Do you know the correct way to wear a three piece suit? I am here to tell you.
Charcoal Plaid Three Piece Suit
A fitted three piece suit is an extremely flattering outfit, especially for shorter men.
If you nail the fit and get the details right, your three piece suit will make you look taller, leaner and more handsome.
Oliver Wicks logoThis post was made possible by, Oliver Wicks, one of my favorite online custom clothiers. I own several Oliver Wicks suits, and I can honestly say that they have some of the best customer service in the business. Need a new suit? Shop their latest collection right here.
If you’ve read my free Dress Taller guide, you already know that short men should avoid cutting themselves in half visually (see rule #4).
What does this mean?
It means that you shouldn’t wear outfits that have a very light top and very dark bottom (or vice versa).
Wearing a suit is a great way to avoid this type of contrast because it ensures that most of your body is covered in the same color fabric.
But what happens when you take your jacket off? It’s a whole different look:
Jacket on vs jacket off
These outfits are pretty similar – white dress shirt with dark blue trousers – but the absence of a matching jacket creates stark contrast between my upper and lower halves.
There’s not much you can do to avoid this besides avoiding lighter colored shirts, which isn’t very practical, considering the versatility of a crisp white dress shirt.
But the vest changes everything. If you’re wearing a three piece suit, you’ll maintain that streamlined silhouette even when you take your jacket off.
Another great benefit of wearing a vest is that it covers your tie. So if your tie is too long (which is often the case for men under 5’8″), you can just tuck it in, and you don’t have to worry about the excess length poking out from under your jacket.
Plus, unlike with shirts and jacket, you’ll never have to get the sleeves shortened (because vests don’t have sleeves…).
If you’re going to wear a three piece suit, you do have to keep a few small details in mind. If you don’t, you might end up looking like a teenage valet at a cheap Italian restaurant.
But if you do, you’ll look like the guy who tosses his Tesla keys and a twenty dollar bill to the valet at a fancy steakhouse.
Three piece suit accessories
Okay, okay…this photo wasn’t taken at a fancy steakhouse, and I’ve never given a $20 tip to a valet (in fact, I usually park my own car…which is a Nissan).
But still, these three tips will help you achieve that “baller status” look:
Tip #1: Your vest should cover your shirt
No part of your shirt should be visible below your vest. For example, Elijah Wood is sporting a waistcoat that’s about two inches too short:
Elijah Wood waistcoat too short
Your vest should completely cover the waistband of your pants, like this:
Three piece suit vest length
Remember: it’s better to wear a vest that’s just a little bit too long, rather than one that’s just a little bit too short.
Also, traditional menswear enthusiasts may tell you than you should never button the bottom button of your vest.
Short man wearing three piece suit
charcoal plaid suit
This isn’t a hard and fast rule (like it is for suit jackets), so do whatever you prefer. I like the way it looks when the bottom button in left unfastened.
Tip #2: Use the same fabric for the whole vest
You’ll often see vests where the front is the same wool as the suit, but the back is made from the same material as the jacket lining (typically a silk-like material such as Bemberg or some other type of rayon).
There’s nothing wrong with this, and it’s actually very functional since it provides a smooth surface for your jacket to slide over (as you take it on and off).
But if you want to maximize versatility and get all of the heightening benefits from your three piece suits, I recommend making the entire vest from the same fabric, or at least using a lining in the same color.
This way, you’ll look great from all angles, and you’ll maintain that streamlined, easy-on-the-eyes silhouette.
Tip #3: Make sure your shirt sleeves fit
We’ve all been guilty of wearing that shirt that doesn’t really fit under a suit jacket. Sure, the sleeves are a little too long and baggy, and you haven’t yet gotten around to getting it tailored, but it’s okay because you’ll just keep your jacket on, right?
Not a good look on any man (unless your name is Blackbeard…)
When the jacket comes off, though, ill-fitting sleeves are going to be very noticeable, and the pirate shirt look doesn’t flatter anyone (especially shorter men).
Luckily, slimming up the sleeves of a dress shirt is a relatively cheap and easy alteration.
Every man has a few shirts that he only wears under a sweater or jacket.
But if you’re going to incorporate waistcoats or three piece suits into your wardrobe, you better take all of those ill-fitting shirts to the tailor.
Remember: your sleeves don’t have to be skin tight. They should be roomy enough to roll up, to flex your muscles, or to wear a watch or bracelet underneath.
When worn properly, a three piece suit is one of the most flattering outfits a short man can wear.
Oliver Wicks Three Piece Charcoal Plaid Suit
Pretty sharp getup, eh? If you don’t yet have a three piece suit in your wardrobe, I highly recommend making sure your next suit purchase includes a vest.
If you already wear three piece suits, well done, sir. You’re a gentleman and a scholar.