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According to a recent poll, only 10 per cent of British men wear a suit to work. And yet, even if you’re in the majority that don’t, odds are there’s a suit languishing in your wardrobe – an overhang from previous employment, or perhaps a standby for weddings, funerals and job interviews.

Which is a shame, because even though menswear has become more relaxed, it’s still the case that man almost always looks his best in a suit. They’re flattering. They’re polished. They’re just...right. Which is why the most powerful style move, in an era when people can turn up to the office in jogging bottoms, is to embrace tailoring. Especially since you’ve probably got everything you need already.

“A suit is always a big investment, so it’s a shame to only wear yours a couple of times a year,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. “Wearing it in an alternative way is the best way to get more value out of it.” And look really good doing it.

We’re not talking about the more obvious moves – an open-collar shirt or a white t-shirt. They’re great, they work, but they don’t add anything new. These approaches are more advanced, more interesting, and make even the most classic suit feel like something made with right now in mind.

Suit + roll neck

“This is probably the easiest option,” says Luke. “If you’ve ever worn a lightweight jumper under a suit, you’re most of the way there. But a roll neck just makes it look a bit more stylish.”

It’s also an ideal option for any post-work events. “If you’re at work and have to go to something else afterwards, then swap your dress shoes for minimalist trainers and put on a jewel-toned roll neck.” A plus point – and one that applies to every outfit here – is that if you do lose the jacket, the look as a whole is still sharp. You definitely don’t get that with a tie-free dress shirt.

Suit + Breton knit

“This is for the really classic dresser,” says Luke. “It’s a way to mix things up without making a big deal about it.” The Breton, a nautical-inspired essential, creates a smart, European-tinged weekend look, when especially finished with brown leather Derbys. “It’s still in that lineage of traditional menswear, and it’s super easy to pull off.”

And for the bigger guy who thinks Bretons aren’t for them, Luke disagrees: “Bretons were worn by French sailors and they tended to be burly. They are a working man’s garment. The idea that only slender men can wear horizontal stripes is a myth that’s worth ignoring.”

If you’re still not convinced, try a Breton in a dark colour and a slightly heavier material. “To be honest, it comes down to the weight of the fabric, much more than the pattern itself,” says Luke. So go for a slightly thicker top that won’t cling and you’ll be good to go.

Suit + camp collar shirt

“This is the power move,” says Luke. “If you’re really confident about style, camp collar shirts are really popular at the moment and they conjure up a 1950s, jet-set vibe. You can go quite bold on colours and prints, and the collar fits neatly under a suit jacket.” That’s under – not over. Leave that to Tony Montana.

“Just make sure the shirt is slim enough that it’ll fit under the jacket and doesn’t bulge out,” says Luke. “You don’t want a bowling shirt, so avoid the oversized and go for a smarter, neater fit.”


Words: Theresa Harold
Photography: Jon Cardwell
Styling: Luke McDonald