Wednesday, 9 January 2013

New year, new suit

Flickr: Matt512
First off, a Happy New Year to all readers and I hope you had a great Christmas. Everyone is now back to work of course, so it may be time to think about a new work suit (and no, the picture isn't of my dog although she's the same breed).

The question is what to look for. In terms of business suits, a bit of tradition never did anyone any harm. All but the slimmest people do well to go for darker colours, and ideally these should be in blocks rather than loud patterns. I'm currently quite drawn to suits that look as though they're a solid colour but when you get close there's a subtle Prince of Wales check like my blue number, or a thin, subtle pinstripe like the one I'm picking up on Thursday.

Two buttons is classic and will suit most builds; if, again, you're very slim you might get away with three buttons but if like me you're a little 'broader' (euphemism alert) I'd suggest sticking with two. Skinny collars and skinny ties will work only if you're skinny yourself, otherwise they end up working as a contrast and showing your own well-upholstered proportions in a poor light.

If you want a bit of fun in spite of being businessy, have a think about a lively colour for the lining. People do see it when you take the jacket off or when you move around, so you might as well go for something less than dull; if you're looking for a tailored suit you'll be able to choose something individual. The weight of the cloth is important; you might find something warm a bit comforting right now but you're likely to regret this as the weather gets milder. I have a blue 'winter' suit which seemed a great idea at the time but I barely use it as most of the year it's too hot.

Contrasting stitching is a good way of picking detail out that makes your suit individual without being ostentatious. When I'm having things tailored (and it doesn't cost as much as you might think) I normally opt to have the cuff buttonhole stitched to match the lining. I once went for this on the lapel buttonhole as well, which was a bit of a mistake as it limits the ties I can wear and look reasonable.

Watch out for other 'fun' bits as well. Ages ago on this blog I went for a morning designing suits with A Suit That Fits. It was fun and I liked the John Steed/Avengers look of the velvet collar I'd put in. So, being an incredibly sensible and wise person, I ordered the suit later - and have hardly worn it. I just don't get invited to the 'showy' occasions on which an ostentatious feature like that is going to work, and would have been better off opting for a standard collar that doesn't stand out.

It's all about what works for you and above all the context in which you're going to wear the thing. You can always liven it up with a fun tie from someone like Victoria Richards, a firm favourite, or Duchamp, of which I'm also rather fond (although if you see something reduced on the Duchamp site at the moment, do check it against prices of the same product from John Lewis in the sale - I'm finding the discounts are deeper there in the January sales).

Right, it's New Year and I'm off to the gym for the first time in about ten months. And I'm happy to note the shorts still fit, which is not a bad start to 2013.  

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