Looking good in a suit isn’t as easy as all that. Too tweedy and you look a geography teacher. Too flash = car salesman. Get the fit wrong, and you’ve all the savoir-faire of a 14-year-old in his granddad’s get-up. Fortunately, for Editer readers, help is at hand in the form of Savile Row’s savviest, Patrick Grant, the man behind Norton & Sons (bespoke brilliance) and the super-cool ready-to-wear label E Tautz. This month, as part of the menswear London Collections, he sent oversized overcoats and crisp check suits down the BFC catwalk. Here, he offers guidance on everything from cut to colour.
Two-button or three?
Neither is smarter nor more formal. Buttons are a matter of personal preference, as the silhouette is essentially the same. What you want is to make sure that the key button position is on the waist, (top in a two-button, middle in a three; you never do up the bottom button on a suit, unless you’re wearing white tie), as it’s the focal point for the eye. It creates the classical masculine proportion. A two-button does reveal more shirt and tie, and possibly creates an illusion of length, which might work for shorter guys. (Vertical stripes are good for this, too.)
What about body shape?
People worry too much about body shape. And some make the mistake of thinking that short jackets make your legs look longer. I think its completely the opposite – a nice long skirt on the coat disguises the crotch and bottom. The trick is to make sure that key button sits on the natural waist.
What about material and colour?
Navy worsted flannel is an elegant cloth. It’s matt and very forgiving, which makes it versatile; you could wear the jacket with other trousers as a blazer. You can wear it in the evening or in the day. It’s a good place to start if you’re buying a suit. Charcoal grey flannel is very good, too. It’s the suit that I wear the most, and it’s nice and English-feeling. Grey and navy are best as they work with everything, and allow you to have fun with your shirt or tie if you want a bit of colour.
How about double-breasted?
It’s a very smart-looking suit. It has a sense of authority to it, without really changing the silhouette. It conceals things nicely, and is really just very smart.
What if I want to go bolder?
Something like this hand-woven tweed, with its orange threads, is very lively and interesting – but it’s tough to wear, you’ve got to be careful. With more interesting colours or patterns you must be aware of what you’re going to wear it with.
With pinstripes, say, you should never have two patterns of the same scale – if you’re going mix to stripes and checks, make sure they are different breadths in order for it to look harmonious. It’s advanced suit-wearing.