Suit up for the night of your life
Words: Modupe Oloruntoba | Photographs: Nick Gordon | Styling: Robin-Jade Carolus
First off, congratulations on surviving high school. Technically, it’s not over yet – you still have final exams to worry about and that acceptance letter you’re holding is only provisional, but cheers anyway because it’s time to start planning for your last dance. Before you ask, yes I speak girl, but no, I can’t help you find a date (good luck). What I can do is use our very particular set of skills to give you some guidance on what to wear on your big night.
Just so we’ve covered the basics, let’s have a quick chat about why you should choose a suit over a tuxedo. The suit wins out for its contemporary look and versatility – a tux can’t go everywhere with you but a suit can. Buying also beats renting any day – ill-fitting tuxedos that come with free cummerbunds aren't hot, bruh. Suits are always worth the spend because there are interviews, internships, dinners and other fanciful things in your very near future. On occasions that are a little less buttoned up, the jacket and pants will serve you well as separates. Already have a suit? It’s best to get a fresh one anyway because the suits you got for your Mgidi are probably more 'day' than 'night' and the one from your Bar Mitzvah defs doesn’t fit anymore. Here’s how to shop for a suave party look, along with some notes on switching it up for the afters. And yes, Napoleon, you can come too.
Mr. Turn up
You, sir, are the life of the party, leading the charge on the dancefloor with all the moves no one else has mastered yet. If hip hop were your country, 'Juice Back' would be your anthem.
What to wear: A lean grey suit with a black shirt and tie is a flawless nighttime look. Class it up with a pocket square, a metallic watch, and a timeless pair of oxfords. Crisp. Clean. Done.
The Re-up: Keep the pants, but cuff and roll the hem for a more casual look. Swap your lace-ups for your favourite kicks, and trade your jacket for a sweater and white shirt. Don’t forget your mixtape for the after party playlist.
Buyer’s tip: Don’t let your pants pool on top of your shoes – it’s the fastest way to go from sleek to sloppy. If the break is too long, take them to a tailor. It’s a quick fix that makes a major difference.
Mr Path-less-traveled spent more time pulling together tonight’s ensemble than you did studying for Afrikaans paper 1. He’s got an aesthetic all his own, made up of a selection of heirlooms, thrifted pieces, and carefully thought-out retail buys combined with a touch of eccentricity. In a nutshell, a little more Jidenna than Jay.
What to wear: Colour, because you can. This royal blue is a universally flattering shade, and while it might not be best for your Allan Gray interview (#goals), it’s perfect for your cousin’s wedding and other upcoming social events with a smart dress code. Pair with cropped chinos to put your sock game and monk straps on display.
The Re-up: Go for a speckled cardigan over a mandarin collared shirt, and add texture with a grey denim shoe. Keep the chinos.
Buyer’s tip: Don’t make the mistake of buying day shoes for an evening out – no boat shoes, no vellies, no broguing, just simple patent black leather.
The Lone Wolf
He wasn’t going to come tonight because he doesn’t really participate in most of society’s ‘derivative and ultimately meaningless’ rituals (his words, not mine), but his girlfriend insisted so here we are. You’ve never heard of his favourite band, and he’s already over your favourite haunt. Apparently, he has a squad but you probably don’t know them either.
What to wear: A shirt over chinos, black dress boots, and your biker jacket. Way to look great without trying.
The Re-up: The jacket’s a classic, so it can stay. Swap out the shirt for a tee, chinos for jeans, and the dress boot for a Chelsea boot.
Buyer’s tip: Shop well ahead of time to make changes if need be. Try things on and make sure they fit so you can head to a tailor for adjustments. Forgoing formality doesn’t mean sacrificing fit.