Ten New Ways To Wear A Suit
The new tailoring is more loose, more colourful, and, let’s face it, more fun – here’s how to get it right
What’s the point in owning a suit? That’s the question we may find ourselves grappling with if current workplace trends continue. Last month, Goldman Sachs became the latest high-profile name to relax its dress code, informing its employees that they now only need dress “in a manner that is consistent with [their] clients’ expectations.” It’s the sort of move you’d expect of a company now recruiting from the millennial talent pool, not to mention one whose recently appointed CEO moonlights on the ones-and-twos as DJ D-Sol. But back to the original question: where does all of this leave the suit?
The short answer is, well, everywhere but the office. Those predicting that the decline of the traditional corporate dress code will inevitably lead to the death of the suit forget one thing, which is that suits are objectively brilliant things to wear. They’re versatile, smart, flattering for pretty much any body type, they’ve got loads of pockets... they’re everything you’d expect of a garment that has been tinkered with, refined and reinvented again and again over the course of the last century. And these are qualities that hold true regardless of the suit’s symbolic status as the uniform of the working man. In fact, it might be the case that the suit’s association with the drudgery of the nine-to-five is the very thing that has been holding us back from fully appreciating these qualities in the first place.
Meanwhile, over in the world of fashion, there are rumblings of a renewed interest in tailoring. If you ask us, it couldn’t come at a better time. After all, with fewer of us wearing suits because we have to, is it not time we started wearing them because we want to? In the spirit of tailoring’s new mood – loose, easy-going yet elegant, and far better suited to pleasure than work – we’ve fashioned 10 looks that play fast and loose with traditional sartorial standards. A word of warning: you probably won’t get away with wearing any of these to work at Goldman. Not on your first day, anyway.
This look is all about using fabrics that you wouldn’t normally put together in a suit to create a visual contrast. On the top half, a Dries Van Noten double-breasted jacket cut from coarsely textured wool-blend twill; on the bottom half, a pair of wide-legged Burberry trousers cut from a much smoother cotton twill. While the fabrics clash, note that the colours and proportion are all well-considered. The toffee, mustard and camel shades are all naturally coordinating, while the oversized, unstructured silhouette is consistent throughout.
Parisian elegance rendered in the laid-back style of Mr Jarvis Cocker, this look is an example of what can be achieved through lively application of pattern and print. The checked suit and Bengal-striped shirt are both from Beams F, the sartorially minded diffusion brand of the hugely popular Japanese menswear store, Beams – and a recent arrival on MR PORTER, where, we might add, it is exclusively available online. The tie, secured with a casually executed four-in-hand knot, comes courtesy of the Neapolitan masters of sartorial elegance, Rubinacci. There’s a lot going on here, but it’s held together neatly by a complementary colour palette.
Under the stewardship of creative director Mr Demna Gvasalia, Balenciaga has spent the last few years making “ugly” fashionable again. Its Triple S sneakers, one of the runaway staples of the past couple of years, abstract and accentuate the form of the sneaker to grotesque, near comedic proportions. The Parisian fashion house is currently attempting something similar with the boot-cut jeans, a sort of denim flare which became a staple of suburban dads and motoring enthusiasts in the mid-2000s. To borrow a phrase from Facebook CEO and business guru Ms Sheryl Sandberg, this is something that only really works if you “lean in”, which is why we’ve paired it with this wool-tweed blazer from CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC. With sharp shoulders and little to no suppression at the waist, it has that straight-up-and-down American “sack suit” silhouette, which, much like the bootcut jean, is widely considered to be deeply uncool. In other words, expect everyone to be dressing like this in a year’s time.
The skinny rocker aesthetic is never out of style for long, because, well, it looks so cool? This outfit is all about the sharply tailored velvet blazer, which we’ve paired with a 1970s-inspired shirt from Gucci’s archives. You could finish this look with black slim-fit denim, but we’ve opted for a pair of slim-fit suit trousers, cinched in at the waist with a slim leather belt. There’s less flexibility on footwear: this is a look that demands tan suede Chelsea boots.
A BLUE MOOD
Pastels are so prevalent this spring that we named them as one of our key seasonal trends. Looking for a way to work them into your wardrobe? This light blue suit from Prada is just the thing. The lightweight tech-twill fabric has a subtle sheen that lifts this suit out of the realm of formal tailoring. We’ve styled it in a suitably sporty fashion with a pair of running-style sneakers from Dunhill, a white cotton sweater from Ermenegildo Zegna, and a generously tailored wool trench coat from Dries Van Noten.
The Row was named after Savile Row, the spiritual home of men’s tailoring, so it makes sense that this ultra-luxe brand from Mses Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen should do a fine line in blazers. But unlike the sharp, buttoned-up suits that you’d expect to find at Huntsman and Gieves & Hawkes, theirs is a much more relaxed take on tailoring. In fact, this unlined cashmere blazer is so soft and unstructured that it could almost pass for loungewear. We’ve matched it with a pair of black cashmere sweatpants from Berluti, a ribbed cashmere rollneck also from The Row, and a pair of sleek leather sneakers from adidas Originals.
BLUE COLLAR COOL
For a prime example of the increasingly blurred boundaries between workwear, formalwear and streetwear, look no further than Mr P.’s very own line of cotton-twill suits. Totally unstructured, garment-dyed and finished for a soft handle, they owe more to worker jackets and chinos than they do traditional suits. We’ve styled this blue version with a bright orange beanie from Best Made Company and a white hoodie from the So-Cal streetwear brand Pasadena Leisure Club. Coincidentally, the logo on the chest reads “Nonchalant”, which is very much the style in which this laid-back outfit is intended to be worn.
One or two well-chosen accessories have the power to transform an outfit. Here, a few metallic accents – a gold-tone wallet chain from Versace, the gold-tone padlock on a leather pouch from Dunhill, and the horsebit detailing on a pair of Gucci loafers – give this smart tailored look a rockabilly edge.
THE FAT CAT IS BACK
An ironic take on 1980s power dressing from Versace, a brand that, ironically enough, was one of the original architects of the decade’s brash, flashy aesthetic. This double-breasted, pinstriped suit comes in true fat-cat proportions: note the boxy shoulders and chunky peak lapels. Is it suitable for work? Probably, but that’s not how we’d choose to wear it. Ditch the shirt and tie and channel Gordon Gekko’s wayward art-school son instead with a lime green rollneck sweater from Prada and a pair of chunky sneakers. We’ve opted for the Air Monarch IV, Nike’s latest collaboration with menswear designer Ms Martine Rose.
A FABRIC FIT FOR A KING
From geography teachers to the front row of fashion: no fabric has turned its reputation around in quite the way that corduroy has over the last few years. This burgundy suit from the cult Japanese streetwear brand Wacko Maria is cut from cloth sourced from the Italian tailoring powerhouse Ermenegildo Zegna, so its quality is beyond question.