There’s no getting around it - dress codes are relaxing. With changing expectations within workplaces and a rise in agile working, the two-piece suit is not the foundational element that it once was. For most men there is still a requirement for clothing that is smart, tailored and mature - something to sit in the yawning gulf between a suit and a t-shirt. That’s where separates come in.
Suits are more obviously formal and arguably more restrictive, but people often take for granted that suits also make life very easy. The jacket and the trousers match by definition - you’re almost dressed before you even start. With a separate jacket and trouser, well, this can seem trickier. More moving parts means more to think about, more to coordinate. But as with a great many things in menswear, with a few key bits of guidance, it can remarkably straightforward.
Let’s start with the trousers. Visually, the trouser should be subservient to the jacket - this means keep it simple, and for goodness sake keep it plain. Some texture is fine, but if you’d like to add detail, pleats or turn-ups should be all you need. As a rule, outfits tend to look best with a darker colour for the jacket and a lighter colour for the trouser. Using darker colours higher up draws the eye upward and presents a more flattering visual composition.
If you don’t know where to begin with colour, keep it simple, and keep it light - cream or beige tones in the warmer months, grey tones in the cooler months. Easy, no? Cream, beige and grey essentially go with everything - picking up beautifully with blues, greens, charcoals, browns, you name it. This can even be applied tonally - so a light grey trouser with a dark charcoal jacket, for instance, can look very smart, as long as the shades are clearly delineated. If you are wearing a darker trouser, keep it tonal with the jacket. Paired shades make for a smart combination. It should be noted that denim also goes well with just about everything - a smart pair of jeans can be a great catch-all companion to blazers of most shades.