Have you ever gotten an invitation that stated lounge suit as a dress code? Have you ever wondered why those two terms are combined together and what it means for your outfit?
First of all, with two words lounge and suit, suit means you have a matching pair of pants and a jacket. It comes from the French term suivre which means to follow. So your jacket follows your pants, your pants follow your jacket. A suit is not a combination, meaning a jacket, like a blazer or an orphaned suit jacket that is then combined with a contrasting pair of pants or a different color or pattern. Now sometimes, people also wear a dark blue pair of slacks with a dark blue jacket but they’re not made of the same fabric, that’s not a suit either. So when you have a suit, make sure the fabric is the same for the jacket and for the pants.
Today, when people think of a lounge, they assume a more casual outfit and a suit to them is a more formal outfit. In fact, for most men out there, wearing a suit is likely the most formal garment they will wear on a regular day-to-day basis.
What Is A Lounge Suit?
The term lounge suit was coined in the beginning of the early 20th century. At that time, a regular suit was rather casual and so that’s what you would wear to a lounge. Obviously, things haven’t changed in the sense that lounges were considered casual yet the whole formality scale of clothes was very different. In those times, Gentlemen mostly wore frock coats, as well as morning coats, and a lounge suit was a new casual kid on the block.
So today, when it says lounge suit, don’t be confused. You actually have to wear a dark suit that is rather formal and very similar to what you wear when a dress code would call for business attire or if you’d go to a funeral.
Most of the time, you’ll find a lounge suit dress code on written invitations, for example, you’re invited to the Embassy or let’s say at Buckingham Palace.
What Do You Need To Wear When The Dress Code States Lounge Suit?
Basically, a dark suit with a necktie. It can either be single-breasted or double-breasted, a two-piece suit or a three-piece suit. Unlike the dress code black tie, which is very formal and very distinct, the lounge suit dress code gives you a little more flexibility and room to mix up your outfit. For ladies, lounge suit means either a cocktail dress or some form of a gown.
For color, you should go with either navy or charcoal, maybe dark gray can work. Stay clear of any bright and loud colors. Subtle patterns like a pinpoint are okay, maybe a very subtle non-contrasting houndstooth, maybe a faint stripe, but I would stay clear of wide rope stripes or big contrasting white stripes in a dark background because that’s too loud for a lounge suit dress code.
Likewise, stay clear of very casual suits, other materials such as tweed or bold patterns with a very casual structure and texture. The suit should always be worn with a necktie; it can be a regular classic necktie or if you want to, also a bow tie. Stay clear of ascots or an open neck since it’s too formal of an occasion to go without proper neckwear.
In terms of patterns, keep it classic and conservative, meaning go with maybe a blue tie, a red tie, or something in darker shades. Stay clear of the bright orange or yellow ties. For your shirt, a plain solid white or a plain solid light blue are your best options. Patterned shirts should be avoided, checked shirts or anything that is quite bold such as blue and white stripes.
The collar of your shirt should be a classic turndown collar. The spread can vary and it depends a bit on your face. With a rounder face, you can go for a smaller spread and a bigger collar. With an oval face, you can have a more spread collar but you definitely want to avoid a button-down collar since it would be too casual. The goal is to look appropriate and respectful without being flashy.
So for shoes, that means go with a pair of oxfords, maybe some derbies in either black, a form of brown, or maybe dark burgundy. Stay clear of loafers, casual textures such as suede or full brogues since that would be not formal enough.
In terms of the rest of your accessories, go with over the calf socks so you don’t reveal your bare skin. If you want a pocket square, you can go with one. Try to keep it muted, the classic white linen pocket square with hand rolled edges is probably your best bet. I also suggest you go with a more conservative fold such as the TV fold, not the crown fold or something more flashy.
You can wear any form of a micropattern tie, meaning small pattern, which is very formal and elegant. Personally, I would avoid a boutonniere and if you wear a belt, make sure it matches the color of your shoes.