Second perhaps only to blue, grey is a major part of any guy’s wardrobe. But far too often, it’s the lighter shades of grey that don’t get nearly enough love. Yes, a dark charcoal suit is a classic that’ll never go out of style. But lighter shades can be worn just as easily, still don’t shout like brighter primary colors, and hit the eye with a little more interest compared to charcoal. Ten light to medium grey men’s style “essentials” follow, with a few picks for each.
A well fitting Grey Suit
- Suitsupply Havana Flannel – $499 (review here)
- Spier and Mackay Light Grey – $360ish USD (review here, also at top of page)
- J. Crew Factory Voyager Jacket & Pant – $299 (review here)
- Suitsupply Napoli Fit – $399
Whether it’s cut from a seasonal fabric like warm flannel or breezy linen, or it’s a year round worsted wool with a breathable lining, a medium or pale grey suit will look fantastic in a sea of charcoal and dark navy suits. As long as the buttons are on the darker side and not a honey-colored tan, you can absolutely wear black shoes and a black belt with these suits. Just be careful when it comes to potential stains. It’s not quite as bad as wearing white chinos or jeans in the summer, but stains can really show up on this shade.
Wool Trousers (lightweight and/or flannel)
- L.E. Year’rounder Trouser in Light Charcoal – $62.30 w/ SAVEBIG & 8200 ($89)
- John W. Nordstrom Flat Front Solid Wool Trousers – $88.98 ($178)
- Spier and Mackay Light Grey Wool Trousers – $85ish USD ($110 CAD)
- Brooks Brothers Regent Fit Trousers – $126 ($168)
Just like suits, light grey wool trousers don’t get nearly enough run when compared to their charcoal and dark navy counterparts. Easy to dress up with a navy blazer, or down with a tipped polo for a modern day laid back Mad Men look.
Suede Shoes, Loafers, Boots, and/or Sneakers
- J. Crew Goodyear Welted Suede Plain Toe Boots – $107.99 w/ SHOPNOW ($228)
- J. Crew Kenton Suede Loafers – $138.60 w/ SHOPNOW ($198)
- Nordstrom Carson Buck – $99.95
- Red Fleece Grey Suede Sneakers – $73.50 ($98)
- Puma Suede S – $69.99
- Jack Erwin Parker – $115.00
Grey suede shoes are extremely versatile. You can wear brown or black belts/watch straps with them, and you don’t need to be worried about matching the texture of the leathers either (sometimes, a suede shoe + suede belt combo can look too matchy matchy). A light pair of grey suede bucks or drivers are perfect for hotter temps, while grey suede boots do great against dark denim in the fall and winter.
- GAP “Clean” Chambray Shirt – $29.97 w/ HAPPY ($49.95)
- Jackthreads “The Chambray Shirt” – $39
Easier to wear with jeans than blue chambray, since you avoid the Denim-Dan/Canadian Tux look. Also goes well with white or off white chinos and a medium blue sportcoat in warmer weather. Hard to beat the GAP option for the price. Nice and lightweight too, not some stiff work-shirt that’s hard to dress up.
- B.R. Factory Premium Performance Jean – $49.99 (review here)
- GAP 1969 Broken Twill Straight Fit Jeans – $41.96 ($59.95)
- Bonobos Travel Jean – $108
An easy way to break out of the blue rut. You can even throw on a blue polo or v-neck up top in order to not break away too drastically. And as long as the fabric isn’t too heavy, they look more appropriate in the dead of summer than dark wash blue jeans would.
Chambray Tie and/or Pocket Square
- TheTieBar Classic Chambray Pocket Square – $10.00
- TheTieBar Classic Chambray Tie – $19.00
- Todd Snyder White Label Chambray Pocket Square – $24.75 ($49.50)
- Bonobos Made in the USA Grey Chambray Tie – $68.00
A great way to dress down what could otherwise be a too serious suit for the occasion. (Drinks, a less stuffy wedding, etc…) Unlike a classic silk tie or pocket square, chambray is matte, has some nice texture to it, and looks more… friendly(?) compared to a glossy silk.
- Banana Republic Emerson Vintage Straight Lightweight Chino – $40 ($69.50)
- O.N. Ultimate Slim Lightweight Built In Flex Khakis in Earl Gray – $23.96 ($39.94)
- J. Crew Factory Sutton Fit Broken in Chino – $29.50
Like white pants… without being white pants. Plus the cooler tones in grey avoid the jaundice-y yellows that can be in traditional khaki colored chinos. Big fan of the BR lightweight chino shown above. One warning though: they wrinkle like the dickens and can be a bit tough to iron.
Underwear + Undershirts
Why grey? Because it’s less likely to show through under light pants or a white dress shirt. You don’t get those harsh lines that show where your undershirt (or underwear) stops and your skin begins. Per the underwear: Briefs? Trunks? Boxer briefs? That’s up to you.
Wool or Cotton Sportcoat
- Bonobos Unconstructed Wool Blazer – $398
- Shades of Grey by Micah Cohen Cotton/Linen Sportcoat – $219.98
- Banana Republic Chambray Blazer – $230
- J. Crew Summerweight Cotton/Linen Sportcoat in Black/White Stripe – $168.00
You can pair these up with light (if not white) chinos for a tailored look, even in the hottest temps, and then wear it with dark jeans once it cools enough. Fear not those Northern Lights.
Just like grey suede shoes, a grey nato strap goes with any belt/shoe leather combination. It’s also a nice way to mix up the color wrapped around your wrist when it’s usually brown leather, black leather, or shined up metallic stainless steel.
BONUS: Hair. As in, if you’re going grey, don’t dye it.
Poorly dyed hair on a man isn’t as bad as a comb over (hardly anything is) but it’s getting there. Once had a boss who had a great head of hair, was going grey at the temples, then one day showed up looking like he slept with his scalp dipped into a bucket of shoe polish. It’s completely unfair that grey hair on a man seems to up his perceived IQ, but… it does. So accept it and embrace it. (Photo credit)