Without a doubt, the navy suit is a menswear MVP. It’s a true classic that never goes out of style, and it looks good with so many different things! However, that same versatility and neutrality can also work against you when you want to stand out from the crowd. The truth is that a standard navy suit can look a little bit plain, and a lot of guys want something a little more exciting.
So, what’s the best way to jazz up your go-to navy suit? We’ve got nine awesome ideas up ahead that will bring a whole new dimension to your look.
1. Find a pair of shoes that pops
Whether you’re going for a formal or casual look, a great pair of shoes will make a navy suit come alive. If you’ve been sticking with the standard brown Oxfords, try a different style of men’s dress shoes, such as loafers. In a more casual context, even dressy sneakers can work! Or switch up the color to something with a little more vibe — oxblood is a popular choice. Whatever you choose, remember that your belt plays a big role in how your shoes look, so make sure the two match or at least complement each other.
2. Liven up your tie
Your tie is a huge part of how your navy suit looks. If you’ve been sticking to more restrained patterns and colors, try something with a little more juice like paisley, floral or geometric designs. Even if you’re in an industry where more sober styles are part of the look, adding a few funkier ties to your collection can give your navy suit a blaze of personality when you take it out after hours. Trying out other tie styles, such as skinny ties and even bow ties, is another great way to give your tie game a boost.
3. Consider accessories like watches and glasses
Accessories can make all the difference in spicing up a navy suit. For example, there are tons of stylish men’s watches that can subtly (but unmistakably) make an outfit look more put-together. A good pair of glasses, meanwhile, frames your face and works with your suit at the same time. (Choose the right shape for your face to maximize the effect.) Even a scarf can look good when worn as part of a dressed-down look without a tie (and in a complementary color).
4. Break free from the plain white shirt
The white dress shirt is part of a classic look with a navy suit, but it’s definitely not your only option. A light blue shirt will still give you plenty of contrast and makes a great canvas for a bolder tie color like red or pink. For a bold and stylish look with a preppy touch, try a pink shirt. If you’re not wearing a tie and the occasion is more casual, you’ve got practically the whole range of dress shirts for men available to you, so don’t hesitate to explore everything from houndstooth to pinstripe to plaid.
5. Get a few distinctive pairs of socks
There’s a reason a lot of buttoned-down professionals wear fun and colorful socks. (Heck, even President George H.W. Bush famously wore them.) A pair of socks is something that most other people won’t see in the course of the business day, but that can show up and turn some heads when it’s time to kick back a little. You’ll find a practically infinite variety of socks with interesting designs available online, but remember to buy for quality, too. Your socks should first and foremost be comfortable!
6. Discover the power of the pocket square
One surefire way to jazz up your navy suit quickly is to incorporate a pocket square. These are pretty much exactly what they sound like: decorative fabric squares meant to adorn the breast pocket of your suit. Pocket squares are an easy way to add some well-chosen energy to a navy suit. White linen is a classic, but tons of different styles and fabrics are available. Pro tip: Rather than matching your pocket square directly to your tie, choose complementary colors for a more subtle and sophisticated look.
7. Wear a cardigan sweater with your suit
A cardigan can add tons of personality to a suit while giving your outfit a more layered look. It’s easy to pull off! Get yourself a dressy cardigan, preferably made from a thinner and lighter material like merino wool or cashmere. (Steer clear of bulky materials.) Wear it under your suit jacket, buttoning the middle buttons of the cardigan and leaving the suit open. Voila — an effortlessly dapper semi-formal look! This is also a great trick for those who work in cold offices and/or climates and need an easy way to layer under a suit.
8. Incorporate signature cufflinks into your look
Cufflinks are another excellent way to add a little personal flair to your navy suit. Much like ties, cufflinks can go as traditional or as whimsical as you want. Plenty of beautiful cufflinks are available in classic materials like sterling silver, enamel or stainless steel. For more casual occasions, you can find cufflinks in the shape of your favorite cartoon characters, sports team logos and so much more!
9. Have your suit tailored or custom made
In the end, there’s no accessory or style hack that will stand out the way a well-tailored suit does. A true bespoke navy suit, of course, will give you the most stunning results, since it’s custom fit for your body all the way through. However, many of today’s suits are designed for a good fit off the rack — which becomes a great fit when you take it to a tailor to have key features like the sleeves and waist adjusted. A tailored navy suit is an investment that will pay off handsomely in both formal and semi-formal looks, so make sure yours fits just right and then add a few well-chosen accessories for maximum impact.