Smart Without The Suit

Every formal event this season is a chance to step up your style game.

Every guy wants to know how to dress up for a formal event, but a suit is by no means the only option.

Written by Alexander Brand

With the help of two Markham buyers and a fashion consultant, we break down how to dress down a suit – with a polo neck and cap – into a few simple steps. After reading this article, you’ll be keeping it classy and cool. 

Dressing down a suit is back!

Markham buyer, Lisa Goosen, says that because it’s easier and more relaxed, dressing down a suit is becoming increasingly more fashionable. “You can mix and match many more items, getting more value and wear from your wardrobe investment,” she says.

Dressing down a suit by pairing it with casual pieces delivers an on-trend look that can be worn for both smarter and informal settings, according to Goosen.

Start with the shoes

Suits can be dressed down by pairing them with casual footwear, such as a pair of smart trainers or boots.

“With the trend toward chunky footwear and boots in formalwear, one can wear a suit trouser with a Chelsea boot. You can crop the hem of the trouser above the highest line of the boot with an exposed sock that blends or matches the boot colour,” says Imraan Sardar, another Markham buyer.

On to the shirt and jacket

Wearing a smart knit top like a polo neck instead of a formal woven shirt, or adding a hat are other options.

“Clean, sleek and plain caps work with formalwear. Fedora, trilbies and flat caps are great to pair and complete a formal look,” says Vuyo Buda, a fashion consultant for Markham.

Leather jackets have been a fashion standard for decades and can be worn with just about any outfit, making them a wardrobe essential. What about when it comes to dressing down a suit?

According to Goosen, the classic biker jacket is the best investment a Markham man could ever make. “It adds instant cool and street cred to any outfit — including suit pants — making it instantly on-trend. It can also work with both smart footwear and accessories as well as more casual,” she says.

You no longer need to believe that wearing a classic suit is the only way to look classy and dashing going forward. Next time you want to dress down a suit, experiment with different shoes, shirts, and jacket combinations.