THE first and most important thing to note right now is that the cut is still slim fit, single-breasted and two-button. There are occasional moves away, but the overriding look is still that slim suited look.
That doesn’t mean it’s just a skinny man’s fashion – it’s about the suit fitting well. A suit looks best when it’s fitted to your body, because it should exaggerate the good bits and hide the bad bits. The more fitted it is, the more that’s the case. Richard James, for instance, still presents a lean silhouette, but people who aren’t that “lean” themselves can still wear it.
There is certainly a more fashionable alternative: the double-breasted suit, which is coming back and has been seen on the likes of Gary Barlow recently. But this in particular needs to be cut slim and the jacket worn short, which does not work on every body type. Frankly, double-breasted suits do look better on taller, slimmer men. In the late ‘80s there was a misconception that rotund men could pull off a double-breasted suit with a loud pin stripe, but it actually makes them look even shorter and rounder. But on a fashion level, the double-breasted look is everywhere, and not just on suits: you’ll find it on separate jackets and blazer, generally cut shorter so that they look modern – you don’t want to look like you’re wearing your dad’s blazer.
I think the most common mistake men make with suits is that they buy one that works for “business” all year around. The suit business has been under a cloud thinking you can only buy a suit if it’s a weight that’s suitable for all seasons, but we’re finally moving on again and I think it’s right to buy a suit that references the season. You invest in seasonal clothing in other areas – overcoats and jumpers for winter, linen shirts for summer – why not in a seasonal suit? Especially since, in the City, it’s the thing you wear the most.
GET INTO SUIT FABRICS
Don’t be scared of looking into different fabrics and patterns. If you’re wearing a suit every day, it gives you the chance to mix it up a bit. Flannel, tweed, Donegal and checks are important. At one time such fabrics would be heavy but nowadays modern fabric mills can make texture and add depth without adding weight – you get the look without adding bulk. At Mr Porter we have a wool-blend tweed suit by Etro that will look great with a shirt and tie, but also works when over a fine merino wool crew or roll-neck. If that feels a bit too “country” then I’d suggest Richard James’ more traditional Prince of Wales check suit as a great way to add texture.
All shades of grey seem to be the predominant trend in terms of colour, and this certainly adds more interest than plain black. Those heritage type fabrics look great in grey – flannel and tweed textures look better in grey than in blue.
Don’t be worried about wearing lighter shades of grey as you can use other pieces to make it more autumnal. A darker shirt and tie can toughen up a light grey suit, for instance.
There is also the notion that suits are for business only, but it doesn’t have to be all about the office. AMI is a chic French label that we have stocked since they launched and they have a navy double-breasted suit which has great after-dark attitude – it’s an alternative to that skinny suit musicians loved a few years ago. Ideally the best way to approach suits this season is to understand that they are considered cool again, and to treat them so.
● For more information and ideas, go to www.mrporter.com