How to Wear a Grey Suit

“Can I wear a grey suit jacket with black pants?” one of our mates asked at a recent dinner party. It’s for him and others like him that we’ve put together this trusty guide on how to wear a grey suit, which answers his question and plenty more. By the way, you can indeed wear a grey suit jacket with black pants, though it’s just one among a number of potential combinations.

But why stop there? After all, there are also shirts, shoes, and ties to wear with a grey suit. That’s not to mention the grey suit itself, which comes in a variety of forms, accommodates a full spectrum of occasions, and blends with a host of peripheral colours. It’s then no surprise that grey suits are back in vogue, as more and more men veer from black or blue in an effort to distinguish themselves while nevertheless retaining a classic aesthetic.

Of course, don’t take your bevy of options to mean you should just throw an ensemble together and let the chips fall where they may. On the contrary, men’s style is an art form and should be treated as such. Before you visit the nearest suit shop or tailor, check out our guide on how to wear a grey suit.

What’s the Type of Grey Suit for You?

As with blue suits, grey suits are relatively broad in concept until you break them down into narrower categories. Consider the difference between light grey and charcoal grey and you begin to get the idea. Bring fabrics and patterns into the mix and your options essentially explode. So what’s the type of grey suit for you? Well, it’s a tricky question.

The good news is that grey suits are more in fashion now than ever before, especially among the younger crowd. In turn, there’s essentially no dress code that doesn’t make room for grey. That said, some grey suits work best for some occasions over others. So when asking yourself what grey suit is the best one for you, the answer can change depending on the season or event. Confused, yet?

For example, a light grey blazer makes for the perfect smart-casual statement. Projecting a softer and sunnier vibe, it delivers approachability and effortless flexibility. Pair it with a dark shirt, chinos, and expensive white trainers and you’re keeping pace with the latest street style trends.

Light grey suits are also common at semi-formal events, especially those of the outdoor variety. Should you be wearing a light grey suit to your next festivity, consider taking the traditional route by throwing on a dark tie and white or muted dress shirt, along with some accessories like a pocket square and watch. The pants can match the jacket or you can mix things up by wearing black pants. In an ideal world, the jacket and pants are tailored and slim-fitting. Also, stick to lighter fabrics such as cotton or linen when wearing a light grey suit.

Striking a more serious and professional tone is charcoal grey, which similarly comes in various textures and blends with a swath of colours. While indisputably handsome, charcoal grey is somewhat narrower in scope. For the most part, you should only bring your tailored charcoal grey suit out of the wardrobe for important business meetings and formal events.

In between light grey and charcoal is mid-grey (also known as just plain grey). Unsurprisingly, the mid-grey tone has a supremely wide reach, making it appropriate for a slew of dress codes, environments, and colour combinations.

What to Wear with a Grey Suit

Okay, so you’ve decided to wear your new grey suit to a fancy cocktail party. Thus begins the harrowing process of choosing the right tie, shirt, and shoes. Thankfully, grey is neutral and versatile colour, so you can basically do no wrong as long as you stay within the parameters of good taste. In other words, avoid neon yellows and orange pastels and you should be just fine. Of course, we’d advise you to do that no matter what kind of suit you were wearing.

Ultimately, grey suits allow you to play with contrasts and you shouldn’t be afraid to do so. Light grey will serve as a springboard of sorts, accentuating the darker or brighter colours around it. Charcoal grey, meanwhile, is more of a dominant shade. To give you a better idea of potential combinations, let’s break things down by category.

What Tie to Wear with a Grey Suit

When determining what tie to wear with a grey suit, don’t forget to take both the shade of grey and the event you’re attending into consideration. Light grey and mid-grey tend to be versatile and summery and so you can afford to experiment in the tie department, bringing in brighter colours, different textures, and eye-catching patterns.

Charcoal grey, meanwhile, is more business-like and professional, meaning you should generally opt for dark and monochromatic ties. However, don’t take that to mean you can’t lighten things up when outside of the office. For weddings or similar engagements, a charcoal grey suit with a pale pink tie and flower lapel pin makes for a terrific ensemble.

Here are some grey suit and tie combinations and their adjoining statements:

  • Light Grey Suit with Purple Tie – For something just a step outside the box, consider the purple tie. Synonymous with creativity, it delivers warmth and personality when paired with a grey jacket.
  • Light Grey Suit with Powder Blue Tie – This colourful combination is like summer in suit form. Seal the deal with a pocket square or a flower lapel pin (or both).
  • Charcoal Grey Suit with Navy Blue Tie – Pair this elegant combination with a crisp white shirt and you’re performing a deft balancing act between contrast and uniformity.
  • Charcoal Grey Suit with Black Tie – When attending important business meetings, this combination will never let you down.
  • Grey Suit with Red Tie – Red is a highly emotive colour and can send different signals depending on the shade. No matter which shade you land on, expect it to stand out.
  • Tweed Grey Suit with Striped Tie – Grey suits come in various forms, as do the ties that go with them. Rock this combination only when you’ve mastered the art of sartorial style.

What Shirt to Wear with a Grey Suit

As most style experts will attest, you can do no wrong pairing a suit jacket of any colour with a crisp white dress shirt. Grey suits are naturally no exception. Of course, white is far from your only option. Here are some others:

  • Charcoal Grey Suit with Pale Blue Shirt – Between the semi-dark jacket and light blue shirt, you have yourself a tasteful play in contrasts.
  • Light Grey Suit with Black Turtleneck – If you want to rock a smart casual get-up of handsome distinction, here’s one way to do it.
  • Light Grey Suit with Red Shirt – Should you wear this somewhat bold combination, avoid bright reds and stick with deeper shades.

What Shoes to Wear with a Grey Suit

What shoes to wear with a grey suit will vary depending on a variety of factors. The most important things to consider are the tone of your grey suit or blazer as well as the environment in which you’ll wear it. For instance, a light grey blazer with minimalist sneakers makes for a savvy smart casual get-up.

If you’re attending a formal or semi-formal event, leave the sneakers at home and throw on some brogues, monk straps, Oxfords, or loafers instead. Because grey is fundamentally neutral, you have plenty of choices in terms of colour, meaning tan, brown, black, and burgundy alike. Among them, burgundy might be your boldest bet, as it plays off the grey to heightened effect.

When to Wear a Grey Suit

You can safely wear a grey suit to virtually any kind of event, including cocktail parties, business meetings, weddings, upscale sporting events like the Melbourne Cup, and so on. Even when the invitation says “black tie,” there’s a grey tuxedo with your name potentially written all over it—just be prepared to stand out (you might even want to clear that tux with the host in advance).

Ultimately, you can consider grey to be almost as reliable a colour as blue or black. For a safe and classic ensemble, pair your grey jacket with matching pants, a white shirt, a dark tie, and dress shoes. When you feel like mixing things up, bring more colour combinations into the fold, such as black pants, muted blue shirts, and so on.

The more confidence you gain, the more you can experiment in virtually every regard. On that note, don’t forget that grey suits come in various forms, such as wool, linen, and plaid. It’s all about starting from a point of relative familiarity and then branching out as you proceed. Along the way, keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Grey suits and accessories definitely go hand in hand. Remember to bring in a dress watch, flower lapel pin, pocket square, or some combination of the above. Make sure everything matches, of course.
  • You can never go wrong with the classic combination of white shirt, black tie, and grey suit. On the other end of the spectrum are pastels like pink and powder blue, which go well with a light grey suit and brighten up any environment.
  • When it comes to metallic accents or hues (tie clips, lapel pins, cufflinks, etc), stick with silver or white gold.
  • When dressing smart casual, light grey is your friend. For business meetings and professional engagements, charcoal grey will never let you down.
  • Striking a middle ground between light grey and charcoal grey is regular grey or mid-grey, which is predictably versatile.

General FAQ

“Wait, so can I wear a grey suit jacket with black pants?” our mate is still asking. We emphatically roll our eyes before yelling out, “Yes! You can wear a grey suit jacket with black pants! Weren’t you paying attention?!!” Here are some more questions he might have, along with the answers.

What colour shirt goes best with a light GREY suit?

A grey suit of any tone will always match a crisp white shirt. To cultivate a little more distinction, wear a blue or light blue shirt with your grey suit.

Can I wear a light GREY suit to a wedding?

Light grey suits are traditionally associated with the smart casual and semi-formal dress codes. It's not completely unheard of to wear a light grey suit to a wedding, but you're probably better off with a mid-grey or charcoal grey suit.

What colour shoes go best with a GREY suit?

For medium grey suits, black dress shoes are your safest bet. If you want to draw more eyeballs, burgundy makes for a subtle study in contrasts, even if it projects a slightly more casual aesthetic.

Is a light GREY suit professional?

Light grey suits are typically considered more casual when compared to charcoal grey suits. In a business setting, you're better off going with charcoal grey.

What does a GREY suit mean?

Depending on the tone and texture, grey suits can convey everything from amicability (light grey linen) to isolated power (charcoal grey silk suit) Choose your shade and fabric wisely.

What color suit is most professional?

Black and navy blue are arguably the most professional suit colours, with charcoal grey trailing close behind.

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