I’m going back to the office and a suit feels too formal. What do you suggest I wear that looks professional but not too stuffy?

After two years in sweatpants the transition back to formality is a work in progress and smart separates allow a guy to dress up without putting on a suit. A casual option would involve a pair of tan-coloured cotton trousers with a white shirt, a navy-coloured cardigan and a simple pair of white sneakers. You’d strike a very different tone in a pair of faded blue jeans, brown suede desert boots, a button-down shirt and a tweed jacket. A more serious, fashion-y look would be achieved with black shoes, black wool trousers, a light-weight sweater and a patterned dark grey jacket.

Thom Sweeney Tips From The Townhouse

I have a wedding in Spain and it's going to be really hot. What do you suggest wearing?

If it’s clear that guests are expected to wear suits then linen is your friend, whether you go for blue, cream or even tobacco coloured fabric. Of all fabrics linen lets the most air through, and its dry hand means it feels cool against the skin. We love the relaxed vibe conjured by the way that Irish linen rumples, but it’s a fact that some guys just can’t cope with the inevitable wrinkles. If you’re one of those guys then go for an unlined, tropical wool suit that’s woven in a way that lets your skin breath. Whichever fabric you go for, you could wear your suit over a white T-shirt, a printed, Hawaiian-style shirt, or a white linen shirt, depending on the expected level of formality. For shoes try a pair of unstructured brown suede loafers, and don’t forget to pack some “invisible” socks.

Do I need to wear a cummerbund with a tuxedo?

No, you don’t need to, and few people will notice whether you do or not. But you can wear a cummerbund with a tux, you can wear a white silk pocket square, and you can wear a silk bow tie. Doing so will give you a faultlessly crisp and elegant look.

I'm looking to invest in one good suit I can rely on, what do you suggest?

Whether you’re buying your first suit, or your first suit in a while, we suggest you prioritise versatility. The suit needs to work across various contexts, from the professional to the social and, hopefully, to the romantic. Navy blue is the best colour to start with, and single-breasted is more versatile than double breasted. This season we’ve gone for peak lapels on our wool suits, to give them a bit of subtle presence; it’s a detail that whispers rather than shouts. You could wear one with black leather shoes, a white shirt and dark tie to project professional gravity, or with white sneakers and a grey woollen polo shirt for an evening out. 

Thom Sweeney Tips From The Townhouse

I want a good travel suit, what would you suggest?

We’re loath to talk anyone out of wearing a suit but given the state of the the airline industry these days we rarely wear suits when we fly, but pack them instead. We think pretty hard about the practicality of our outfits and we find comfortable separates work better in the air. From the bottom up that means loafers on the feet, for the ease with which they go on and off for security, loose drawstring trousers in cashmere or velvet for softness, a merino T-shirt or polo shirt for its temperature regulation, and a soft over-shirt or chore jacket because they’re warm and all the pockets allows for easy organisation - phone in one, passport and tickets in another, wallet in another, etc, etc. Just remember to get your suit out of its bag and onto a hanger as soon as you arrive at your destination.

Can you wear a navy tux to a black tie event?

It’s often said that midnight blue looks darker than black under artificial light and whether or not that’s true the important lesson is that men have long looked for super-dark evening suits. The danger with a navy-blue dinner jacket, especially if it’s worn with traditional black tux trousers, is that it will look like an “orphaned” suit jacket. If you do want to wear a blue jacket it’s better, we think, to wear a velvet one, which is both tactile and impossible to mistake for a regular suit jacket.

Is there a better alternative to the smart jeans I used to wear to bars pre-pandemic?

Yes. Jeans will always have a place in a man’s weekend wardrobe but we feel there are better options when the intention is to dress up. Assuming that you’re aiming for a semi-smart look you could go for a pair of grey flannel trousers, worn with a pair of black loafers, a white open-neck shirt and an unstructured navy blazer in cashmere or in corduroy. Or you could ditch the jacket, and wear black Chelsea boots with flat-front wool trousers in French navy with a charcoal-coloured merino-wool roll neck.

Thom Sweeney Tips From The Townhouse

I don't want to wear a tie to a wedding. How do I make this look intentional?

Politicians and business leaders have almost uniformly rejected them. The thing is, doesn’t that make it a great moment to start wearing them again? That said, if you really don’t want to wear one the goal is to maintain the shape of the shirt collar, rather than let it collapse under the jacket’s lapels. The best way to do this is with a button-down shirt. In the first instance we suggest you try a classic white Oxford version because they can be successfully worn with blue jeans and with blue suits.