It’s heavy, prone to stains and water is its Kryptonite. So far, suede isn’t exactly shaping up to be the most practical of outerwear materials. But slip into a well-fitting suede jacket, take a look in the mirror and all of that ceases to be a problem.
Suede jackets may not be practical, but they more than compensate for that in good looks and versatility. A true investment piece, look after one and it’ll look after you – elevating even the most pedestrian of outfits with its rakish charm and subtle texture.
To prove our point, here are six go-to ways to wear suede outerwear that will always look the part. Just remember to give it a liberal dose of protector spray and always check the weather forecast before leaving the house.
Twist On Tradition
Open your mind’s eye and picture a suede jacket – we’d hazard a bet that what you’re envisaging is somewhere between dark brown and tan in colour.
While this is the classic shade for suede outerwear, it’s by no means your only option. Earthy, tonal outfits aren’t for everyone and if you’re looking for something more impactful, an unconventional hue could be a good place to start.
However, you needn’t go bold to stand out. A classic trucker jacket rendered in grey suede, for example, is a little bit different, yet still versatile and highly wearable. Layer using light-gauge knitwear, offset it with dark legwear – a cropped trouser in navy or black, perhaps – and tie everything together with a pair of luxe sneakers in a lighter colourway.
The ability to layer well is one of the pillars of good dressing. It allows depth to be created, texture to be added and creates multiple focal points. And the secret weapon in any stylish gentleman’s layering arsenal is the gilet. It can be worn solo over a base or mid-layer on dry days, while the lack of bulky sleeves means it’s able to slot beneath a coat for those times when you need extra protection against the elements.
More often than not, synthetics and down fillings are the go-to materials where gilets are concerned. Yet opting for a suede version instead is a good way to bolster style credentials. It’s more sophisticated, streamlined and introduces a level of tactility not offered by its padded counterparts.
Try dressing a suede gilet up for the office by combining it with a zip-neck sweater, layered over your shirt and tie, charcoal or black dress pants (perhaps in a similarly textured material such as flannel) and leather footwear. On colder days, sling a wool overcoat or parka over the top to add yet another dimension to the look.
At its core, suede has always been a casual material. Its soft, textured finish and capacity to hold colour have made it a particularly strong ally when it comes to creating interesting off-duty ensembles. Plus, its rugged, heavyweight nature means it pairs incredibly well with another casualwear stalwart: denim.
Nailing weekend dressing is all about having a selection of outfits that can take you from park, to cafe, to supermarket, to pub and everything else in between. They should be do-it-all ensembles. Not too stuffy, not too sloppy – just relaxed, breezy and well put together.
A bomber-style suede jacket makes a superb addition to any contemporary wardrobe. When worn with a button-down shirt, the collarless design keeps things suitably laid-back, yet suede’s innate sense of luxury ensures the overall look feels refined. If the temperature calls for it, there’s the option of layering a high-quality sweatshirt or knit between the two. Combine with your favourite jeans and tie it all together with a pair of suede shoes or boots, either in the same colour or a contrasting shade.
If there’s an article of clothing more versatile than the humble overshirt, we’re yet to discover it. This simple mid-layer is one of those rare garments that can be called upon all year round and always looks good. It’s a makeshift jacket on spring and autumn days, a casual top-layer on summer evenings, and another line of defence against sub-zero temperatures when slotted beneath your winter coat of choice.
Cotton twill, wool, flannel and even corduroy are all popular materials for this evergreen essential. But if you want to take things up a gear, suede offers a luxurious upgrade.
The beauty of this piece is that it can be dressed up or down with ease. Pick a classic neutral and wear it with a plain white tee, selvedge denim and minimal sneakers for a casual take. Or, if it’s a dressier look you seek, opt instead for Chelsea boots in brown leather and grey dress trousers. We also like the idea of an earthy, autumnal colour palette in the colder months, so why not complement the jacket with some brown, burnt orange or burgundy knitwear? A little bit seventies, but in the best way.
For those of us who prefer to blend in rather than stand out, experimenting with colour can be a daunting concept. Grey, black, navy and white are considered safe for most men, but it is possible to step outside of this comfort zone without decking your entire wardrobe out in Day-Glo.
Earth tones offer a way to add subtle hints of colour to an outfit, without being overpowering. Think burnt orange, chestnut, tan, olive and the like, which can be mixed and matched with very little thought.
There’s no need to go overboard – a brown suede aviator jacket is an understated, versatile option that will provide the focal point for the look. Around it, introduce autumnal accents via your footwear, bag or headwear. To keep things fresh, mix up your legwear and mid-layers using contrasting hues. Try a dark neutral, like charcoal or navy, on top and a lighter chino or stonewash denim down below.
As far as textured fabrics go, suede is one of our favourites. It has an excellent handle, is interesting to look at and yet is still subtle enough to pair with all manner of other materials.
Mixing textures is what winter dressing is all about, so don’t be afraid to get creative. So long as your palette is restrained then you won’t go far wrong.
Start off with a dark suede bomber jacket in navy or forest green. Beneath it, chunky knitwear helps create depth and keep you warm. You could even choose a cable knit to add yet another tactile element to proceedings. Below, thick corduroy or wool trousers in dark navy or grey keeps things interesting. Meanwhile, a pair of sturdy winter boots offers protection from the elements, while simultaneously nodding to the military heritage of your outerwear.