Manners Maketh Man
If you are a man and don’t own the right set of suits to wear, you are in the dark my friend. Suits are a necessary evil: an insurance policy for professional and social occasions that you want to spend the bare minimum on. Whichever camp you fall into, allow us to illuminate you. This is Blancmode, your fashion expert helping you to build a tailored wardrobe. What to buy, and in what order, to most economically cover your event bases and get maximum bang for your sartorial buck.
The Plain Navy – 2 Buttoned Suit
The tailoring equivalent of the little black dress, if you buy just one type of suit, make sure it is a plain navy two-buttoned suit with a notch lapel. Nothing can beat this.
Weddings, job interviews, court appearances, you have got this covered. Especially if you choose a mid-weight fabric, you can wear it all year round. Don’t be swayed by high ‘Superior’ numbers – a measure of the material’s fineness. ‘Superior’ sounds good, but they’ll also wrinkle more, making them unsuitable for daily use. ‘Fine’ also means ‘delicate’ ,so if this is your first or rare worn suit, then you’re likely to blow through it after a couple of months of continuous wear. Stick instead to the mix of affordability and durability.
A textured fabric, like a hopsack, birds-eye or even a light flannel, enables you to wear the jacket and trousers as the suit separates with the rest of your wardrobe. Details like patch pockets and contrast buttons help in this regard, although they’ll also make the suit slightly more smart-casual.
The Plain Grey – 2 Buttoned Suit
The next type of tailoring workhorse. The cavalry. Just when your navy suit was about to give up, grey rides to the rescue, ready to make you look good. a general rule, charcoal skews formal and wintry, while light grey is more casual and summery. A mid-grey will give you the most scope for day-in, day-out, year-round wear. Ideally, you want to choose a shade and fabric with mileage, such that you can wear the trousers with your navy jacket and vice versa.
Avoid patterns like a plague of ravenous cashmere-chomping moths if you are a starter. Nobody will notice that you wore the same navy or grey suit for two or three times a week.
The Dark Double – Breasted Suit
A double-breasted type of suit as your dark horse: specifically, an almost-black grey, or navy that’s close to midnight blue, maybe even in a fabric with a bit of a sheen, like a mohair, and with peak lapels.
A dark ‘Double Breasted’ is versatile enough to enter your everyday rotation. But with the shape, sheen and sharp lapels, it’s also got a bit of swagger about it for those times you need to wear a suit but don’t want to look like you came straight from the office – e.g. cocktail attire invitations and weddings. Just make sure the cut is trim and not too long in the jacket.
The Dinner Suit
Black tie invitations may be few and far between, as infrequent as one a year, even though they will come, with increasing regularity as you get older. And when they do come, they’re invariably for occasions when you want to look and feel like you are on the top: a swanky work party, a wedding, a long-overdue Oscar nomination for Best Actor. They’re not times when you want to don an ill-fitting hire suit that reeks of the soaked-in sweat of a hundred other uncomfortable men before you.
If buying off-the-peg, you could get your money’s worth after as few as two or three wears, and look at it the other way, how often could you wear a dinner suit? Instead of fudging those ‘black tie optional’ invitations, you could boss them. You could don ‘black tie creative’ for parties even when the invitation doesn’t call for it. If the jacket is cut slim and a tad short, you could even wear it with jeans and a T-shirt on a night out.
The point is that if you have a great tux that fits you like a (possibly velvet) glove, then you’ll find excuses to wear it. And you’ll probably get a lot more invitations as a result.
The Summer Suit
It’s common knowledge that a pair of swim shorts goes far better with the summer season than a suit. However, that’s not to say the warmer months don’t cater for the man who needs to dress with a touch of formality.
The trick to staying cool when the weather is not in your favour is choosing the right type of suit and the right textiles. Tightly woven fabrics such as twill and artificial fibres may be less prone to creasing, but they restrict the amount of air that can circulate through the garment, making ultra-lightweight open-weave linen, seersucker or hopsack a far better choice.
It is wise to pay attention to construction. Slightly relaxed-cut, unstructured jackets not only remove the sweat-inducing insulation of padding and linings, they also speak more to the Riviera spirit of summer, as do earth and pastel tones, which never fail to look good next to tanned skin.
The Check Suit
Though it might not be the most pertinent type of suit to purchase, few things promise to supercharge a sartorial rotation like a check. Be it a Tartan, Tattersall, Prince of Wales, Windowpane or Houndstooth, an all-over pattern is one surefire way to stand out from the suited crowd.
Of course, just because your two-piece is checked, doesn’t mean it has to be in everyone’s face. Aside from opting for more subtle patterns in tonal colours, wearing the suit as separates – say, a Prince of Wales check blazer with black trousers – is an easy way to make a statement without straying into peacock territory.
As for pulling off the look as a whole the most important thing is to make sure the suit is cut sharp, then simply pair it with a solid shirt and tie and you’re ready to join the menswear big leagues.
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