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It’s been a weird year for getting dressed. If you’re shaking off the style cobwebs, breaking free of your sweatpants, and need some pointers on where to go next, we’ve got you. All week long, GQ Recommends is exploring What to Wear Now: the clothes, designers, bold moves, and big vibes that matter at this precise moment.
Long before the world went on sleep mode for an entire year and everybody stopped changing out of their pajamas, the suit—or at least our broader cultural understanding of the suit—was on life support. “Smart casual” reigned in our offices, our restaurants, our theaters—practically anywhere outside of weddings and funerals. Which meant that suddenly, for the first time maybe ever, wearing a suit was a choice instead of a signal of conformity. If you were wearing a suit, it was because you wanted to wear a suit—because it made you feel good.
Coming out of our fleece-laden lockdown, that sentiment is going to feel more hyper-relevant than ever before. Suits are adapting and evolving to fit our increasingly anything-goes fashion climate, getting bolder and bigger and so much weirder. If you’re in the mood to dress up, smarten up, clean up, and party, here are a few ways to do just that. The suiting vibe we’re feeling most right now is a touch more skate park than stock exchange: a little less polished and precise, a little more anarchic and fun. But unlike in the past, when we might’ve prescribed specific guidelines to collars and tie knots and cuff lengths, the only real rule for suiting up in 2021 is to do whatever feels right. Consider this our roadmap for finding your own suit nirvana.
The Big Suit Is Back
For most of the last decade and change, as far as suits were concerned, looking to the past for inspiration generally meant one thing: the ‘60s, slim lapels, sharp cut—straight outta the Mad Men wardrobe department. Lately, though, we’ve been gazing a little further afield: specifically to the roomier, drapier silhouettes of the ‘70s and ‘80s. (Think Sticky Fingers-era Jagger and American Gigolo-era Armani.) A closely tailored suit is never going to be out of style, per se, but these elegantly loose ensembles hit especially right for right now.
Celine Homme striped wool suit jacket
Celine Homme striped wool skate pants
Ami two buttons patch pockets jacket
Ami wide-fit pleated trousers
Sandro single button suit jacket
You can’t go wrong with a suit and loafers, but a suit and sandals just feels so much fresher—literally and figuratively.
Grenson “Quincy” leather sandals
Paraboot Pacific Lisse sandal
The Anytime DB Suit
Double-breasted suits are forever an unimpeachable move: instantly confidence-boosting and never not totally dignified. The latest iterations slide seamlessly into our slightly-more-relaxed, self-expression-forward tailoring era. They’re softer and less structured—a little easier to pull off casually—but no less commanding.
Noah wool cashmere double-breasted sportcoat
Noah double-pleat wool cashmere trouser
Stòffa double breasted shirt jacket
Stòffa drawstring trousers
The quickest way to knock the fustiness out of any suit? Lean in to all the elite knitwear and crocheted garms currently sweeping the style world.
Heaven by Marc Jacobs crochet psychedelic bucket hat
Corridor pima open lace crewneck
Let Your Sport Coat Run Wild
Wearing tailored separates no longer means throwing on a scratchy navy blazer and starched khakis like you’re a nine-year-old heading to church on Easter Sunday. Instead, it’s a chance to get freaky with mismatched textures, tones, and fits. Dressing up never felt so free.
Acne Studios classic-fit cotton-blend hopsack blazer
Nicholas Daley 70s trousers
Post-Imperial “Ikoyi” single-breasted cotton-velvet blazer
Homme Plisse Issey Miyake colorful mesh trousers
Trade in your tie bar and wing tips for finishing touches that feel ripe for a mosh pit, like a big mean wallet chain and some rugged Doc Martens.
Celine biker wallet with chain in smooth calfskin
Dr. Martens 1461 3-eye leather oxford shoe
Warm Weather Cords
You might think of corduroy as a hefty winter fabric, but a thinner-waled version—especially in a kickass color like these—nails the precise balance of breeziness and structure you need for the springtime.
Tommy Hilfiger corduroy blazer
Tommy Hilfiger relaxed corduroy pant
Bonobos double-breasted stretch corduroy blazer
Bonobos pleated stretch corduroy trousers
Repp Your Set
For all the daring moves we’re advancing elsewhere in this story, our preferred shirt-and-tie combination remains pretty classic: a clash of preppy stripes feels extra punchy at the moment.
Drake’s double stripe repp silk tie
Hamilton + Todd Snyder vintage stripe poplin dress shirt
Sid Mashburn silk woven tie
The Secret to Gnarly Patterns
Look, we get it: you’re probably not going shirtless with a suit anytime soon. But you might—and should!—want to get into a deafeningly loud suit, in which case the general lesson here remains relevant: keep the underpinnings as minimal as possible, maybe a crisp tee or ribbed tank, and let the pattern do all the talking.
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy peak-lapel single-breasted checked cotton blazer
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy tartan cotton-twill wide-leg suit trousers
Needles boot-cut Student pant
Todd Snyder authentic Indian madras Traveler suit jacket
Todd Snyder authentic Indian madras Madison dress pant
Stay Simple (But Not Too Simple)
A plain white tee is always a safe bet under anything, but a little hint of soft color goes a long way with a strong patterned suit.
Entireworld organic cotton boxy T
Yes, You Can Pull Off a White Suit
The trick to making all-white-everything feel a little less Colonel Sanders and a little more mid-’00s Diddy? Break up the starkness ever so slightly with a creamier-toned shirt and some busted-up sneaks. And try your best not to flinch in the face of the inevitable spills and stains.
Fendi natural hemp fabric blazer
Fendi natural hemp fabric pants
Boglioli linen suit jacket
Boglioli slim-fit linen suit trousers
Also great with a pair of white painter’s pants when your suit is surplus to requirements.
Commas relaxed linen shirt
Vans OG Authentic LX sneakers
Photographs by Martin Brown
Styled by Jon Tietz
Hair & Grooming by Rachel Leidig at Art Department
Tailoring by Alberto Rivera at Lard Nordensten