One of the best things about the world slowly, but surely, coming back to life following the COVID-19 pandemic is the return of events. After more than twelve months of cancellations and postponements suddenly the calendar is heaving with functions once more. Whether it’s your best mates wedding or a formal work function, there’s a good chance that at some point in the near future you’re going to need to suit up.

And given the enforced time out we had to endure during COVID now is the best time to refresh your suit situation, and remind yourself of the hard and fast rules when it comes to buying a suit.

Rather than allow you to stumble back onto the social scene unprepared, we sat down with InStitchu’s NSW Area Manager and Head Stylist, Loris Micheletti to get a quick suit refresher.

ICON: What shoe/accessory colours are best suited to the following suits?

Loris Micheletti: For a black suit, it’s always best to opt for black shoes. If it’s a formal event, keep the colours to black and white overall. If it’s not as formal, a pop of colour in a silk pocket square looks great, or a tie with some texture and fabric. There’s no hard or fast rule about colour with a black suit but it’s a more difficult line to walk, as too much can be overpowering and too little can make you look like a waiter! Keep it classic, and paired back.

With a charcoal or grey suit, black shoes are great for a more formal event or conservative workplace, while brown shoes lend a little more relaxed country style to your look. For shirts, ties and pocket squares, you’ve got a wider berth – grey is a neutral colour and lends itself nicely to pretty much any combination of colours.

For a darker navy suit, we suggest brown or tan shoes, but you can get away with black if the event or workplace leans that way. A navy suit is the holy grail when it comes to matching colours – almost anything works with navy, so pick those you’re drawn to and that work for your complexion. Just remember to ensure they work together – a bright red tie will inevitably clash with a pink pocket square, but colours in the pastel spectrum will almost always complement each other.

When investing in a custom suit, what is the most important thing to ask for?

LM: The shoulder is always the priority for the jacket – the right fit on the shoulder is a must. Most other parts of a jacket can be let in and out, but if the shoulder is too tight or loose, the whole jacket will sit wrong and look sloppy. For trousers, it’s all about the “seat” of the trouser – the length and width of the trousers can be nipped in or taken out slightly, depending on your needs.

What type of suits are appropriate for the following dress codes?

LM: Formal: Tuxedo – or if it’s semi-formal, go classic with a dark suit and tie.

Black Tie: Tuxedo and only a tuxedo. It’s classic, and if you want to have some fun you can opt for a cream blazer or black check pants. But definitely, no business suits are recommended. A bow tie or tie is also a must.

Smart Casual: A lounge suit or mixed separates, whether that’s wool on wool, linen or chinos and a blazer. A tie isn’t necessary. Or if you insist on a tie, opt for a knitted silk or wool tie. It’s less formal and won’t look like you’re wearing a business tie.

What are your tips for making a suit stand out from the rest at a special event?

LM: Loud and bold fabrics always make a splash, but it’s a tougher look to crack – the fit and quality needs to be right, and the rest of your outfit has to be subtle. A suit with the perfect fit, whether it’s a conservative or bold outfit, is always the priority. A jacket that sits right on the shoulder, and a trouser that is perfectly tapered, screams elegance and class.

What are the two types of suits every Aussie guy should own and why?

LM: A two-button navy wool suit for work, weddings and play, and a tuxedo, for formal events. With good care, both will last a very long time. As always, opt for natural fabrics over synthetic ones. If you’re a bigger guy, look for a “natural stretch” Australian Merino wool suit, which we have here at InStitchu. And something we always recommend for gents with bigger legs is a silk saddle or a reinforced crotch.

What is your advice for styling a pocket square and tie?

LM: Is there a rule when it comes to choosing colours/patterns that work together? Don’t try to be too matchy-matchy. Matching colours and patterns look forced and rarely work. Instead, stick to colours and patterns that work together and don’t compete with one another. A plain white cotton or silk pocket square NEVER goes awry, and will essentially match with any tie. It’s clean, crisp and is the finishing touch on any suit or blazer.

What’s the biggest mistake most guys make when buying/styling a suit?

LM: A lot of blokes buy for trends and, for the lack of a better phrase, fast fashion. They’ve seen a celebrity wearing something, or spotted something on Instagram, and try to replicate the look without understanding the whole story behind the details of the garments—why it works in that situation, and how it complements the person’s physique. Tailored garments have this amazing heritage and story because they remain largely unchanged for decades and decades. There’s a reason we can look back to style icons like Redford, Newman and McQueen – the garments would, and do, look phenomenal on anyone today. If you buy quality garments, made from quality materials, that fit perfectly, you’ll have something to keep coming back to for years to come.

If budget is an issue, what is the one suit a guy should invest in?

LM: A two-button navy suit in high-quality Australian Merino wool. I really can’t be more emphatic on how well this will serve you, for all occasions. With a rotating combination of shirts, ties, pocket squares and shoes, you can look like a new man every day.

How should a suit be stored at home?

LM: In a cloth suit bag! Keep those moths away. This is particularly true if you’re not wearing it regularly. Immediately hanging up your suit after wearing it aerates the fabric, allowing the fabric to breathe and recover. If you have time, brush down your suit with a high-quality suit brush and after an hour or two, return the suit to its cloth suit-bag to ensure protection from exterior elements (even while hanging in your closet).

And don’t forget to invest in a decent wooden hanger, which will help to retain shape in the garment, especially the shoulders. Treat your garments with care, and they will treat you well in return by being something you will have for many years.

Cleaning hack: Hang your wool suit up in the bathroom whilst you shower—the steam will help to remove any creasing, and cast out unpleasant odours.

For more visit InStitchu’s website.