The FT Guide to: Rocking a Statement Suit

Go to any wedding, conference or meeting and look around at every man in the room. What are they wearing? Navy blue, grey or black suits? Thought so. With matching ties? Yep, thought so too.

Making yourself stand out when you’re wearing a suit isn’t easy, but there are two options: make subtle changes (tie pins, pocket squares and cufflinks) or go balls to the wall with a statement suit.

We’ve spoken about the little changes at length before, so we thought it was about time that we spoke about the statement suit.

‘Hold on, what’s a statement suit?’

Good question.

Well, this probably isn’t a surprise to anyone, but it’s a suit that makes a statement. It can be anything from a bold burgundy two piece to a navy suit with subtle patterning. It can be checked, striped or even camouflage.

Basically, it’s any suit that draws attention to itself in a big way. Maybe it breaks rules. Maybe it’s bold and in-your-face. Maybe it does something a little differently.

Still confused?

We don’t blame you. It’s probably a lot easier to just show you what a statement suit is. Here’s the King of the Statement Suit, Mr Tom Hiddlestone, demonstrating how to rock a statement suit:


Got it now? Good. Here’s how to pull it off.

The suit

As with any suit, you’re going to want to make sure your statement suit fits perfectly. You want the trousers at just the right length and to be shooting just the right amount of cuff. You don’t want ripples at the shoulders or pulling in the middle, either.

You’re going to be drawing a lot of attention with this suit – make sure that it’s for the right reasons. (Plus, this suit is going to be a little divisive. Don’t give people a chance to dismiss it for the wrong reasons.)

The shirt and shoes

This one is up to you. There is one school of thought that you should keep your shirt and shoes as plain as possible to allow your suit to make its statement. And that’s a perfectly valid idea.

But in for the penny, in for the pound, right?

If you’re already in an eye-catching statement suit, why stop there? Of course, throwing a paisley tie on top of a striped shirt under a camouflage suit isn’t recommended, but combining a quietly patterned tie that ties in with the colours from the suit and pairing this with a shirt with an intricate, delicate and subtle pattern can be a real winner.

And as for the shoes? Again, in for the penny, in for the pound. The shoes are going to tie together the whole outfit. The last thing you want is for people to scan your outfit, nod in approval and then gawp when they see your Hush Puppies sticking out and ruining the whole effect.

Be bold (but not too bold): perhaps something like an oxblood brogue or some patent leather. Bold, but within boundaries of taste.


This is a difficult judgement call. If you’ve got an incredibly bold or brightly coloured suit on, you might want to ditch the tie altogether to avoid looking fussy and overwhelming.

However, if you’re rocking a suit with a pattern or that is made up of muted tones, there’s nothing stopping you from mixing it up with a tie or pocket square.

There is – however – a quick rule: don’t introduce colours that aren’t already in the suit. No green ties with burgundy suits

Last of all – keep your head up and be confident

If you’re not comfortable with attention or are prone to second-guessing your sartorial decisions, perhaps a statement suit isn’t for you.

A statement suit requires buckets of confidence to pull off properly – you have to know you’re the best dressed person in the room. You have to know that you look good. And you have to not give a hoot what other people think.