Chap Chat – Accessorising a plain suit

That Dapper Chap talks to Desmond about making that plain suit less dull.

I often get messages from gentlemen via my Instagram page asking various questions and advice about mens fashion and what to wear. Last week I had an email from Desmond and I thought I’d share his question and my reply with you.

Desmond in his plain black suit

Hi Craig,

This is Desmond of desmondckc on Instagram. I am a Hong Kong university student who will start an internship soon in a bank. As you may be aware of, I am a fan of a suit. Yet I have some problems in choosing suits for my work, and I hope I could seek your kind help in this personal matter.

In Hong Kong, officewear, especially for a junior, is always a black suit. To wear a black suit, I would like to make it less boring by wearing ties, socks and watches of different colors. But I am not sure what color fits best. Black, grey and navy are all that I could think of, which matches a black suit, meanwhile not looking too senior. Do you think these colors are appropriate? 

I am not sure if it is acceptable for a junior to have a tie with a monochrome pattern like polka dots and squares. 

Also I find brown shoes weird with a black suit, or is it normal?

I also have a grey suit, and my choices of colors for the accessories are green (emerald), navy and black. What are your comments?

I know these questions may be bothering you, but I find you an appropriate mentor through your posts and would like to consult you for professional advice. I hope I am not disturbing you from your busy agenda.

Thank you.



Hi Desmond,

Thanks you for your email and also for your continued support for my page.

Firstly, looking at your Instagram page, I can see that you are a very stylish young man and that you take your style very seriously. You have some very nice items!

You mentioned that you find wearing brown shoes with a black suit ‘weird’ I have to agree, and it is a pet hate of mine! I’ll happily wear brown shoes with a navy or brown suit but never with black or grey.

It is sometimes difficult to make a plain black suit your own. But the first thing to say is that it should fit well. I’d suggest a slim fit suit, one that hugs your body and sits perfectly on the wrists and ankles. 

well fitted slim fit suits by Moss Bros £179, £249 and £199 
Badly fitted suits can make people take you less seriously

An ill fitting suit, no matter how expensive will always look dreadful while a well fitted suit will show that you mean business. If your suits don’t fit perfectly, take them to a tailor or seamstress and get them altered. Even a very inexpensive suit can look great if it is tailored to fit the wearer. Go for something with a bit of stretch so that it doesn’t crease while sitting at your desk all day and also to help with the fit.

Wool slim fit suits by Frank Tailor at £125

Now to make that well fitted plain suit your own! Being totally British, I do not know a huge amount about the culture in your country and the expectations of a junior and what he should wear to a bank. I would suggest that you start on the more conservative side and stick with the colour palette that you’ve suggested. Black, grey and navy are all good, classic colours for a corporate environment. 

Accessories by Frank Tailor Socks and a red knitted tie

You can add personality with your accessories. Would a lapel pin be acceptable? Maybe choose a pocket square to match it and a knitted tie. All of these will inject some individuality and over time as you become more aware of what is acceptable in your new environment you can try new things, new colours and textures. 

Polka dot navy accessories will go well with a grey, black or navy suit

You mentioned watches in your email. Have you considered the Timex weekender or the Daniel Wellington watch where you can change the straps? That way you have the versatility to wear the same watch every day but change the strap to match your outfit or colour accent.

Watches with Nato straps add colour to an outfit. Daniel Wellington, Simon Carter and Timex

I think that green would look great with a grey suit. How about a white shirt with a green knitted tie (maybe with white polka dots) a green pocket square, a green nato strap on your Timex watch and green and grey striped socks. This will look both professional and individual. So long as the look is acceptable to your company you can’t go wrong.

Green accessories

Yellow would also work but I would suggest a paler yellow rather than a very bright one. Navy accessories would also work so long as it is a dark grey suit and not a light one.  

Yellow accessories
In the pink!

I hope this helps and I look forward to seeing how you dress your looks soon on your instagram feed.

Thanks for your question


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