There used to be a saying that white was never worn before Easter and never after Labor Day. And believe it or not, there was a time when a man never wore a white suit, period. Good thing times have changed because men’s white suits are gorgeous. Despite the fact that it is perfectly acceptable to see men in white, there are still some rules that go with the color. So when is the best time to wear a white suit? When is it completely and totally gauche to see men in white formal suits?
First, it should be mentioned that white looks great in the summer when it is very hot. The color obviously suits the weather. To be honest, weather is the biggest dictator when a guy wears white. For example, wearing a white suit on a rainy day is really not fashionable. Likewise, wearing it on a cool spring day is not too brilliant either. The absolute best weather for a white suit, is hot and maybe humid.
Second, typically white suits are better fits with outdoor functions such as garden parties, weddings in the park, or even dinner at a resort or on a cruise ship. The white seems to absorb the other elements in an outdoor venue and then looks like it belongs. If someone were to take a picture, all the elements would interact and look wonderful when the picture was developed and put into a frame.
Third, cities and work areas tend to be too dirty to wear white. Walking down the street at lunch time is only going to ruin the suit’s fabric and appearance. It is hard enough keeping white clean and neat looking without adding the day’s dirt to the mix. Plus, wearing a white suit to work will probably end up in stares and odd questions such as “are you on your way to your wedding?”. It truly is not an acceptable color for men to wear to the office.
Fourth, even if you are wearing a white suit in the correct venue, how you dress up the suit will be important. You have to be careful here not to add too many colors to your appearance. Where women can easily pull off the bright colors and accessories, men tend to look garish if they add all kinds of stripes and patterns. Forget the phrase your mother taught your sisters that everything goes with white. It does not ring true for men!
Blacks and burgundies are nice accent colors because they are deep, matte colors. They blend with the white making the overall look more creamy. And a tie that matches the shirt color is rather sharp looking. So the tie and the shirt would be the same fabric and the same color. You wouldn’t wear a patterned tie in this instance.
Unfortunately, there is plenty of debate about the shoes. Many male fashion advice columnists say that men should not wear black shoes with a white suit (something that doesn’t work particularly well on a black suit). On the contrary, they recommend beige, brown or burgundy. I am not sure about that because if I am wearing a black tie and black shirt, I want my shoes to be the same and not look out of place. In any case, the key is to match what you are wearing and downplay the shoes. You absolutely do not want the shoes to become the focus of your outfit.