forever in the shadow of her showier suitors, but I prefer to think she lives a life of restrained good taste in plumage of gray and brown, with a dash of blue-green (and a fun hat!). Likewise, a palette of blues, grays, and browns is a sophisticated one for humans, and intentional “peacocking” is associated with the seamy (at best) pick-up artist scene.

RT in Copenhagen would still turn all the peahens’ heads in the blue-gray-brown palette in the three photos above, where all the pieces are different but consistent in fit and tone. On the left, RT wears a tshirt under a cashmere blend cardigan with a cashmere scarf at the neck and casual gray cords. In a word: cozy. In the center, a rollneck complements trousers hemmed at a cleaner, slightly more formal length, and at right, a folk-ier style cardigan (in this case, Inverallan) is worn with a collared shirt and flat-front midgray flannels. Each combination is simple but sophisticated, with no need for pieces of flair. They’re also excellent examples of un-boring business casual (although you’d probably have to add a collared shirt on the left).