How spring suits make the man
With spring in the air, a young man’s fancy turns to his first suit. There are grad events, commencement ceremonies, and that all-important first interview to consider. Spring is also a good time for lowly office drones and established executives to update a tired wardrobe. Whether you’re shopping for high-end at Holt Renfrew or fast fashion from H & M, finding the right fit doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable experience—as long as you follow a few simple rules.
Shoulder to Shoulder
Suits today are cut close to the body for a slim silhouette, causing some inexperienced buyers to choose jackets that are too small for their frames. “The first thing someone should be looking at in terms of fit is the shoulders,” says 25-year industry veteran Christine Baracos, owner of Baracos + Brand (1411 Bellevue Avenue, West Vancouver). Baracos suggests lifting your arms in the air or raising them as if you were driving a car to test for comfort. Wes Purdie, regional director of Harry Rosen (700 West Georgia Street), agrees. “Look at yourself in the mirror and focus on the roping,” he says, referring to the area where the sleeve meets the suit. “You want that seam to be flush with your shoulder line: too narrow and it will be tight, too broad and you won’t be looking your best.”
Less is More
Not only are jackets slimmer these days, they’re also shorter. “Even more conservative labels like Canadian-made Coppley have changed their basic model to be a little bit trimmer in the arm hole and shorter in the jacket,” Baracos says. Going too short on the jacket could make you look like a flamenco dancer or a cater-waiter, however. “You’re looking for a good balance,” counsels Purdie, who suggests a “50/50” approach, in which the jacket stops halfway between the shoulder line and the feet. “You can shift percentages a little bit and make the jacket shorter, but nothing more aggressive than a 45/55 split if you want your purchase to enjoy some longevity,” he says.
All Sewed Up
Don’t be intimidated: a tailor is your best friend. “Proper fitting is key,” Baracos says. “A lot of bigger men are put off by the slim line of today’s suits. A good tailor can make a body-conscious suit look terrific on a guy with a 40-inch waist and a 46-inch chest.” Purdie adds that any suit can be adjusted by a couple of sizes. “So with a tapered pant, as long as the seat fits, we can adjust the waist in or out for a flattering and comfortable fit.”
Accessories can make a single suit look like several. “Pattern on pattern is a big trend right now,” says Purdie, who favours mixing bold patterns like checks and paisleys in shirts, ties, pocket squares, and socks. Meanwhile, Baracos advises men to heed one of the lesser-known rules of suiting: “If there’s one thing that most men don’t know, it’s that, generally, you want the width of your tie to match the width of your lapels.”