How to Choose the Right Suit Color - Joseph Abboud
- by Off The Cuff
- March 31, 2023
- 6 min read
It’s the pinnacle of men’s style—they work in many different environments, from weddings to formal work settings and beyond. They’re also excellent canvases for incredible accessories, including watches, sunglasses, and more, depending on the setting.
But what about the suit itself?
Suits have many characteristics, including lapels, cuts, and more. However, one of the first things we notice about a suit is the color.
If we had it our way, men everywhere would have several suit colors to choose from. However, we know that isn’t a feasible option for everyone. So, if you can only pick one color to start with, which one should you choose?
Below, we’ll dive into eight different suit colors to help you decide which one works best for you. While we know that there are more suit colors out there for men, these are the most common colors that you’ll see.
You’ve probably seen men walking around in navy blue suits everywhere you go—that’s because it’s the most popular suit color in the world.
There’s a good reason for this, too. Navy blue suits are up there as the most versatile suit color choice. In most cases, we would recommend a navy blue suit to those picking out their first suit. Whether it’s for a wedding or a corporate setting, a navy blue suit works.
Navy blue suits also allow you to customize your look without going too far out of your comfort zone. For example, with a white dress shirt underneath, you’ll create the ideal formal look—just grab a darker tie to piece the whole outfit together.
Conversely, you can create a more casual atmosphere by pairing your navy blue suit with a light blue dress shirt.
Quick Summary: Navy blue is the king of suit colors—if you don’t have one in your wardrobe, it’s time to add one.
For newcomers to the suit game, black might be the first color you think of—James Bond, for example!
However, while a well-fitted and stylish black suit does have its place, the reality is that they aren’t as versatile as one might think.
Black suits are most often associated with a higher level of formality—in most cases, men will wear black suits to black tie events and even funerals. They don’t really work well in more business casual settings, unfortunately.
There’s also the issue of skin complexion—a true black suit can work well for a man with darker hair and a darker skin complexion but won’t be flattering on a man with lighter skin and blonde hair.
Quick Summary: Black suits can be a stylish option, but you need to understand when to wear them—they’re not right for every situation.
If navy blue suits make up one side of the coin, charcoal gray is the other side—they’re usually the second most common suit color.
However, charcoal gray does differ from navy blue in several ways (including the color, of course).
While navy blue suits tend to make the wearer look younger, charcoal gray has the opposite effect. For a younger man trying to look older or more mature, charcoal gray is the suit color of choice.
Charcoal gray suits work great for many occasions—weddings, the office, and cocktail parties are all great examples.
While charcoal gray is also a little less versatile than navy blue, they can work in some less formal settings with the right shirt and accessories. A white shirt will always work best for your important business meetings, but charcoal gray can take color very well—you can be a little more adventurous with your shirt color to create fun looks. Just be careful not to go too overboard.
Quick Summary: You really can’t go wrong with charcoal gray as your first or second suit color choice. Just remember that it might make you look more mature.
There are many different shades of gray suits—however, the next most common after charcoal gray is the light gray suit.
So, what’s the difference?
Aside from the obvious shade differences, there’s a simple rule of thumb regarding suit color: As you get lighter in shade, you get less formal. Using that logic, your light gray suit is perfect for less formal occasions—they’re excellent for work, but maybe stick to darker shades for your most important client meetings.
Light gray is also a common choice for warmer weather. As winter turns to spring and summer, a light gray suit tends to be more acceptable. With lighter weather also comes the ability to customize your light gray suit with different shirt colors—white is always a good choice, but light gray suits can work with black shirts and even pastel-colored shirts. The same goes for ties. You can experiment with more adventurous colors to create fun looks.
Also, if you like patterns, light gray is a great suit color—it works great with subtle patterns, like checks or herringbone.
Quick Summary: While we don’t recommend light gray as one of your first suit color choices, it makes a great option after you’ve got a navy blue and charcoal gray option in your wardrobe.
True blue suits might be a little more difficult to come by than other suit colors on this list—however, they can be a great modern counterpart to the navy blue suit in the right situation.
While a navy blue suit will help you blend in and remain subtle, the opposite is true for a blue suit. This is the suit color you want if you prefer to stand out and make a statement.
True blue is usually seen as a less formal suit color—however, with a classic white shirt, it can work just fine in business settings. It shines the most for your more casual settings—for shirts, go with a pale pink or pale blue. True blue suits also work great with a pair of medium brown dress shoes in any style.
Quick Summary: It’s not our first choice for a suit, but a true blue suit can be a great addition to your wardrobe after you add navy blue and charcoal gray to your collection.
Brown used to be a much more popular suit color than it is today—however, that doesn’t mean that you can’t still wear it and look stylish!
It’s important to understand who can best wear a brown suit. For men with a darker complexion and darker hair, a brown suit can be incredibly flattering. It can also work for blondes and men with red hair, but we recommend trying it on to see how it looks on a case-to-case basis.
Darker brown suits can take color very well—you can introduce some fun shirt colors with brown, such as a salmon-colored dress shirt.
However, this also means that brown tends to be a less formal suit color. Unlike navy or charcoal gray, brown shouldn’t be your go-to suit color for a formal event.
Quick Summary: Like blue suits, shades of brown should be reserved for later purchase after you have a few suits in more versatile colors. They work well for casual settings, but we recommend avoiding formal events.
Technically, tan suits fall under the brown category—however, they’re different in the sense that they work better for summer wear.
Tan suits work excellent for casual or less formal settings. They can make a great go-to work suit, especially as the temperatures come up and summer comes around. Also, as a lighter color, it will pair best with a darker skin complexion.
Quick Summary: Tan is definitely not a suit color you’ll want to reach for first, but it’s a great addition to an already-built collection of suits—perfect for casual settings and standing out.
Last up is burgundy—if you want to stand out and make a bold fashion statement, burgundy suits are your best option.
Burgundy is a nice and warm tone that makes a great addition to your suit lineup—however, stick to casual settings with a burgundy suit. It’s a nice option for more casual work settings, but you’ll want to stick to your navy or charcoal gray suits for big important meetings.
Burgundy suits, like other suit colors, work great with white dress shirts. It’s also a suit color that looks stylish with a black dress shirt if that’s more your thing.
Quick Summary: Once you have the essentials, a burgundy suit can break up the monotony of your wardrobe. It shouldn’t be your first option but can make a great addition later on.
Find Your Next Stylish Bespoke Suit at Joseph Abboud
Suit color options may seem endless—with our tips, you’ll be able to get started with a stylish suit today. You can start anywhere: start with made-to-measure pieces, explore ready-to-wear styles, or begin your journey with a bespoke creation—we have everything you need.
Our mission is to help men everywhere feel confident and stylish with high-quality suits for any occasion. Our concierge-level services and vast selection of suit styles tailored to your exact measurements give you the perfect bespoke suit for any occasion.
Ready for your dream suit? Learn more about how Joseph Abboud’s bespoke suit process takes your style game to the next level.