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Pull off a Suit with Savoir Faire. . .

A handy little visual primer of how to wear a suit, borrowed from

A spare hour this morning before collecting the Young Master from school for lunch and then some cross-country skiing together, so it seems like a good time for some writing.  Let's talk suits today.  Not much call for them in many walks of life these days, but if and when you do wear a suit for any reason, more is involved than simply buying the cheapest thing you can find, or borrowing your cousin's when he is six inches taller than you.  Consider, for example, the following situation.

Yesterday morning, in one of my classes, a young man turned up dressed in a suit for something on campus, ether class or fraternity-related.  Fine.  It's always nice to see a guy trying to up his everyday style ante, and the student in question looked reasonably good from what I could tell relative to the other young men in the room.  But I had a class to start and run, and you don't want to stare and give anyone the wrong idea about anything.  Nevertheless, a few points stood out as I glanced around the room quickly to see who was present and prepared, and who was absent without leave, which gets us to the point of today's post.  When you wear a suit, make sure to:

1) Avoid a black suit unless you want to be mistaken as the understudy of Will Smith and/or Tommy Lee Jones.  Mid-gray, charcoal, or navy are the colors you want.  Not only does black show up every bit of dust that lands on you, it also shows wear and seems to fade more quickly than other colors. . .  besides making you resemble an undertaker.

2) Keep your suit clean and hanging in your closet between wearings on shaped hanger.

3) Brush down your suit after each wearing with a clothes brush to remove the day's dust from the fabric.

4) Have your suit professionally dry-cleaned and pressed if there are persistent stains that will not brush out.

5) Make it clear to the dry-cleaning clerk that you do not want the lapels creased.  Asked for a gentle roll instead.  If the cleaner's cannot get it right, find another who can.

6) Get a suit that fits you.  At the very least, have the sleeves and pants shortened.  Too many men in the United States wear suit coats that are too big, too boxy, and with sleeves, or pants that are far too long.  It might be a good idea to have the waist of the coat suppressed slightly when your tailor is taking care of the sleeves (a bit of cuff should show when your arms are relaxed at your sides) and inseam.

7) Unless it is extremely hot, muggy weather -- for example Philadelphia, Richmond, or Washington, D.C. in July or August --  keep your suit coat on, your shirt tucked in, your pants at your natural waist, and your necktie cinched up enough to cover the top button of your shirt, which should be buttoned.

8) Avoid hanging your suit coat on the back of your chair, if you absolutely most remove it, where it will surely get mangled as your body scrunches and slides around against it.  Invariably, garments that suffer this particular fate end up in a heap on the floor, or in the chair partially beneath your posterior.

9) "Ease" the legs of your pants as you sit down.  That means, basically, that you grasp the knees of your suit pants gently as you sit, and pull the up slightly to give your bent knees more room within the legs of your pants, preventing baggy, stretched out legs that resemble old blue jeans more than wool/linen/cotton pants that are part of a suit.

10) Button the top button of a two-button suit coat or middle button of a three-button model when you are standing or walking.  Unbutton before you sit down.  Double-breasted models generally remain buttoned although I am the only clown in the U.S. who seems to wear these at the moment.

11) Wear leather dress shoes with leather soles with a suit.  Inevitably, "comfort sole" sole shoes succeed only in making a guy look like shopping mall security personnel. . .  even if the suit is expensive and tailored to fit like a glove.  Don't spoil your overall look with cheap shoes.

12) Wear a necktie with a suit.  While it is possible to skip a tie with a more casual sports jacket or blazer and odd dress pants (or even jeans) combination, a suit just looks incomplete when worn without a tie.  No.  It makes no difference that various male celebrities of the moment do it, you will only succeed in looking as if you do not know any better when you wear a suit without a necktie.  That is not what kicking up your everyday style several notches is all about.  And remember, your necktie should not feature a cartoon character on it, ok Tweety Pie?

Remember, the goal is to become a man with grooming and sophistication.  Sometimes, that might involve dressing yourself in a suit.  When those rare occasions come around, you want to look like you know what you are are doing. . .  as though you have been doing this for your entire adult life, and, therefore, you come across as practiced and comfortable with the art of wearing suits.  

-- Heinz-Ulrich


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