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Best color combinations for suits/coats in professional environment

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hello,

 

I will be starting a new job in Japan soon and need advice about what clothing to bring with me. As some of you may know, Japan is a pretty conservative society so men are required to wear suits and ties at work. Moreover, the color combinations and styles allowed are conservative as well. This example PDF will give you an idea of what I mean:

 

http://www.aeonet.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/AEON-Mens-Clothing-Guidelines.pdf

 

In addition to those conservative standards, I'm only bringing 2 suitcases with me...anymore than that will cost a lot and be really hard to transport. 

 

Therefore, I'm trying to be as efficient as possible with the clothing that I bring. For example, I can wear a white dress shirt with any suit color combination, which is great. 

 

Unfortunately, my sense of style is almost nonexistent. I'm trying to pair coats with different color pants, but I have no idea what color combinations look good. 

 

Let's say I buy a navy sport coat. What color dress pants could I wear with that? I know khaki would be an option, but what about grey pants or black pants?

The same goes for a light or dark grey coat. I have no idea what color pants I could wear with that...

 

For what it's worth, right now I have the following:

  • A medium grey suit (pants and coat) and
  • A black suit (pants and coat) with a slight checkered design 
  • Plain black pants
  • Olive pants
  • Off white pants (the shade of these are hard to describe. They aren't bright white, more like a dull white. I don't know if "eggshell white" would be correct because they don't have a beige tint to them)
  • Tan pants (medium shade, not really dark or really light)

 

I don't think I could wear the black coat with anything else because of the checkered design, but that's OK.

 

I'm hoping to buy a light tan suit, a navy sport coat, and a light grey suit or sport coat.

 

Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thank you!


Edited by tcatsninfan - 1/4/16 at 10:36pm
post #2 of 9

Worth searching for similar threads.

 

A few pointers with the caveat I know little about Japan specifically.

 

Mid-grey flannel trousers are a classic combination with a navy blazer and work with most sports jackets.

 

Don't wear suit jackets as sports jackets, especially the grey suit.

 

I can't picture a black suit with a checkered design.  Sounds bad.  Japan ironically is one of the places where I understand it would be entirely conventional to wear a plain black suit for work.

 

I would steer away from light grey suits.  It takes discernment to find something nice; flat worsted light grey suits look awful.

 

Don't wear black trousers, full stop, unless you're a priest.

 

What will the temperature be like?  You can wear darker suits even in the heat if you get a tropical weight.

 

I would consider buying a navy suit and a navy blazer (although check whether this works Japanese business culture).

post #3 of 9

[accidental double post deleted]


Edited by Balfour - 1/5/16 at 8:22am
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Worth searching for similar threads.

 

A few pointers with the caveat I know little about Japan specifically.

 

Mid-grey flannel trousers are a classic combination with a navy blazer and work with most sports jackets.

 

Don't wear suit jackets as sports jackets, especially the grey suit.

 

I can't picture a black suit with a checkered design.  Sounds bad.  Japan ironically is one of the places where I understand it would be entirely conventional to wear a plain black suit for work.

 

I would steer away from light grey suits.  It takes discernment to find something nice; flat worsted light grey suits look awful.

 

Don't wear black trousers, full stop, unless you're a priest.

 

What will the temperature be like?  You can wear darker suits even in the heat if you get a tropical weight.

 

I would consider buying a navy suit and a navy blazer (although check whether this works Japanese business culture).

 

Thank you for your response. So there isn't a jacket I could pair with the black trousers?

Regarding the heat and colors, I'm going to be a teacher (rather than an office drone), and the school mentioned something about wearing some lighter colors to stand out and bring some energy into the classroom. I can't remember their exact words, but basically a lot of my students will be adult businessmen who spend their whole day surrounded by guys in plain black suits. It's more likely for them to feel like they're at work if I wear black suits just like their coworkers.

This is the black suit with the pattern I have. I guess it's more of a stripe than a checkered pattern.

 

I'll look into the navy suit, and a navy blazer should be acceptable. And I'll look around for a tan suit. I'll have to do some price checks...I can't go emptying my bank account before I even get there :P

 

post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcatsninfan View Post
 

 

Thank you for your response. So there isn't a jacket I could pair with the black trousers?

Regarding the heat and colors, I'm going to be a teacher (rather than an office drone), and the school mentioned something about wearing some lighter colors to stand out and bring some energy into the classroom. I can't remember their exact words, but basically a lot of my students will be adult businessmen who spend their whole day surrounded by guys in plain black suits. It's more likely for them to feel like they're at work if I wear black suits just like their coworkers.

This is the black suit with the pattern I have. I guess it's more of a stripe than a checkered pattern.

 

I'll look into the navy suit, and a navy blazer should be acceptable. And I'll look around for a tan suit. I'll have to do some price checks...I can't go emptying my bank account before I even get there :P

 


Helpful context.  Can you cultivate an 'American academic' look, perhaps navy blazers, and herringbone jackets over grey trousers?

 

Light suits are trickier to get right - a cream or off-white suit can look lovely or awful depending on the exact shade.  A soft light grey with a nubby cloth and an overcheck can be lovely; a flat plain worsted light grey not so much.

 

I'm not trying to cause offence, but the black suit is not going to get much love here.

post #6 of 9
Surely just follow this silly guide is the easiest way to do things?
post #7 of 9
Okay, so this might be kind of important but I don't have enough first hand experience to verify.

I literally was just reading a thread, here or on Ask Andy, in which a huge argument erupted about the black suit hate. While black suits in the US and a lot of Europe are a faux pas for business, apparently they are expected in Japan and Korea. In fact, even besides suit color, one person made a joke that wearing a navy blazer and gray flannels could get you fired. This advice is pretty much 100% contrary to what you will find on here, especially from American users who generally consider the blazer/flannel combo a suit stand in for most situations. A lot of people in this thread will give you tips on blazer/trouser combos and tell you black suits are worthless. In this case, they might actually be 100% incorrect.

Once again, this is not first hand knowledge but me literally just reading a thread somewhere discussing this. I would certainly verify it though and not get misled by well meaning forum members discussing US/Europe standards.
post #8 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by GBR View Post

Surely just follow this silly guide is the easiest way to do things?

Beyond being silly, it's grammatically inaccurate in so many places.
post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by GBR View Post

Surely just follow this silly guide is the easiest way to do things?

 

Assuming the aforementioned guide was provided by your company, the best thing to do is follow it. It says that suits are preferred, so wear suits more than sport coats. Re. the other thread, Japan and Korea do have more particular businesswear standards but (at least in Korea) there are plenty of people wearing non-black suits, including some on the dandy-ish side. You will most likely get a bit of leeway as a foreigner as well.

 

From the clothing you listed, you can wear:

  • The medium grey suit
  • The black suit
  • The off white, tan, and olive pants (If they're wool. The guide specifically says no khakis/chinos, so if the pants are cotton I would think twice)

 

Buy:

  • A casual navy suit (instead of a navy sportcoat). That gives you another suit and you can wear the jacket as a sportcoat with the off white, tan, and olive pants you already own. Not necessarily optimal, but you have limited space and if you choose the details right you can get away with it. 
  • Another suit; charcoal is a staple color that you don't yet have
  • Whatever ties, shirts, and shoes you need

 

With those two purchases you have four suits, plus three more jacket/pant outfits. That will give you flexibility to figure out what else you need once you get there. See what other people wear and if "suit preferred" really means "suit mandatory", buy more suits in Japan. Congrats on the new job and enjoy Japan.

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