This Fall, buying suits off the rack will be more challenging than ever for guys.
The reason for this is that there is a significant shift in fashion preferences from those of the past 10 years.
For the past 10 years, 3-button suits and pleated pants have slowly given the way to 3-button suits with flat front pants. The length of suit/sport coat jackets has remained pretty constant…essentially 1/2 the length from one’s suit under-collar to the floor…let’s say, on average, 29 1/4″ for a 40 Short, 30 1/2″ for a 40 Regular, and 32″ for a 40 Long.
This year, you will find stores offering different options…depending on that store’s “Merchandise Manager’s” vision for what will sell best in his/her stores.
Fashion-wise, here is what is being recommended by the more popular fashion labels…and what many stores will be featuring:
2 Button, single breasted styling with the top button placement higher than the standard 2 Button styling by 1-2″ . This should be an acceptable change for most guys.
The length of the jacket for a fashion item is anywhere from 1-2″ shorter than the historical norm! This is significant…and might be a difficult change for many guys to accept.
Lapels will be slightly smaller…to much smaller…your older jackets could have a 3 1/2″ lapel. I would expect most new suits to have a 3-3 1/4″ lapel but those that are much more stylish will have 2 7/8″ lapels. This smaller lapel might be too small for many of you and certainly too small for many with a shoulder sized 48 or larger. ( I recommend a 3″ lapel for my fashion-forward customers who have 48″ chests and larger…this provides a smaller lapel…but proportional to their physiques.)
Pants will gravitate more towards flat front…but in many instances will have a slimmer profile than you are accustomed to and when sitting…more than likely… not be as comfortable as you would prefer.
Notice in the example chosen, a beautiful Jack Victor offering from their 2010 Fall Collection, how the jacket stops 2″ above the model’s thumb, and probably 3″ above where his fingers would curl? Notice that while a 2B, the button placement is higher than normal, and the suit is obviously much trimmer in its silhouette. This model appears to have a 2 7/8″ fashion lapel width…perfect for one with a young attitude and a 46″ or smaller chest size.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Well…first go with your instincts when trying on any suit. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t buy it!
Second, try to find a sales associate who dresses in a manner you feel is sharp…but is comparable to what you think you’d wear.
Third, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask if the store’s 2-button styling is conventional or if the button placement has been raised. Ask what the length of their 40 R is. If the sales person doesn’t know, ask them to check with their manager or better yet, select a 40 Regular garment and ask them to measure the length of the back of the coat. If they don’t seem confident with how to do this, consider another sales associate.
My advice to most guys is, above all else, be careful this year.
Don’t be afraid of a 2 Button style even if 3 Button has become your favorite…12 years ago, most guys would not even try on a 3 Button! If the 2Button garment you are trying on button too high on your chest, try another brand.
When it comes to flat front trousers, I am a realist and most of my customers just don’t like the fit of a flat front trouser…the fronts have less fabric and are simply tighter in the thigh especially when sitting…which is a lot of one’s day! Finding pleated trousers on suits will be more and more difficult. If you can’t find a suit with a pant that is comfortable when sitting, don’t buy the suit!
As far as the length of the coat goes, I recommend having your sales person measure your height. Again, one measures from where the under-collar felt seem meet the fabric of the back of the coat…this is just under the back of the folded collar on your jacket. If your sales associate is not familiar with this measurement, instruct him to measure from that seam to the floor. A 2Button jacket perfectly fitted would be 1/2 the distance. I would not be afraid to accept a suit that is 1″ shorter than that measurement if everything else about the suit was acceptable to me.
If you don’t like the length, keep looking.
The other option is, of course, custom. I predict that with these sweeping changes that we will see in men’s tailored clothing this year, custom will become more attractive to many men who previously had no need for custom. A jacket can be tailored exactly the way you want. The pants, even more interestingly, can be tailored to offer a flat front with extra fabric in the thigh…this can be accomplished several ways…but a “hidden pleat” seems to be the way to go and is being offered by some of the premier Italian clothing lines as a more comfortable option.
Good luck, have fun shopping for your clothes this Fall…and don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you have or any help you might need.
Vinnie Rua- Founder, Christopher’s Custom