Double or single breasted? Two- or three-piece? Flannel or cashmere? Dressing appropriately for the office can be a minefield. Huntsman’s Head Cutter, Campbell Carey, explains how to negotiate the sartorial choices of the boardroom.

Over the course of 2018, Country Life is releasing a series of style guides, in conjunction with Huntsman, detailing the proper way to dress for a modern gentleman. This is the fourth part: the business suit.

Follow these links to catch up on the previous guides to wearing Black Tie, choosing a gentleman’s overcoat and the classic tweed sports coat.


Picking out the right business suit in a decent charcoal grey or navy blue cloth can pay enormous dividends. If you choose wisely, you’ll have a suit that you’ll be able to wear for both work and social functions for 10 months of the years, and which – if you look after it – will easily last you 10, perhaps even 15 years or more.

Here are the main things to consider when making that choice.

Single or double-breasted?

There’s no right or wrong on this – it’s entirely down to personal preference. That said, a double-breasted suit only really works when it’s buttoned up, so it can be more limiting than the single breasted option – but it does offer a classic, timeless style.

Two-piece or three-piece?

To me, there’s no better look than a three-piece suit with the jacket undone. It gives the wearer a sense of relaxed elegance and confidence. And it’s incredibly versatile as well. A three-piece suit in flannel with a scarf will see you through all but the coldest winter days.

Gregory Peck

Gregory Peck at Huntsman

Pinstripes

A pinstripe suit is good for the office – but only for the office, since it doesn’t make much sense in any other environment.

Think carefully about the size and proportion of the stripe. A bold stripe can highlight a good physique, while a fine, narrow stripe can elongate the body, making the wearer look taller and slimmer.

Shoes

I’ll never forget the words of a customer I heard in the shop back when I was an apprentice, on being offered a pair of brown shoes. “Brown shoes, east of Ascot?!” came has outraged response.

I’ll sometimes wear brown or suede shoes with a sports jacket, but for a business suit it has to be black.

It doesn’t have to be bespoke

Don’t fall into the trap of trying too hard to make the suit your own – a properly-cut suit in a decent fabric will fit into all sorts of occasions. Huntsman have an ideal business suit in the ready-to-wear collection; one button, slanted pockets and side vents. The trousers have a flat front, with plain bottoms, and no belt. It’s the perfect combination of subtlety and sharpness.