In the early days, a business suit was just that – a simple, business-like suit, typically including trousers, a jacket, and white or red collar shirt. In the 1950s, however, this simple, business suit became far more than just a business suit, but it began to evolve into something much more stylish, with better fabrics, more designer styles, more tailoring, etc. The suit evolved from being an almost throw-away type of uniform, to being the epitome of smart business attire. It was almost considered respectable to wear a business suit on the job.
A business suit does not need to be of a high quality, just plain business suit. Today’s suits are made with high quality materials, such as velour, silk, wool, suede, and linen. These fabrics have different textures, styles, and colors to suit different business environments. In the office, a modern, sleek, short-sleeved business suit is very appropriate. In a corporate or other business environment, a long-sleeved, tailored, fine-quality business suit that incorporates a darker colour fabric, like black or dark blue would be more appropriate.
The design of a business suit should be appropriate for the formality of the place where it is being worn. For instance, a fine, tailored, blazer will be more formal than a lightweight woolen jacket in a lighter material. In warmer weather climates, a blazer can be layered with cardigans and knitwear. In colder climates, a jacket can be left out all day in harsh weather conditions, and then have a long-sleeved, lined, cotton or wool cardigan worn underneath. Likewise, in the summertime, a cotton or wool jacket can be replaced with a long-sleeved blouse in a lighter fabric.
Another important aspect of the formality scale is the colour palette of a business suit. A business suit in a light shade such as white, cream or beige is considered to be very casual attire. Black is the most common colour for men’s business suits, as it is the traditional colour for the business world. Light to medium brown colours such as mustard are also considered to be appropriate colours. Formal attire tends to be quite a bit darker, including deep reds, burgundies and navy blues.
The most formal attire tends to be worn much more often. Formal attire is usually worn at award ceremonies or other occasions where the head table is to be used. It is not uncommon to see a business suit worn by a CEO or other higher ranking corporate executives in front of other people at a conference. A dinner party may feature a black business suit worn by an attendee, which is a far cry from the casual wear mentioned above. Formal wear is also worn at weddings and special social gatherings. The type of attire that is appropriate for these events depends on the type of event and the time of year.
In general, business suit attire is worn to work related events and to meet clients. It is not uncommon to see people wearing suits to go to a social gathering. Casual attire is worn at less formal events. They can be seen much more often than they are seen in the office.