How to Match 3 Patterns Urban Legend #1: It’s Never Acceptable to Wear Black Shoes with a Navy Suit

This particular urban clothing legend is one we’re asked about daily.

Let us start off by saying that the answer isn’t as cut and dry as you’d expect. While many people believe black shoes and a navy suit to be a clothing sin, we don’t necessarily agree.

To get the optimal shoe for your navy suit, it’s best to examine what type of “navy” you have. The color navy varies so drastically that the spectrum ranges from almost black to brighter blue. When trying to match up a pair of shoes with your suit, consider the hue of navy that you’re wearing.

For darker blue tones, such as midnight navy, black shoes are going to be the optimal choice because they are understated, formal and conservative. They will garner less attention and blend seamlessly with the look and feel of a traditional power suit.

When it comes to warmer blue tones, such as cobalt or British blue, lighter shades of brown will look the best. Camel, chestnut and merlot colored shoes will brighten the sapphire tones within the suit and make it feel less formal.

Urban Legend #2: No One Will Notice if You Wear Your Suit Coat as a Blazer

Gentlemen, this is simply not true. A suit jacket and a sport coat are two very different things. You cannot wear a pinstripe suit jacket with a pair of slacks and try to pass it off as a sport coat. People will definitely notice, and you will look ridiculous.

A blazer is not only styled differently from a suit jacket, but the fabrics are different as well. Generally speaking, blazers have a lot of texture. They are often made from a hopsack or bird's eye fabric, whereas suits are more often made from a simpler gabardine fabric. Blazers also have different  stitching, pockets, and buttons from a suit. These distinguishing factors are extremely telling when wearing a suit jacket versus a blazer.

What about a navy suit jacket, you ask? While we don’t encourage wearing a navy suit jacket as a blazer, we understand that sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got. For example, if you’re traveling and need to pack light, you might have to wear your suit as separate pieces. In this situation, always pack a solid color suit; preferably navy. Avoid packing a suit with a pattern, otherwise it's a dead giveaway you’re double dipping.

Urban Legend #3: You Should Never Wear 3 Different Patterns at the Same Time.

False. Mixing patterns can be challenging for a lot of guys, but when it’s done right, it looks incredible. Mastering this skill set is simple when following these 2 guidelines.

1.) Color

A monochromatic theme is the easiest place to start when attempting to combine patterns. For example, if you have a navy glen plaid suit, you can easily pull out the blue tones in the fabric by pairing it with a light blue checked shirt. Complete the look by adding a navy striped tie. It’s that simple.

2.) Scale

When matching a patterned suit, shirt, and tie begin with the scale of the suit pattern. For example, a standard pinstripe suit has stripes about 3/8” apart. When trying to match a shirt and tie with the suit, go for different patterns and different scales. We typically recommend a narrow stripe or small checked shirt pattern when matching up a standard pinstripe suit. For the tie, go with either a diagonal wider stripe or small dot pattern to keep the eye drawn inward.