Today in my office is ‘Flyday’. A day organised by those scruffy creative types to shed their shabby jeans and baseball caps in favour of the slick, fly look that has been popularised by Madmen and P Diddy’s man servant. And it’s a good look, on proviso you can pull it off. I have always been in favour of smart, and there is nothing smarter than a well cut suit. You see the suit is the most versatile, the most beautiful and the best constructed garment in your wardrobe. Well, at least it should be.
You can dress it up to give you that killer boardroom edge, or dressed down to make you look cool enough for your next big move…towards that very fine lady at the bar.
I feel it’s now time to give you the ten commandants on good suiting.
So what exactly is the problem then?
Well, I see a lot of chaps wearing very expensive suits, however the old adage that you cannot buy style is true; just because it’s expensive does not necessarily mean it is good quality.
And, of course, it would help if it fitted and you weren’t wearing that ridiculously stripy shirt…sunshine.
So what should you look for in a good suit?
1. Get a suit that fits.
Fits your body that is, not someone else’s. I have seen many atrocities walking the streets; the oversized blazer paired with pants that ‘you’ll grow into one day’ is not a great look. Maybe I’m old fashioned the way I think but if you need a belt to hold up your pants, they are probably too big for you.
There are five points of reference for a good fit:
a) Shoulders – the shoulder/ arm seam of the blazer should sit approximately 1cm beyond your shoulder. This is enough to give you comfortable manoeuvrability whilst maintain the silhouette of your natural physique
b) Cuffs – the cuff should finish, at best 2cm, behind the wrist and thus giving adequate visibility for those Longmire Stirrup cufflinks and the Patek Philippe Calatrava you are sporting.
c) The Abdomen – now do not hold your stomach in…that doesn’t help. There should about one inch of space between your abdomen and the blazer when buttoned. Any tighter and you are in dangerous ground as even the tiniest paunch will be exaggerated to epic proportions for all to see.
d) The Waist – your pants should fit snugly around your waist without a belt and there should be no muffin top. This will accentuate your pert buttocks, no doubt your finest feature.
e) The Legs – there should be about 1.5 to 2 inches of give across the thighs, again this is ideal for comfort, manoeuvrability whilst maintaining the silhouette of your natural physique. And stay away from pleats; they look naff and you are not an 80’s new romantic…
2. The Length
The trousers should just break whilst sitting top of your shoe. The hem of the blazer when worn should be in line with the knuckle of your thumb. The Illusion you are trying to create is that of ‘perfect size and proportions’. Ironically a longer length blazer will make you look shorter, coupled with the oversized trousers you’ll look like a midget in a grown up’s suit.
3. One, two or three buttons?
Generally speaking wear a three button if you are over 6ft 6, all others should stick with either one or two buttons. My personal preference is one button, and that one button should be in line with your navel so that when you sit, the blazer breaks neatly across your legs.
Vents are essential in any blazer, their purpose is to maintain the shape of the blazer and create neat lines whilst in the sitting position. I am a fan of the double vent on blazers for no other reason other than ‘just because’. I do have several single vented suits. I do not own/will not own a suit with no vents.
The lapels of the less expensive, mass made suits tend to be glued into a firm felt or cotton backing to give the lapel rigidity. The lapels of a well-made suit are stitched on to a backing of felt or horse hair. You can spot if the lapel is glued by a simple test. Hold the lapel the lapel between your thumb and index finger and rub the material. If you can feel the movement of the material then it’s stitched, if no…it’s glued.
A top stitched lapel indicates hand craftsmanship and very good quality.
6. Soft Shoulders
All jackets have shoulder pads; ideally they should be made from horse hair although the material isn’t of grave importance. The firmness is however. They should be firm with a touch of give so that it wraps to the contours of your shoulder. Too rigid and you’ll be pulling of the #joancollinsdynasty look. Not the best look for a boy.
My preference for material is wool and I can spot poor quality wool on suit a mile away as it loses its shape very quickly and gathers a sheen all too quickly after a few dry cleans. So that chap wearing a shiny hessian sack, masquerading as a suit, should have considered his purchase a touch.
A fine quality wool is fine and smooth to touch, grab a snatch of the cloth and rub between your thumb and index finger. If you feel it snag on the coarseness of your fingers, then walk away.
And under no circumstance should your wear a linen suit; jacket –YES, pants – YES, full ensemble –NO. It’s Britain, not Columbia, you work in an office; you are not the man from Del Monte.
Getting the cut of the suit right is essential; it can accentuate certain features and hide others. The taller chap should go for a straight fitting cut on the pants; smaller chaps go for slightly tapered.
The athletic body types should go for a slim fit suit jacket that accentuates the proportions between shoulder and torso; with tight arm holes to create that leaner look through the body. The Italian houses are good for this style.
The less athletic body types (smiley face) should opt for straight cut jacket or with very slight fit. This will create the illusion of a leaner, more athletic body type. Crafty eh!
Keep colour simple; black, blues, chocolate browns and steel greys are both business smart and cool casual. Check out Hackett’s SS13 collection. The suiting is beautifully cut, the material is luxurious to touch and the style is elegant on the eye.
You really want the suit to stand out …it’s a well-constructed fabulous garment that makes you look ‘da bomb’, don’t ruin that sharpness with an overbearingly loud shirt and/or ridiculous tie. And a well-made shirt is the ideal complement to the well-made suit. You can’t do much wrong with this simple Oxford from Hackett
Keep your shirts simple and contrast the colour with the suit. Stay away from matching tones (grey shirt, grey suit etc.), although the black suit, black shirt look may be acceptable on certain occasions – waiting tables for instance.