Contrary to what its name would seem to imply, the orphaned suit jacket isn’t necessarily the byproduct of neglect. Quite the opposite, actually. Sometimes the neglected party is the corresponding suit pants, which have been lost to time and/or an ever-changing waistline. Or its allure is in how well it stands alone. “I got this jacket on super clearance for like $16 at Express a while ago,” a redditor on r/MaleFashionAdvice writes of their favorite orphaned jacket. “I think it was so cheap because it fits me pretty well, and I have a hard-to-fit body type.”
It is, however, a fashion impossibility to ever conjure up matching slacks again — no matter how hard you try to make it so. Case in point: Art Lewin, a master designer of bespoke suits, recently had a client who lost the pants to his black suit. “He came into the store and asked if I could match a pair of pants to his black jacket,” Lewin tells me. But just as he explained to his client, Lewin says that trying to match a pair of suit pants to an orphaned jacket is like re-painting the bumper of a car: “No matter how close you get, you’ll never get a perfect match.”
That’s because over time, just like car paint, the color of a suit fades ever-so-slightly and the faded fabric necessary to create a mirror image — or even a reasonable approximation — doesn’t readily exist. The problem is especially acute if there’s a window in your closet and your suit has spent a considerable amount of time in the sun. “I always suggest that my clients never put a window in their closet,” Lewin says. “Your suit should have minimal, if any, access to sunlight.”
That said, all is not completely lost. In fact, if you’re going for a casual jacket look, your non-suit options are vast. “You could pair a navy blue jacket with black or blue jeans,” Lewin says. “And you could pair a black or charcoal jacket with the same. Most jeans will work with a blazer or a sport coat.”
For a more formal look, however, Lewin explains you need to think in complementary colors. As a classic example, he cites a navy suit jacket with gray or charcoal pants. “You could also go with a tan or a taupe trouser — even black,” he says. The only issue here is that other color matches can be kinda constrained. “Charcoal suit jackets are more limited,” he explains. “For them, I mostly recommend black trousers.” The same goes for black suit jackets, which Lewin tells me go best with black-and-white plaid or houndstooth pants.
Speaking of black and white, even the mighty tuxedo jacket need not be completely orphaned — still more than capable of finding a loving home among your fits, original pants be damned. “I’ve told my clients they can wear it with jeans,” he says. “It’s a little rock-n-roll, but it’s a very workable look.”