Let’s face it.

Keeping your suit and tie game strong is not necessarily an easy task. It requires at least a little bit of knowledge, and a will to put it into practice, to ensure your outfits end up looking as great as you aim to be.

With all kinds of style advice telling what you to do, on many occasions even conflicting advice, it can be quite tricky to get it right.

Which gave me the idea to come up with this blog post.

You see, sometimes being told what you should do is full of quite advanced instructions. For a guy just starting to care about his appearance, it is actually better to simply be told what you shouldn’t be doing.

So I came up with a quick list of the most terrible suit and tie errors many beginners are guilty of.

Now honestly, will avoiding these errors suddenly make you look like Christopher Korey?

Hmm… let’s not kid ourselves. No, you won’t be at that level just yet, but at least you’ll be sure you won’t be the cringe-inducing guy walking down the street. You know when you see them, but how can you be sure you are not that guy?

These are the suit and tie errors that you should never, ever do:

The 15 Most Cringeworthy Suit And Tie Outfit Errors

Here are the 15 most common suit and tie errors you should always avoid:

1. Suits That Don’t Fit

Suit Donts: Bad Fitting Suit

Guilty as charged!

There is a good reason why I’m starting off with this one. If everything else goes wrong, at least make a conscious effort to make sure your suit fits.

Get your body measures taken by a professional, you’ll only have to do it once (unless your weight fluctuates, if so… well, yes, get measured again).

After knowing what your measurements are, make sure you always buy the suit that fits closer to your dimensions and if it is needed, take your suit to a tailor to make all the important modifications to ensure the perfect fit.

If you get this one down you’ve taken the most significant step you could take to look good in a suit.

By the way, this goes for your shirt too. Avoid blousy shirts like the plague.

Follow this advice and celebrate – you’re already better dressed than 90% of men out there!

But let’s get you to the top 99%…

2. Not Caring About Proportions

Suit and Tie Donts: Skinny Tie

Yeah… no.

Proportions are crucial in making a suit and tie combo look great and yet, so many men simply pay no attention to have their proportions on point.

So what are is one of the top offenders here?

Lapel width and tie width, for starters. The right proportions is to wear a tie that is (at its widest point) as wide as your lapels.

In my humble opinion, skinny ties are extreeeeeeeeeemely tricky to get right and should preferably be avoided.

You might say this is a nitpicky detail, but it really isn’t. Some people do not consciously notice this blunder, but something will definitely look off in your outfit.

3. The Plain Black Suit

Suit Donts: Black Suit

Unless you are going to a funeral, there is absolutely no reason why should even own a plain black suit.

There is a plethora of suit color options to choose from, so there is no reason to feel limited by this rule. There are colors like midnight blue or very dark navy, that you can wear if you really have a craving for a very dark suit color.

I should mention though, black tuxes are an exception.

4. Buttoning The Bottom Button Of Your Jacket

Suit and Tie Don'ts: Bottom Button of Suit

A perfect example of style gone wrong.

This one is very easy to put into practice. Never should you button your jacket’s bottom button, regardless of how many buttons there are in your jacket.

Despite how easy to understand this rule is, there is a lot of men still have a hard time making sense of all the jacket buttoning rules.

The exception is, of course, if your jacket is a single-button jacket (most common in tuxes than suits, though). Even then, can a single-button jacket technically have a “bottom button”? I guess it depends on how you look at it, but in this particular case, you can positively keep it buttoned.

In case you’re wondering, this goes for waistcoasts/vest and cardigans as well.

5. Wearing A Business Suit Without A Tie

Suit and Tie Donts: Suit and No Tie

Someone please give this man a tie.

This is a style misstep that many politicians are guilty of, but it’s not an uncommon sight amongst men of all professions.

“Business suit” is key in this rule. If you will be wearing a slim fitting, modern suit, you can get some extra leeway to go tieless if you’re out for some drinks or socializing. In this case, an open collar can look casually cool and actually work.

On the other hand, if your suit is clearly meant to be worn for business meetings and business-related activities (see image), always keep your tie on.

If you’re going to a club after work hours, feel free to remove your tie, or even remove your jacket and roll up your sleeves as well. Just don’t make this your everyday look.

6. Pairing Jackets and Trousers From Different Suits Together

Suits are created and sold as sets of jacket and trousers for a reason. They are meant to be worn together every.single.time.

If you are planning to pair a suit’s jacket with a different suit’s trousers and hope no one will notice, please stop right there. Don’t do that.

So why would this be such a disastrous error to make? First, because it is easy to notice what you are doing and it will look awful. Second, you will be wearing out your jacket’s and trousers at a different pace, which will end up ruining the sleek look of your suit.

In case you really crave to show some of your personality by creating cool, different combinations, let me introduce you to your new best friends:

Trousers and odd jackets.

This is a briliant way to give variety to your outfits and keep respecting the suit rules.

7. Wearing White (Or Any Other Athletic) Socks

Suit and Tie Donts: Suit and White Socks

My eyes!

I mean… c’mon, really? Do I even need to explain this one? JUST DON’T.

You’re better off going sockless.

8. Too Big & Loose Shirt Collars

Suit Donts: Big Shirt Collar

Hey man, are you shrinking?

Knowing what are all the different shirt collar types that are available is not enough. There’s more to a collar that looks great.

Most essential, collar sizes.

Are you a 10 year old kid?

No? Ok, then it’s about time to wear shirts with collars that actually fit.

You should be able to stick two fingers (side by side, not one on top of the other) between your buttoned shirt collar and the skin of your neck. Anything more than that and it will look sloppy, anything less than that and you risk feeling constricted by the collar.

Still complicated? Get your neck measured by a competent sales assistant.

9. Too Long Or Too Short Ties

Suit Donts: Tie Too Long

As if we needed more reasons to disapprove of this man.

I’m sure the vast majority of men know what the rules dictate regarding how long a necktie should be when tied. So, I’m left with assuming those ridiculously long or short ties are a result of pure carelessness or negligence.

And no, that ain’t sprezzatura

The rule’s very simple: the tip of your tie should just barely touch the buckle of your belt or trousers’ waistband.

Did your tie end up too long or too short after tying? Solution: untie and tie again.

10. Wearing Belts and Suspenders (Braces) At The Same Time

C’mon man. You don’t need a style coach to tell you this one. Make up your mind and choose one, it’s either a belt or suspenders (or braces for my British readers).

Or none at all if the trousers fit you just right.

11. Matching Ties And Pocket Squares

Suit Donts: Matching Tie and Pocket Square

Tie & Pocketsquare fail.

Mix and matching rules can be intricate. There are rules to match stripes, rules to match your socks and so on…

When it comes to matching ties and pocket squares, there is one imperative don’t: do not buy suit and pocket square sets are an exact match.

I’m inclined to believe even a totally clashing combination will work better than this.

12. Wearing T-Shirts/Polos/Casual Shirts With Suits

T-shirts, polos and casual shirts have a place in most men’s wardrobe, but under no circumstances do they belong with a suit, specially if yours is a business suit. Instead, keep these garments for your casual outfits, where they are given the perfect opportunity to shine without fighting against the elegance of your suit.

So guys, please… wear a damn dress shirt! 🙂

13. Square Toed Shoes

Suit Donts: Squared Toed Shoes

Nein, nein, nein, nein, nein….

Any self-respecting gent would never wear square toed shoes. Not with his suits, not with their casual clothes, not with anything. Unless, of course, if you are a pilgrim visiting from the past.

I find it hard to believe these were actually popular a few years ago!

The great news it there are a lot more dapper options you can choose as your go-to formal footwear. Round toed shoes and chiseled shoes should be your staples.

14. Low Rise Trousers

Leg-shortening effect at full force.

Leg-shortening effect at full force.

Waists are there for a reason. Wear your pants at your natural waist if you are wearing a suit, even if you think it is uncomfortable (though is not and I don’t know why I’ve read so many men claim it is).

Not sure where your natural waist is?

Here’s an easy to way to find where it is: regardless if you are fit or with a few extra pounds, your natural waistline is where your belly button is located, or slightly below it.

Same goes for dress pants – ideally, you should leave the low rise for your very casual jeans.

And remember: low rise pants will cause your legs to appear shorter, which can be very unflattering (see image).

15. Excessive Use Of Patterns Or Over-Accessorizing

“Excessive” is an adjective that should never be mentioned when describing anything related to your style. If you are still unsure how to effectively mix and match your patterns, play it safe and never go overboard – this means two patterns at most.

With more experience you can start playing with a third pattern, but wait until you feel completely confident you can pull it off.

Same story with accessories. As much as accessories bring life to a suit outfit, you just have to keep elegance and class a priority over fanciness.

Pocket squares, tiebars, bracelets, lapel pins… all valid accessories, just not all at the same time.

Go for two accessories at most (not including your wrist watch) and you’ll have absolutely nothing to worry about. Again, avoid being excessive.

Closing Thoughts

Oftentimes the easiest, fastest approach to an effective formal style is to simply know what not to do instead of putting all your effort and focus on reaching perfection.

So what are the next steps? Keep learning, put your newly acquired knowledge into practice and don’t overthink it.

Now tell me, what are some other suit and tie errors that induce cringey feelings in you? Let me know in the comments below and let’s start the discussion!

Stay sharp!


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