How to dress like a British Gentleman

Wednesday, 11 October 2017
an image of a man wearing a tweed suit, with a tattersall shirt, and a burgundy tie, next to a second image of a man wearing a brown moleskin three piece suit, with a blue shirt, a green and yellow tie, and a pocket square
Tweed and moleskin – two distinctively British cloths

From the city gent in bowler hat and pinstripe to the country squire in a tweed jacket and corduroy trousers, British style is immediately recognisable the world over. What makes this look so distinct and why is it still synonymous with good taste? And, more importantly, how do you get it just right?

We’ve put together a item list for those asking how to dress like a british gentleman, which includes: 

  • A well fitting jacket in a classic British Cloth
  • A well fitted trouser, with a neat leg, also in a classic British Cloth
  • A waistcoat in matching cloth or with a dash of colour
  • Add detailing with accessories, like ties and pocket squares.

The British Jacket: Ensure The Correct Fit

British jackets have a distinct, waisted silhouette and are unashamedly more solidly constructed than their European counterparts. With this in mind, it is essential you wear a jacket that fits. They are not meant to drape or pull across the chest, the shoulder should sit neatly on your own shoulder, and the sleeve length should sit about ½” above your shirt cuff. Investing in a well-fitting jacket makes economic sense: get it right and you will be able to wear it for decades. When wearing a three button jacket, only ever button the middle button.

an image of a man wearing a sharp, grey, two-button suit, paired with dark trousers, a light blue shirt, a blue tie, and a pocket square, positioned next to an image of a man wearing a tan , three-button jacket, over a shirt and red knitted jumper, paired with orange trousers, and a pocket square.
Two button and Three button jackets in tweed and flannel respectively.

The Cloth:

British mills create distinct cloths that are instantly recognisable. If you are looking to buy your first jacket, a timeless Shetland will never look out of place.  Check the weight of the jacket suits the climate and the conditions it will be worn in.

an image of a man wearing a blue, tweed, two buttoned suit with a white shirt with brown a brown check pattern and a silk scarf, positioned next to a man outdoors dressed in a green three piece tweed suit
Harris and Yorkshire tweed, each have their own distinct characteristics.

The Trouser: The Right Length

A higher waist and neat leg are synonymous with British trousers. Side adjusters are particularly good at keeping the silhouette clean around the waist. Many of Cordings trousers have brace buttons. Although braces are often seen as a style statement, they are also the best way of ensuring you never have the embarrassment of hitching up your falling waistband, or your shirt billowing over the top of your trousers. It is essential you make sure your trousers are taken up to the correct length. Puddling around the hem, or Chaplin-esque half-mast trousers are a British style no-no.

The Cloth:

Traditional cloths such as corduroy and moleskin are eminently versatile, and flannel and cavalry twill are particularly good teamed with tweed in a more urban environment.

a man wearing dark green tweed trousers and brown brogues, positioned next to a man wearing blue chinos and black brogues, positioned next to a man wearing tan trousers and brown shoes

The Waistcoat: Add Style and Warmth

Adding a layer of warmth, with the option of a dash of colour, a waistcoat creates the tailored silhouette favoured by the British gent. When wearing a waistcoat, never do up the last button, and avoid trousers with a belt, as this creates an unsightly bulge around your midriff.

Tweed, corduroy or velvet waistcoats are the perfect alternative to a sweater to add an extra layer.

The Cloth:

Corduroy, velvet and tweed are is a very British cloth, with a long pedigree, it works beautifully well with tweed.

The Accessory

Nothing epitomises British style quite like the small details. Accessories are a chance to add a touch of colour; investing in well-made pieces in luxury fabrics doesn’t need to cost the earth, and will add understated elegance to your outfit.

The Tie: Pair To The Shirt

Choosing the right tie will inject colour and personality into your style without overshadowing the classic British style. When matching a tie to your tattersall shirt, pick out one of the overcheck colours.

Make sure your knot is right up to the collar of your shirt; nothing looks sloppier than the top button of your shirt being visible. When wearing a tie, avoid the temptation to undo your top button. If you need to do this, the collar size is too small.

a blue tie with a dog pattern, positioned next to a green and tan tie, positioned next to a red tie, positioned next to a pink and blue tie with a diamond pattern
Ties – choose from woven and printed silk, knitted and country wool merino.

Pocket squares and Scarves: Complement the Tie

Make your British gentleman look complete and complement your tie rather than match it. Madder silk prints in subtle hues, such as wine and navy, will work with most jackets.

Hanks in silk and wool are the perfect finish to your outfit.

Belts: Pair With Your Shoes

A carefully chosen belt will bring your outfit together whereas a mismatched belt will work against the sophisticated look you are striving for. Avoid this pitfall by matching the colour and finish of your belt to your shoes.

For the perfect fit, the belt should do up on the middle hole. As mentioned, avoid wearing a belt with a waistcoat.

Braces: Style and Practicality

Using braces will prevent fabric bunching and ensure a neat and comfortable appearance of trousers. A smart box cloth brace is therefore both eminently practical and stylish. Navy and bottle green are two popular colours at Cordings that are versatile and timeless.

a brown belt with a green and red pattern, positioned next to a light brown belt
Belt and braces – ensure your trousers stay in place and add a touch of British style.

Socks: Add a Dash of Colour

Hosiery is a chance to add individuality to your outfit. Give yourself a reason to hitch your trouser leg an extra ich when you sit down with a pair of carefully coordinated British made socks.

a red woollen sock, positioned next to an orange woollen sock, positioned next to a yellow woollen sock, positioned next to a blue woollen sock, positioned next to a dark green woollen sock

How to Dress like a British Gent: In summary

Dressing like a British gent is not about wearing the correct labels, following fashion or being ostentatious in your dress. It is about paying attention to detail. We’ve summarised our top 5 tips for achieving that quintessential British look: 

1. Make sure your clothes fit correctly, and check your sleeve and hem lengths.
2. British cloths will inherently make your outfit look uniquely British.
3. Investing in quality accessories will pay dividends.
4. Choose colours that complement rather than match or clash.
5. And lastly, take the time to follow the care instructions – preserving the quality of the garments for years to come.