Is it OK to take off one’s suit jacket?

It often happens during summer weddings. The occasion requires that men wear a suit, which most do, only to take the jacket off soon after arriving at the venue. Even the Prime Minister, during EU summit discussions, has on several instances been photographed with his suit jacket off – unlike the other delegates in the room. When suits are worn not so much out of choice but due to dress code requirements, can it ever be considered proper etiquette for a man to remove his suit jacket? 

In a professional environment, suits are indicative of power. At social events, they are worn for the most special of occasions. Since the jacket is an integral part of the suit ensemble, removing it strips the look of its intended effect. Without the jacket, a man is effectively no longer besuited but merely in trousers and shirt. That’s why taking off the suit jacket is as acceptable as ignoring the dress code. Also, unlike a coat or outdoor jacket, the suit jacket is not designed to simply offer an extra layer of clothing, which one can remove once indoors.

Therefore, taking off the jacket, when a suit is required, is a sign of poor etiquette. One might as well not wear a suit in the first place. Having said that, dress codes vary as circumstances change. Say, you’re at the office and only close colleagues are around, no clients or visitors. Need one keep the suit jacket on? Not really but it should be worn again when a client walks in, or if meeting top management. The same applies if going for after-work drinks. There, a suit is no longer required so the jacket can be taken off. 

And yet sometimes, it can be so hot or the suit jacket can feel so restrictive as to make it too uncomfortable. With the decline of suits and off-the-rack being the norm, most men who do not wear suits regularly, do not own more than one or two suits, which they wear regardless of the season. In addition, with off-the-rack suits, it’s close to impossible to find suits that fit perfectly, making them especially uncomfortable for men with broad shoulders and/or muscular arms. 

My advice for those who do not wear suits regularly is to opt for a light fabric option which is ideal for warmer weather. When it gets colder, simply wear an under-vest for extra layering. As for those who wear suits regularly, finding a brand that caters for their physique is well-worth the effort. Like that, taking off the suit jacket, due to the heat or uncomfortable fit, will no longer be necessary.

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