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About to build suit wardrobe

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by skeptic, Feb 27, 2005.

  1. skeptic

    skeptic Well-Known Member

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    I'm planning a basic suiting wardrobe (made-to-measure) of about 4 or 5 suits.  After a few months of learning and trying different styles, below is what I came up with.  I know the members will fault me for this, but even if I could afford 20 suits, I don't want to spend too much time searching for them or buying new ones every year, so I'm looking for something timeless, as I hope these last (construction-wise) for a while.  I figure I can add a personal touch here or there without pushing the suit into ephemeral fashion territory.

    I'm just shy of 6 feet tall, slim (39 chest, 28.5 waist, hips about 35.5) but very fit.  (I'm one of those odd ones: tall with small bones (wrists are about 6.25"...:)) and "peaky" muscles.)  28 years old.  I normally wear a 38L, but I'm in between a regular and a long.

    I'm self-employed, so I'm not worried about the opinions of neurotic people or group narcissists... :), but conservative styling is fine for the first few suits.  (Besides, we should keep variety in the gene pool.)

    Anyway, the basic style I came up with would have:

    1) Two-button SB.
    2) High or slightly high gorge.  I've tried a low gorge suit, and it looks ridiculous.
    3) Moderate to high button-stance, although I think a lower stance would look good against the high gorge placement, if not very classic.
    4) Lapels of average width.  Nothing weird here.
    5) Flap pockets.  Throw in a ticket pocket to break up length on the less basic suits, perhaps.
    6) Suppressed waist, erring on the side of greater supression.
    7) Skirt that rides close to hips with slight flare, and flare in front.  I think I'd want to avoid a full hour glass shape given my slight structure and that I don't have an hour glass shape.  Perhaps I'm wrong here.
    8) Narrow arm hole.  Looks great on me.
    9) Single-pleated pants with 1 3/4" cuffs.  I prefer flat fronts (no cuffs, of course), but think this is a good compromise.  Double pleats on me just look sloppy and out-of-place against the jacket cut I'm considering.
    10) I wear a 10 1/2 shoe, which I think merits about an 18" ankle opening?
    11) Side vents on all suits.

    With respect to styling, there are a few things I'm not quite sure on:

    1) Swelled chest?
    2) Shoulder stance?  I have normal shoulders.  (Any slight sloping is caused by the trapezius muscle and I've never understood why anyone would want to square up their shoulders (except in an extreme case such as bodybuilder or a very tall person.))

    Someone here may be able to suggest something.  I was thinking a shoulder with minimal or slight padding with a soft rope.  My "shoulders" are naturally concavely pitched (aren't we all?), and I think the suit should match.  The shoulder would sit on the natural shoulder line, but the roping could extend it slightly.  Nothing exaggerated here.
    3) Boutonierre on the lapel?  I'm not sure about this styling detail.

    As for fabrics, the two basics I came up with were:

    1) Navy birdseye.  (I like the texture, which looks solid from a inches away, depending on the lighting.)
    2) Dark gray / charcoal, perhaps with a slight heather.  I think I look better in dark gray.

    Both of these would be in an all season fabric.

    For the other few suits, I was considering other shades of gray with or without with patterns, or perhaps a tan or olive suit.  I'm very texture oriented, as you can tell.  All the pinstripes or chalkstripes I've tried emphasize leanless (I've never found one that looked right on me without making me looking gangster-like), so I'm considering subtle windowpanes and prince of wales checks.  I may also throw in a DB with the six-by-two placement for good measure, probably with a subtle windowpane pattern.

    Does anyone have any advice on the versatility of these patterns?  I like them very much and they are rarely seen anymore.  I think they'd be a great look if the silhouette was right.

    One of these additional suits would be a summer suit and the others (two at most) year rounders or winter suits.
     


  2. hopkins_student

    hopkins_student Senior member

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    I'm glad to see you're thinkng about breaking up the SB 2-button styling with a DB, but I think you should also consider an SB 3-button, rolled to the second button. Other than that, it sounds like you have a good plan to me. Perhaps throw in a navy with a bold chalkstripe. I don't think there is much that is more elegant that a navy stripe.
     


  3. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    sounds like you know what you want and I'd say that's the hardest part of any MTM.

    I can see why you're going MTM here. I have a very large drop as well (I can see you're 39"/28.5", 6 ft. Very fit. I'm 35"/26", 6ft.) You're going to need some hella suppression to keep up with that drop, but I would say that you're very lucky to be needing the suppression at all. Tailors I know say that they're so used to taking out the waist so guys can even button their suits.
     


  4. thinman

    thinman Senior member

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    Sounds like you've got some great ideas. I have a dark gray glen plaid suit that I like because the plaid is really in the texturing, except for a very subtle red overpane. I like to think it gives the illusion of more bulk (40L coat, 30" waist). Like you, I've stayed away from stripes, although I love a good chaulk stripe. Reading "Dressing the Man" by Flusser, he says that wide stripes can look flattering on a thinner man. Has some nice pictures (of Cary Grant, if my memory is correct). So don't give up on the stripe. The DB should look great for your build.
     


  5. bch

    bch Senior member

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    Navy birdseye sounds nice, but I think you should also have a solid, dark navy suit. With five suits, you can cover the bases like this:

    1. Solid navy, maybe in a Super 120's fabric. You may aleady have an RTW navy suit, but I bet you'll be wearing your MTM's almost exclusively after you take delivery.
    2. Blue pinstripe / chalkstripe (my order of preference); maybe a shade lighter than the navy suit.
    3. Solid Charcoal
    4. Charcoal chalkstripe / pinstripe (again, my order of preference).
    5. Wildcard

    After you acquire these, you'll be hooked on MTM and maybe venture to bespoke and probably get more within a year. Augment the basics with these later acquisitions.

    I agree with you about the dark vs. lighter gray; definitely go with the former, if you must choose between them.
     


  6. skeptic

    skeptic Well-Known Member

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    Wow, you are very slim, too. I assume that medical schools still teach using 70kg man as the model, but I doubt this resembles anyone nowadays. It just shows how much "normal" body size has changed over the last century. There's some silly evolutionary psychological explanation of this increase, so I suppose we're just more adaptable. :)

    I've seen a few RTW suits in size 38L by Jones New York (not the highest quality, of course) in a athletic cut with a 10" drop, but not much else. I'm really between a regular and long, though, which prompted the MTM route.
     


  7. skeptic

    skeptic Well-Known Member

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    I probably do the chalk stripe in a shade slightly brighter than navy, which I think will work.

    Someone has cautioned me about double-breasted suits as being out of style. I believe they're classic--I like them, regardless. (There was a whole discussion of this controversy on this forum a while back.) I've even seen short men look good in double-breasted suits.
     


  8. bch

    bch Senior member

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    In my suggestions, I guess I was zeroing in on your initial statement that you were looking for a basic wardrobe. I think subconsciously you're really looking for more variety, rather than basics.

    Few people I've seen appear at ease in a DB. I favored them myself in the early and mid-90's, but I don't have any now. I live in S. Florida, so they are a little too warm down here, at least 10 months out of the year. If it works for you, absolutely do it. To my current way of thinking, DB's look much better (more natural, maybe?) on tall guys like you, the legendary story about the short Brazilian diplomats notwithstanding.

    Glen plaids look great and might be considered. I have a navy blue glen plaid with a subtle royal window pane that I like very much. At 10 paces it's a just a blue suit, but it gets a lot of compliments from people close enough to shake hands.
     


  9. skeptic

    skeptic Well-Known Member

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    I think my subconcious is trying to squeeze too many objectives into too small a number of suits. (There's just no way around the pigeonhole principle.) So, I've decided to make sure I get the basics first.

    I believe Flusser mentions the legendary story, but a former colleague is short (but slim) and looked decent in a DB suit. It may have been a 6x1 placement, but I'm not quite sure.
     


  10. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    skeptic,

    with your slim build, you can take something a little adventurous, like a window pane or powerful check, should you feel like it.
     


  11. Concordia

    Concordia Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    You have some very classic things lined up. I rather like birdseye myself. My standard grey winter suits are a variant of that (don't know the precise term) and a pick-and-pick.

    If you are into texture, you might also consider a self-herringbone, such as offered by Lesser or other good cloth makers. Breaks up a grey very nicely, and makes a navy blue that much dressier.

    And since you're having these made (and spending a bit of money on them), consider erring on the side of too much weight, especially if you are getting them tailored on the soft side. [Are you considering Anderson& Sheppard or their alumni, or perhaps going the Italian route? ] A lot of perceived cloth weight is really the padding, lining, etc.-- if your tailor uses less, get a heavier cloth and buy a few more years of use. It will likely drape better, anyway, all else equal.
     


  12. mnemonic

    mnemonic Senior member

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    good luck. you've given enough thought to it, as far as i can tell.
     


  13. chocoball

    chocoball Senior member

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    In building a wardrobe, it's best to use wood. [​IMG]
     


  14. skeptic

    skeptic Well-Known Member

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    I built a wardrobe once, and ended up in Narnia. You know the rest of the story...
     


  15. benchan

    benchan Senior member

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    I know it goes against the advice/norm of styleforum members. But seeing that you got a 39 inch chest and 28.5 waist, I would say you better err on the side of less waist suppression when going bespoke. And yes besides wood, put some silica inside your wardrobe. [​IMG]
     


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