Hello there!

I've a question for the more sartorially experienced forum members here on AoM: Will wearing a three-piece suit's pieces separately wear their colours out over time, perhaps to the point that there is a noticeable difference should I wear them all together on occasion?

Tags: suit, suits, three-piece, waistcoat

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Wear them together, never separate a suit. Nobody will thank you for doing this heinous crime.
Blazers are cut a specific way, and proper blazers bear club buttons. I wouldn't recommend wearing a three piece with other items of clothing. Wear the vest and pants together (without the jacket,) maybe. But in my opinion, keep everything together.
I'm a rather formally-dressing person, so my opinion may be biased, but I believe that a three-piece suit should always be worn as one and not pieced out. The only time I would advocate this is when the suit is actually beginning to show it's age. Perhaps, for example, the trousers are worn or the belt-loops are broken, so you leave them at home and wear the waistcoat with a seperate suit, or the waistcoat is too tight and the buttons have come off, you leave that at home and wear the other parts as a two-piecer.

If all components of the suit are in good condition, then wear it as a suit.

Plus, you'll look much smarter that way.
Do not "piece out" a three piece suit- or you will risk looking like a pikey.
Two options for a 3-piece suit-

1) Wear the suit with waistcoat; or
2) Wear suit without waistcoat.
My mom always taught me that the difference in wear came from washing them separately. If you choose to wear one piece of the suit more than the rest, make sure the entire suit is always dry-cleaned together.
Thanks for all the responses, guys! You've all helped me decide to simply go with the more common two-piece suit, which I will perhaps just compliment with a separately purchased waistcoat or two. I've seen some people go with black waistcoats with grey pants (and vice-versa), and I have to admit that while unconventional, they look pretty alright.

Going back to the matter of breaking up a suit's pieces, I found this shot of J. Crew's Frank Muytjens interesting.

If I ever decide to break up any suit of mine on occasion, I will likely be using Micah's good advice later on.
I like the look of the denim shirt and suit pants a lot. I was actually going to mention this article if no one else did.
On wearing the suit without the vest/waistcoat, keep in mind that it can affect the fit of the jacket.
You may find that the sleeve length is too long without the vest, etc.

I would never really wear them separately, although I have worn them without the vest - I just try to wear a shirt with slightly longer sleeves that day.

Also, it's almost always the trousers that wear out first, unless you really wear the jacket all day - in which case the elbows may get worn out before them. Getting an extra pair of trousers when you first get the suit is a good idea, if you can manage it.
Here's the deal. Have fun with your wardrobe. If you can trust your instincts as to whether or not something looks good, then try stuff on and make your decisions based on that.

Perhaps this doesn't apply today, but during the colonial era on through post-bellum Civil War era I believe that it was a common practice to interchange articles of clothing within a suit. For example:

During the colonial era of the United States, many gentlemen often did not own more than two or three full suits. These three piece suits consisted of knee breeches, waistcoat, and outer coat. Sometimes, these three piece suits would match in both colour and material: they would be referred to as "ditto" suits. If I'm not mistaken, a ditto suit was incredibly rare, as most American gentlemen of the era could not afford to purchase all three parts of the suit at the same time. Therefore, a three piece suit with unmatched colours and material was socially acceptable during the period.

However, a gentleman of good standing, during the colonial era, would never be seen without his waistcoat. Leaving his home without his waistcoat was considered leaving the home "undressed". So at this time, a waistcoat was always worn. Also, the outer coat was most often not buttoned. Although supplied with buttons, the outer coat was left open to display a gentleman's finest article of garb: his waistcoat, thus reinforcing the point that a colonial gentleman would never leave the house in an "undressed" manner.

Today, I don't think it socially acceptable to interchange articles of three piece suits. Also, wearing a separated suit is considered somewhat socially unacceptable (please don't take this as an insult).

Hope you find some use in my inapplicable nonsense.

I remain, ever faithfully,

Your most humble and obedient servant,

--Patrick M B Brenner


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