Home > Formal wear > The Gray Suit, Right for Every Occasion

The Gray Suit, Right for Every Occasion

April 20th, 2010

gray suit with white shirt and pink tie

A great suit is like an armor: when you’re wearing it, you’re unstoppable! There is something in the fact that you’re wearing an expensive piece of clothing that skyrockets your belief in yourself.

if you’re not the type who needs to wear a suit daily, you probably don’t wear it in the evening or during the weekends, either. Since you don’t want to spend a lot of money on suits of different kinds and colors, you probably want one that you can wear every once in a while.

Is this you? No problem, then, the gray suit to the rescue!

Many corporations use gray suits (along with navy) to dress their employees. It’s a pretty conservative color but you can still stand out if you know how.

Although many don’t like it because it makes you look older, gray contrasts great with all skin complexities. In other words, YOU CAN’T GO WRONG BY WEARING GRAY.

Since we’re talking contrasts, you MUST keep in mind your skin tone before you make your pick. It’s simple: you’re in one of the following three categories: dark skin, medium skin or fair skin. For instance, Bill Clinton has fair skin, David Beckham has medium skin and Ricky Martin has dark skin.

The idea is this: if you have darker skin you should choose a lighter gray, if you have whiter skin you should go for a darker one. If you have medium skin you can go for either one, just try different shades to see which one is best for you.

Is it fashionable? Who wears gray anymore?

A lot of people weary gray but most men prefer to go for blue when it comes to suits. Here’s a few pictures of celebs wearing gray: Taylor Lautner, Brad Pitt and Chris Brown:

celebs in gray suits

photo: socialitelife.celebuzz.com, celebspin.com, ivenus.com

What kind of shirt should I wear with my gray suit?

The gray suit is very flexible: it works with both white shirts and black shirts and, if you want a colored one, you’re free to experiment with some of the shirts that match (for instance, pink or purple).

Before you start looking for the shirt, decide WHERE you will wear it along with your suit. At work or business meetings? At formal dinners or a wedding? At the theater? If it’s a more casual occasion then you can go for a colored shirt, drop the tie and even unbutton a button or two.

gray suit with different shirts

photo: z.about.com, asuitthatfits.com

Since you probably already have a few white shirts in your wardrobe, they will match great with your new gray suit

What about the shoes and the belt?

men style ebook

Again, gray shows us its flexibility. You’re probably way ahead of me thinking that a pair of black shoes and a black belt would go great. Agreed, but black isn’t the only option.
Let’s face it: too many men wear black because they don’t know what else to wear (same goes for women who, when in doubt, they choose the ubiquitous black dress).

Don’t get me wrong, you can look great in a gray suit and shiny black shoes. But why be afraid of brown?

grey suits with brown shoes

photo: thesartorialist.blogspot.com, celebridoodle.com

Brown will show others you have good taste and that you know how to stand out in formal situations. A word of caution, however: go for dark brown when you pick your shoes. Light brown won’t look good with your gray suit.

What about the tie?

various ties on gray suits
photo: z.about.com

If you’re wearing black belt and shoes, then a tie like the ones in the image above will go great. In fact, go ahead and try out several colors to see which one you like best. (*Tip: Try an orange tie. THis goes very well with gray. Make sure that the two colors have the same shade.)

Why do the ties above work well? The secret is the following:

secret-de-stilIf you have an all black outfit, white, some shades of gray and a drop of color are all you need to make a fashion statement.
Check the Be Stylish ™ package for dozens of similar style tips.

The patterned gray suit

If you want something more interesting, pick a suit with a herringbone pattern:

herringbone pattern

herringbone pattern

At the end, I want to make sure the info in this article really stuck to you. It would mean a lot to me if, unlike the other 99% of men, you would actually apply what you read and skyrocket your style.

Here’s a small quiz for you. Only two questions – easy to do:

  1. What are the three main types of skin and which one is closest to YOUR skin type?
  2. based on the answer to the previous question, what shade of gray would best suit you?

If you’re a serious style student of mine, you should take at least a couple of minutes to reflect on each question. After that, go through the malls and try on some clothes. You’ll be amazed at the results. :)

Formal wear ,



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  1. Talat
    May 1st, 2010 at 05:18 | #1

    Excellent advice; I agree 100% with this. Gray is extremely versatile in the wardrobe. The drop of color with the tie totally rocks! For less formal occasions, I’ve also used the suit jacket top, with dark wash blue jeans, going with a polo or dress shirt with a hint of blue.

  2. sidali
    October 6th, 2011 at 09:35 | #2

    wearing a long sleeves brilliant white shirt with dark blue tie will fully match the gray suit man.

    regards

    -syed ali -

  3. Doug
    November 24th, 2011 at 19:57 | #3

    would a dark grey suit, white shirt, bright orange tie, dark brown belt and dark brown shoes work?

  4. November 24th, 2011 at 20:41 | #4

    Talat :

    Excellent advice; I agree 100% with this. Gray is extremely versatile in the wardrobe. The drop of color with the tie totally rocks! For less formal occasions, I’ve also used the suit jacket top, with dark wash blue jeans, going with a polo or dress shirt with a hint of blue.

    You’re absolutely right. Grey works well with both black and brown so, if you have a grey suit, you can wear it with either black or brown shoes.

  5. November 24th, 2011 at 20:43 | #5

    sidali :

    wearing a long sleeves brilliant white shirt with dark blue tie will fully match the gray suit man.

    regards

    -syed ali -

    Indeed. You can add a pocket square to take things further. The rules of formal style say that a white shirt should be matched by a white pocket square, by the way.

  6. November 24th, 2011 at 20:44 | #6

    Doug :

    would a dark grey suit, white shirt, bright orange tie, dark brown belt and dark brown shoes work?

    Like a charm. And, as I suggested to Syed Ali, go ahead and add a white pocket square to the outfit – it’s gonna look amazing.

  7. eric
    December 7th, 2011 at 00:32 | #7

    I have a quick question:

    What color combinations will go well with camel shoes? I am black as well if that will make a difference.

    I am thinking silver gray suit but the rest, i am not sure.

    Thanks

  8. shahid
    January 19th, 2012 at 11:14 | #8

    please gude me,i have charcoal grey suit,,wanna wear on wedding of my brother,,which shirt and tie combination to use,,my skin color is brown

  9. jules
    March 12th, 2012 at 02:57 | #9

    I am representing my group for a power point presentation. we are all women. is it appropriate to wear dark brown trouser suit and striped long sleeve shirt that is slightly longer than my suit? pls help me.

  10. March 14th, 2012 at 00:59 | #10

    eric :

    I have a quick question:

    What color combinations will go well with camel shoes? I am black as well if that will make a difference.

    I am thinking silver gray suit but the rest, i am not sure.

    Thanks

    Grey, green, yellow, white, brown. Just make sure you don’t overdo it by making the entire outfit too colorful.

  11. March 14th, 2012 at 01:01 | #11

    shahid :

    please gude me,i have charcoal grey suit,,wanna wear on wedding of my brother,,which shirt and tie combination to use,,my skin color is brown

    You definitely need a white shirt or white with green/brown/blue micorchecks or stripes. based on that you pick the tie (solid or with a pattern).

  12. March 14th, 2012 at 01:01 | #12

    jules :

    I am representing my group for a power point presentation. we are all women. is it appropriate to wear dark brown trouser suit and striped long sleeve shirt that is slightly longer than my suit? pls help me.

    Sorry Jules but I can’t give you any women’s advice…

  13. Simon Mitchell
    March 29th, 2012 at 15:15 | #13

    I am going to be in Cannes for MIPTV this year and I have bought a grey suit, it is not as formal as the film festival but there will be executives from all of the top studios. I am a junior and very lucky to attend so I want to make a good impression. What shoes and shirt do you suggest I wear with the suit

  14. ephantus wagereka njoroge
    March 30th, 2012 at 20:51 | #14

    am purchasing a grey suit for a wedding and the theme of the wedding is purple. which shirt colour and tie should i wear?

  15. Eedouard
    April 18th, 2012 at 06:17 | #15

    Gray suits are great. Pretty much my favorite. They’re versatile and just look cooler than navy suits, but that’s just me.

  16. Henri
    May 19th, 2012 at 00:42 | #16

    I just bought a fresh lighter grey suit. I’m planning to wear it with black shoes and belt and a pink shirt with narrow white stripes. What do you make of this? And further on which color tie and pocket square would work. I’m thinking black tie and a white/pink square. Thanks in advance.

  17. May 19th, 2012 at 00:47 | #17

    Henri,

    The combination sounds really good.

    Another great outfit starting from the gray suit is to wear it with brown shoes and a brown belt. I’d choose a more conservative shirt in this case (e.g. white).

  18. Marco
    June 28th, 2012 at 22:53 | #18

    Great!! Im wearing gray this saturday!

  19. khan
    October 7th, 2012 at 17:21 | #19

    I have short height, brown skin, black hair, athletic build. I am wearing a light grey suit for a wedding at night. I am thinking of wearing a white shirt. Can you please advice me on what tie and shoes to wear.

  20. October 7th, 2012 at 17:33 | #20

    Hey Khan,

    The shoes + belt can be either brown or black. Both work well with grey.

    The tie should be darker, so it can contrast with the shirt.

  21. October 8th, 2012 at 19:43 | #21

    Hi

    I’m 22 year-old engineer who started the career recently. I’m in the process of building a economic professional wardrobe that also includes casuals (my place of work allows casuals). Kindly let me know how do I choose the clothing, footwear, belts and other accessories. I’m a lean guy with 165cms in height, brown eyed and slightly brown hair (as these details could help you in advising me colors to choose). Let me know how to make the wardrobe with few simple, stylish yet elegant clothing.
    Eagerly waiting for your reply.
    Regards..

  22. alfan
    October 11th, 2012 at 18:48 | #22

    I’m 26 year old short height(5.8″), brown skin, black hair, athletic build. Planing to wear Nevy pin strip Suit with white shirt.could you help me with a tie.Since its my wedding its should be the best

    Regards
    Alfan

  23. October 14th, 2012 at 18:10 | #23

    I have feldgrau(green colour )suit.kindly tell me which colour of shirt and tie looks good with this suit.

  24. John
    November 7th, 2012 at 20:17 | #24

    Hello,

    I’m representing my company at a formal charity event in Boston, and I’m thinking about buying a new suit. I was thining of buying a gray suit, but since I don’t wear suits often I wasn’t sure if it would be formal enough or not. I would say I have a medium skin tone, would a charcoal gray suit work w/a lighter blue shirt underneath?

  25. November 7th, 2012 at 20:51 | #25

    Hey John,

    You’re absolutely right! Gray is indeed formal enough for business encounters, especially a darker shade. A lighter shirt will contrast well with it, indeed.

    George

  26. David
    November 12th, 2012 at 20:51 | #26

    Hey

    I have a work christmas party in a few weeks and was considering wearing my grey suit however I feel this will be too formal, so I am thinking about wearing my grey suit trousers with a cobalt blue shirt, however I think this is a little plane how can i stand out in this outfit?

  27. shstsy
    December 5th, 2012 at 12:40 | #27

    my brothers wedding is one week away, we have chosen a light grey suit. our bridal theme is orange and lime green. which shirt colour, tie, shoes and belt would look best to match with our theme colour…they were proposing black and silver waist coats as well as tie and white shirt…what do you think?

  28. Mike
    January 2nd, 2013 at 20:52 | #28

    I need help selecting a tie color to go with a grey suit and light blue dress shirt. I also plan on wearing black shoes, and a black belt. Please hgelp, I don’t have much time.

  29. Dony
    March 29th, 2013 at 12:16 | #29

    I Picked a dark gray 3 piece suit for my marriage.Could you please suggest the best colour tie for it which suits the occasion ?

  30. March 29th, 2013 at 13:44 | #30

    Dony :

    I Picked a dark gray 3 piece suit for my marriage.Could you please suggest the best colour tie for it which suits the occasion ?

    Hey Dony.

    Congrats for your wedding!

    Since you’re the groom, you have to be the best-dressed man there, no doubt about it. On the other hand, you need to keep it a little more formal than your guests.

    What I would recommend is a white shirt with fine stripes or microckecks, that also has a french cuff. This will allow you to wear cufflinks. Add a white pocket square with a pattern.

    If the pattern of the pocket square is the color of your cufflinks, you have a killer outfit.

    Of course, this is just an suggestion, let me know if you need more help.

  31. Craig
    April 10th, 2013 at 00:37 | #31

    I have a day at the races this weekend and will be wearing a new light grey suit. I was thinking of wearing brown shoes and belt with this suit? am i right in choosing a dark brown shoes with a light grey suit?.. also i will be wearing a whithe shirt with white pocket square and wasnt sure what color tie to add to it… my first thought was a navy blue…?help…

  32. April 10th, 2013 at 00:40 | #32

    Craig,

    Looks like you don’t need my help, you have everything figured out! I would choose a lighter shade of brown for your shoes and belt but dark brown is OK as well.

  33. Craig
    April 10th, 2013 at 01:33 | #33

    So my thought on tie color is ok? i wasnt sure and have some doubts.. any other color ties you would reccomned with a light grey suit, white shirt and brown shoes..?

    much appreciated.

  34. Sunil
    April 12th, 2013 at 09:35 | #34

    Hi George. I am 28 years old. I am planning to wear a Navy blue suit with a waistcoat for my wedding reception. I have the following 4 questions
    1. Can I wear brown (or dark tan shoes) and belt with it ?
    2. I have bought a white shirt, but now I am planning to go with a sky blue shirt.
    3. Also, I have a baby pink pocket square to match my wife’s dress. I am planning to buy a blue tie with baby pink lines or other designs on it
    4. Should I just go for a baby pink cravat instead of a tie ? Please advise.

  35. ali shah
    June 4th, 2013 at 21:42 | #35

    Hey George !!
    first of all thnx a lot for som great tips !! :)
    i hv never been rly experimental with all this suiting up bu now i have too
    i need ur advice !! i have brought som really nice light brown shoes and i was planning to get a matching light brown belt and wear it with grey suit !! ( i did read the caution regarding light brown shoes tho but i don’t have a choice now ) which color of shirt n tie shud i get (Purple,white , brilliant blue ,sky blue . . . pink !! )
    Also . . can i wear these shoes with a dark charcoal/grayish black suit with a crisp white shirt and matching grayish tie !!?

    (my skin tone is well fair i guess )

    awaiting ur reply
    thnx
    regards

  36. June 20th, 2013 at 16:52 | #36

    What is the best way to combine an Orange Shirt with a Grey Suit. I need this information because I am helping a friend to plan for his forthcoming marriage.
    Thanks

  37. June 20th, 2013 at 18:23 | #37

    Hi Lawrence,

    That’s a great question! I would go for either a light or a pale orange or for a medium orange with white stripes. I think having a medium orange uni shirt would be too eye popping.

    But with light orange or orange + white stripes you’ll be fine. You could also add an orange pocket square and don’t forget the tie.

  38. john
    August 15th, 2013 at 05:52 | #38

    i have a friend’s wedding coming up soon and am planning on wearing my light grey suit with brown belt and tie. what do you suggest is a good color/pattern combination. i am thinking about white shirt with a paisley patterned tie and if i go along with this pattern i am thinking about getting a white paisley pocket square to match the shirt. if i were to head this direction what color tie should i get? i am also open to any other combination of colors/patterns that would go well with my suit. what do you think?

  39. Abhishek
    August 24th, 2013 at 18:35 | #39

    how do you select a tie while wearing a gray suit and brown shoes and brown belt?

  40. Lukus
    August 24th, 2013 at 19:57 | #40

    I am white, but tanned, I have a grey suit with slim lapel that I’m happy with along with a burgundy slim tie, I’m stuck on shirt shoes and belt though? Any help would be appreciated!

  41. vipul
    September 2nd, 2013 at 21:37 | #41

    I am having a black shirt and black trouser,with having a black waist coat,i would like to wear the red tie on it,hows it looks like,when i m wearing it.please mail,on my email.id..thnku:)

  42. John
    October 14th, 2013 at 20:42 | #42

    Hey!
    I have a medium/ steel grey suit that I bought recently. I need to wear it to an outdoor night event. I was planning on wearing a white shirt. I have tan brown oxfords and a similar belt. What color solid tie should I wear? I was planning in wearing a pink silk tie or a lighter grey tie but I don’t really know much. Any advice would be helpful. Also, please tell me if I need to buy a different color shoes like a dark brown or should I wear black oxfords with a black belt.
    Thanks in advance.
    Cheers.

  43. anil
    November 19th, 2013 at 17:46 | #43

    i have grey suit with white shirt,black shoes,black belt which color tie n pocket square should be used for marriage ceremony

  44. Subbu
    April 18th, 2014 at 08:28 | #44

    Hey George,

    Im getting married next month and have purchased a light grey 3 piece suit for the occasion. By the way Im short (5’5″) of athletic build and brown skin. Could you suggest what color shirt, tie and pocket square to go for? I had golden yellow and blue in my mind since my partner’s dress has those colors. Am open to the shoes and belt color.

  45. Gina
    May 8th, 2014 at 03:09 | #45

    Help. My son is wearing a gray suit (vest too), white pleated tuxedo shirt with cuffs, black bow tie… BUT he’s adamant on wearing his black and white oxford wingtip shoes… I don’t know if they go or is this a huge blunder???

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