The Tailoring Boutique
A cornerstone of every man’s wardrobe, suiting is a fundamental yet sometimes daunting matter. All the more reason to approach your tailoring collection and care regime with confidence. Consider this an education in elegance.
While formal dress codes have evolved with changing times, classic tuxedos remain a cornerstone of elevated partywear. For black- or white-tie invitations, they’re obligatory. Here, a conservative palette is most apt – exemplified by TOM FORD, where satin-trimmed sets and statement dinner jackets speak only of debonair. Polo Ralph Lauren offers a subtler take that’s equal parts handsome and effortless. For a final flourish? A cummerbund and bow tie, naturally.
Almost guaranteed to flatter, slim-fit suits are most versatile. While tapered fits were once taboo in the workplace, today, closer-cut shoulders, shorter jackets and a little sock on show are as customary in business as in pleasure. Careerists and socialites alike, look to Ermenegildo Zegna, where blazers and trousers benefit from couture-inspired craft. For a peppier ensemble, Burberry’s British charm sets the bar.
Aptly named for its overlapping lapels, the double-breasted suit has long signalled exuberance and leisure. Its aptitude for business, however, is relatively new. For that, you can thank 1980s Wall Street – from here, the style’s self-assured charm took hold across American boardrooms, and the rest is history. You’ll now find double-breasted suits for every occasion and taste, from the ornate care of Dolce & Gabbana to the traditional à la Richard James.
Trust in tradition. Less snug than its slim-fit counterpart, the classic fit is liberal – not oversized – across chest and waist, proving failsafe in office, familial and celebratory settings. Here, style is whispered, not shouted. At Ermenegildo Zegna, a muted Prince of Wales check; at Brioni, dusty pink woollens, sourced sustainably. Elsewhere, Canali cuts Italian-made classics with fine twill for distinguished formalwear.
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On the sleeve, you’ll find a row of three or four buttons. Today, these are decorative for the most part, however there was a time when cuffs that opened – surgeon cuffs – signalled quality. Buttons that overlap are known as ‘kissing’ buttons, while those with gaps between are ‘non-kissing’. Men of a slimmer build often prefer the latter.
Add ‘notch’ and ‘peaked’ to your sartorial vernacular. Notch lapels – named for their V-shaped step – are more prevalent in tailoring, distinguishing them from their peaked counterpart. Here, the tip of the lapel points upwards, away from the collar. Peaked lapels are often reserved for dinner jackets or more formal styles, due to the skill involved in their making.
Extending from the hem upwards, vents are included in jackets to minimise restriction. Single-vent suits – typically attributed to American tailoring – are kinder on larger seats. British- and Italian-favoured double vents, meanwhile, are more resistant to bunching. Tuxedos will often be cut without a vent to create an unbroken silhouette.
The welted or ‘jetted’ pocket supports a streamlined silhouette, ideal for evening occasions. With this style, you’ll see only a slit and its reinforced edge (a welt). Flap pockets, which fold fabric over the pocket seam, are traditionally office fare – but black-tie rules are loosening, so you may start to see these in more formal settings.
Premium suits are usually rich in wool, cashmere or silk, therefore dry cleaning is essential. Less is more, however. Find a service that uses minimal chemicals to prevent lasting fabric damage. At home, regular airing will reduce the need to dry clean regularly. A steamer can prove invaluable for on-the-go maintenance – hot vapour loosens fibres to release minor blotches and unwanted scents.
Treat your suit with respect, and it will last you years – even decades. To store jackets, use only wooden hangers and ensure each is well spaced for ventilation. As for trousers, fold them over a fabric trouser bar or hang them from the hem on a felt-clamp hanger to loosen any creasing. Importantly, if you are travelling, carry your suit in a garment bag to prevent damage.