A Suit That Fits Blog
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Tag >> Lapel
Men are very strange creatures! Therefore, their formal wear will be also! Well, not really, but it does differ from womens tailoring in almost all aspects; cut, fabric, styling...
Let us start with the fabric. Buying off the peg, most womens suits will contain some percentage of Lycra. It exists so that women can have the close fit that flatters their shape and is so typically feminine but does not buckle and bulge in all the wrong places.
We women are harder to fit than men for the reason that the flat fabric has to flow over those curves. Natural fabrics can be chosen but be aware the fit will, although show shape, be looser on the body. It is also important for a woman to stand out a little more than a man. So, I would suggest having things like a skinny or wide lapel, never standard. Lets leave suit standards to the men.Just imagine turning up to a party in the same dress.you get the idea. Thats not to say men cant be individuals, it is purely done in a much more subtle way; the change in texture of a tie or a pocket square.
With the cut of your suit, it is more common in a womens tailored jacket to have it shorter than that of a man. Typically, men should have their jackets covering their seat and crotch. This is not as essential with womens styling.
With the womens tailoring section of A Suit That Fits.com ever changing and expanding keep your eyes peeled for the future of womens formal wear...!
To book an appointment to specifically see Shilpi our Womenswear specialist call 020 3355 3560 or click here to book an appointment to see her in our Canary Wharf branch.
One question I often get asked is how to pick out the colour of your pocket handkerchief.
Well, I've written before about harmonising in colours rather than matching essentially picking out a second colour other than your tie's that you think goes well with the shirt and jacket.
Or, as someone put it to me recently, so it's like thinking of two ties that go with the outfit, and just using the colour of one of them for the handkerchief? Yes, that's a good way to put it. Of course, if you're not wearing a tie, then the colour of your handkerchief should be thought of in the same way as the tie would have been. But. All this is to presume that you want a coloured, patterned or otherwise fancy pocket handkerchief. You may not. Indeed, your default setting should not be colour and pattern, but plain white linen. That's in the pocket to start with. It is a conscious decision to add colour afterwards.
Bright, crisp white is the smartest colour a man can wear. This is why, back in the age when collars were starched and attached with studs, they were white. The body of the shirt may be striped or brightly coloured but the collar and cuffs were white. Because it is bright, because it is clean and because it provides the greatest contrast with the fabric of the jacket.
A strip of white around the neck and two around the wrists. It brings dignity and formality to any outfit, and today's equivalent is the linen pocket handkerchief.
In the same way that today's blue or pink shirts that do not have detachable white collars are a little more casual than those of old, the next option down your ladder of handkerchief choices should be something similar to the colour of the shirt.
Not exactly the same, necessarily, but similar. If the shirt is pale blue, go with a similar blue with a white polka dot. Or a darker, navy blue. Perhaps even a blue pattern with some white or yellow thrown in. The point is, the handkerchief will harmonise with the shirt if it's dominant colour is the same.
White is the default; the second choice is to pick a colour similar to the shirt. Last is to pick something brightly coloured that plays a similar role to the tie (as described earlier on). Many men get this order entirely the wrong way around. They think that the handkerchief must play a similarly decorative role to the tie, as it is often silk and very much on display. That is your last choice the sporty one, the more showy one, the rakish one.
Rejoice and give praise: the world is a beautiful place. High art is not dead; aesthetic creativity lives on untarnished. This is a great time to be.
Sometimes the clothes and colour combinations displayed by tailors can truly inspire you. They can also be a rich source for commissioning your own clothes.
The ones I highlight here are all from the collection of Domenico Vacca. He has a reputation for rather extravagant designs, particularly shoes and luggage in branded alligator leather. But Vacca has a sense of colour and pattern combination to rival anyone. The first demonstrates one of my favourite colour combinations bright orange, blue and brown.
Orange is not an easy colour to wear well, given that it is most attractive when rich and bright. It requires a blue background (more understated, more stable than any other shirt colour) to sit easily. Here, Vacca's blue shirt has a mid-size check, which works nicely with the plain tie.
The jacket, in a brown/grey, is again a mid-tone background that supports the tie. Navy would make the tie appear brighter, plain grey would have little in common with the earthy orange. Brown works best.
The orange check to the jacket is a nice touch but not required. The important aspects of it are that it adds visual interest (along with the handkerchief) to draw attention away from the tie, and that the check is on a different scale to the shirt.
The central image shows a great way to add variation to a background shirt/tie combination. Normally with a jacket that pale, I would go for a blue tie on blue-striped shirt. The jacket is everything about the outfit; the other elements should pull back. But a close red stripe works well and gives me inspiration to wear my own red-striped shirt with navy.
Image number three is a great combination of colours brown, orange, blue, navy, white and red. But its greatest asset is the combination of patterns. That didn't even occur to you did it? The blend is so subtle as to dissolve completely.
The density of stripe in the shirt and tie aren't that dissimilar. But the tie kicks away from its partner in the contrast between navy, red and white. There is no chance of clashing there. The jacket, meanwhile, has a different pattern, in a different colour, on a different scale. No clash there either. And if you count the bordered handkerchief as another pattern, that's four together without anyone noticing it was happening.
Clothing combinations like these inspire me. If someone can put their clothes together in such a beautiful way, it connects me to their brand more than the workmanship or advertising. Ralph Lauren and Hackett are also past masters check out their shop windows.
Being able to do something so uplifting with the same elements of jacket, shirt and tie is the genius of menswear.
Criticism of what people wear to black-tie events tends to focus on obvious sins: wearing a lounge suit, wearing a coloured tie and wearing a long tie instead of a bow (though this is less objectionable than one may think).
These are some of the biggest sins against the traditions of the dinner outfit, and stand out as such. They also stand out because they are committed by a relatively small number of people.
For that reason, I don't think they are the greatest black-tie sins. They're big, but they're rare. More important are the small sins committed by almost everyone. Those demonstrate how disconnected the ensemble is from its traditions, despite the apparent uniformity on display. Sin 1: Cover your waist
Every black-tie outfit needs to cover the waistband of the trousers in some way. That is an indisputable fact. This covering can take one of three forms: a waistcoat, a cummerbund or a double-breasted jacket.
A waistcoat should be the standard. If you're wearing a single-breasted dinner jacket, something needs to cover up your shirt particularly if the jacket only has one button.
A shirt with a stiff, oval front makes this obvious: only the stiff part is meant to show, the rest is covered up by a waistcoat. But even a soft-fronted shirt needs a covering. Even though its pleats form a rectangle on the front of the shirt, and even though they go all the way down to the waistband, that waistband must be covered.
This waistcoat can be black or white. White is less common and more formal, echoing as it does white tie or full fig. It can also be full or backless. If white, it should be made of the same Marcella as the shirt front. If black, it should be the same wool as the trousers.
The cummerbund was invented in the subcontinent as an alternative to the waistcoat for hot weather. It was originally a sash simply tie around the waist.
But what proportion of men at a black-tie event have some form of waist covering? Twenty per cent? Fifteen even? That's why it's the greatest sin.
Sin 2: Notch lapels
Most suits have notch lapels; dinner jackets should not have them. At some point, the black-tie industry forgot, or simply got lazy, and conflated the two.
A peaked lapel is more formal, aggressive and rakish. It suits black tie where it wouldn't suit the decorum of day-to-day business. All dinner jackets, single or double-breasted, should have peak lapels. Yet a significant number (40%? 45%?) of men at a black-tie event will have notch lapels.
Sin 3: Shoes
The best shoe to wear with black tie is a patent pump with a grosgrain bow. Second on the list is a patent Oxford. Third is a plain black Oxford, without brogueing and preferably wholecut. All three are acceptable but are less impressive further down the list.
Yet how many men wear pumps? Probably zero. How many patent Oxfords? Perhaps 10%. And of the remainder wearing black leather shoes, there is probably a healthy chunk (again, perhaps 45%) wearing brogues, Derbys, boots or monk straps. So another low-level but popular sin. Multiplying number by grade of sin makes it a greater offence than a long tie.
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