If it suits you, wear it

2011-03-25 11:10

It can’t be disputed that a man in a well-made suit turns heads.

While women may be admiring the impressive figure he cuts, men are wondering how he managed to get it right. And it turns out that finding the perfect fit is not as easy as it sounds.

Men’s Health fashion director Neil Doveton puts it this way: “Your attire should always be smarter than your address, and the easiest way to achieve this is with a simple, modern-cut, well-tailored and versatile suit.

“Dressed up or down, a good-fitting suit can take you anywhere. It’s a basic essential in every image-conscious man’s wardrobe.”

It’s common to see local men wearing oversized suit jackets that makes them look like shrunken garden trolls.

 Another favourite local faux pas is the popular BEE high-necked collar shirt that makes the wearer look like he is in a neck brace.

While finding the perfect suit takes a lot of effort, various designers and experts concur that it’s doable.

Yousuf Patel, the owner of Joburg-based Pat’s Material Centre, which supplies local designers with fabrics, says: “Finding a suit that fits, especially when you buy it off the rack, is a near-impossible feat. You’ll find that if the jacket fits, the pants doesn’t, or vice versa.”

Patel is something of a suit connoisseur himself after travelling the world as a fabric merchant since 1978.

He believes that a suit nirvana exists for all men – with the right direction, of course.

But before you embark on your suit-finding mission, Doveton suggests that you ask yourself certain questions: Summer or winter? Day, night or crossover? Corporate or creative industry? Budget and occasion?

Patel agrees and says the answers to this question will determine your choice of fabric.

“The fabric is very important in that it will determine the outcome of your suit. For instance, if you’re looking for a daily office suit, you’ll need one that looks smart without being too conservative. However, if you have a big business meeting, you’ll want something classic and less flamboyant,” says Patel.

Local fashion designer Ephraim Molingoana, who has a men’s collection under his Ephymol label, says one must also consider the longevity of the fabric, colour and cut.

He says: “High-fashion fabrics can go out of style very quickly. Stick with those that will still be relevant three years from now since you’ll be spending a small fortune on your suit.”

He suggests 100% pure cotton or wool as they are appropriate for our climate.

But he says: “Do keep in mind that the finer the texture of the material, the more expensive the suit.

However, if you’re working on a budget, you can go for a blend of 70% wool and 30% polyester, which is also great but not as refined or expensive.”

Fabiani’s creative director, Mike Kagee, adds that the way to go is “wool stretch fabric in suits that are crease resistant for all seasons as well as ‘Super 100’ and ‘Super 150’.”

After choosing the fabric, the next consideration is the cut and style.

Kagee says: “The silhouette plays an important role when buying a suit, considering the many body shapes and sizes we have in South Africa. Consumers tend to go for a bigger size when buying a suit.

Be sure to buy from people who are dressed well themselves.”

For jackets, experts advise classic colours such as grey, navy and black, as they are more versatile.

“Wear the suit; don’t let it wear you,” cautions Molingoana.

As for Patel, he believes that at the end of the day, “fashion is one thing, but you still have to be comfortable with what you wear”.

One thing all these men also advise is finding a good tailor because that is the one person who will ultimately help you look your best in a suit.

If you are buying off the rack, Doveton suggests that you take the suit to a tailor (some stores offer in-house tailoring services so be sure to ask).

He says: “For a mere R150 to R200, a tailor can alter the suit to the shape of your body. It won’t be quite the same as bespoke tailoring, but it will definitely pass for a personally tailored suit.”

» Visit citypress.co.za for tips on how to get the perfect cut, style, size, length and accessories, as well as all the current suit 

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