Post- Magazine

suits [lifestyle]

an exploration

I’ve been wanting to write an article about suits for nearly my entire time here at post-. Seeing as this will be my last article before my grand venture into the adult world (Vogue, hire me), I figured now would be a good time to cover it. Suits. Not the TV show, the real deal. For many of you, I imagine your first associations with suits are homecoming, prom, weddings, bad weddings, and CCB events where you linger on the outskirts of laughter and joy as you fruitlessly try to commit the night to your impaired memory. But beneath the veneer of their formal expectations, suits are amazing garments that can express taste and fashion, and there’s so much beyond the standard navy slim fit suit you bought at the mall in 2019. My article won’t be a guide to buying a suit, as there are a thousand guides out there for this (about three of them good), but more so a journey through what makes a suit great in my eyes, and how to style an old garment for the modern era.

To get our definitions straight, a suit is a clothing set consisting of a jacket, a pair of trousers, and sometimes a vest made from the same bolt of cloth. Occasionally, this definition changes for a morning suit or a stroller suit—variations outside the general purview of this article. 


The lounge suit—the normal suit—was invented in the mid-1800s as a casual, sporty alternative to the frock coat and trousers look that was the popular fashion of the Victorian era. As the suit evolved, it was worn primarily by working-class people who lacked the means and the need for a formal daytime ensemble. Eventually, the suit started to gain gradual acceptance as formal wear by the 1910s. By 1930, it had completely eclipsed any of the Victorian or Edwardian holdovers and morphed into something that is recognizable today. 

Some of this casual legacy is still found in the suit. For example, the aforementioned existence of the lounge suit indicates that the domain of the suit extends beyond strictly business connotations. Unfortunately, in this day and age, the suit has been culturally restricted to job interviews, banks, and awkward school events. But, dear reader, it need not be like this. There is a whole world waiting to be explored beyond the paper thin worsteds and cottons found at the mall. 

To effectively style a suit, you first need to find a silhouette and a material that best fits your needs. For most people, this would probably be something in a sober navy or gray worsted wool that you only wear for weddings or interviews. But I would also recommend exploring more distinctly styled options in order to better express your personality. Play into the more casual environment of today and wear something in the trendy neapolitan style—with minimal padding and structure, soft flannels and linens in the summer give off a relaxed air. Or you could go the other route and hop on the 70s train with a big-shouldered, big lapel, flare leg suit in shiny and silky mohair blends or gabardines. Right now I’ve been religiously searching for three-piece sack suits in the old American style. While they’re not for everybody, the relaxed, padded shoulders and hint of a waistline in thick herringbone tweeds, tan cavalry twill, and even seersucker, is an ideal look for me as I slink into the natural laziness of spring. Above all, the most important part of effectively styling a suit is comfort. You should feel at home in your suit, as if it is a natural extension of yourself, and not like you are a stuffed sausage being forced to wear it at a brunch. When you buy a suit, make sure you can move in it, sit in it, and wear it longer than an hour. Look at old movies where suits were the standard—almost casual—attire of the day; Clark Gable wore a tweed three-piece suit for a haphazard trip up the East Coast in It Happened One Night, and you too should aspire to such levels of refined comfort.

The most common pitfall you see with suits right now is guys wearing them about two sizes too small in order to show off their physique. Please don’t do this. It looks like you listen to Andrew Tate and don’t know how to spell. Tailoring is supposed to improve the best parts of the body and hide the not so good. If suits were just supposed to show off your gains, there would be no point for a suit in the first place. A lot of this issue is due to the fact that most menswear media is still stuck in 2013—slim, slim, slim fit navy suit, skinny tie, skinny lapels, double monkstrap shoes, etc. I recommend looking to the past, when the suit was more commonplace, for inspiration. My many, many photo albums in my photos app will attest to this. For those of you who don’t have direct access to my phone, I recommend @voxsartoria on Tumblr for a very extensive selection of classic photos. Go for classic silhouettes and styles and you’ll be headed in the right direction.

There you have it, folks: a brief guide to suits. While you might feel constrained by the formal connotations of a suit, we live in an age unmoored from the strict dress of the past, so let your imagination run wild. I hope my extremely specific fashion advice articles have helped you kit out your wardrobe with suits, tweed jackets, dress shoes, and just about every other thing you need to be well-dressed in this day and perhaps 80 years ago as well. This is Sean Toomey signing off.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.