The tailoring game is played in eighths of an inch. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but in menswear, where change is glacial at best, 1/8″ is pretty significant. Which is why anything more than that can seem like a rushing flood of icemelt and fashion.
Take the new look that you’re being asked to wear by your significant others. Your pleats are gone, for one thing, but what about your upper half? Well, let’s take a look at your suit coat and sportsjacket. What makes a modern suit? And more important, what dates your old favorite?
Let’s start with the glaringly obvious. The high-buttoning three button suits are finished. We’ve harkened back to the two button Kennedy-esque suit. With some differences.
That low buttoning point from the Armani-clad ’80s? Bend over. Does your tie fall out? Too low. But three buttons kept that tie in place, so what’s a man to do? The modern coat is made with the buttoning point placed higher, around your natural waist. That waist is accentuated with some suppression, where possible. No more sack suits. “Tailored*” is the byword here.
Now take a look at the shoulders. They are narrower in the point-to-point measurement, allowing a natural shoulder with minimal padding to end almost on your deltoid. The trick here is that the half-back measurement hasn’t changed too much. (Why is that important?So you can actually move your arms. There has to be some give at the shoulder blade, or we have to resort to spandex suits. And nobody wants to see that.)
While you’re there, take a look at the armhole. It is smaller, higher, hugging up into your armpit a bit more. The combination with the natural shoulder and the half-back makes for a lot of possible movement. There’s no extra cloth to get in the way of your arm swinging about when you hail the bartender That smaller armhole means that the sleeve itself is naturally thinner. “Proportion” is the other big watchword here.
With everything slimming down to allow more movement and lengthen your torso, the chest gets cleaned up. The drape cut (identified by a fold of material on the chest by the armhole, has given way to a cleaner Italian looking chest. It’s elongating with the shaped waist, instead of the heroic “V” shape that the drape imposed, but still proportional to the silhouette as a whole.
Finally, we look at some details.
Side vents (really useful if you stand around with your hands in your pockets) are almost required on a modern suit. Just ’cause they’re cool and kind of European. In a good way.
Your lapel has gotten narrower, too. While we at Leviner Wood caution against going to the extremes of (just about everything, but especially) a 2″ or 4 1/2″ lapel, the 3′ – 3/ 1/4″ looks right — up-to-date — and in proportion to the narrower shoulder stance.
The linings! Well, that’s between you and us. Little to none, for a sweater like feel, or fully lined in a skulls and roses fit for a corporate raider and weekend rock star. Have at it!
*Please note, when we say “tailored,” we mean a trimmer suit, but NOT a skinny suit. Proportion and moderation help us keep the suit tastefully balanced and wearable for years past any current trend. Hey, we can make skinny suits, and if you have the physique for it, go for it! Just remember, it’s a trend…