You gents will be tired of us reiterating this point, but as with a lot of situations in the fashion industry, the word ‘style’ is a very subjective one, and once understood, can be manipulated to suit the wearer’s needs. So the below is not to say one style suits you better over another, it’s more to provide you with the tools to make that assessment yourself.
Men suits through decades
To the unknowing eye, Menswear suiting may seem like an industry that has seen unchanged fashion trends. In fact, this could not be further from the truth. From a historical linear perspective, the change in modern suiting styles can be tracked and modelled quite effectively. What from the 3 piece suit, extravagant peaked-lapels of Al Capone’s 1920/30’s era, to the wonderfully electric mod’s who reshaped slim suiting trends in the 60s, to Roger Moore’s James Bond bespoke suits in the 80’s, all the way to today’s Milanese soft shoulder/canvas renaissance.
Personally, the tracking of these cyclical renaissance’s is a small passion of mine, especially considering I am a huge James Bond fan. So imagine my immediate surprise to see Roger Moore sporting a beautiful notch wide lapel, high waisted trouser combination in Moonraker last week. This exact fashion combination is something a lot our gentlemen at ‘RJ Clothing’ opt for – amazing how times change but still operate in circular revivals.
Best suits for men – House styles
Throughout my next two pieces, I will cover 5 main house styles from all over the world. Please note however that this is not a comprehensive list by any means (missing pagoda shoulders, nothing of Florence, nothing of buttoning point, hips, length or foreparts).
1) The English Structured
Most traditional English suits have a good amount of padding in the shoulder, making them quite square, and heavy canvas in the chest, cut fairly close to the wearer.
You can see that effect in the linen suit below, worn by Simon Crompton. The shoulder is large, making him look broader and perhaps stronger in the body than he actually is.
That breadth of the shoulder can also make you slimmer, as the angle between the shoulder and waist is maximized. It’s an effect that can also be achieved by long, peak lapels and might be preferred by someone that is very slight and wants building up.
2) The English Drape
Another major house style led by Anderson & Sheppard, is known as the ‘drape.’ The shoulders and chest are softer, and the shoulder a little elongated as well. But most importantly, extra material is draped across the chest and back – in the case of the chest, with hand-padded canvas giving the chest a definite curve, suggesting greater bulk to the chest and upper body.
You can see something of this curve in the picture above of an A&S jacket. I’ve always liked it because I prefer the impression of strength in the chest rather than shoulders – and the drape has the nice knock-on effect of being more comfortable. The effect is often disliked by shorter or lighter men, who want more shoulders and breadth.
3) The French Shoulder
Although the major French tailors differ in many ways, their general approach to style is quite similar. They all make a much softer shoulder and chest than the English, and the chest is quite ‘clean’ – cut close to the body.
But they achieve an impression of breadth similar to the English structured tailors by emphasizing the very end of the shoulder – the sleeve head. The Cifonelli ‘rollino’ is well-known, but the full sleeve-head of Camps de Luca is also pretty distinctive (as seen in the photo above).
This is effective on those that want a broader shoulder but dislike structure. The closet-cut chest, however, can accentuate the area in those that are thin in this area.
Until next time gents!
The RJ Clothing Team
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