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How to Wear the Versatile Three-Piece Suit

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Three-piece suit

The three-piece suit is a timeless classic that is a staple when it comes to formal occasions, such as weddings, awards ceremonies or charity events. Granted that they can’t be worn everyday and some may even argue that they aren’t practical for the sultry Singapore climate, the three-piece suit is still a worthy investment. Here are some tips on how to pick your perfect three-piece suit:

1. Focus on Fabric

Selecting fabrics that are comfortable, breathable, and adaptable enough to help you resist the heat – without sweating – are essential for summer. So, consider dining al fresco.

Fresco is crisp, cold, and resistant to creases. It's made of high-twist yarn and is ideal for the warmer climate. The Fresco II book by J&J Minnis comes highly recommended.

If you’re living in a place with a colder climate or are planning to travel in winter, then it’s all about textures to lend some personality to the usually drab season. The recommended fabric for the colder seasons would be flannel -- preferably lighter flannel. The Queens Award for Industry was given to Fox Brothers' new book Queen's Award flannel back in 2006, and it is barely 250 grammes in weight. Their new lightweight flannels are ideal for wearing as part of a three-piece.

2. Get the Right Fit

Because of the formal aspect of the three-piece suit, it appears better cut in a tailored fit, with the suit's shoulders stopping at your shoulder edge and a flat hand simply slipping in between the lapels once the jacket is attached. However, it should not be excessively thin. According to Liang, a standard three-piece jacket should be cut roomy enough to button up comfortably when the waistcoat is worn.

We've often seen three-piece suits where the waistcoat fits well, but the wearer can't button their jacket because their tailor didn't account for the extra room required. Also, the pants should be cropped and have a half-break to no-break down below and with a cuffed hem for a modern look.

3. Choose Colours That Represent Your Personality

In contrast to the two-piece, which may be found in a variety of colours and designs, especially in the summer, the three-piece is usually limited to neutrals and mild colours. This is because three-piece suits are dressier than two-piece suits. As a result, for a three-piece suit, we usually propose navy, charcoal, or light grey as a starting point.

Patterns, too, aren't off-limits. We recommend a prince of wales check in a mid-grey tone for a stronger effect. Or, in the case of patterned fabric construction, a more subtle black, such as the shadow check.

4. Don’t be Afraid to Mix and Match!

It's also possible to add a waistcoat in a different colour or design, as long as you make sure that they don’t clash. Mixing and matching different elements of a three-piece is slightly more difficult, but is still possible.

The traditionalist’s view has it that a three-piece suit should always be worn as a full suit, not split. This is because a three-piece suit is no longer a suit if the pieces are mixed and matched. Instead, it becomes a piece-by-piece ensemble.

Rather than splitting an item, abandon it for dressing down purposes. We suggest wearing the waistcoat and slacks without the jacket and styling them with a pristine white shirt, sleeves rolled up, and a tie for a more relaxed look.

Another mix-and-match option is to ditch the waistcoat entirely and replace it with knits or a vest as the "meat piece" in your suit sandwich. With a cotton dress, try a contrast colour cardigan in cashmere or wool, or a good olive army gilet. For instance, Brunello Cucinelli's more sporty gilet has recently become the perfect mix-and-match piece. Wear it as a vest alternative between two suits.

How to Wear the Waistcoat?

The waistcoat should be cut with comfort in mind because it is worn so close to the body. The waistcoat should be long enough to cover the belt area of your pants. Traditionally, there should be no gap between the waistcoat and the trousers. This also means that no shirt should be visible at the waist because it detracts from the suit's overall harmony.

Your waistcoat can also be adjusted using the back cinch, and the waistcoat should nearly always be buttoned up to improve the fit. With the exception of the last button, all of the buttons should be secured. Make sure the top button on your jacket is also fastened, but leave the second button undone.


The three-piece suit, consisting of a jacket, trouser, and matching waistcoat, is the ultimate black tie ensemble, ranking above the two-piece and on par with the tuxedo.

The more formal the occasion, the easier it is to come up with an excuse to wear one well. The three-piece suit is also suited for formal occasions, such as "spring races and weddings. Team a delicate pink, blue, or grey oxford or twill shirt in a light toned block colour. Alternatively, choose a vibrant tone in a sumptuous twill stripe or micro woven pattern for a somewhat bolder look.

Simply lighten the colour and fabric to make it suitable for a day celebration. When coupled with a knit tie, a cotton three-piece is ideal for a garden party. Take Alessandro Squarzi for example. The entrepreneur is one individual who excels at this.

The stylish suit, on the other hand, is a little too formal for the office and tough to pull off. Nevertheless, you can always pull it off once you’ve earned your stripes!

If you need further recommendations on how to dress up or down your three-piece suit, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! We will be happy to assist you with your fashion inquiries.

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