Tone on Tone
The first and most simple option is tone-on-tone. This is where the suit jacket lining is pretty much the same color as the jacket itself. It’s an extremely versatile option and doesn’t call attention to itself. So, if you’re looking for something timeless, subtle, and under the radar, it’s a great choice for you. It’s how I style the majority of my suit jackets and sport coats.
Now, there are ways to do tone on tone but still have a little visual interest. If you look at the lining of my hopsack suit here, you can see the subtle paisley print. This is something to consider for a classic look with a little something special.
Your next option is to use a contrasting or complementary color. This is going to be bolder, yes, but doesn’t have to be ostentatious. It’s a good choice if you want something still in the classic realm, but with a little more personality. If you have, say, a glen plaid/Prince of Wales check jacket with a thin line of color running through it, try using that color as the focal point in your lining.
To figure out which contrasting or complementary color combinations you like best, you can find color wheel generators online. You’re able to pick your primary color, which in this instance is your suit fabric color, and then generate other colors to harmonize with it.
I also recommend “A Dictionary of Color Combinations.” It’s a small, Japanese book with tons of different color palettes. It’s a great source of inspiration for finding colors that work together.
Your third option is for a suit jacket lining is what I’ll call a ‘non-statement’ pattern. These are typically herringbone, stripes, checks, or polka dot patterns. They’re great choices for a timeless look with ‘classic menswear flair.’
The different bit when considering a pattern like this is it can seem really out there when you’re just looking at the little fabric swatch. But, when you actually see it fully lining the jacket the pattern kind of blends in and ends up looking killer.
You’ll have to experiment a little, so it can be beneficial to see a couple different options in person to get a sense of how it will look on the finished garment.
Option number four is a statement pattern. We’re talking big, bold, and eye-catching. A big gingham check. A bold plaid. Damask. A tropical motif. Even a picture. If you’re someone who likes to be unique and show your personality through your clothing, this is a great option for you.
But even if you’re not that kind of person, I still think it’s something to at least consider.
Take me, for example. I like simple pieces and classic designs and typically go for tone on tone, but do have a couple garments with statement linings. The lining I chose for this tweed sport coat is a bold paisley.
It’s larger in size, yes, but still works with this jacket because it’s a singular and unique piece. Going with a big, but complementary, lining was an easy choice. It is nice to have one or two unusual pieces in the arsenal to break out at just the right moment.
Option number five is to go full custom. This is where you can get whatever you want on your suit jacket lining-including a picture of your dog. Some companies, like Michael Andrews for example, allow you to upload your own image, which is then imprinted on the lining, making for a one-of-a-kind piece.
If you want to have something custom and personal and special and truly unique in that way, you really can’t do any better than a fully custom lining.
Choosing the lining is just one of the many, many decisions you’ll make when buying a custom suit. The bad news is none of them get easier. Over the years, through the many custom suit experiences I’ve had I’ve really dialed in what I like.
How about you? Are you a bold, tone-on-tone, or full custom kind of guy?
He Spoke Style