Spice up your Suit

How to Spice up your Suit – Part 1

Spice up your Suit! Take one grey suit….(or blue, but not black)… Karen Grace shows how to transform office wear into ‘Best Dressed Gent’.

We appreciate that many men will have neither time nor inclination to buy a dedicated suit for the races, and will instead turn to their business suit, which is frequently in a plain grey or navy colour.

Main image (top): Chester Barrie SS17.

So, how to turn that from work wear into a natty racegoing outfit? The answer lies in your accessories.


For a safe bet suits are usually teamed with plain white shirts and plain ties, but you can wear coloured and patterned. Just keep in mind the smart sartorial look when choosing a colour – i.e. don’t go too wild.

This contemporary horse shoe print from Simon Carter is chomping at the bit to be worn at the races. Price was £65, now £29.

A patterned shirt is an ideal way to brightening up the sombre navy suit. This shirt’s multi pops of colour make it easy for the wearer to choose a variety of ties and create different looks.

For the easiest and classic option go for a plain navy tie. Or take one tiny step out of your conservative comfort zone and choose a navy tie with a tiny splash of colour such as the Thomas Pink Quiller Palm Woven Tie (above left), was £70, now £39 from House of Fraser.

Boldly go for a block colour tie to highlight one of the minor hues in your shirt pattern, such as the Kenneth Cole Link Star Geo Silk Tie in pink (middle), was £25, now £15 from House of Fraser or Small Disco Dot Woven Silk Tie (right), was £25, now £12.50 from John Lewis.

Be daring and team your patterned shirt with a patterned tie. But take heed of a few sartorial rules:

• Mix it up! Do not wear a shirt and tie in the same pattern.
• Size matters! Patterns worn together need to vary in size i.e. wear a small pattern with a larger pattern.
• Colour Swatch. Take a colour in your shirt and choose a tie which has some of that colour in its pattern. The rest of colours do have to be either complementary or contrasting.

JL Geo Arrow Woven Tie in purple/ pink or teal/royal blue (left) or JL Large Flower Print Woven Silk Tie (right) in sky blue/red. Price was £25, now £12.50 each from John Lewis.

For high summer races or a lighter grey suit go for a fresh personality.

Simon Carter Liberty Birds of Paradise shirt looks crisp due to the white background. Price was £130, now £75 from House of Fraser.

The busy pattern of the shirt allows the wearer to choose a variety of colours for the tie:


• Plain ties in electric blue and olive such as this Kin by John Lewis Ebba Slim Woven Silk Tie (left), was £19.50, now £9.75.
• Geometric grid prints in khaki or burgundy. Try this Grid Print Silk Tie (middle), was £39 now £19.50 from John Lewis.
• Contrasting floral pattern in teal or burgundy: JL Large Flower Print Woven Silk Tie in navy/teal (right), was £25 now £12.50 from John Lewis.



Add flair to your outfit with a dashing pocket square – pictured: Simon Carter pocket squares available from House of Fraser. Prices from £25 (now £12.50 in sale).

Golden rule – the pocket square should complement your outfit but never match exactly, it is there to give the final dapper touch.

Block colours – never wear a tie and pocket square in the same block colour, save that for the ushers at a wedding. Do ensure the colours complement each other. When wearing a block colour pocket square with a patterned tie, don’t always choose the main colour of the tie. Choosing the least dominant colour will actually bring a sharper look.

Patterns – the pattern of the tie, shirt and pocket square should never be the same. Mix them up. Use the pocket square’s pattern to introduce a bold contrasting colour – this will make your navy or grey suit pop.

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