But how will you know when that situation really does call for you to switch out of those jeans and into a pair of suit trousers? Let’s take a closer look.
Know Your Basic “Suit-Not-Optional” Occasions
Some of the work of knowing when to wear suit trousers has already been done for you. Your sartorial forbears have figured out many of the rules of style and applied them to a list of social situations for which a suit will almost always be expected. Here are the most important occasions that you'll most definitely be expected to wear a suit:
- Job Interviews
- Business meetings with VIPs
- “Black-tie” events including fund raisers
Some jobs, like the position of investment banker, will have a suit trouser requirement baked right into the job description. If you ever land a job where “business professional” is noted as the dress code, it’s time to stock up on a few pairs of tailored trousers.
Avoid Overdressing by Asking in Advance
If you have to attend a social event that you don’t see on the above list, that’s where knowing whether or not to wear a suit can get tricky. But there’s an easy way out. Simply ask:
- If someone you know is hosting a party, then either ask the host or call up the venue manager and ask them what their usual experience is.
- Look at the context of the event. Are you meeting for an important business conference in a major city’s financial district, or are you meeting a client casually at an airport hotel?
If you think a pair of men's suit trousers might be overdoing it, you can simply switch to something more casual. Charleston Khakis, for instance, can be worn with a navy blazer to keep your outfit professional without looking like you’re preparing to meet the President.
When in Doubt, Overdress Just a Little
If you’re facing a situation where a suit appears to be optional, or if you’re simply on the fence, be on the safe side and opt for the suit. It’s far better to overdress a little than to underdress a little. At worst, overdressing makes you look like you took a meeting or event too seriously; the consequences of underdressing may more resemble a legitimate fashion “faux pas.”
Don’t be afraid to be a man who “cleans up well.” It’s important to dress occasion-appropriate whenever you can. When you’re on the fence, always opt for the better look. You can always remove a suit coat and loosen your tie to look a little more casual, after all.
Whether you'll need men's suit trousers or a more casual pair of pants for your next outing, browse our collection to find the best men's pants.