Suits aren’t what they used to be, and that’s a good thing. Dressed, working from home, comfort-seeking and daring styles have turned upside down what it means to wear a suit. With Savile Row on the upper, traditionalism in costume still works for weddings and funerals. And accountants. For everything else, it’s time to welcome new ideas.
Customize the smart end of your wardrobe with the costume trends that are redefining menswear not just for this year, but for the foreseeable. The suit is dead. Long live the suit.
Tailors are obsessed with the pursuit of perfect proportion. Balance is everything. Fashion on the other hand, well, it just likes to screw that up. Then step into the oversized suit, with a touch of ’80s Armani, and nod to David Byrne’s ‘Stop Making Sense’ style.
This is probably the most capitalized fashion of the moment, with jackets – especially those with double breasts – that run over the shoulder, draped tent-like around the body rather than on top of it, and stop lengthwise somewhere mid-thigh. Getting this right, of course, requires some damn smart albeit unconventional customization. So don’t think you can just go up a size to complete this look.
Mismatch of the day
Your aptitude for dressing as a woman is of course entirely your own business, but there is one way in which we would urge you to dress as a woman – and that is to understand the idea of wearing separate items. . While many women have long shunned suit wearing precisely because of its association with masculinity, they have not shunned dressmaking.
Their answer? Mix and match – combine a fitted jacket with complementary but unmatched trousers. You need some skill to put these together – stick to the classic menswear colors, keep the dark shade for the jacket, don’t forget the interesting accessories – but the result is smart without the stuffiness of traditional costume styles, and a lot more fun than wearing of a suit. Words to live by: invest in a good blazer.
Costume trends evolve at an icy pace. After all, the suit’s conventional role is precisely not to change, but to be a work uniform and the epitome of wearable conservatism. Still, it feels like tighter suits—narrow at the shoulder, cinched in at the waist, pants that are oh-so-hung and too short—are already with us from a geological age. They looked pretty hideous on most men, like they’d had a hot wash and were lost. But finally the dam has been broken.
Now look at a wider suit, through the chest, over the shoulder and, most obviously, through the pants, with a looser, wider leg. Stop thinking about real estate agents and instead channel the 1930s and 40s, the elegance of an Astaire or Cooper.
In your places
In terms of clothing, we live in lazy, messy, comfort-seeking times. Just look at the number of men nowadays who dress in the mall suit with matching gray hoodie and sweatpants. It’s depressing. Okay, so these are strange, closed times too, and socializing can be comforting, but there’s also a longer-term overarching tendency toward convenience.
Just as makers of ‘real’ shoes struggle with the tireless rise of the sneaker – and have to adapt, essentially by making luxury sneakers themselves – so ‘real’ suits are transformed into, if you will, chic tracksuits.
Look for two-piece garments that match, but are softer, more stretchy, more technical, and more unstructured than any “suit” you’ve worn before. They may have elastic waistbands. They can be stain or wrinkle resistant. They can even go in the washing machine.
color me happy
The prospect of wearing a pink suit outside a theme park in Miami Vice probably strikes most men with some trepidation. And they would be right. Every guy in a pink suit gets the kind of attention they might not have counted on. However, they would be terribly fashionable.
Think less of the dark austerity associated with most costume styles and more of pastels and jewel tones – rich Crayola hues of pale orange and lilac, emerald green and sapphire blue. The tones are not blindingly bright – more flushed. And some men, as the trend has it, can even wear them with tonal variations of the same color for shirt and tie. Still, this is a sign that the suit continues to search for a home outside the office.
As the great poet once said, “No one is a sofa”. But there’s always a chance to look like this when the most notable costume trend of the year has something to offer. Traditional costumes have typically avoided all but the most subtle of patterns – the pinstripe, the Prince of Wales check – and favored the surface details of certain cloth weaves.
Now take those patterns and explode them into huge checks, or pick up an all-over patterned suit, or have a florist full of flowers. These may work for the red carpet — where the point is to turn heads — but beware, these aren’t easy suits to wear, and certainly not twice. On the other hand, these are certainly not boring suits. And that has a lot of advantages.
Beyond the shirt
A suit is more than a tailored jacket with a pair of trousers. It is also a set of conventions, no more than what it is worn with. These conventions can be broken down from generation to generation, but most custom tailors will insist that, for example, a suit just looks wrong without a shirt and tie.
Well, say goodbye to all that. Suits are now worn with knitwear – and here we mean the chunky kind, not the smooth and finely cut model. They are worn with a bobble hat or with sneakers. Even, sip, with sandals.
In other words, the suit actually goes back to its origins – back before it became office wear, back to when it was a work garment, back to when it was just what a man wore every day, to put something in, and what he wore. with everything he needed to keep himself warm or cool. It’s probably the boldest move in attitude to the suit in three decades.
Brown in the city
Make of this what you will, but look at the catwalks and it is clear that brown is now offered as a costume option. Don’t think bad about brown, it’s a great shade: serious but warm, dark without being the more predictable navy blue or gray, friendly to all skin tones. But putting on a brown suit is a matter of thought – be sure to break up your ensemble with some light but complementary shades, like a chambray shirt or baby blue T-shirt, or a charcoal polo shirt, for example.
Shame about the poor double breasted suit. Cackled by its devious associations with real estate agents, dodgy used car salesmen or yuppie splurges, a double-breasted suit, well-cut and well-worn, still, for pure class, lets all other styles languish. Think more 40s noir than 80s bagginess.
A new take on the DB, however, respects our preference for more relaxed clothing and is available in lighter fabrics and softer fits, which are cut close to the shoulder and allow movement through the body. Also, don’t be afraid to wear just the jacket with jeans.