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The Casual Suit vs. Odd Jacket and Trousers

Casual Suit or Odd Jacket and Trousers

  • Casual Suit

    Votes: 37 38.5%
  • Odd Jacket and Trousers

    Votes: 59 61.5%

  • Total voters
    96

archibaldleach

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Sometimes a man attends a wedding, funeral, job interview or work in a formal environment where he's expected to be in a suit. In these environments, one is probably going to default to a conservative blue or grey worsted, possibly with stripes depending on the occasion. There are times when only a conservative suit will do.

Outside of these formal environments and in places where an odd jacket and tie would not only be acceptable but possibly on the upper end of what is being worn, one has more options. In addition to an odd jacket and trousers, one could wear a suit made in a more casual fabric or in a color or pattern that makes it more casual. Examples would be seersucker, tan linen, houndstooth flannel, POW check, etc. Assume you're not in an environment that requires a suit but allows a more casual one on Fridays. If you could choose, either for a particular event or for your daily wardrobe, between an odd jacket and trousers and a casual suit, which would you turn to and why? Assume a tie is being worn either way.
 

archibaldleach

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Odd jacket and trousers for me. I'm warming to the idea of the casual suit (especially seersucker and linen in the summer), but I find myself liking the flexibility of the odd jacket and trousers look and think it lets me buy some things that I would not have made up as a suit but still look great. I also suspect that, despite the number of people who call an odd jacket and trousers a suit, many people would not understand the casual nature of some suits and its effect would be lost.
 

bertie

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I like the idea of the casual suit as it differentiates from the throngs of blazer/pant combos. I also have an old-fashoned view of dressing in which I link the casual suit with more effort (i.e. requiring the acquisition of the suit) with the clear intention of not wearing for work/formal situations.
 

TM79

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Odd jacket and trousers for me. I'm warming to the idea of the casual suit (especially seersucker and linen in the summer), but I find myself liking the flexibility of the odd jacket and trousers look and think it lets me buy some things that I would not have made up as a suit but still look great. I also suspect that, despite the number of people who call an odd jacket and trousers a suit, many people would not understand the casual nature of some suits and its effect would be lost.

Agree with this.

I also haven't warmed up to too many casual suit options yet even though I do like POW and some glen plaids a lot.

I'll come around eventually, I suppose. I just need to see better fit pics than ones I've seen lately.
 

unbelragazzo

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I'm getting more and more into casual suits. At first I thought they were much more formal than SC/trousers/tie, but now I don't feel like that's the case. I'm trying out a very casual 3pc suit from the new LL offerings that will either turn out to be a disaster and I'll mostly only wear the jacket or the beginning of some more casual suits in my wardrobe. I like the houndstooth flannels being discussed over in the cloth thread.
 

archibaldleach

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I like the houndstooth flannels being discussed over in the cloth thread.

Yeah, those actually inspired me to start thinking more about this topic / consider casual suits at some point.
 

unbelragazzo

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Once you get a bunch of "nice suit" comments when wearing SC/trousers, you realize that most people don't really make any differentiation between the two. A "business" look with dark suit and white shirt probably looks different to them as it's more conventional and frequently seen. But any coat and tie look that's not that is lumped together in one category. Casual suits do make a different impression than SC/trou, since they're seen even more rarely, but I think it's that they're more quirky, perhaps more strongly indicate an interest and purposefulness in one's own clothing, not that they're more formal.
 
Last edited:

bertie

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For me, it purely about the personal satisfaction of wearing a casual suit. As noted, 99.9% of people won't recognize for what it is but is feels decadent. Also - they can be made with less structure and have a slightly slouchy look which i like.
 

rob

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I plan on getting my first casual suit soon. So I'm jumping on that bandwagon.

Rob
 

bourbonbasted

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The versatility of odd jackets and trousers is unbeaten. I find they offer a lot more flexibility, particularly when talking about ties, shoes and patterns. And, let's face it, 99% of the world views odd jackets and trousers on the same level of formality as a suit.

I'm also horribly biased, though, as I really only wear a suit 5-10 times a year...
 

Holdfast

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Odd jacket & trousers covers a vast range of different outfits, so it's difficult to be precise about comparing it as a look to a casual suit. I would at least distinguish between conservative/businessy odd jacket/trouser fits (at it most obvious, navy jacket and grey trousers, both with relatively flat/smooth finishes), and leery odd jacket/trouser fits (think something like like the seersucker/white jeans combo I wore earlier this week). To me, most casual suits tend to fall somewhere between those looks.

unbel is right to point out that the conscious collective mind doesn't really distinguish between these levels of formality if shown a single look. They're all just "dressy". However, I believe that the archetypes are still sufficiently present, such that if you were to show someone four very different looks (e.g. pinstripe business suit, navy blazer/grey trousers, linen suit, bold plaid tweed/dark denim), and you asked them to rank them according to how conservative they are, they'd put them in the same order I just did (assuming you standardised all the other aspects of the looks). So on some level, socioculturally, different messages can still be conveyed by different looks.

Personally, in my current role, I find myself wearing my full-blown business suits less and less. I still wear them, but not as regularly, since I do fewer full days of work and the more casual options segue more easily into the rest of the day. Any of the rest work just fine on my more varied days, and I like them all, but I am very fond of the casual suit for its combination of flexibility and smartness.
 

unbelragazzo

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I'm not even considering outfits including denim in my universe. I'm thinking more like...PoW or windowpane flannel suit vs. tweed SC and flannel trousers. Tan linen suit vs. Naples-style patterned SC and chinos. To me, they're about the same level of formality, one is just more particular.

HF and I are agreeing, I think, that formality is more determined by colors and fabric texture than whether the jacket and trousers match or not.
 
Last edited:

archibaldleach

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I'm not even considering outfits including denim in my universe. I'm thinking more like...PoW or windowpane flannel suit vs. tweed SC and flannel trousers. Tan linen suit vs. Naples-style patterned SC and chinos. To me, they're about the same level of formality, one is just more particular.

HF and I are agreeing, I think, that formality is more determined by colors and fabric texture than whether the jacket and trousers match or not.

This may well be true (formality determined more by colors / texture), though I really haven't thought a ton about it other than reaching for a blazer and greys when I want to have a relatively formal look without wearing a suit. I've gotten enough "nice jacket" comments in addition to "nice suit" when wearing an odd jacket and trousers that I suspect there is some dim awareness of this distinction. It may be largely a moot point because other than the blazer and greys look, most of my odd jackets (and I suspect a majority of most people's odd jackets) are in some way more casual (tweeds, houndstooth, corduroy, patterned summer odd jackets) and would probably be a little bit more casual than a casual suit (compare, for example, a houndstooth suit with a houndstooth odd jacket and non-matching trousers).

However, I believe that the archetypes are still sufficiently present, such that if you were to show someone four very different looks (e.g. pinstripe business suit, navy blazer/grey trousers, linen suit, bold plaid tweed/dark denim), and you asked them to rank them according to how conservative they are, they'd put them in the same order I just did (assuming you standardised all the other aspects of the looks). So on some level, socioculturally, different messages can still be conveyed by different looks.

I thought the use of the word "conservative" vs. "formal" here was interesting, though I think there's a fair amount of overlap. I don't think I'd switch the blazer and greys and linen suit if we were discussing relative formality either (unless the linen suit was navy which brings back Unbel's point on color being relevant).

We'd probably see a few things switch order if we discussed formality vs. how conservative something was if we significantly expanded the list of items. I might consider the blazer and greys look less formal than but also more conservative than a light grey worsted suit, but that wasn't on your list and could just be me.
 
Last edited:

JLibourel

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I am rather on the fence about this one. For a warm-weather "high-end dress casual" look, my preference is for the casual suit although I have plenty of odd-jacket-slacks combos I can wear. For cooler weather, I definitely prefer the odd jacket and slacks. At least in my part of the country, something like a tweed suit in a bold plaid is more in the realm of eccentric costume, and I don't own any cool-weather casual suits.
 

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