stYlobAte

Style is a state of mind.

sUit yoUr stYLe

a suit = In clothing, a suit is a set of garments made from the same cloth, usually consisting of at least a jacket and trousers. 

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Suits have seen a bit of a revival in recent years. No longer associated with the boardroom, but now seen as ‘quirky’ they are not only acceptable, but expected street-wear.

One theory is that High Street brands like The Kooples have given suits new clout among trend forecasters. Another is that our times of austerity have had boys rummaging through old chests of three-piece wonders in grandpa’s closet.

A friend of mine – who was recently named a quintessential London dandy – says suits have always been around and were only appropriated by the slovenly corporates in a haphazard at-least-I-look-tidy kind of way.

Another friend says that dressing up in a suit not only makes people react to him differently, but also makes him feel different inside. He won’t slouch in a suit and he will speak differently too. Another said he refuses to wear a suit without a tie. They belong together, he says. Separating them makes you look like an unsuccessful accountant.

Is there such a thing? I personally find the tie-less suit rather attractive in a cool mediterranean kind of way. I even think the the ceremony of taking the jacket off quite alluring…

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So, what’s the story behind the revival of suits?

Is it down to our nostalgia for a better dressed past?

A journalist who writes for W Magazine recently says no. She told me I had the whole story backwards. Luxury fashion in general has become increasingly conservative and masculine since austerity tightened its waistband, and not because of nostalgia but because of the aspirational value we attach to luxury.

Austerity, she explained, is the only sexy thing on the street in female fashion. The tailored, angular lines of brands like Celine and Isabel Marant are back in fashion because they draw the gaze to the fabric, the stitching and the detail in the same way that we traditionally evaluate a man’s suit. This is actually a luxury fashion brand’s legitimation of the quality you are paying for.

So, luxury is still a value in periods of economic stagnation but, crucially, luxury is no longer about galas and fanfare but about subtlety, quality, craftsmanship, and refinement.

I think she might be on to something (and she better be, given her profile as a lifestyle writer). The Fashion industry as we know it today, actually began with men’s clothing. Not women, as is commonly presumed. Tailoring, ornaments and fabric were the preoccupation of the well dressed gentleman and were arguably the starting point of our modern Fashion history. Suits were indicators of class, wealth and profession. They were the outward signifiers of success. They upheld the person without diluting them in ruffles and bling. Chanel, I’m sure, will agree.

Variations have certainly developed over the ages, but the suit is a classic and an inspiration for women’s high fashion.

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Jackets may be shorter and slimmer, trousers may come up higher and tighter, but the suit has had a comeback for everyman. There’s a great blog dedicated to suits with good pics, beautiful fabrics, knits, styles…and men… If you want to know more, visit I love Men in Suits.

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