The Immaculate Man
James Franco in Gucci
The bespoke suit is an elusive ideal in men’s formal wear. Once a staple in men’s wardrobes, the bespoke suit eventually became a thing of effort, something that was hard to make. As men began picking their suits off the rack, the perfect suit became harder to find. Today, you will only find the most debonair and style-conscious men sporting well-crafted bespoke suits. The advantages of the bespoke suit are many. Men who don’t look like mannequins can be hardpressed to find a suit off the rack that fits in all the right places—let alone one that’s flattering. A number of options are available for those looking for bespoke suits. Gucci’s new Made To Measure line offers an extensive list of variations. In addition to their talented craftsmen, Gucci offers a range of exclusive, top-quality materials—including 82 textiles that allow 178 possible combinations of colours and fabrics. While bespeaking a suit can be an arduous task, it’s the only choice for those who value style. Elisabetta Canali, the Global Communication Director of Canali says, “A bespoke suit is certainly the best choice for a well-dressed man—something that represents a man’s personality through silhouette, style, fabrics, colour and choice of detail.” Also offering sartorial excellence is Ermenegildo Zegna’s Su Misura service, which tailor-makes suits of exacting measures. This Italian fashion house puts as many as 250 of its artisans to work on a bespoke suit.
The two basic choices are singlebreasted or double-breasted. The former was borne of the hunting jacket and is today the choice of many for business and formal affairs. It can be worn open or closed, although it's usually advocated to only button the top (in two-button suits) or top two (in three-button suits) buttons. The double-breasted suit is less common today. "It denotes elegance at the utmost level. That's why this is the perfect suit for very formal occasions and for fitted silhouettes. However, this suit is becoming more and more of an expression of modernity and one's personality-for example in the six buttons version-for a 'dandy' style. In addition to that, a double-breasted jacket can become a more 'casual' garment if properly worn," says Elisabetta. Borne from military roots, the double-breasted jacket should always be worn buttoned. Certain elements are common between styles, and are requirements of any well-fitted suit. For example, while many ensure the correct sleeve length (till the knuckle of your thumbs, as you hold your arms by your sides while standing straight), not many pay attention to the armhole position. Ideally, it should end about an inch below the armpit, to ensure the jacket doesn't ride up as much when the arms are lifted.
As any tailor who values his craft will tell you, each decision that you make will determine how your suit makes you look. In a single-breasted suit, for example, choosing two buttons with a longer lapel line can make the wearer look taller. However, for those with the height and build, a three-button, single-breasted suit can offer a look that¡¯s extremely elegant. The positioning of the top button in two-button suits, and middlem button in three-button suits, is one of the most important details, and fairly overlooked by less-discerning customers. The button point should be located just half an inch below the natural waist, i.e. the narrowest part of the waist, or an inch or two above the navel. This is one of the hallmarks of a great suit, maintaining the jacket's shape when the wearer is seated. Lapels in single-breasted suits are usually notched, with the lapel width being between half and three-fourths of either side of the chest. A higher positioned notch offers the illusion of height. In double-breasted suits, the lapels are peaked, to offer the illusion of wider shoulders and slimmer waists. Cristiano Corneliani, Global Sales Manager of Corneliani, says, "It's important that a customer feels like it is his personal garment. So if you're talking about made-to-measure, for instance, it's important that you match not only the fabric, but also the fit that you prefer. Then you can try to match with the lining inside.the colour of the lining, the colour of the buttons, the number of buttons, etc. So you play around in order to create your own garment. When you create your own suit, there is only one of its kind in the world, with such detailing."
Gucci's Made To Measure line offers options like wool, cashmere and mohair in classic shades of grey, navy blue and brown, alongside silk satin, velvet and baby llama for evening, with Diamante embroidery and jacquards featuring the label's iconic horsebit in tone-on-tone combinations. Canali's spring/summer 2012 collection focuses on the suit as a means of personal expression, with shorter jackets that hug the waist, softer shoulders, and lapels that are higher and narrower. Elisabetta says, "Traditionally, men's colours are blue, grey and black. But nowadays there is an increase in the use of colours. Depending on personal style and personality, men can definitely choose either plain colour suits or jackets such as the one we presented in the fall/winter 2011 collection, where colours of velvet suits took inspiration from precious stones.amethyst, sapphire, aquamarine and emerald."
Corneliani offers some suggestions for the Indian male, "In India, it's very important to match comfort with lightweight fabric. For example, a double-breasted suit may not be suitable for Indian weather. We know that the Indian consumer isn't looking for flashy creations. The challenge in India is also the distinctive body shape and the customer's taste for designs that are in sync with international trends."
While trends do play a role in its definition, the bespoke suit is made of more than just fabric, buttons and the effort of a fine craftsman. It's a reflection of a man's personality, moving fluidly with his body, whether it's moving or completely still. Ultimately, the perfect suit will live up to its name; it will suit you.
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