Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Designers in focus: Paul Smith

In order to stay ahead of the pack and get the look for your bespoke suit that makes you stand out from the crowd, I will be profiling designers over the next few weeks, so you can get a feel for what styles are out there and which you prefer. Knowing what look you’re aiming for always helps when choosing a bespoke suit and with so many variations abound, having a good sense of the overall impression you want to make, as well as what you want to wear with your suit is the best place to start.

So let's get started this week with our very own home-grown designer Paul Smith. The Paul Smith brand is worn proudly by many celebrities, including Daniel Day Lewis who recently accepted his BAFTA in a bespoke Paul Smith. Paul Smith’s suits are getting more attention than ever.

Paul Smith himself has coined the phrase “classic with a twist” to describe his own designs which he bases on traditional British men's clothing that he himself likes to wear. His “classic twist” style is reflected in the combination of the slim style suit that he has carved his own niche in and a floral shirt or a brightly coloured or kitsch printed tie. Bringing old-style tailoring up to date with a sense of British Rock ‘n’ Roll, the end result often hints toward a public school boy turned bad.

Knighted in 2001, Paul Smith is a long-standing and well-respected staple in the British and international fashion industry scene and also receives plenty of critical acclaim. Every item he produces in his 12 collections features his own signature multi-coloured pinstripe motif so you know you have an original; even some of his men's suits collections have hidden images of naked women and the iconic Big Ben in the cuffs. It is this sort of eccentric styling that has won Paul Smith the adoration of the industry and those that buy his men’s suits.

His latest collection to be launched for spring 2009 is a brilliant illustration of his love of striping; only now Paul Smith has moved into the realms of wider boating-style stripes. His upcoming autumn collection showcases multi-buttoned three-quarter length jackets and wide pinstriped tailored shirts. These are offset by dishevelled ties and trim, brightly coloured belts. It is this kind of play on traditional British wear that defines Paul Smith and sets him apart from the rest.

Designers in focus: Tom Ford

As promised I'm continuing to delve into the world of the men's suit designers who are turning heads worldwide, and this week I've been looking at the work of Tom Ford.
As an American designer famous for injecting a renewed sense of creativity at the Gucci fashion house in the 1990's, Tom Ford has worked his way up to the top of the fashion tree working for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent to become the official and singular tailor for James Bond.

This is clearly the utmost compliment from a character that is considered the last word in taste and style. Daniel Craig's interpretation of this timeless classic has won the Bond brand critical acclaim, swathes of fans both male and female, and is one of the peaks of Fords career.

Since Brioni have retired as Bond's official tailors (since Goldeneye), Ford is looking to the next Bond outing, Quantum Of Solace to put the ultimate final stamp of effortless cool on his brand, which has now become famous for being famous.

Having launched his own brand, Tom Ford, only a year after his departure from Yves Saint Laurent, his sunglasses were the first part of his repertoire that first caught the attention of the celebrity jet-set, with the likes of Brad Pitt rarely seen without a pair. Now Pitt has moved up a few notches and was seen sporting a bespoke Tom Ford suit at Cannes this year. Proving how his bespoke suits and shoes receive the highest critical acclaim and celebrity endorsement even before the Bond contract, wearing the Tom Ford brand has become a comment on individuality in celebrity circles.

All of Tom Ford's menswear exudes a luxurious style and has won over the rich and famous as well as Mr Bond himself. Each of Tom Ford's bespoke suits is crafted in Italy to the customer's exact needs and exudes an air of quality and expert tailoring. According to the Tom Ford philosophy regarding bespoke menswear, “Style is an expression of personal choices made many times over.”

Looking at Tom Ford's collection brings about a sense of explicit sexuality and the cut of his trousers (whether as separates or as part of his men's suits) is as fitted as possible without being crass. The very definite waistline in these strides gives a man a reason to stand up straight and with that comes a sense of confidence and panache.

In order to emulate this kind of style in your choice of men's suit you will need the finest fabric you can afford and a definite confidence in your waistline. Combining these figure-hugging trousers with a Bond style jacket will give you a reason to put your suit on whatever the occasion.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Having previously discussed seasonal fabrics, this week I'd like to look at the importance of fabric in any men's suit no matter what the season. We all know that the cut of a bespoke suit makes the difference between standing out in the crowd and having a standardised version of the suit you'd like, but let's not forget how important the right kind of fabric is in the equation.

Your choice of fabric emphasises why getting a made to measure suit is a much better investment than an off the peg quick fix. Any tailor worth his salt will spend time choosing the right fabric for your suit with you so that the suit maintains its best look no matter when you wear it. As an integral element of suit buying, choosing the right fabric is dependent on two main factors:

Fabric Weight

Getting the right weight of fabric for your suit so that it hangs in a flattering manner is as important as getting your measurements right. After all, if your jacket buckles or the trousers wrinkle half way through the day, the impact you have at that all-important presentation may not be quite the one you intended when you left your home in the morning.

The weight of any suit fabric is determined by the mix it is comprised of, wools and flannels being the heaviest. Suit fabrics are measured in density of metres; and the heavier your fabric the more sturdy your suit will be, but in some cases the less breathable. You can of course get wool mixes, which are created for breathability and will still keep the shape of your suit. But bear in mind that generally the denser the fabric, the hotter you'll be.

Most men's suits are made of mid-weight material to allow ten month wear, meaning you can wear the suit on all but the hottest days of the year. Discuss with your tailor where and when you intend to wear your suit in order to get the right weight recommendation.

Thread Count

The quality of fabric you're buying is determined by the thread count. Simply put, the higher the count, the better quality you're getting. Often associated with linens, which is one of this season's most popular fabrics, the thread count should be applicable to every kind of cloth that you might buy a suit in and is usually referred to as the “Super number”. Depending on what you're wearing your suit for, a Super count thread which is in the 400+ range, indicates a fine cloth that will not endure constant wear. Unless you're committed to replacing your suit often, these kinds of cloths are best left to special occasions and not for office wear.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

7 tips to make sure your suit always looks its finest

1. The defining feature as to whether any men's suit looks its best is the fit. Bespoke suits are of course a perfect choice for the man who wants to look as stylish as possible with as little effort as possible.

One aspect of the fit, which defines the overall impression your suit will make, is the shape of the shoulders. Shoulder pads are used in most modern suits these days to accentuate the shoulder to look broad and straight. These pads should stand stiff with a sloping edge to give you a relaxed look and a frame to the suit. If the pads stand out too much, no matter whether you're compensating for shoulders that naturally slope or not, you look like a Star Trek character and that is never a good look!

The shoulder shape dictates how the suit sits on your frame. Most men do not have perfectly even shoulders, so make sure the buttons on your jacket are positioned to suit your unique shape.

2. The fit of the armholes is also very important for your overall impression. Any pinch age in the fit will irritate the armpit and cause perspiration, so try your jacket with a jumper underneath before committing to the size. High armholes give a suit a good drape. Make sure your men's suit has the right movement by making big gesticulations while having it fitted. A well fitted men’s suit jacket will not lift up while you are flapping about.

3. Choosing the right colour for your suit according to your hair and skin tone can also make or break a suit. Choose the wrong tone and you will be detracting from your face - a disaster in anyone's books.

4. How you care for your suit is crucial to how it looks and how long it will last. While bespoke suits are generally built to last and most suits do not wear frequent dry cleaning too well, have your suit steam cleaned to remove wrinkles (hanging it in the bathroom while you shower will have the same effect).

5. The length of a jacket is important, as it should always cover your behind. The suit should give an impression of height when it’s done right, and getting this wrong will create a stumpy and bizarre look!

6. Match your socks to the suit and not the shoes or belt. This attention to detail will mean that even when sitting, any glimpse of the sock will not detract from the suit’s look.

7. Slim down your wallet to avoid bulges in the lining. After all the care you have taken to get your suit looking great, don’t then go and add an enormous lump to its overall look. As well as looking awful, the constant wear on the fabric will spoil its integrity.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Wedding Suits

This week I've been thinking about the summer and how the season can affect your choice of suits. With summer being wedding season it's a sensible idea to consider a distinguished style of suit that will be adaptable enough to wear to work and for formal occasions.

Attending a wedding doesn't have to mean the usual morning suit look; you can choose a formal 3-piece suit as a suitable alternative and still look the part. The modern man doesn't have to conform to historical conventions in the same way a modern bride no longer has to wear the standard white frilly dress.

Choosing to wear a bespoke formal suit as the groom or as a guest is an acceptable form of dress, and with so many styles of made to measure suits available, you can still keep to your usual choice of for example a slim fit suit. If however, you belong to the main party, remember to take into account the colours for your suit.

Since most male wedding parties choose a morning suit comprising of a black coat and contrasting trousers, you can choose a bespoke suit in dark colours - although for a summer wedding a white suit is a smart and stylish alternative. You can, of course, add a splash of colour to your choice of suit even at a wedding; the colour of your lining can either be a nod to the wedding colours or just an expression of your individuality - which is let's face it is why you were invited in the first place!

The warmer weather also gives you a wider choice of fabric. One of the most popular fabrics used for men's suits at this time of year is linen. Linen has received bad press in the past due to its crease potential, but with various mixes available with a linen base, you can get the coolness that a summer occasion demands with the starchiness a suit requires to remain stylish and smart-looking, no matter if you wear it to work or to dance the night away at a wedding disco.

Style Icon – Mark Ronson

This week I'd like to turn my attention to upcoming style icon Mark Ronson. With a Brit award for Best British Male Artist for his stylised ‘Versions’ album and a 2008 Grammy Award for Producer of the Year for his work with Amy Winehouse on the multi-award winning album ‘Back To Black’ behind him, you'd think that this man had enough strings to his bow already.

Increasingly however, his distinctive 60's-esque button down suits that - like his music - are an updated version of Motown cool and reminiscent of Bob Dylan with a knowing nod to the mod scene, are attracting as much praise as his music.

Ronson has recently been featured in The Independent’s fashion supplement and in a March photo shoot for the Daily Mail. In the March shoot, he sported a three-button, single-breasted, peak lapel gold lamé Dolce & Gabbana suit. It is clear from this bold step into the breach of outlandish colour that Ronson has indeed developed a distinctive sound and now a style all of his own.

Featured as a signature cut in the latest Dolce & Gabbana collection, this suit can either include Ronson-style lapels or the more popular notch look. Not for the faint-hearted (or for the office) this bespoke suit is truly one to get you noticed and demonstrates a faith in the current popular style with an unusual twist on fabric and colour.

Reflective (in more ways than one) of the popular pencil-slim suit styles seen in all the top designer shows this season, Ronson's suits are at the cutting edge of the younger man's style. And having been voted the 30th Best Dressed Male of 2008 by GQ, this man is one to watch if you are looking to expand your wardrobe of bespoke suits to a more casual and cool look.

Often associated with the term 'metrosexual' and with top fashion designer Charlotte Ronson as his sister, the time that Ronson spends in the upper echelons of fashion has done much to inform his current taste in bespoke suits. Whether wearing a dark plaid skinny cut at the MTV awards, or a shiny fabric with a nod to Motown at the Grammies, this man is ahead of the crowd - and he knows it.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Seasonal material

Summer is officially on its way and so as a result I've been investigating the best materials for this season’s suits so you can stay cool whilst looking hot.

There are many materials and fabric mixes on the market to choose from in the warmer months than ever before. With choices of combed cottons, linens and even virgin wool suit mixes there are also Coolmax polyesters on the market.

The golden rule when designing a suit is to choose a fabric according to weight, texture and your skin colour. The colour and style of the suit should always compliment your colouring and lifestyle, whereas the fabric should reflect the season and climate you live in.

Cotton suits are now accepted as a stylish addition to the modern man's wardrobe as they are adaptable enough to see you through the day at work and look cool in the evening worn without a formal shirt and with casual shoes. No longer associated with 80's businessmen and pop stars, these suits are perfect for the summer months and will keep you cool no matter where in the world you are.

Linen is the most breathable fabric on the market, however it is difficult to maintain as it wrinkles so easily. A cotton and linen mix may be the answer to your prayers as it is a durable and summery fabric that is not such a high maintenance cloth.

For the most adaptable suit fabric choice, a lightweight wool is a guaranteed pay off no matter what time of year. A fantastic fabric option, the wool suit has a range of weights and mixes to get you through the year. Worsted wools are a brilliant addition to the functional wardrobe as they provide durability second to none and although not as cooling as cotton or linen they will always keep you comfortable and smart looking.

Lighter colours are best at this time of year, and although a little harder to pull off in the office, a lighter coloured suit will fare better than a darker suit when the temperatures start to climb.

When designing a men's bespoke suit any respectable tailor should automatically talk you through the fabrics available and assess when you're most likely to wear the suit and for what occasion, but you should also pay extra attention to the lining of your suit to get the best and most breathable combination around. Ask your tailor which linings are available for your bespoke suit and request your lining end at the knee for a smooth look with a cooling edge.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The right trousers

Having focused on lapel styles and accessories in the last few weeks, I'd like to turn my attention to the most important part of any man's suit: the trouser. The well-fitted trouser is the most essential factor to get right as, no matter what the situation (whether in an informal meeting or just walking home), you may take your jacket off but your trousers are always in evidence. One of the giveaways of a cheaply made suit or one bought of the peg is an ill-fitting trouser. Getting any suit to look its best is to get the length of the trousers just right as any extra fabric round the ankle can spell disaster and a shabby look.

Of course if you are investing in a bespoke suit you won't have to worry about ensuring that your trousers look good, but here's a quick guide to length and style to help you find the right pair of strides to suit you (and your suit) best. As far as length goes, it is commonly acknowledged that the length of your trouser should reach your shoes and incorporate a slight break. This length should cover your socks while you are walking creating a stylish look rather a nod to Michael Jackson!

Any extra length in addition to this tailoring standard looks untidy and scruffy. When buying any men's suit of the peg you can always take the trousers to a tailor for alteration to save embarrassment. Wearing cuffs at the end of your trousers works for taller men and gives extra weight to the fabric, whereas a straight finish helps shorter men to look taller.

In order to ensure your strides fit around the waist, make sure you can comfortably fit two fingers behind the waistband while wearing them. When it comes to the question of which style of trouser to choose, flat-fronted trousers are considered more stylish and modern and most suits for the under forty will naturally be made to this shape unless you state otherwise. Flat-fronted trousers look good no matter what your size, whereas pleats can draw attention to the stomach area and therefore can be difficult to pull off.

If the pleated look is your thing, however, don't choose them if you're especially svelte as a thinner man will look even skinnier when sporting pleats. Make sure your pleats aren't opening while you're wearing them as this creates the impression of extra width in the stomach area. In order to make sure your trousers fit perfectly while wearing pleats, look to see if the front crease sits in the middle of your knee and follows exactly down to the middle of your shoe.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


This week I want to talk about the importance of making your bespoke suit reflect who you are. Of course a tailor-made men’s suit works wonders for your figure and can improve your confidence, but whether you’ve got a strong personality or like being a wallflower there are accessories you can employ to show off your flair for individuality.

Belts are a good way to complete your image. There are some fantastic choices as far as buckles are concerned from the simplest, squarest (geometrically, not fashionably) choice to the most outlandish looking “plaque-style” embossed with a pattern or even text of your own design. We have found a fabulous range of belts at Ted Baker where you can have the choice of protected or unprotected leathers to suit the look you want to create.

Pocket squares can brighten up any suit no matter if it’s off the peg or made to measure. Never to be underestimated these squares sit in your left breast jacket pocket (if your style fits) and serve to counter or enhance the suit itself. For example if you’re sporting pinstripes why not juxtapose your style with spots or colourful thick stripes? I recommend not matching your pocket square to your tie as this brings about a sense of “matching tie and shirt” flat-pack, which is not flattering to something as unique and beautiful as a tailor made suit.

Cufflinks can be considered to be a little old fashioned, but with the bright and ostentatious Murano Gemelli range available from firstchoicecufflinks.com, this underrated way to bring about a zing and certain panache to your suit will never go unnoticed!

Finally we come to the most contentious yet practically essential accessory to your suit: the men’s bag. Whether you choose an executive satchel style such as the Hugo Boss Valo bag or a casual looking rucksack type like the Maine New England bag, a men’s bag is undeniably essential for getting from the office to home, whatever your profession. It’s no longer de rigueur (and is even a little undesirable) to saddle yourself with a clunky attaché case or brief case – times have changed, and for any man with an ounce of style, men’s bags are the way forward.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How to Tie a Bow Tie With Three-Piece Suits

Since my last posting was all about waistcoats and how best to wear them, I thought I'd run through a quick guide on how to tie a bow tie. For the more formal occasions and in league with a three-piece suit, the bow tie is one of the greatest accessories to offset a distinguished, or even colourfully eccentric, look.

Whether you're attending a black or white tie event, a bow tie will set you apart from the crowd as long as you wear it correctly. Firstly choose your fabric and colour with care - the flimsier the material, the easier it will be to tie. Colours are paradoxically acceptable at black tie events, though the use of one colour rather than a patterned effect is considered the more modern look.

Tying a bow tie is in fact recreating the knot that is most commonly used for your shoelaces, try to re imagine that your neck is in fact your foot and you may find this helps. Once you have your tie, let it hang around your neck with the end on your right lower by about one and a half inches lower than the end on your left.

Cross the longer end over the shorter end creating a loop, which is as tight as is comfortable. Any longer and your bow tie will be looking down at your shirtfront for the evening.

Pass the longer end up through the loop creating a very loose knot. Now take hold of the loose end forming a loop over itself pinched between your thumb and index finger. Now double the part of the tie that is lying on your right side over itself.

This forms a loop, which is the front of the finished tie. Now pass the left end of the tie up through the loop and over the front of the bow.

Repeat the bow forming process on your with the left end. While still holding down the loop you have just made double the end over itself.

Now adjust the new loop behind your front loop and facing in the opposite direction. Pinch these together and pass the second loop into the knot behind the front loop. Now you can adjust the knot by pulling both the loops together.

Finally straighten your bow tie.

Confused? Don't forget if you're struggling with this and don't have time to practise, you can buy a clip on tie which still has the effect of looking dapper as long as no one sees the fastener!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Two piece or not two piece? That is the question…

Bespoke two-piece suits should be a staple in the modern man's wardrobe and, whether worn as in a professional or distinguished, the style can say a lot about you. This week I have been looking into where the three-piece suit fits into the equation and I have come up with some interesting musings on the subject along the way.

It's been observed that Daniel Craig has been sporting a gilet by Penfold Outback on the set of Quantum of Solace, and the cardigan has featured heavily as part of the 2008 New York men's fashion shows. The idea of an item of clothing which can be worn under the jacket is a high profile one this season.

So I returned my attention to the humble waistcoat also known as a vest or vestee. The waistcoat has resurfaced as an essential part of the modern wardrobe since its resurgence in 2007. Worn in fashion terms over a shirt without the jacket, the figure hugging aspect of the material is used to show off a man's physique and create the illusion of formality in dress without the necessary effort. Best demonstrated in the Dolce and Gabbana spring show for 2008, the waistcoat worn without a jacket can still be a formal affair.

The waistcoat which underpins the style of the three-piece suit is a different item altogether however, emphasizing not only the formality of the suit but expressing a certain elegance. The suit waistcoat is usually designed in a single or double-breasted style and will have one or two rows of buttons or snaps in accordance with the style. Worn as a mark of distinction, a silk waistcoat and matching tie are de rigeur at white and black-tie events.

Friday, April 04, 2008

How to tie a Windsor knot

Men's formal suits have hit the catwalks in a big way this season, with every menswear fashion show of any note featuring our favourite fashion statement boldly and proudly. Proving that custom suits really can cut it in this age we were shown a fantastic display of male grooming at its best, with bold statements made by designers such as Ann Demeulemeester in her Fall/Winter collection, on display in Paris earlier this year which reflected Bob Dylan at his peak.

With suits for men back in the limelight, I have put together a guide on the correct way to tie a Windsor knot for you so that your bespoke suit will get the full benefit of its most essential accessory.

Often distinguished from a half-Windsor, the Full Knot forms a wide triangular knot that gives the impression of formality and is most commonly worn at formal occasions. Associated with the latter day Duke of Windsor’s (later Edward VII) penchant for wider knots, this particular method of neck tying is best suited to a spread collar so that it's width can be best admired.

The first step to perfecting your Full Knot is to hang the tie around your neck so the wide end is slightly more than twice the length of the narrow end and adjacent to your dominant hand.

Secondly, bring the wide end up through the loop formed when you cross these two over. You should find that the wide end will now be sitting on the top.

Pull the wide end underneath the narrow end and then pull over to the right. Follow on back through the loop and to the right again. You will now find that the wide end is facing the wrong way.

Next, manoeuvre the wide end across the front from right to left - the wide end goes through the loop again and is then passed through the now formed knot at the front of the tie.

Adjust slowly to suit.

These instructions should point you in the right direction, but you can visit YouTube for a selection of video demonstrations if you still find yourself tied up in knots!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Suits on the Street 2008

At A Suit That Fits we pay close attention to suit trends – we often ask ourselves, what will the suits on the streets be in 2008? Will the three-buttoned suit succumb to the two-button as the contemporary gent’s suit of choice; will formal wear continue its resurgence in popularity and will classic fabrics be superceded by lightweight, quality fabrics with the right balance of classic fit and contemporary elegance?

For us, one trend above all stands out – both men and women want bespoke suits. With the ability to design your own suit now at your fingertips and at an affordable price why sacrifice the fit, comfort and cachet afforded by a bespoke suit?

Whatever the trends for men’s suits - whether fashion or formal, work or play - a bespoke suit is a far better investment than the ready-to-wear equivalent. Choice, of course, is one element, with a virtually limitless range of fabrics and styles; comfort, will be next on your list – after all how can an off-the-peg suit even hope to compete with a suit that has been made for your body? Finally, consider extra add-ons like a spare pair of boot cut trousers and, we think you’ll agree, there is no real future for ready-to-wear suits

For those who want to emulate Daniel Craig’s lady-killing apparel in Casino Royale pay heed: there simply is no contest between hand-tailored formal wear and the off-the-peg variety. The former represents you at your very best, accentuating and enhancing your individuality; the latter… well, the less said here the better.