A man’s suit comes in four parts; the trousers, the waistcoat, the jacket and the frock-coat. Let us deal with them in that order.
There are now many styles of trouser – but for the mature gent, you cannot beat the Forties style (repeated in the Eighties) of roomy parallels. These are best pleated at the top and turned up at the bottom. And while the younger gent looks fine with them belted, the mature gent just looks like an over-filled package. Far better to go with the traditional set of braces – preferably patterned, but not too loudly.
Furthermore, The Suit should be made with several pairs of matching trousers, since they wear much faster than the more EXPENSIVE jacket. Also, it may be advisable to have some of said trousers made in larger sizes, to anticipate the obvious.
In addition, underwear should ALWAYS be briefs. “Boxers” get tangled with trousers and going “commando” is unacceptable, even if one dry-cleans the suit after every wearing. Two words: visible drippage.
The waistcoat is optional, being best displayed jacketless. And the lining on the back should obviously match the inside lining of the jacket.
Which brings us to the most important item – that JACKET. Double-breasted models may look smart, but you will have to master the trick of fastening the inner, reversed button. Bit of a bugger, that. Simpler to stick to the single-breasted option.
The frock-coat is worn as a stylish option to the jacket and is identical, apart from the increased length. Depending on the material used, it may prove beneficial to have a series of tiny weights sewn into the bottom hem, to ensure it hangs correctly – and even flares slightly, upon turning. However, care must be taken to keep the weights light, unless the wearer enjoys bruised shins.
The cut should follow the example of the trousers. Slim for the young suit-wearer, large for the mature one. Lapels likewise.
And with both the jacket and frock-coat, a little padding of the shoulders will save on gymnasium subs.
It should go without saying that the jacket should NEVER be worn over JEANS. This is akin to a lady wearing an evening gown over a flak jacket.
Next comes the material. Many suits are worn like sandwich boards, whereas a good suit fits a man like a second skin – moving WITH him, rather than being moved BY him.
Thus a dark suit should be made of a soft, light, “wet-look” material – and a light suit (great for Summer and hot climates) works best with off-white linen. The latter will quickly become creased, affording the wearer that “casual” look.
And a few scuff-marks will merely add to that casualness. However, PURE white should be avoided like the plague. Aside from ONE mark ruining it, you will look like a BeeGee in the Seventies. And no-one wants THAT.
Of course, pastel colours are strictly for shirt-lifters, while green and brown are reserved for university dons.
Plus pinstripes, checks and houndsteeth are to be BURIED in (micro-patterns in the weave are okay – but a bit pricey).
In all, PLAIN materials are the order of the day with midnight blue, charcoal grey and black leading the way – and the above-mentioned off-white linen when and where appropriate.
And now a word on accessories. Provided The Suit works, roll-necks, shirts and ties (the latter secured by an anchored tie-pin, ending JUST around the waistband) need to be kept understated, so as not to overdo it. But the breast-pocket handkerchief should be unfolded – and allowed to FLOW from the pocket.
All of which covers The Suit itself, bringing us to the art of WEARING it.
Constantly tugging and tweaking your suit is a dead giveaway – it suggests to all that you mostly only wear it for COURT APPEARANCES. Ideally, you should FORGET you are wearing it. Like changing gear in a car, it should become second-nature to you.
Now, thus far this author is sure that all who understand that style outranks fashion by a country mile will have agreed with everything he has said. However, now he is about to go OFF the reservation…
BUTTONS. For over a century, it has been “fashionable” to leave the bottom button of a jacket – which should ALWAYS have TWO buttons – UNDONE.
This is said to have originated with HRH Edward VII, who was too FAT to button his bottom button – and everyone began to follow suit (so to speak) in deference to him.
Well, Eddy is LONG DEAD now – and therefore, it is HIGH time to BURY this stupid affectation along WITH him.
While a jacket should ALWAYS be unbuttoned when a gentleman SITS (Jimmy Fallon take note) – unless you are a shop-steward, you BUTTON it as you STAND.
Leaving it buttoned whilst seated makes it ride up and resemble a STRAIT-jacket.
And just securing the UPPER button when you stand RUINS The Suit. It spoils the line, whilst revealing the bottom of the tie and the waistband.
So join us, brethren – those who RESPECT The Suit. And if some wiseacre accuses you of bottom button inappropriateness (it’s a word) – just tap your nose and say, “Style, dear boy – not fashion.”