I’ve received a bunch of feedback from last Thursday’s Odd Jacket post and as a result a bit of clarification and further explanation is in order. A lot of the questions and comments centered on the use of a suit as separates and if that could be considered an odd jacket in itself. With that in mind I introduce the concept of the odd suit.
What is an odd suit?
An odd suit is formed when you take two suits, split them up and then wear them in combination with each other. The key factor in this is that the fabrics of the two suits have to be very similar to one another for it to be termed an odd suit. The obvious benefit is four looks out of two suits – as you see below it’s another reason why a basic navy and grey should always be your fist two purchases:
1) Navy suit 2) Navy jacket with grey trouser
3) Grey suit 4) Grey jacket with navy trouser
Here are some other options in terms of colors and types of cloth:
Where does the odd suit sit on the formality scale?
The odd suit sits in the second position in terms of business norms. The full suit on the left is obviously is the most formal option while the odd jacket and trouser look on the right sits in the third position.
Why would you choose to go with the odd suit?
The first reason is practicality and is important for those readers who are building their business wardrobe on a tight budget. For those starting out often two suits is all that they can afford; two suits with four looks allows you to make it through the work week without having the same look twice if you’re office is dressed casual friendly on Friday. Keep in mind the focus should be to arrange your looks so that the same pants are not worn on consecutive days – this is crucial for extending their life. We don’t worry about the jacket in the same way as it usually is hanging on your door for most of the day.
Beyond practicality I have two main reasons that I like to go with the odd suit in certain situations. The first is because it’s slightly less formal than a full suit. Depending on your profession or the context of a given meeting sometimes a full suit sends the wrong message. An odd suit fits the moment where you need to be perfectly put-together yet you don’t want to overpower the situation. On a personal level I will often go with the odd suit for meetings with clients in the creative fields – be it marketing, advertising or design. These environments are slightly more casual and as such require a look that is slightly turned down in relation to a law or accounting firm.
The second reason is visual interest. In the standard business outfit you have 6 elements – jacket, pant, shirt, tie, pocket square and shoes. The most dominant aspects are the jacket and pant; by using two colors in the base we have more options in terms of multiple color combinations. Another way of looking at it; the full suit is no-nonsense simplicity whereas the odd suit is all about creative opportunity. The image below is an example of this – Maciej from Zaremba in Warsaw in fact takes it to the next level by introducing a third base element with the vest. It was visually interesting enough that he chose to forgo the pocket square all together!
At a minimum it gives you a touch more freedom to express yourself – play with it and see what feels right. As always I look forward to hearing from you. Perhaps more than any other post I’d love to see what odd suit combinations you wear on a daily basis – please feel free to send them in!
Take care and thanks for reading.