Gray suits are a great alternative to classic navy or black suits. Dark charcoal suits are common in formal occasions and office-settings, and lighter gray suits are great for spring and summer parties. You can pair a dark gray suit with a collared shirt and dress shoes, or match your light gray suit with a solid tee and sneakers. Whatever style you prefer, you’ll be rocking your gray suit in no time!
Styling Formal Looks
Wear a dark gray suit in formal or business settings. Gray suits come in a range of shades, from dark charcoal to light gray. A charcoal or dark gray suit is best for business settings and formal occasions, like weddings.
- Charcoal gray also elegantly complements darker skin and hair.
- Dark gray is close enough to black and navy that you can wear the shirts, shoes and ties that you regularly wear with your black and navy suits.
Choose a medium gray tone for fairer skin. A medium gray suit will make sure that fairer skin doesn’t look washed-out. At the same time, it will be a dark enough shade to look formal.
- Add a pop of color with a colorful tie and pocket square and you’ll be ready for anything.
Opt for a solid suit with no print for formal occasions. Checks or stripes can be trendy for a moment, but they go in and out of style all the time. If you want a suit that will be versatile for many formal occasions, choose a solid gray.
- A solid suit also allows you more freedom to wear more colorful and patterned shirts and ties.
Wear a white shirt for a clean, classic look. A standard white button-down shirt will make the gray of the suit stand out elegantly. White shirts are good for office settings, as well as more formal affairs, like weddings.
- White shirts are convenient because you probably already have them in your closet, and they work well with black and navy suits too.
- Pale blue looks especially nice if you have blue eyes, blue eye-glass frames, or a blue pocket square.
- Most other pale colored shirts will look good too, like pale green, or pale pink. The trick is to have your shirt be a lighter shade than your suit.
Pair your suit with a pale blue shirt. Pale blue is a great alternative to white. It is similarly light-colored, making the gray of the suit stand out, but it also has a nice hint of color. Wearing blue instead of white can make the outfit look more festive, instead of like office-attire, so it’s good for a celebration.
Pair dark gray suits with black or burgundy shoes. The great thing about gray is that it is super versatile, so it can go well with many colors of shoes. Darker gray suits look best with black or burgundy shoes. If you’re dressing up formally wear lace-up shoes like oxfords.
- Black shoes are more common than burgundy, so burgundy is good if you want to make a statement, like at a wedding. Black shoes will do great for regular business wear.
- Avoid brown shoes. They don’t look great with dark suits.
Creating Casual Looks
Go with a light gray suit for casual looks. Light gray looks casual for summer occasions, outdoor parties, or going out to dinner and dancing. Most traditional offices require dark gray, black, or navy blue suits, so it’s probably best to avoid wearing your light gray suit to the office.
- It can be tricky to draw the line between a medium gray and a light gray. To test it out, hold up a white thread beside the coat. Does it blend in? If so, the suit is light gray.
- Consider getting a checked or patterned suit. If you’re wearing a light gray suit, it’s already not too formal, so you can go to town when it comes to patterns. Just make sure it’s not too crazy or loud of a pattern, or you’ll end up looking like you’re wearing a costume.
Pair your light gray suit with a white collared shirt. White shirts look great for both formal and casual settings. When paired with a light gray suit, a white shirt can look breezy and summery, so it’s the perfect look for an outdoor occasion.
- Consider not buttoning the top button or two of your shirt for an extra casual appearance.
Ditch the tie and leave the jacket unbuttoned to dress it down. Wearing the suit jacket open with no tie is a great way to instantly make your outfit more casual. This also looks great if you’re wearing a patterned or floral shirt that you want to show off.
- Don’t ditch the tie if your suit is loudly patterned. This looks odd.
- If you’re not sure whether the event you’re going to is casual enough to go without a tie, bring one with you in your pocket. You can always put it on if you see that everyone else is wearing one.
Dress down the suit by pairing it with a solid-colored T-shirt. The safest bets are crisp black or white T-shirts. Wear a colored T-shirt if you want to be bold, just make sure it is solid-colored, with no pattern or words.
- The T-shirt has to be pretty fitted to look good with a suit jacket. Now is not the time for your baggy workout shirts.
- For a smart casual style, pair this look with brown or white leather shoes with no socks.
Wear a red shirt for a really dramatic look. The right shade of red, like a deep, muted burgundy, or an elegant maroon, can make a real statement with a gray suit. But it’s tricky to find the right shade of red, so only go for it if you’re feeling bold.
- If you’re a ginger, be wary of wearing a red shirt. Gingers are likely to have paler skin, which, combined with their red hair, makes a red shirt overwhelming.
- Make sure to avoid fire-engine red, or other really bright reds. They clash with gray.
Wear brown, white, black, or burgundy shoes for a casual look. Black or burgundy shoes are slightly more formal, but still look great with a light gray suit. Tan or light brown shoes are a step more casual.
- Wear classic oxfords or other lace-up shoes for a smart casual look.
- If you want to dress it down a step further, you can try pairing your suit with solid colored sneakers (just don’t wear running shoes.
Selecting a Matching Tie
Choose a black or dark blue tie for a safe bet with any shirt. Black and dark blue are classic tie colors and they both go well with with gray suits. If you’re dressing for the office, wear a striped tie, or a solid colored tie. If you’re going to a special occasion, like a wedding, go for a fun print like paisley.
- If you want to wear an eye-catching, patterned tie, make sure the colors complement each other. A patterned tie can really liven up a gray suit, if done right.
- If you’re nervous about wearing patterned ties, start with ties with small repeating patterns, like dots or small images.
- If you’re wearing a really casual shirt, like a tee-shirt, you shouldn’t wear a tie at all.
Wear a purple tie with a white shirt for an elegant look. You may not often get to wear a purple tie, because it doesn’t stand out much with a black suit. Purple ties look wonderful with gray suits, so now’s your chance!
- If you have paler skin and hair, a pastel purple will look great. If you have pale skin and dark hair, then choose a dark purple, to complement your high contrast. If you have dark skin and dark hair, you can look good in either.
Pair pale colored shirts with burgundy or emerald ties. Gray suits can look a bit plain, so spice up your look with an elegant pop of color. Darker colored ties, like burgundy, or emerald, look great when paired with a pale shirt and a gray suit.
- To look really snazzy, match your sock color to your tie!
Wear patternless ties with patterned suits or shirts. If either your shirt or your suit has a pattern on it, make sure your tie is one solid color. Otherwise the whole outfit will be overwhelming to look at and way too busy.
- If you have a solid suit, you can wear a patterned tie, but you still want to make sure it is not so busy that it distracts from your face.
Wear pastel ties if you have a light suit and a fair complexion. Pastel colors prevent washing out a fairer complexion, which might happen if you wear a dark necktie. Go for pastel purples, blues, and greens, and avoid yellow, red, orange, and pink tones, as these can be too close to the tone of a fair complexion.
- If you have a darker complexion, you can wear a darker colored tie with your light suit without looking washed out.
- Pastel ties are more forgiving with patterns than brighter-colored ties, so feel free to experiment with a patterned pastel.