While suiting and formal-wear trends for men aren't seasonal and play out over several years, 2009 shall mark a distinct change in the direction of men's suiting. It comes down to a combination of factors but the likes of the economic downturn, the end of the 'manorexic' era, and women's 1920's and 1930's revivals will all play a big part. But make no mistake: it's the first and last that will be the biggest influence, as well-groomed men look for investment fashion pieces and turn to the classics for inspiration.
So what elements should you look for?
Just because there's a move away from the 'skinny boy' suit isn't to say that the slim look is also out. Suits which seem like they barely leave you room to breath mightn't be the look going forwards but as we return to classic suiting let's not forget that the most classic suit is the English one, and that the best English suits have always had a slim, military cut to them.
Consider suits in 2009, 2010 and beyond the perfect fusion between classic tailoring, classic looks, and the modern masculine silhouette;
* broad shoulders
* a slim waist
* slim trousers
Double Breasted Suits
The slim cut is precisely what you should be looking for in a double-breasted suit in 2009. Broad shouldered with a slim waist, 2009's double-breasted suits trump most that current generations will be familiar with; they're no longer about hiding a plump figure but are now tailored to highlight the perfect masculine shape: the V-shaped, well worked body.
When selecting a double-breasted suit look for the "Kent" cut, named after a style popularised by the The Prince George, Duke of Kent, where a longer lapel line extends into the waist. This will convey height and, if cut correctly, a slimmer waist.
Let's face it: the waistcoat has long been a dead item for most men, but thanks to a resurgence in its popularity in men's street wear the suits' waistcoat is back with vengeance. Well, not quite vengeance but it's back, it's subtle and it's classic. And that means that in 2009 we'll witness the return of the three-piece suit, and I couldn't be more happy. That's because the three-piece suit has been one of the most under-utilised parts of a man's wardrobe over the last forty years.
The three-piece in 2009 is all about cohesion; forget the mismatching style prevalent in the early parts of the 20th Century and in the 1980s. The return of the three-piece means that the waistcoat has to be conservative and, thus, in the same fabric as the suit's other two pieces. If you do want to venture outside the realm of three matching pieces, stick to a similar colour palette and avoid any pattern except for stripes; you may want to pair a pinstripe black suit with a pinstripe charcoal waistcoat.
On selecting the perfect three-piece suit I'd recommend looking for a waistcoat whose V shape breaks somewhere between the sternum and the base of the rib cage. I've seen three pieces from the likes of Giorgio Armani which don't sport the V shape and finish just under the collar, these are going to be a lot harder to wear and ignore the conservative subtlety this revival depends upon. Moreover, such a large waistcoat won't convey a slim waist as effectively as one with a deeper neck.
Choosing The Perfect Suit
Yes, suits in 2009 and 2010 are all about classic elements but there are still plenty of factors away from the trend elements that you have to contemplate. Consider all of the following before making an investment in a suit this year.
How Many Buttons?
The amount of buttons a single-breasted suit jacket should sport is really a matter of personal preference, but let me offer the following.
A single button falls into the realm of a fashion suit; it's been a trend before and will go out again. And there's a reason for it: within reason, the more buttons a suit jacket has the taller a gentleman looks (yet another of the visual tricks a suit can perform). So it stands to reason that a single-buttoned suit does the opposite to conveying stature. So unless you're over 6' 2", I'd suggest you avoid a single-buttoned suit.
My preference for a modern suit. It conveys height, slims the waist, and fits perfectly within the realm of fashion and classicism.
Very much a look of the 1990's, it's making a come back and has been seen amongst the tailored wares of Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren's Purple Label. Three buttons convey a greater sense of height than a two button suit, but are harder to pull off. I own several, and wear most of them in a fashion-forward sense. Definitely one for the more confident amongst us.
Four Buttons or more
Please don't. I'm yet to see any four button suits offered in 2009 which truly impress me, fall within current men's trends, and will figure in as a good investment piece beyond this year.
A lot of suit terms can be mixed and matched, but I'm a fan of something I've always called the 'British rolled-shoulder.' Others might call it something else, but it is effectively where the shoulder padding finishes. A lot of Italian and US based designers prefer to have the shoulder padding finish precisely where the bone does. A British rolled shoulder has the padding extend over the shoulder and roll down into the sleeve, and figures into men's suiting as another visual trick - this time designed to make the shoulders seem broader and the arms better built.
This one is really simple: choose a suit with two side vents. The only time to break this rule is if you're buying a dinner suit.
When tailored correctly a suit jacket with side vents is always preferential due to the perfect silhouette it can provide.
Since the mid-20th Century notched lapels on a suit have been the staple, but as we return towards classic tailoring in 2009 we'll see a return of the peaked lapel. Last at the fore of fashion in the 1920s, the peaked lapel is another of the great visual elements of a men's suit: it helps convey the much coveted V shape.
That said, notched lapels aren't out of fashion and both are an equally good investment.
If we're returning to the classics with double breasted and three-piece suits in 2009, then it stands to reason that we're also returning to classic cloth patterns. Moreover, the coupling of the classics with the current men's fashion revitalisation means this is the perfect time to reintroduce patterns into your wardrobe (if you haven't done so already). The following are classic suit patterns perfect for 2009 and beyond: Houndstooth, Herringbone, Pinstripe, Ropestripe, Prince of Whales Check.
Which Cloth Should You Pick?
The fabric you buy your suit in will be on of the biggest factors in the price you pay, but selecting the right fabric will also play a big factor in whether you buy an investment piece or a one season wonder.
The clear favourite for suits, but pick carefully. I've seen some very expensive wool suits fall apart within a few years due to the cloth being a terrible blend. My personal preference is towards a super-wool, with a thread count somewhere between 120 and 150. I tend towards 150 as it's often perfect on both cold and hot days. If you live, however, in more extreme climates you'll need both Winter (200 thread count) and Summer (100 thread count) suits
Cotton can make a beautiful suit, but make no mistake: it's best only as an informal or fashion suit and, unlike wool, is going to crease like anything. I find it best in colours which aren't black and grey, tending towards navy and tan. If you're looking for a good cotton suit in a modern, slim classic then look to Ralph Lauren's Black Label.
So many men simply don't understand linen, and it's often those of us who have had the luck of a childhood in Europe that may ever truly appreciate it. But a linen suit can be perfect for those hot, humid Summer days. Shy away from it in browns, and wear it in colours such as white and cream and you'll stand out in a crowd of otherwise dull suit wearers.
One final note on linen: don't be scared of its penchant for creasing, it's all a part of the fabric's charm.
Article from Daniel P. Dykes for fashionising.com