Modern Take On Formalwear: How To Wear Color, Patterns And Texture

Men are increasingly becoming more daring with their formal wear and are expressing their individuality through their personal style.

From fashion forward colors to stand out prints, men are really showing off their personality through how they put together their look.

There are so many ways to incorporate color, patterns and texture when wearing formal wear in both subtle and adventurous ways.


The red carpet is a great way to get inspiration. We’re taking cues from Joe Jonas with his bold patterned and colors suits, Harry Styles with his effortless cool style and Tom Hiddleston who always looks perfectly put together.

While celebrities have stylists and access to the very best designer suits, by using online rental companies and other affordable men’s retailers you can get similar styles for less while still looking like a modern gent.

It can seem overwhelming with how many pieces of formal wear there are to coordinate – your suit or tuxedo, your tie, your shirt, your pocket square, your shoes, etc.

"There are so many ways to incorporate color, patterns and texture when wearing formal wear in both subtle and adventurous ways..."

It can drive any man to resort to the basic no-frills, no style suit. But really, it’s not as hard as it seems. When working in bold colors, patterns and texture, knowing how to balance it all out is the key to looking sharp and put together.

Here are some guidelines, ideas and tips to keeping it easy and fresh.

Formalwear: How to Properly Wear Color, Patterns and Texture in Business Suits

Going Beyond Black

Move beyond black to instantly show some style. Color is king this year. While black is always classic, blue, grey and even burgundy hues are becoming more popular.

Both grey and blue are softer colors than black which is why they have become so popular at weddings.

Grey is more neutral and typically pairs very well with any color bridesmaid dress.

Burgundy is more of a risk taking color but really pops as a modern touch when done right.

These new classic colors paired with cognac pair of shoe is a sure fire way to look styled to perfection without resorting to the basic black and white.

If you are going to wear separates, contrast is key. When wearing a lighter colored jacket, pair it with dark pants and add shoes that fit the color scheme.

Dark jackets and light pants also work in a variety of colors.

Tan and grey pants are typically a safe bet no matter what color of jacket.

Just remember, your shoes should never be too much lighter than your pants (darker than your pants is always fine).

To add a punch of color to your look, try an interesting tie, vest or shirt. For bright colors, using a pop of color in the pocket square is very chic.

Pocket squares are never necessary but always an awesome style accessory to impress.

When wearing a classic black tuxedo, a fool proof way to add in color is to match your tie and vest.

This is a typical way for grooms and groomsmen to color coordinate and makes the look unique.

Another sophisticated way to blend colors at weddings is to match your tie color with the boutonniere color.

Add Personality Using Patterns

Now let’s talk about the best way to add personality, patterns and prints. Patterns are a traditional part of men’s formal wear but over the year’s style has evolved to include bolder patterns and prints.


Stripes are commonly worn for business and are best for short men to elongate the body.

The width of stripes vary and make the suit look more and less formal. One of the most traditional and classic patterns is plaid.

Plaid was once only popular for fall/winter affairs but now is sported at the most stylish events year-round.

Windowpane is a classic yet contemporary patterned style that transitions well amongst all body types.

Patterned suits are not for everyone and you don’t have to wear one to stand out. One of the easiest ways to incorporate a pattern is by accessorizing.

For the novice, start with just wearing one pattern. Use a solid base and incorporate a patterned shirt, tie or pocket square.

For whatever pattern you choose, coordinate one of the colors in the pattern with one of your solid colors.

For instance, if you are wearing a navy suit and a striped tie, have navy be one of those stripe colors to insure a well styled look.

While this is a safe way to wear patterns, the more daring modern man mixes patterns. In this case, it is important to remember that is all about scale.

You want to be careful not to overwhelm your look. An easy rule of thumb to follow is if one pattern is large, the other should be small.

You should always accentuate shared colors in the patterns. If the color’s look good together then the chances are the prints will look good together too.

Trend alert! This year we expect the floral print to be especially popular. Floral prints give off a laid back, bohemian vibe.

They can also be subtle with a small detailed floral or bigger, bold and colorful florals.

One of the cleverest ways to incorporate a pattern is on your socks. Although, you should be wary on the formality of the event.

If the event is formal, when using patterns, it is safe to stick to something simple like a black and white dot or checker.

At weddings, coordinating socks with groomsmen has become increasingly popular. If you want to get a little crazy with prints, socks are a relaxed way to do it.​

If you want to try a bold pattern, mixing rental with retail it is a great way to keep budgets down.

Going all rental allows you to experiment with your style but if you own a basic colored suit and want to switch up your look for a special event, try renting different accessories. A

Also, if you are getting married and want to give your groomsmen a gift, purchasing matching patterned ties keeps the wedding looking uniform and is a fun keepsake.​

Small Details DO COUNT!

Finally, texture is an important element to bring visual interest.

The mass majority of suits are wool and this alone adds texture when wearing formalwear but it’s really all about layering.

Layering on a textured tie, pocket square, among others are all good textural elements but shoes and belts are an important finishing touch.

Shoes and the belt pull the whole look together and should always match in color. If you are wearing black shoes, wear a black belt.

Especially when experimenting with patterns on other aspects of your look, keep your shoes and belt basic.

To mix it up a little, try varying styles of leather.

There are a variety of leather styled shoes from patent for more formal events to distressed for more casual and even patterned leather.

In Conclusion

Start experimenting with styles you like and in no time you will be a formalwear color wearing, pattern mixing and texture styling pro.

Terrence Kennedy

Written by Terrence Kennedy

Terrence Kennedy is the man’s man on a journey to self-discovery. A traveler, extreme sports aficionado, an observant wanderer, a DIY-Know-How, an ultimate outsider and a documentarist of culture, sex, dating, relationship, fashion, style and gentleman's etiquette. He has learned a lot through his escapades, and is happy to pass that knowledge on to you.

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