How To Wear A Suit – According To 5 Style Insiders

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How To Wear A Suit – According To 5 Style Insiders

Words by Mr Jack Stanley | Photography by Mr Joachim Mueller Ruchholtz | Styling by Ms Sophie Watson

13 May 2024

The suit is dead – long live the suit. A classic two piece has forever been central to most men’s wardrobes. However, this particular moment feels like a turning point in the history of tailoring. The past few years have seen a gradual unbuttoning as dress codes have relaxed, with shirts and ties no longer an everyday necessity in many workplaces. With the old rules of office attire thrown out, it’s the right time to have more fun with tailoring. Liberated from the nine to five, a suit can be dressed up for a formal occasion or down for day-to-day wear. Reports of its demise, then, were greatly exaggerated; it’s just getting started.

With the suit’s new lease of life, we sat down with five of the best dressed men that we know, all of whom have a particular affinity for tailoring. Each of them told us about their personal style and the role that smarter wear plays in it. What do they look for in a new suit? And, more importantly, how does it make them feel?

Mr Karlmond Tang

Mr Karlmond Tang’s relationship with clothing is closely tied to his work as a stylist and a creative director. “Styling is creative direction,” Tang says. “Clothes are a huge part of our visual language, so styling becomes your vehicle for creative direction or art direction.”

This approach to clothing extends beyond Tang’s work and into his everyday life, with a particular interest in tailoring and its different expressions. “My first interest was in corporate finance,” he says. “I remember being really excited about wearing ties to the office, even though you didn’t need to. My late stepfather had a collection of Hermès ties, and I used to borrow from that for the office. The partners loved it, this little intern walking around in an Hermès tie.”

After his foray into finance gave way to an interest in fashion, Tang sought new ways to express his love of tailoring. He mentions designers and brands such as Issey Miyake, Comme des Garçons, Jil Sander and Yohji Yamamoto, as well as an interest in vintage clothing and rare archive pieces. All of these references have shaped the way that Tang views tailoring today.

“You realise that tailoring can be worn in different ways,” he says. “I still get to experience my love for tailoring, but now I get to mismatch it with trainers, I don’t worry about wearing a two-piece suit or I wear one with sportswear pieces.”

This versatility is central to Tang’s love of tailoring, and something that is often overlooked when people talk about suits. “You should never feel hesitant about buying a two-piece black suit, a two-piece navy suit, a two-piece green suit,” he says. “You can wear that one suit to everything, you just change the context of how you wear it.”

At the moment, Tang is working on a project focused on the British-born Chinese community. “People are trying to find references for what they do, and it’s not inherently British and it’s not inherently Chinese,” he says. This project has involved sourcing vintage pieces to tell the story and combining those items with contemporary tailing. “I’ve done a shoot that was reimagining what Hong Kong could have looked like in the 1950s if people fused Chinese and British influences.”

Tang’s approach to clothing is reflected in his personal style, with a focus on keeping hold of items and looking for pieces that have a particular resonance with him, whether that’s a vintage blazer or a mismatched suit. “It comes from the fact that I’ve cemented how I envision my personal style in the past seven to eight years,” he says. “Before that, I was still experimenting and trying different things on. The things that appeal to me now are things that I know I will want to wear in 20 years’ time.”

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Mr Emanuele Favarin

For visual merchandiser Mr Emanuele Favarin, an interest in tailoring goes back a long way. “I have this memory of my grandfather dressing in beautiful Italian suits, classic Oxford shoes,” he says. “Since then, I knew what I wanted to achieve with my style.”

While his original tailoring inspiration stretches back into childhood, Favarin is constantly seeking new sources of inspiration. And his work in the fashion industry provides a bountiful supply. “I’m constantly surrounded by new styles, new trends, new designers,” he says. “It inspires me daily. I also get inspiration from walking around London, going down Savile Row and getting lost, admiring what’s in the windows.”

The realities of his career mean that Favarin has to find other opportunities to experiment with tailoring. “I can’t really dress in a suit every day at work, but I still wear them at weekends or on other occasions,” he says. “If I have dinner with friends, I can’t wait to dress up. Even if the event is casual, I’ll still be wearing a suit, but maybe without a tie, maybe with a casual shirt or even a T-shirt.”

“I really believe that when you are comfortable with yourself, you are stronger”

Whereas many people may associate suits with rigid formality and stuffiness, for Favarin, it’s when he’s wearing a suit that he feels most at ease. “It’s not about looking beautiful for others or for myself, it’s about comfort,” he says. “I really believe that when you are comfortable with yourself, you are stronger.”

Not that Favarin is afraid to push against the boundaries of traditional tailoring – and have some fun. “My style is evolving all of the time,” he says. “I try to mix and match different things. There are pops of colour with a really nice suit, maybe a sweatshirt over my shoulders, and then there are my glasses. I have so many different colours and different lenses I can wear.”

Mr Adémidé Udoma

Mr Adémidé Udoma’s interest in clothing goes back much further than his interest in tailoring. “I remember watching music videos and being in awe of the clothing,” he says, mentioning Prince and Guns N’ Roses in particular. “I was always playing around with it and I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d come into school wearing some crazy outfits.”

Eventually, that natural interest in style, drawn from films and music videos, developed into a more active passion. “As I got older, I started studying it more,” Udoma says. “At the start I was very into avant-garde clothing and then I was able to shadow some tailors. That’s where I really started falling in love with it.”

As Udoma began exploring classic styles, he was introduced to the cigarette shoulders of French tailoring and the suiting of Naples and Milan. This crash course helped him to develop his own interpretation of tailoring. “I was really into that idea of elegance without having to try too hard,” he says, pointing to the Italian concept of sprezzatura. “I wanted to take all the elements, but still have that sense of ease.”

He sees parallels between his interest in tailoring and his creative work, which includes styling, art direction and designing his own clothes and furniture. Learning the ropes from tailors and craftsmen set him up for his own signature style. “One thing I’ve always subscribed to is that you have to learn the rules before you can break them,” he says.

Working across so many creative fields means that Udoma looks for clothes that can work in different settings. “It’s all about that ease,” he says. “I like clothes that feel comfortable, but still work in different parameters. If you can wear a jacket in a casual situation and then easily go to a formal situation without having to change your jacket, that’s the objective.”

Whether he’s wearing a full suit or breaking down its individual parts, Udoma is always looking at the context in which it is being worn and subtle ways to alter it. “That’s where styling comes in,” he says. “An outfit can be completely changed by the shoes you’re wearing. It can become a whole new thing based on those little details.”

Mr Benedict Browne

“I dress for myself rather than for other people,” says menswear journalist and stylist Mr Benedict Browne. “I like the way tailoring makes me feel. It makes me feel a bit more self-assured, a bit more confident, and a bit more on it.”

Over the years, Browne’s personal style has developed, pulling in streetwear and more contemporary influences. However, tailoring is at the heart of it. And that interest in suiting can be traced back to his uncle, who worked as a designer on Savile Row.

“When I was at school, I had to wear a navy blazer, so my uncle gave me one from Savile Row,” Browne says. “I was introduced to high-quality tailoring from quite a young age, but at the same time I was more interested in streetwear.”

It was also his uncle who convinced him to pursue a career in fashion, which today includes writing, styling and a whole range of other creative pursuits. “I love the freedom, I love being in control of my day and I love doing lots of different things,” Browne says.

“I appreciate artisanship, the provenance of the cloth. It’s fun to bore people with those details”

Browne’s work uniform is a mix of tailoring and simple knitwear, pieces that guarantee that comfort alongside other details he cares about. “I appreciate artisanship, I appreciate the provenance of the cloth,” he says. “It’s fun to bore people with those details.”

Browne’s casual, relaxed approach to tailoring sees suits as a comfortable everyday uniform rather than something reserved for special occasions. “For me, it’s a juxtaposition of high-quality tailoring with simple basics that can be worn across a spectrum of different styles and themes,” he says. “It’s all about mixing those two elements. It’s very simple; I’m not reinventing the wheel and I don’t intend to.

“Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves,” he says. “You’ve got to figure out how you can do that. For me it’s wearing nice clothing, made by people who really care.”

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Mr Manish Puri

Mr Manish Puri works across two very different industries. By day, he is a financial consultant; in his free time, he writes about menswear and tailoring, hoping to demystify an often-confusing world for his readers. “I’m not an expert,” he says. “I’ve not got decades of bespoke commissions behind me, working with the best tailors in the world. I’m still working out what works for me, I’m still working out what I like, what I don’t like. I want to be the readers’ representative on this journey.”

His interest in clothes stems from his father, who was always supportive of his children’s sartorial experimentation. “I bounced around a lot of different styles,” Puri says. “If you like dressing, it’s not always easy to work out what sort of dressing you like. I went through so many looks and never felt like anything was really resonating with me.”

That all changed when he began experimenting with suits, something he had only really worn for work up to that point. “I gave myself permission to buy suits that didn’t have a purpose,” he says. “They were for some fictional event or a nice dinner or something. I spent most of my life in navy and grey suits, but it never occurred to me that you could wear a suit that wasn’t for work.”

This allowed Puri to see the different ways they can be worn, the different combinations and styling tricks. “It was a bit scary at first, but as soon as you start to find your feet, it’s really exciting,” he says. “It gives the suit a new lease of life, it doesn’t have to be serious.”

The most important thing, though, is to develop your own sense of style. “I had been following the rules, but I just ended up dressing like all of the inspirations I was looking at,” he says. “It’s hard to get away from that when you’re just wearing a navy jacket or grey trousers and a white shirt with a patterned tie. You should give yourself permission to try something. That’s how you start to find your personal style, not by following someone’s advice to the letter. Sure, take some cues. But don’t forget yourself in the whole equation.”

Suit yourself