Suiting gets serious in the City as retro styles return

PINK shorts, fox-fur capes and metallic trousers might be what passes for menswear at London Fashion Week, but in the real world things are very different. In the City at the moment, the fashion watchword is simple: smart. <br /><br />&ldquo;That casual thing is completely finished in the City,&rdquo; says Johnny Allen, the manager of Savile Row tailor Huntsman. In the new environment, he says, dressing down is over and the brash red-braces look is out. &ldquo;You want to look sharp,&rdquo; he says. Think of the great 1950s matinee idols like Gregory Peck, Cary Grant and Montgomery Clift, he says, and go for single-buttoned, double-breasted suits made of flannel, or cloth with a real pile to it in &ldquo;sombre&rdquo; colours. Match this with simple white collars and cuffs for a classic, business-like look. <br /><br />Frederik Willems, head of design at another Savile Row outfit, Gieves and Hawkes, says that whenever there is a recession, people make more effort with their clothes. &ldquo;The culture of dressing up is coming back,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a no-nonsense thing.&rdquo; You want to look like you mean business at the moment and &ldquo;people are not taking any chances.&rdquo;<br /><br />In practice, this means old-fashioned British &ldquo;hairy-looking&rdquo; fabrics in charcoal grey and dark brown, or blue flannel. Gaudy pinstripes scream &ldquo;banker&rdquo;, and most people probably want to steer clear of that look at the moment, but the stripe is still here, it has just become more subtle. <br /><br /><strong>RICHLY COLOURED</strong><br />Of course, the risk with the classic look is that it could get a bit boring, so you can stamp some personality on the look with richly-coloured ties or if you are really willing to go retro, pocket handkerchiefs. Think burned orange or burgundy, earthy or brown colours, maybe a purple with a red polka dot &ndash; nothing &ldquo;loud or vulgar&rdquo;. <br /><br />The other trend for autumn and winter is also retro: the three-piece suit. All the Savile Row tailors have a version of this classic look and it has even made it on to the high street, as Austin Reed has a three-piece in its collection for autumn/winter. The designer has also teamed up with another name from the Row, Richard James, for a collection which takes its inspiration from the Mad Men television series and the sharp, skinny look of the Rolling Stones circa 1965, with micro tweeds and peak lapels. <br /><br />If you really want to push the boat out, Johnny Allen at Huntsman also says that he has seen a small resurgence in the bow-tie for young men, something which started with Japanese customers and is starting to tentatively spread. It&rsquo;s not a fox-fur cape, but it would certainly make you stand out.