You Asked: Can I Wear Bracelets With A Suit?
Photograph by Mr Jonathan Daniel Pryce
We answer your most pressing style questions.
Unlike some British political figures we could mention, we’re not scared of a debate here at MR PORTER, oh no. You want to ask us some tough questions? Go right ahead. This week you asked lots.
A tall and newly svelte man asked us about finding clothes that fit his tall and newly svelte frame. A man who likes jewellery and suits asked us if it’s OK to wear them both together. And we also offer some advice on how best to bring colour into your look to freshen things up.
If your body shape has settled down now and you’re not losing (or fluctuating in) weight, then you ought to be able to buy clothes with confidence. I suspect your main issue is that clothes for a man of your height often come up large in all proportions. So you either have the choice of billowy shirts and roomy trousers that are the right sleeve/leg length, or clothes that better fit your svelte shape but they feel too short in the arms or legs.
In your particular case, you might find it worthwhile to peruse our Scandinavian brands. It is a generalisation to say that Japanese brands tend to fit those smaller of stature whereas US brands often work well for those of larger proportions, but there is some obvious rationale behind it. Likewise Scandinavian men tend to be tall but slim, so a man of your build is likely to have some joy with the following Scandinavian brands: Acne Studios; CMMN SWDN, COS, NN07, Norse Projects, Nudie Jeans, Our Legacy – or perhaps Hugo Boss, from Germany.
First things first, you need to accurately ascertain your current sizes. If you don’t feel comfortable taking your own measurements, then a good alterations tailor can do it for you. Take in a pair of trousers or a shirt that you want altered and while you’re there ask them to definitively measure you to give accurate figures to take away with you.
Ready-to-wear sizing is not an exact science because measurements are not standardised. While many brands run true to size, some brands openly engage in “vanity sizing” in order to make their customers feel better about themselves: eg, a 32in waist will actually be more like a 34in. This leads to inconsistency across brands and confusion and irritation among shoppers. This is why MR PORTER gives clear “Size & Fit” guidelines for every garment we sell in order to better inform you as to whether that piece comes up big, small or true to size. Even better, we have Customer Care Advisors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, who you can call or email for specific style and fit information and recommendations. Once you have brands and sizes that work for you (eg, you know that you are a size 33 waist, 34 leg in Nudie Jeans denim), you can repeat purchase in future with certainty.
A lot of our customers treat MR PORTER as a changing room and will buy two or three of the same item in different sizes, keep the one that fits best and return the others free of charge and hassle. That’s fine by us – it’s an important part of our service.
A man’s hands are a portal to his personality. Rings can tell you whether or not someone is married (wedding band), from a well-to-do family (signet), or seriously into death metal (skull ring). Likewise, a watch is a powerful social signifier – there’s a clear distinction between a man who wears a fine watch and a weekend warrior who wears a robust GPS activity tracker.
What kind of bracelet you elect to wear, if any, can say a lot about you. It might scream: “I snorkelled through raw sewage at Glastonbury”. Or, poking out of a shirt cuff, it can say: “What, this old thing? Picked it up at a street market in Kathmandu.”
It is tempting to think men only started wearing bracelets in around 2012 when the street-style movement took off aided by the explosion of Instagram. But look at classic pictures of Messrs Paul Newman, James Dean or Elvis Presley and they’re often wearing a simple, silver identity bracelet. An understated minimalist brushed metal cuff from Le Gramme or Maison Margiela is a good option with a suit.
The sartorial straitjacketing of tailoring often results in a little dress code rebellion from those who wish to distinguish themselves from the corporate drones. But colourful socks and suit linings will only take you so far. The man who shoots his cuff to reveal a string of tasteful beads from Isaia or Luis Morais and/or a silver bracelet with a Navajo motif from Peyote Bird suddenly has the upper hand. The visual effect is meant to look like a mix of high and low – like he casually picked these pieces up while travelling; or was given them as keepsakes, friendship bracelets woven with meaning and memories.
In Italy, men of all ages have been wearing colourful woven leather bracelets from Tod’s for years, with and without suits. Somehow they denote a man of “bleisure” – someone who is as comfortable conducting his affairs on the back of a yacht in the Med as he is at the office in the city, and he sports the perma-tan to prove it.
It makes perfect sense to have a wardrobe that is predominantly comprised of the standard palette. By far the most popular colours on MR PORTER in terms of supply and demand are navy blue, white, grey and black. This is because they are the easiest to wear and the most versatile, they never go out of fashion and you can be sure that everything pretty much goes with everything else.
But, of course, most of us have the urge to freshen things up occasionally. The easiest way to do this is to start with colours that will still feel quite comfortable for the conservative dresser. Nothing too “out there”. Olive green, burgundy, camel – all of these will go well with navy and white in particular, as well as grey. (Black can be trickier.)
Tonal shades of the same colour always work well together, so you could also try incorporating some lighter, brighter blues to combine with your standard navy.
It somehow seems easier and more acceptable to incorporate colour into a summer holiday wardrobe – vibrant hues are more flattering against tanned skin. Brightly patterned short-sleeved shirts or swim shorts are two items that immediately spring to mind.
To liven up your everyday look year-round, however, you could try bringing one impact colour into an outfit but keeping everything else muted and tonal to allow it to “pop”. (Wearing too many bright colours all at once tends to look a little startling – although it’s an attention-grabbing look that the peacocks in Pitti evidently enjoy.) Some people opt to work in a splash of colour more subtly via a partially seen accessory such as socks, a pocket square or a bracelet. Others choose to bring colour into an otherwise understated look with some statement sneakers.
There was a summery trend for a while of wearing punchy-coloured chinos, but that has receded again. Pastels have made a return, however, and the colour of this summer is undoubtedly a blush pink, aka “millennial pink” which you can switch in for white, but you might be surprised to learn goes with almost anything.