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Suits - Style, fit and colour

(c) 2012 Stefan Gosatti(c) 2012 Stefan Gosatti 

The phrase "double whammy" is thrown around a bit these days; well, maybe not, but in any case, I experienced the quintessential double whammy the other week when the seam of my suit trousers finally raised the white flag and capitulated!  What was once the area protected by the seamless stitching sewn by Mr Ermenegildo Zegna himself (as the price would suggest) had quickly become nothing but a pale streak for all to mock, leaving me to wallow in my own shame.

Why do I call this embarrassing occurrence a double whammy?  Well, because not only have you been put in the position of having to fork out some serious moula for a new suit but you also come to the rapid realisation that your grinding office job has finally taken a toll on your BMI (and unless you are doing some serious squatting at the gym, I am not referring to Body Muscle Index).  In other words gents, you're getting fat and you have to cough up! The essence of the double whammy.

So what do the experts tell us?  According to GQ Magazine, (quote) buying a new suit is a serious investment (unquote).  My response to that is – probably a slight exaggeration, given that Warren Buffett has never pointed to his suit when asked about what the most serious investment that Berkshire Hathaway has ever made - but I accept with a pinch of salt their point.  Buying a new suit can be a somewhat challenging task, particularly when you don’t have Buffett's financial resources to play around with. 

When it comes to "investing" in a suit, there are three simple rules that I want to share with you that have stood the test of time, namely style, fit and colour.

Style

The style of a suit essentially refers to things like the make, design, feel and so on.  Questions like, should I go for a double or single breasted?, standard as opposed to tailored fit? and of course, three piece versus looking normal, are all stylistic issues. In answering any or all of these questions and opting for a certain style, you should start by considering how many suits you have and whether you can afford to branch out into something different.  A good example is deciding whether or not to purchase a double-breasted suit.  Even if one accepts the premise that double-breasted suits can be worn fashionably by guys under the age of say, 75, nobody accepts that a double breasted suit should be worn every day.  Wearing a double-breasted suit in the office every day (or even every second or third day) draws a kind of Porsche Boxter-like attention, i.e. the "you can't afford it" look.  A single-breasted dark suit can go a very long way in fooling people that you actually own more than two suits.  Throw on a high-quality business shirt, cool tie and pair of nifty cuffs and you’re half way there!

Fit

Simply put, it's all in the fit. No matter how much you spend on a suit, the reality is that a bad fitting suit will rarely look good.  The corollary of course is that a cheap suit can still look presentable if it fits you well. 

The fit typically fall into three categories: skinny, tailored and relaxed.  Skinny suits typically work best on younger guys with a slim build.  If you are over 25 and a relatively standard build, the tailored suit trumps all other options.  The tailored suit should be fitted to your body without looking tight and emphasise your masculine points like broad shoulders and a stream lined body.  The last of the three is the relaxed suit.  Despite its popularity in the United States, relaxed fit suits should rarely be worn.  Even larger guys should be able to find a suit that is relatively tailored to their body shape, so there really are no excuses (unless of course you're American).

Colour

Pretty self-explanatory – the key mantra being: the darker the suit, the more chance you have to wear it more often.  Though a grey suit may look great per se, the light colour means that any matching shirts will be limited to your blues, lilacs and whites.  Further, anything but black shoes can also be a little difficult to incorporate. However, if this is suit number 20 and you have some cash to play around with, then go for it.

On the other hand, if this is suit number two in your growing "collection", nothing projects sophistication like French navy;  timeless, works well with any shirt/tie combination and allows one to wear a pair of brown shoes to change things up (make sure you have a matching brown belt).  The options that come with a navy suit and the ability to easily accessorise means that you can pull off a plethora of different looks without giving people the impression that you haven't taken it off for six months.

So remember the style, fit and colour rule and you are bound to look sharp in your new suit.

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