Recently, my friend, James, asked me to help him get his first suit. He’s not really a suit kind of guy, and only needed it to attend a wedding. He wanted something he could wear to several events, and to job interviews here and there. “I’m trying to look like a responsible adult,” he said. Generally, my go to suggestion for your first suit is a cotton tweed three-piece suit. It works for both casual and more formal affairs, especially when it’s navy blue; so that’s what we went shopping for.

While we were shopping, he got a little nervous. “I don’t think I’ll wear this as much as I hope I will,” kept popping up as he went in and out of the dressing room, “But I’ll trust you.” The reason, I tell people to grab a more casual three-piece is for its versatility. Just utilizing the three pieces in their standard combinations gives you several different looks.

Wearing all three pieces together gives you a more polished look. Your vest (or waistcoat,) will nip you in a bit, giving you a more finessed appearance. Remove the jacket and just wear the pants and vest, and you’ve got something to wear to the office. Remove the vest and you’ve got your standard two-piece suit that can be worn to job interviews.

But what about guys like my friend? The jeans and tee-shirt kind of guy who just needs a little something extra? I didn’t want him to think these were the only ways he could don his new suit. I could just see him picturing this thing collecting dust in the back of his closet. I had to give him other options to play around with to make him see that, yes, he really could get some wear out this.

This is where the more casual cotton tweed suit comes into play. As a general rule of thumb, most men tend to say outside of the three basic modifications to a three-piece, that’s it. You can’t go any further. That’s true in the case of a worsted wool blend. That’s way to formal to break up. However, the suit we grabbed for my friend James is perfect for breaking up and pairing with some non-traditional items to give him quite a bit of freedom to play around with his style from weddings, to dates, to days around the office. Some of the ideas I came up with, I wanted to share with you. Here are six ways to break up that casual three-piece suit.

With the Prep, we’re utilizing the vest and pairing it with a pair of slim-cut chinos to continue the slimming effect that the vest provides. This look makes the vest more business casual, when paired with your typical pink button-down and, of course, a polka dot tie. (We all know I’m made about dots.) Complete the look with brown accessories, and these oxfords from H&M, and you’ve got a solid outfit for the office.

The Beatnik look is perfect for a gallery crawl around Charlotte. It mixes the standard blazer with even more casual pieces. For the Beatnik, you want to pull in your vintage coffeehouse references. The dark washed denim, (again, slim cut,) and pair them with the staple of the Beatnik society wardrobe, the Breton Stripe. Skip the motorcycle boots, and slip into a pair of tailored dress boots with a little edge to them. Throw on a scarf and you’re good to go.

We’re heading back to the office with the Optimist look. Pairing the suit slacks with a gingham shirt and vibrant sweater. It’s an update on a 1950’s standard. Think of it as Ward Cleaver meets Warhol. Keep it casual with a pair of simple leather chukka boots and understated belt. You can even throw on some tortoise shell frames to add to that good dad appeal. See you at the PTA conference, bring a sweater.

Military inspired looks have always been my favorite. Perhaps it’s my penchant for navy blue. This look keeps it on the dark side, pairing the slacks with gray and black. Top it off with your best peacoat and you’re looking quite dapper on the city streets.

The neo-dandy style always has a place in my heart and closet. I realize this look isn’t quite for everyone who may stumble upon this look, as I’ve recently been told my personal style is a little hard to relate to. The Dandy style mixes a bold floral in neutral colors with a bright pop around the neck via a go to bow tie. Pair it with the vest from your suit and these fantastic two tone wingtips and you’re on the way to being, at the very least, the most noticeable gent at the company’s engagement festivities.

Last, but not least, we have the Collegiate. This look features my color dujour  of the moment, rust. It’s an effortless pairing with the Navy Blue blazer and trim khaki chinos, and who couldn’t resist those loafers from Aldo? I have to admit, they’re already being shipped to my house as I type this.

And with that, good sirs, I have given you six different options, six different style personalities, all with one simple cotton tweed three-piece suit. Breaking up really that hard to do, especially when it comes to a suit.

Trying one of these looks yourself? Tag us on Instagram, with #TheHandsomeSavage. We’ll see you there!

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