A blog by "America’s Best Dressed Real Man". Fashion tips, answers to your questions, and all things men’s style
Monday January 2nd 2012

1 Piece/7 Ways: The Versatile Three-Piece Tweed Suit

Tweet

After so much positive feedback for our first “1 Piece/3 Ways” post, I thought we’d keep them coming. This time, a little bit extended as well: “One 3-piece tweed suit, 7 different ways to wear it”.

An alternative title for this post could have been: “The advantage of a waistcoat: turning 3 outfits into 7″.

A two piece suit gives you three options for wearing it: the pants separately, the jacket separately, and the suit together. Add a vest into the mix, and 3 options turns to 7, as shown here:

1. Pant Separate

Some of my favorite looks are very simple. If you stick to well-fitted basics like a brown donegal tweed trouser, navy fine-gage knit and burgundy tassel loafers, you have the perfect blank canvas for a textured scarf, like this fair isle number.

This is a great “Sunday Morning Chic” look that holds a certain level of masculinity even though it is very clean and fitted.

Donegal tweed trousers by Michael Andrews Bespoke (custom made, my own design). Navy fine gage turtleneck by Uniqlo (size M). Fair isle scarf and blackwatch wool socks by Ralph Lauren Polo. Cordovan tassel loafers by Johnston & Murphy. Watch and alligator strap by Montblanc.

2. Vest Separate

The vest alone is a terrific (and easy) way to sneak a piece of tailored suiting into your casual wear.  You can pair it with anything from military cargo pants (as shown above), dark jeans, another suit, washed jeans (like here), cords, etc.

Bonus tip: amp up a casual look with a sharp leather lace-up, even if you’re wearing army pants.

Vest by MAB (custom made, my own design). Linen blend brown stripe crewneck knit by Hugo Boss (size M). Cargo pants from Army/Navy supply store in lower east manhattan. Olive ribbed scarf by H&M. American handmade leather duffle bag by Lotuff & Clegg. Oxblood lace-up shoes by Scarpe di Bianco. Watch by Montblanc. Grosgrain watchstrap from eBay.

3. Jacket Separate

A tweed blazer is super versatile. I’ve been wearing this thing as outerwear throughout the fall – it’s warm without being bulky.

An underrated combination: thin knit + blazer + down vest.

Bonus tip: If the vest is slim enough (I usually recommend sizing down for down vests – no pun intended) you can also wear it under the jacket, as show below.

Jacket by MAB (custom made, my own design). Navy down vest by Land’s End (size S). Henley by Tommy Hilfiger (size M). Jeans by JBrand (size 34×34). Boots by Kenneth Cole. Watch by Montblanc. Bracelets from NYC street vendor. Shades by Persol.

4. Pant + Vest

Wearing the trouser and waistcoat together is a quick and easy way to look stylish. I don’t get why more men don’t do this. It’s the perfect outfit to layer under a separate jacket, a fitted overcoat or even a chunky sweater. Not to mention, there is very little restrictiveness since you ‘re not wearing a jacket.

Bonus tip: an ascot is not as tricky as you might think. Choose a masculine color with a simple, straight-forward pattern (like burgundy with white dots), keep a major part of your look masculine in nature (in this case the tweed, the classic bengal stripe and the woven leather of the gloves), wear it as low as possible on your neck and unfasten only the top button of your shirt – it should only peek out subtly.

Pants, vest and blue bengal stripe shirt all by MAB (custom made, my own designs). Navy suede loafers by Scarpe di Bianco. Navy socks by Kenneth Cole. Ascot scarf by Ralph Lauren Polo. Gloves by Hilts & Willard (size S).

5. Pant + Jacket

This is the easy one – the two piece suit.

Since it’s tweed, which already makes something of a statement in the business realm, pair it with more conservative pieces like a blue/white stripe shirt, navy/red rep stripe tie, suede captoe lace-up shoes and classic aviator shades.

Bonus tip: Suede shoes are a pain in the ass to take care of, I know. Rather than buying a clean design and trying to keep them pristine and new-looking, try a brogue design with a pre-burnished leather toe and embrace their break-in process. If they are well made, they will look better over time. All those creases, scratches and discoloration spots are earned – similar to the “character lines” in the face of a refined older man.

Jacket, pant and stripe tie all by MAB (custom made, my own designs). Blue mutli-stripe french cuff shirt by Charles Tyrwhitt (slim fit 15.5 34). Pocket square by Robert Talbott. Suede captoe shoes by To Boot NY. Navy socks by Kenneth Cole. Watch by Montblanc. Tortoise aviator shades by Ralph Lauren Purple Label. Vintage cufflinks.

6. Vest + Jacket

I was going to show the vest + jacket with a tie and sharp contrasting trousers, but that’s easy. Try a rustic vibe with a chambray shirt, navy broken-in chinos and blucher moccasins for a tailored look that is much more “I’m tailored because I like to be” than “I’m going in for another day at the office”.

Bonus tip: Looking to add a youthful, fun, and unexpected punch to your look in 30 seconds? Loose the tie and button the collar. This is easier to pull-off with sport shirts (think soft collars and washed fabrics) than your stiffly-starched french cuff versions.

Jacket and vest by MAB (custom made, my own designs). Chambray shirt by Rag&Bone (size M). Navy chinos by Banana Republic (size 33 x 32 – tapered). Leather blucher moccasins by L.L. Bean. Wool marled socks by Land’s End. Wooden skull bracelet from street vendor. Canvas briefcase by Filson. Tortoise shades (in breast pocket) by Persol.

7. Three Piece

This is probably the one I wear the least, because it takes the least amount of creativity.

Although I like the academic/professorial vibe, I usually pair the 3-piece tweed with a plaid shirt, silk knit tie and some kind of unexpected boot – just to add some personality to so much traditional, old-school looking fabric.

Bonus Tip: I often see guys wearing vests + tie bars. This is redundant. A tie doesn’t need a bar to hold it in place if it’s already tucked under a vest. If you yearn for a silver or gold accessory punch, try a collar pin with your vest instead – it doesn’t look forced or unnecessary and actually creates a great dimension by pushing the tie upward and outward until the vest pulls it back close to the body.

Jacket, pant, vest, and plaid shirt all by MAB. Silver collar pin  by WANT. Vintage silk knit tie. Pocket square by thetiebar.com. Suede chukka boots by John Varvatos. Belt by Ralph Lauren Purple Label.

Thanks for reading and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Yours in style,

SB

Leave a Comment

Tweet

94 Comments

  • John Carroll says:

    I am looking for a light brown 3 piece tweed suit similar to what Sir Edmond Gwen & Richard Attenborough wore on the original and remake of the movie Miracle on 34th street! Can you help me!

  • David F. Candelaria says:

    Where can I get a Donnegal Tweed three piece suit, brown and/or grey? Thanks.

  • Fletch says:

    I’ll tell you why you don’t see the matching vest and trou look. It gives the effect of overalls or rompers, which is infantilizing rather than sporty.

    You’re much better off wearing the jacket and vest with odd trou.

  • Lu says:

    Just discovered this blog. Great Job!!! What do you think about using safety pins or kilt pins as collar pins?

  • Custom Made Dress Shirts says:

    I love military cargo pants.

  • joe says:

    where can i buy this suit?

  • kris says:

    I like some of these mixes alot – there’s some very good use of pattern and fabric matching here. I’m coming to the conclusion that an unchecked tweed in a contemporary cut is amazing, especially the trousers (or what you call pants!).

    One question though, and that is on the length of the jacket – would you recommend your jacket here being a maximum length, or go longer – I feel like a longer cut would make it look more old manish, but am I wrong?

  • Drew says:

    Hey SB!

    I really like how you paired the blucher mocs with that vest and jacket! I’m curious, were they the cactus or saddle color?

    Keep up the good work!

  • Rob says:

    Hi SB,
    I’m curious as to what the back of your waistcoat is (material, colour/pattern) here. Also, what your thoughts are on waistcoats that have a kinda intricate pattern on in a colour like red, as opposed to something simple like black/grey?
    love the blog!
    many thanks,
    Rob

  • Charles Lappel says:

    I wear a pocket square by Brooks Brothers very similar to Robert Talbott you wear but I do a two point fold. Pocket squares like these show that one is a slave to the details.

  • JMRouse says:

    You just reminded me how much I want a Tweed suit or jacket. Been having trouble finding one that would work, but I love the look. Great post, SB.

  • Les Frères JO' says:

    Your style N°6 “vest + Jacket” is very great, Hyped !
    Good Blog !

    If you want French men street looks : http://les-freres-jo.blogspot.com/

  • Jeffrey says:

    Hi, Dan:

    Congratulations on a smart and useful blog. Love your navy Polo fair isle scarf. Where can I find that model? Don’t see it on polo.com/ It’s plenty cold here in Seattle!

  • Dan says:

    Hey Dan,

    Been following your blog since its infancy and am very impressed that it’s grown the way it has in just a short period. I noticed that you have a lot of tweed suits/coats, but what are your thoughts on wool herringbone jackets?

  • Lavish-Livez.com says:

    WOW!! You sure know how to play with texture and cycle through your clothes!

    This is just perfect! Hats off to you!

    Please check out my menswear blog! Street fashion photography/ product reviews/ guides plus more! Thank you SB!

    -Paul

    http://lavish-livez.com/blog

  • Kevin says:

    Wasn’t there a huge blizzard in NYC? I wanna see what you wore during that/other snowy days

  • manmanifesto says:

    Greetings from Dublin!

    Great post and great variety!

    Check out my post on dublin style (i gave thestyleblogger a shoutout!!)

    http://manmanifesto.tumblr.com/

  • justin says:

    The vest/trouser combo is fantastic and I agree why you don’t see it that often, plus it’s slimming. being in austin, tx – where it’s summer 10 months out of the year, the jacket is just too much sometimes so the matching vest/trouser with the right tie (or your genius use of the ascot, which i must incorporate in the near future) is tops.

  • nounours501 says:

    i love yours looks, but that must cost a lot of money

  • Attack of the Zach says:

    Tremendous blog man…really great stuff. Literally just spent 2hrs perusing through it.

    Are you into messenger bags at all? I tend to choose a bag for the day according to which overcoat or suit/blazer I’m wearing.

    Lately I’ve been obsessed with bags from Ernest Alexander. Purchased 3 different styles of his in the past year. Give him a look…he also makes ridiculously nice neckwear (bowties included) and belts.

    ErnestAlexander.com (all products made locally in NYC which is also a plus!)

    • SB says:

      EA has some cool bags, and decent price for made in NYC.

      As far as messenger bags – I rarely hang a bag from my shoulder – probably a combination of being an athlete and being instructed not to carry weight on one shoulder, and the strain it puts on clothing – specifically suit jackets and blazers. If it’s a lightweight bag (as a messenger usually is) I usually carry it at the handle, briefcase style.

      Thanks for reading.
      -SB

  • James says:

    This might sound like an odd question, but did you get your nose done?

    • SB says:

      Haha. No worries, you’d be surprised to read the private questions I get via email. But no, I’m all natural. As I’ve said several times before, I believe in all things authentic. -SB

  • Arlequin says:

    Very inspiring blog, as always!
    You’re very stylish, but I think that you’re shoe collection is even more impressive!
    Look 2,4, and 5, you killed it! Love the fact that you dare, because that’s what fashion is all about, expressing yourself, having your own identity!
    The only thing I couldn’t bring myself to do is the ascot, but it works well for you.
    Also, the most interesting thing about your blog, is that it seems that you have fun doing it, so keep it up!
    Happy New Year Dan.

  • Max Andrew Dubinsky says:

    Great blog brother. A true gentleman.

    M a d

  • illtek says:

    Love the blue shirt on #7. it really pops. Fantastic.

  • jorge boulhosa says:

    hello dan,

    thank you for the inspiration!

    you probably do not know but you have many fans in Portugal.keep the good work, men, we are with you!!!!

    best regards,

    jorge boulhosa

    • SB says:

      Thanks Jorge! I hope all is well with my readers from Portugal. Love Portuguese people, really enjoyed our time in Lisbon in the summer of 2009.

      Winter posts are coming, I hope you can find some kind of use out of them down there.

      Best,
      SB

  • Len says:

    Hey, love your style! I want to your attire on how you are dressing in the snow clogged streets of Manhatten!

    • SB says:

      The irony is I’m not in Manhattan, I’m in Canada – and there is hardly any snow here. But we do have several cold-weather winter posts scheduled soon. -SB

    • MondstrocityNYC says:

      Len,
      Had to bust out the Sorel’s and Timberlands this week. Today I couldnt take it anymore and threw on some plaid wool trousers (great sale at Banana right now!) and a pair of brown captoe boots (had to throw the rubber totoes on them though….its still a slushy mess out there.)

      Keep doing the damn thing Dan!!!

  • jonathan says:

    thanks for not taking a winter break like so many other style blogs are doing. love the site, dan!

    • SB says:

      I am taking a sizeable winter break, just not from blogging. Believe it or not, the blog is only one of several projects I have on-the-go right now. Thanks for reading! -SB

  • Jack says:

    I like the length of your trousers.

  • Tony says:

    Hey Dan,
    Hope you had a great holiday. What size frames Persols do you wear?

    Best, Tony

  • J says:

    Good stuff as always. Can anyone give a short, impartial review on the LL Bean blucher mocs? I might buy a pair with some post-Christmas cash but haven’t heard entirely positive things.

  • Paul says:

    That last shot… perfect!

  • Amir says:

    Ascot is amazing. I will try that look someday. I have a list of questions that I would appreciate your answer, any help would be fine.
    Did you tailor those cargo pants to get them tapered?
    Are ascots just bandanas that are tied around the neck or do they have a different cut and size?
    Do tie pins damage the fabric of the shirt when it is stuck through? I would assume it does but I am just wondering if there is a way to put it on without piercing the shirt.
    Thanks a lot Dan, love the blog!

    • SB says:

      Hey Amir. Thanks for reading.
      1. Yes. Don’t tell my tailoring teacher this (although I’m pretty sure he’s a reader) but I actually put a large dart down the back of the leg to taper the cargo pants – it’s not traditional or “proper”, but quick, easy and kind of cool looking in my opinion – post on this coming soon
      2. Ascots are a specific type of tie – usually with a pleated neck band for stability and a unique “diamond” shape
      3. The type of collar pin that I use (most often) is simlar to a safety pin. It does puncture a hole through each side of your collar, but it is only slightly larger than a pin hole and is hard to notice. The alternative is a screw-in bar that is fastened through already existing holes in a custom collar. In this case the built-in holes are much more noticeable, and look a little funny without a pin – plus the punctured holes add a slightly rebelious feel.

      Hope this helps. -SB

  • John Ryan says:

    I’m all for celebration of personal style and all, but I’d have to agree with the earlier commenter – you’ve definitively crossed the line from ‘pants with no break’ into the ‘my pants are too short’ realm. You need another half-inch on those suckers, STAT!

    Also, have to say I love your risk-taking nature. The vest under the jacket is pure brilliance, and the subtle pairing of the navy chino with the tweed is awesome! But cargo pants with such nice shoes? A swing and a miss, good sir.

  • Jizzy says:

    “A quality designer tweed suit at $500 is going to be tough – try eBay, discount websites like Gilt, or discount retailers like Century 21, Loehmans, etc.

    As far as a tweed suit around $500, try the JCrew’s and Club Monaco’s of the world, or try your luck with something vintage/second-hand – even after alterations this should cost you alot less than $500.

    Thanks for reading, and good luck in your hunt.

    Best,
    Dan”

    Thanks so much for the pointers!

    Cheers-

  • Joey Dee says:

    Great work as usual, really digging nos. 5 and 7. Hope your holiday was filled with peace, joy and goodwill! See you in 2011. Can you do something to help fans on west coast, like maybe a winter port city pioneer? This area is elegant, but it seems to be lost in flannels and earth tones In the pacific northwest. Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

  • The Shoe Snob says:

    SB, overall, great post!! I particularly like 3 & 4. I love mixing dress attire with more urban wear as you did in 3 and I also love the idea of men wearing more ascot scarfs, like we used back in the day. One question though: do you really find it appropriate to wear your slim elegant dress oxfords with pants that are relatively baggy and have a tremendous amount of excess space below your knee. I love the shoes and the rest of the outfit, but not the two together. I have to say that sleek dress shoes just don’t go with baggy clothes. Don’t mean to knock you but I was quite taken back when I saw that outfit. Other than that, great outfits as always. Happy Holidays!

    http://the-shoe-snob.blogspot.com/

    • SB says:

      Hey there. I probably wouldn’t call those cargo pants “baggy” and I’m not quite sure what you mean by “tremendous amount of excess space below your knee”. Neverthless, generally if I’m wearing it, it’s safe to assume I find it appropriate (at least for me personally). It’s up to you to put your own spin on it, as I hope you would. Thanks for reading, SB

      • The Shoe Snob says:

        Hopefully I did not come off as criticizing earlier. What I meant by excess space was all of the bunching up that has been created by the pants. Well, I guess we can agree to disagree on this one, but really that is what personal style is all about in which I can never say you go wrong. I admire your ability to be daring and do things that others might not, which if you pull off with confidence, is really what style is all about! Have a great New Year!

  • Ariel says:

    Best blog you have thus far Bro…Been a fan since Day 1 and still being influenced by the consistent blogs you come up with and helped me turn my closet completely for the better..Your a genius.Much Love and Respect…

  • Ron says:

    great post, love the blog… I’ve been trying to find a nice army/navy store in the city. Tried shopping at Kauffman’s in Times Square but its a little too hectic for me. Which one do you go to in LES? or is it a secret spot? lol in any case thanks for posting

    • SB says:

      Hah, I think I gave up keeping these kinds of secrets a while ago. Generally I try to steer clear of Times Square unless absolutely necessary. My favorite Army/Navy supply store in the LES is on Houston & Ludlow…I think. Thanks for reading.

  • jen smith says:

    I LOVEEEE this! Although I don’t own a 3 piece suit I can still incorporate some of this looks to a female’s wardrobe!!! I hope you had a great x mas!

    jen
    http://blankwhiteframes.blogspot.com

  • TO says:

    Loved all these! I was wondering to myself the other day when you were going to be spotted in a henley- your creativity didn’t disappoint! Do you know of any good local tailors worth checking out over the holidays? Or if you’re around, I could have some practice for ya on an outerwear piece! Merry Christmas and happy holidays Dan!

  • Ron says:

    Love reading the blog, always great inspiration… I have been in the market for some military inspired clothing and then recently decided I might want to experiment with actual military clothes. I tried going to Kauffman’s in Times Square, but its a little too unorganized for me. I see that you got your cargo pants from a army/navy store in LES. Do you mind saying where? Or is it your secret spot? lol in any case the blog is great!

    • SB says:

      Hah, I think I gave up keeping these kinds of secrets a while ago. Generally I try to steer clear of Times Square unless absolutely necessary. My favorite Army/Navy supply store in the LES is on Houston & Ludlow…I think. Thanks for reading.

  • tommy lauren says:

    thanks dan for the post. look 4 is hands down perfect. i have never worn an ascot because i couldn’t seem to get it to look right without appearing that i was trying to hard. the way it seems to “peek” out here will now do the trick for me. i prefer style that says “i took my time putting this together then completely forgot about it once it was on”. also, due to my own ignorance, could you explain the function of the buttonhole on the left lapel? thanks dan

    • SB says:

      Well said. As far as the lapel buttonhole, there are a number of uses. Traditionally some jackets were made with a button on the under-side of the oposite lapel, in order to fully close the jacket on colder days. Another use, especially in the old days, was to secure a top hat with a string & button through the hole on windy days. Most often in modern times, that hole is reserved as a boutinniere holder.

      Personally, though, since many of my jackets have proper boutonniere straps on the under-side of the left lapel, I use this hole only for accessorizing – from pocket watch chains, to brooches, and beyond…post on this coming soon.

      Thanks for reading.

      Best,
      SB

  • sort of sarto says:

    i just loved the post, the #2 mix and match thing (vest with cargo)is a bit risky, but it suits u very well.

    Good job dan,

  • Phan says:

    Hey Dan, very very nicely executed. I especially like look #2 when you pair the vest with the army pants and leather laceups. Casual, tailored, refined, and military-inspired. SICK.

    Looking forward to more posts in the upcoming year. Happy Holidays amigo.

  • Tom says:

    Another great 7-ways post, I’ve been meaning to buy a tweed blazer for a while now and it looks like there’s no turning back, especially after seeing Look No 3. Now I have to bitchy again and will comment on how short the pants are, see No 1 & 5, shouldn’t they be a tad longer? In No 2, I don’t know what exactly it is, but the shoes don’t really work with those pants, imho boots from No 3 would be better.

    Oh and one more thing, I thought that it’s a ‘mistake’ to leave the collar un-buttoned if it has buttons, see No 7.

    Loads of inspiration and great ideas, thanks a lot for the post Dan and hope you had a good Christmas!

    • SB says:

      Thanks for reading Tom.

      As far as the pant length – I cropped these pants slightly to offset the “stuffiness” of traditional old-school tweed (to make it a little younger and style-forward). You can asssume that all of my pants, especially those that are bespoke, are exactly how long I want them to be. For your own pants, feel free to make them as short or as long as YOU prefer.

      Wearing the boots from 3 with look 2 would certainly be the more predictable choice – and that’s why the look speaks more to me with the sharp lace-ups (hence the bonus tip associated with look 2).

      On the open buttons – a ‘mistake’? Like I should lose points on the test?

      This is ART, not science. There are no right or wrong answers (or ‘mistakes’) in the way a person chooses to express themselves. If you take only one thing away from my site, I hope it is this.

      Thanks again for reading. Happy Holidays.

      -SB

      • Tom says:

        Thanks for the response Dan, I agree that we should wear what works for us, although there are still certain ‘rules’ most people stick too (I’m pretty sure you do that as well, heck you had a list of ‘don’ts’ on this very blog). I guess that’s what I meant when I used ‘mistake’ (hence the quotation marks).

        Regards,
        Tom

        • SB says:

          Good point. I’ve been a little unclear on these type of distinctions. I purposely try not to use “rule” but rather “guideline”….and I often break these “guidelines” myself. Per your original question, buttonning the collar buttons while wearing a collar pin sort of defeats the purpose, as the collar pin’s main function is to draw the collar points together (in order to push the tie knot updward and outward). Thanks for reading Tom, sorry for the confusion.

          Best,
          Dan

  • Ryan says:

    Did you literally just punch a safety pin though your shirt!?

    • SB says:

      No. Although I have a couple very stylish friends who have (can’t beat a $0.05 accessory). This one, however, is a safty-pin-inspired collar pin, with a cleaner design and made of silver.

      http://www.wantessentiels.com/shop/gatwick.html

      Thanks for reading.

      Best,
      Dan

  • Anonymous says:

    Absolutely incredible. Love these types of posts. I hope to see more of them in the future.

  • Sabir P. says:

    I feel like your second look is a true risk taker with the cargos and the vest. I can’t lie I have been guilty of the tie bar and vest then one day i realized it was just too much. That is a great tip for the average dresser. Good post Dan.

    - Sabir

  • Jizzy says:

    Another wonderful post SB. A great demonstration on how buying the right pieces adds versatility and longevity to ones wardrobe. The touch of the ascot is especially nice since most younger gents seem to overlook them.

    I’ve been on the market for quality tweed suit for a while now, but am having difficulty finding one that is just right. Any good tips on designers that them for under $500? (recent college grad)

    As always, thanks for sharing the knowledge, and Happy Holidays!

    • SB says:

      A quality designer tweed suit at $500 is going to be tough – try eBay, discount websites like Gilt, or discount retailers like Century 21, Loehmans, etc.

      As far as a tweed suit around $500, try the JCrew’s and Club Monaco’s of the world, or try your luck with something vintage/second-hand – even after alterations this should cost you alot less than $500.

      Thanks for reading, and good luck in your hunt.

      Best,
      Dan

  • Dave says:

    Curious, is that a Filson 257 or 256?

    • SB says:

      256. Thx for reading

      • Dave says:

        Thanks for the info on the Filson.

        The negative comments above are a bit too rigid on the rules. Rules should be used as guidelines, and in the end, a lot of this is about having fun and following what ultimately looks good to the eye. If people are more comfortable with staying within the rules, more power to them. I myself stay well within the rules. But I also wouldn’t come to a blog if it provided the same “safe” look that I see on other blogs or outside. It’s great to see you mix things up. In the end, people shouldn’t just be copying your looks anyway, even though the looks all work for you. This blog should be about inspiration, just pure instruction.

        I recently bought a 257 and am thinking the profile of the bag is too big. Thinking about getting a 256 instead. Damn OCD.