Monday, August 26, 2013

Men's Style 101: Building your wardrobe - The gray suit

One of the keys to building your wardrobe is starting off with or including key pieces. These are items that you can always count on to look good, and that have versatility. Brown wing tips or cap toe shoes, a navy blue or gray suit, and striped or solid colored dress shirts will add variety to your wardrobe and do wonders for your style.

Today we focus on one of the masters of versatility: The Gray Suit. You can do it with a shirt in a lighter shade of gray and a tie in a very dark shade of gray for a professional setting. It can also be donned with a half zip sweater in almost any color for a casual look. For a street style look, picture it with a T-shirt and sneakers. The point is, you absolutely can not go wrong having a gray suit in your closet.

The material, style, and fit of your suit depends on four main factors:
  • Your body type or shape
  • Your lifestyle
  • Your budget
  • Your climate or environment 
Body type:
If you work out regularly, chances are you're in pretty good shape, so you may go for a slim or even athletic cut. If you're short, always opt for a short cut jacket and a slimmer fit to add height to your frame, and you should consider one or two button jackets with a low button stance (where the button is located on the jacket). If you are the big and tall type, consider pleats in your slacks because they slim the appearance of your waist. For the tall and slim body, consider four button jackets and double breasted jackets to add girth and size to your appearance, even in in a slim fit.

If you go out after work or entertain clients, or travel for half of your work or better, wool may be your top choice. Otherwise, wool or cotton will be your main considerations. Linen is great, but as you know it keeps wrinkles, so if being fashionable is part of your business then go for it.

There is one main and consistent rule to be followed when establishing a wardrobe budget: Buy the most expensive pieces you can afford. Just make sure it fits your body and your lifestyle.

The fabric of your suit will depend on your outdoor climate and your working environment. There are three main suiting fabrics; wool, cotton, and linen. Wool comes in a variety of weights, densities, and even blends, is very durable and easy to care for, and travels well. Suits made of cotton tend to be thin in density, which may not be the best choice for colder weather, but still make great three season options. Linen is sort of a specialty fabric. It doesn't have the give and stretch of cotton or wool, unless it has a Lycra or Spandex blend. Consider this when thinking about a linen suit. Any suit of  a material blend should be at least 85-90% natural materials (i.e. 90/10 Cotton/Lycra)

TIP: As with any suit, expect alterations. You should get to know a good tailor, if you don't already.

*'Super Man': Super 110s suit ($1365) by Z Zegna, slim fit shirt ($100), Truman leather wingtip ($298) by Saks Fifth Avenue, beveled edge belt ($145) by Barney's New York; platinum plaid slim tie ($60) by Calvin Klien; MK5547 Ritz chronograph watch ($386) by Michael Kors; merino wool blend socks ($30) by Mr. Porter; Bosca double gusset briefcase ($560) by Nordstrom.

*'The Winner': Light gray wool suit ($1350) by Armani Collezioni; merino half zip sweater ($68) by J. Crew; classic fit shirt ($100) by Paul Smith; suede belt ($115) by BOSS/HUGO BOSS; suede boots by Johnston and Murphy; watch ($1295) by Salvatore Ferragamo; Yuketen canoe backpack ($380).

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