Every man needs a suit. At least one. In the world of men’s fashion, jackets and suits run the sartorial roost, says lifestyle commentator Sonali Kokra.
Don’t dismiss it. It’s true, there are few absolute truths in the world but one of them is this: Every man needs a suit. At least one. And several blazers/jackets. No, there aren’t any equal alternatives. Whether you’re trying to nail that job at the cutting edge office, woo a boardroom full of stiff-collared venture capitalists for your dream start-up, or strike a semi casual but not foppish note, a good suit or jacket is almost always a great start to impression-building.
But they’re also incredibly easy to get wrong. While a well-tailored suit can invite a lingering, appreciative gaze and immediately earn you the “sophisticated” tag, an ill-fitted one can be equally hard to ignore. When you wear a suit, the idea is for it to show-off and enhance your masculinity, not look like you’re wrapped in a bedsheet!
There are three parts to suiting up for maximum impact: how to buy, what to wear when and, the finishing touch, pairing it with the right shoes.
HOW TO BUY
You need to keep five things in mind when buying a suit:
1 THE FIT: It is the single most important thing about a good quality suit. Suits, unlike other articles of clothing, aren’t really functional. They’re all about how they fit; and this is directly proportional to how they make you look and how you feel in them. So pay attention to what your body says when you put on a suit.
Most people consider only a suit’s chest size and overall length. Pay attention to the length of the sleeves and the crotch. Your jacket should show about half an inch of the cuff of the shirt under it. The jacket gives a flattering, slimming look when the armhole is cut right up to the sleeves.
Your jacket should fit you snugly, when you’ve buttoned up; and you should be able to slide a finger comfortably between the jacket and the shirt. Pick a suit that’s structured along the lines of your shoulder and in a size in which you fill the jacket’s shoulders.
2 THE FABRIC:This depends on the look you’re trying to achieve and the weather. As a rule of thumb, buy suits in natural fabrics—they don’t take on a shiny look after ironing that synthetic fabrics do. The best outer fabric for a suit is good quality pure wool, since it is natural, durable and heat-resistant. The quality of the wool is determined by its “Super” count. Anything above Super 100 is good for smart office wear. The higher the Super count, the finer and more expensive the fabric will be. Even polyester blends work well to give you a good fit, just double check to ensure the lining is right.
3 LAPELS:They balance your jacket and give it proportion and personality. If you are of a slight frame, your lapel should be thin; if you are of a broader frame, your lapel should be wider. If you are of average build, your lapel should be about two inches at its widest point.
4 THE COLOURS:If your wardrobe has space for only a couple of suits, go with solid colours. Navy is versatile since it can be dressed up and down, depending on where you need to wear it to. Then, of course, there’s black and grey. If you have very few formal occasions to attend, grey is a better bet. A sharp black dinner jacket is for soirees and galas. Or go ahead and mix: Check this ensemble from Arvind (right), the waistcoat is a different colour, beautifully offsetting the jacket.
5 BUTTONS AND BREASTED: If you are partial to single breasted coats or jackets, oft for those with two buttons. Single-breasted jackets are easy to dress up or down and are generally flattering because they can be tailored to lengthen or slim the torso. Once again, God lies in the fit and fall of the fabric. To get heads turning, you need to get colour and texture right yes, but nothing jars like an ill-fitting jacket. An all-purpose grey single breasted jacket is a must in your wardrobe.
WHAT TO WEAR WHEN
Balance out the occasion, the time of year and comfort Autumn is a great time for suits, but you don’t want to lose your mojo by wearing the wrong suit and sticking out like a sore thumb. Not all styles flatter everybody and some suits are only meant for certain kinds of gatherings. Read on to know how to decide:
Plaid or checked:
These suits are considered more casual and fun than the traditional dinner jacket and can be worn with turtlenecks or simple T-shirts. They are great for parties too. The good thing about them is that they can be worn to work and to a party after, if you don’t have the time to change. Plaid can look pretty formal in darker colours in wool and are great day suits in lighter shades. They’re a good choice for the quirky, the young at heart.
While not as rich as blue, grey is almost equally versatile and some shade of grey is bound to work for every man. Opt for lighter, more pastel greys during the summer and charcoal tones for winter. But like contemporary wine pairing, there’s no must-do.
Broader men may not be meant for double breasted suits, but this is a style they can go to town with. A word of caution though: Don’t buy suits with very wide gaps between the stripes as they can end up looking pyjama-like (thoughpyjama suits are trending!) or, worse, clownish.
Blue is the new black:
It really is the most perfect colour there is, as far as suits are concerned. (And in-trend too!) The darker navy tones are great for office and dinner engagements while lighter shades, which are still formal, are right for parties and weddings.
were the very definition of power dressing in the 80s, but lost favour somewhere along the way. Now the trend is back with a bang. No wonder it’s a style preferred by dapper actor Saif Ali Khan. This style works well for most body types—just take care to choose a fabric that suits you.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT SHOES
You don’t want to ruin all the effort you put into carefully buying and wearing the right suit by pairing it with clunky, mismatched shoes, right? No, no need to buy dozens of shoes or match each pair specifically with a suit. Investing in a few versatile pairs can sort you out for a long time.
GO BROWN: This is a colour that opens up a world of options and works with most suits and jackets. It works with both grey and blue. Light brown if you’re wearing pale greys or khakis, tobacco brown if you’re wearing a dark grey or navy ensemble. The only time you need to avoid brown shoes is if you’re wearing charcoal or black suits. A slim, contoured pair in a semi-rounded shape will work with most suits. If you wear dark and light suits, it might be worth investing in two pairs of brown shoes—darker Oxfords and slightly less formal dress boots or loafers in a lighter colour. A little indulgence is good.
BLACK DRESS SHOES: They’re a must for every man. While lace-ups are the dressier, classier and more formal option when it comes to black shoes, plenty of designers are revamping penny loafers for those who can’t be bothered with laces.
The modern designs come in streamlined shapes that make the foot look longer. If you’ve bought yourself a black suit, you have to buy black shoes. A black suit simply cannot be worn with shoes in another colour. But make sure to avoid too much detail in your lace-ups though.
BRIGHT-COLOURED SHOES: While most suit-wearers won’t wear them, bright shoes, especially in suede, are a popular alternative to standard black and brown leather shoes. If you like to experiment and are young at heart, these are the go-tos. Bright shoes in suede look great with casual jackets and jeans and are a great choice for parties, but not formal occasions, yet. Who knows, next year…
They are all-purpose shoes that go with jeans, trousers and even formal suits, when worn in winter. These shoes are a great way to add rugged appeal to your suit. A leather-soled, military-style pair can look as classy as dress shoes, while being a whole lot tougher.