Three-piece suits are defined by the standard suit jacket and pants, accompanied by a matching vest.

And they’re back in the fashion scene in a tremendous way.

Rather than go for the standard suit that you have always been seen wearing at any event, why not spice up your looks?

You can look sharper on that next formal occasion that you are planning to attend.

With all the different styles and shapes to choose from, finding the one that perfectly represents your personality will not be difficult.

Advantages of Three-Piece Suits

Again, a three-piece suit consists of three components: the suit jacket, pants, and a vest (aka waistcoat).

what is a three-piece suit: jacket, pants, and vest

Three-piece suits complement individuals who are stylish and adventurous with their fashion statement.

The vest somehow makes the perfect finish to an elegant and stylish look. That is if you get the fit and the color just right.

The vest becomes an integral part of the trio when worn over a dress shirt.

wearing black vest for a funeral with shirt and tie

There are many good reasons to wear a three-piece suit. They offer that great, classic look and are always on-trend.

Plus, a good three-piece suit makes a man feel good about himself.

And the popular misconception that adding a vest makes you look fat is simply not true. A vest holds everything in place.

how to wear suit vest

It adds structure to your outfit. Nobody can deny that a three-piece suit creates a more “put together” look than a regular two-piece.

Even with your jacket buttons undone, a vest will give you a neat and finished look. The result is a very appealing look indeed.

wearing suit vest as part of a three-piece suit with jacket buttons undone

Another big advantage is that owning a few three-piece suits gives you a lot of dressing options.

You can opt to wear the vest on its own with an open-neck long-sleeved dress shirt style and well-fitted jeans.

wearing vest with well-fitted jeans

Or you can mix the waistcoat with the jacket and pants from another coordinating suit.

Of course, if you want to be a little less formal, you can leave out the waistcoat altogether and simply wear the suit as a two-piece.

Double-Breasted vs. Single-Breasted Three-Piece Suits

You can choose whether to wear either a single or a double-breasted jacket at any event where a suit is called, although three-piece double-breasted suits are extremely rare.

double-breasted vs. single-breasted suit jacket styles

And please, only wear a double-breasted jacket as part of a suit, and never as a blazer.

Double-breasted suits are more formal than a straightforward single-breasted jacket and should always be worn with the proper trousers. Plus, they can’t be dressed down as a single-breasted jacket can.

double-breasted suit style

On the other hand, a single-breasted jacket can be worn with casual pants, such as fitted jeans or chinos, with or without the vest.

Also, single-breasted three-piece suits are more widely available. Singles can come with anywhere from one to three buttons.

single-breasted suit jacket style

A lot of younger men are unfamiliar with double-breasted three-piece suits because they can be difficult to find.

Double-breasted suits have an extra fold of fabric across the front and the second row of buttons. They will usually have a total of four or six buttons.

single-breasted vs. double-breasted suit jacket

Here’s an extra tip: Make sure the buttons are in a Y-shape instead of a V. This is considered much more stylish and will fit better, too.

How to Fit a Three-Piece Suit

Before deciding on your suit’s color, it’s important to match your suit’s fit.

The same basic suit rules apply, with a few additions to the vest. Let’s quickly cover them:


Let’s begin with the vest. This may appear straightforward, but finding the right fit can be tricky.

how to wear a vest with a three-piece suit

Remember you won’t always wear your jacket, so the vest has to look good over your shirt.

There are distinct pointers that can help you find the perfect vest size.

The front hem, for example, should be long enough to conceal the pants’ waistband.

An inch or so of the vest’s top part must remain visible when the jacket is fastened. Also, the V of the waistcoat should not obscure the edges of your shirt collar.

how should a suit vest fit

Lastly, you want your vest to be narrow at the waist. The sides, however, are just right when they fall straight down.

Don’t forget that the bottom button of your vest should be left unbuttoned.


To get the right fit for your jacket, first, make sure the shoulder pads end where your shoulders do. Nothing looks phonier than shoulder pads that extend too far.

how the suit jacket closure should fit

Next, look at the buttons. If there are two, the top one shouldn’t be lower than your navel. If you have three, then the same applies to the middle button. Never fasten the bottom button.

To check the jacket’s length, stand with your arms at your sides.

Your hands need to be where the hem of the jacket ends. The sleeves should reach down to where your thumb and wrist joint.

proper suit jacket length

As a final check, your shirt sleeve’s cuff should stick out of your jacket by about half an inch.


The best fit for the trousers of a three-piece suit is high on the natural waist. That said, younger men might prefer a slimmer fit with a lower waist.

how the suit pants seat should fit

It’s best not to wear a belt with a three-piece as it can cause the vest to bulge. Use suspenders instead, or if you can, nothing at all.

Trouser length is very much a matter of personal preference.

Shorter guys might prefer the pants’ hem to barely brush the top of their shoes. Taller men often go for a full break.

The trouser break fit

To learn more about how to fit your suit, read our suit fit guide.

Three-Piece Suits Color Combinations

Starting from the bottom up, your shoes should match your three-piece suit’s tone. Brown shoes go nicely with blue or navy.

We always advise black shoes with a black suit, but black shoes work well with navy or charcoal suits, too.

three-piece charcoal suit with black derby wedding shoes

Moving up: for a more formal look, the jacket, vest, and trousers should all be the same color. But wear a coordinating or contrasting vest for a less formal look.

Navy blue, or even a light blue suit, fits right in at weddings. You don’t want to wear anything too dark or somber.

semi-formal attire: three-piece navy blue suit, white shirt and blue floral tie

Regarding shirts: white shirts are a staple and go with most suits. They give a crisp, clean look. You can wear almost any color tie with them too.

navy three-piece suit and white shirt color combinations

Pale blue is also a good shade for a dress shirt and provides a classic alternative to white. It goes great with most people’s skin tone and hair color. Add a navy tie with grey or navy suits.

We encourage you to experiment with different color and pattern combinations, like brown, maroon, grey, or beige.

reddish brown three-piece suit paired with brown monk strap dress botos

The main thing is avoiding the trendsetting look by mixing and matching too many colors.

When to Wear a Three-Piece Suit

A three-piece suit isn’t something you’re going to put on every day just to go to the mall.

Three-piece suits are effortlessly contemporary and stylish and are often preferred at business, weddings, and many other events. As a matter of fact, it’s the best choice by far for any formal occasion.

Three-piece suit as a fall wedding attire

The modern designs may also be worn on casual nights. It will enable you to stand out from the rest of the crowd at any social event with your mystifying look.

These suits perfectly combine a classic and modern touch of fashion, thus creating a perfect fusion for any modern man.

navy blue three-piece suit

Again, three-piece suits are the perfect choice for your wedding attire.

That’s because it perfectly matches all suit accessories, including suspenders. It’s a celebration, after all, and nobody is going to laugh if you dress up.

If you have an office job, chances are a three-piece suit won’t look too over the top. However, stay away from bold colors and non-standard accessories, and stick with classic shades of navy, grey, and black.

styling up the grey three-piece pinstripe suit

Other places to wear your suit would be a day at the races, an evening at the opera, to the theater, or a formal dinner.

Wrapping It Up

A three-piece suit has always been the perfect business attire, representing power and determination.

These days, three-piece suits have been introduced as a fusion of modern and classic looks. They were an essential part of the executive wardrobe in the 1930s.

However, three-piece suits have revisited the modern fashion scene. Hence, this style has become a favorite among corporate business climates.

The only difference is that modern three-piece suits have become more structured and slim.

Every item on the list above comes with its own set of features. Your choice highly depends on your personal taste and preference since all options are cheap and affordable, totally worth the price.

Alexander Stoicoff

Author: Alexander Stoicoff

Hi, I’m Alex, and I’ve studied and specialized in styling in Rome. Through my writing, I want to help men dress well and learn the purpose and significance of suits and other formal attire. My final goal is to make men more confident in their wardrobe choice and life in general.