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The Guy's Guide to Wearing Sharkskin

All about this achromatic texture

Spring has sprung, flowers are in bloom, and colors are popping. Prime your closet for more color with this series of guides for spring shades. Each week SG HQ is going to break down how to wear a bright hue with easy color combinations and outfit ideas.

Catch up on bluebird blueamber orangelavenderarmy green, salmon, slateblood orange, gold, teal, khaki, merlot, red, evergreen, white, cobalt blue, mint green, orange sorbetyellow and navy.

This neutral is all about finding the right shade and sheen

You may have begrudgingly (or gleefully?) seen “50 Shades of Grey” during the height of its craze; and maybe, just maybe, you took notice of something beyond the rabbit fur glove. That Christian Grey? He’s a super sharp dresser—and a big part of that is absolutely his ability to pull off a snappy sharkskin suit in a range of different shades (50 might be pushing it, but then again that guy had a big closet).

To get a little technical, grey is achromatic and falls immediately between black and white, putting all of its shades squarely in the camp of non-color. This neutrality is pretty great news, because it means grey goes with almost anything, which makes wearing it fairly foolproof. Sharkskin, on the other, hand, is a little trickier to pull off—it’s all about finding the right shine and shade and keeping everything else you’re wearing clean and super crisp.

A bit of background: First off, sharkskin suits were not at any point made of actual sharks. Highly popular in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the two-tone material was a favorite among the Frank Sinatra set; it went to the back of the closet during the Dark Age of Polyester and then made a resurgence in the boxy ‘80s. These days, sharkskin—which is defined by its sheen rather than its shade—mostly appears in sleekly tailored slim suiting that channels playboy Mad Men execs.

We are, in a phrase, really into it.

How to wear sharkskin this season:


If you’re feeling a full suit, remember sharkskin requires a tailored, slim fitted cut. So if you wouldn’t wear a slim suit in a matte material, you definitely should steer clear of suiting that’s shiny.

Because sharkskin refers to a range of grey hues from light to dark, follow the same suiting rules you would otherwise—the colder it is outside, the darker your suit should be—while keeping in mind that this material best lends itself to spring and fall because of it’s super lightweight pure wool. Pair it with simple accessories in colors like navy blue and lavender . Everything else you’re wearing should be matte. We love this look with a classic white shirt and shiny black shoes—let expertly tailored suiting speak for itself!

In a full suit


If you don’t want to go for the whole shiny shebang, you can still make sharkskin work through accessories like pocket squares and ties: It’s a great way to take a basic black or navy suit up a notch without it feeling like too much.

In Your Accessories

This is more of a special occasion fabric and color than an everyday one. That said, sharkskin can sit in the board room or in row three at a spring wedding. Just make sure that whenever you wear it you ask yourself WWDDD: What would Don Draper do?


Still feeling overwhelmed? SG can help

If you’re ready to upgrade your style but dread the thought of shopping for new clothes…consider having Team SG shop for you! We’re obviously biased, but clients tell us we’re really great!

Let us rescue you from shopping fatigue and sartorial apathy. We can promise the kind of personal attention and care that will make you feel like the best version of the awesome guy you already are! Ready to seriously improve your closet and your confidence? Give us a shout.

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