Since the resurgence of the everyday male’s interest in clothing and the way he presents himself a few years ago, each fashion powerhouse has gone through a revival of sorts. It all started with American heritage and the rise in popularity of brands like J Crew, Band of Outsiders and Gant by Michael Bastian. We all started wearing plaid, selvedge denim and heavy duty boots to make it look like we legitimately chopped wood in Alaska for a living.
Then our attention turned to the wealth and luxury of our Italian counterparts. Soft-shouldered blazers, colourful dishevelled pocket squares and chocolate suede loafers became the name of the game in our search in achieving the Holy Grail of sprezzatura.
Now – finally – our home-grown Savile Row and City of London are starting to make their much deserved comeback. Tweed suits, wingtips and elegant overcoats are all set to take precedent in men’s wardrobes, to coincide with the return of the gentlemen in the next few years.
And this revolution is all going to start right here in AW12. So what will become every guy’s go-to for jumping into this new movement? The three-piece suit. Whether you saw it’s prevalence in the Simon Spurr, Ermenegildo Zegna or Dolce & Gabbana AW12 runway shows, or caught our very own style icon Joseph Gordon-Levitt strutting around on the cover of August’s GQ USA, it’s clear that it’s time to starting investing in this most versatile of tailoring.
Not only do modern versions of three piece suits have a cool and youthful feeling to them, but they also end up being incredibly versatile investments for your wardrobe due to each piece working just as well as a standalone separate.
If this is your first time diving into the world of three piece suits, then make sure you take your time when making your purchase. I advise going for something in a neutral colour such as navy, grey or black and in a material that reflects the coming colder seasons like wool, flannel or tweed. I understand that most guy’s won’t necessarily have the funds to spend £400-£500 on a suit, so instead shop around for a cheaper option and focus more on tailoring.
High street brands, eBay, sales and vintage/charity shops are goldmines for this sort of thing, leaving you a much bigger budget for getting it personally tailored to make sure it fits you perfectly. Just remember to try and get as close to 100% materials with as little polyester as possible – as long as the jacket (both suit and waistcoat) fits you in the shoulders, a tailor can handle the rest.
If you already have a couple of three pieces under your belt, then why not think about branching out into a more adventurous style? Why not honour the heritage of the suit and opt for a traditional British pattern such as pinstripe or Prince of Wales check? Or perhaps interesting colours like burgundy or olive? Just think of the three piece the same as you would a normal suit and you’ll begin to see all kinds of new possibilities for your coming autumn/winter wardrobe.
Whether you choose to wear yours as a full suit or as separates this season, the three-piece will provide you with excellent versatility:
So how do you pull off a three piece suit? Well, aside from making sure it’s tailored to perfection to communicate that sharp Savile Row vibe, let’s have a look at three different ways you could go.
To underline just how versatile it is, I’ll be using the same suit for each example – a mid-grey, one button, three piece suit with notch lapels from Reiss that comes in at £495:
First off, just go all out and put the whole thing together. Respect the inherent formal connotations that comes with a three piece suit and pair it with a fine striped blue and white shirt and this season’s other must-have – a polka dot tie.
A pair of chunky black or brown wingtips is ideal in this situation as they complement the weight and power that comes with the suit.
Finishing touches could be a paisley pocket square in the same colour as your tie and, for a little bit of old worldliness, a collar pin to really make that tie stand out:
This one’s simple – just leave the jacket at home! Opt for a more stand out dress shirt, such as a navy plaid button down or a red gingham, and keep the tie a solid silk knit version to anchor the pattern.
Keep the shoes the same or swap them for a more heavy duty boot, in a brogue or cap toe.
You can even introduce another transitional piece like a denim jacket into the equation for those crisper mornings. It’s my favourite piece to add to tailoring when I’m going for a rugged, slightly informal, McQueen-esque take on things.
A similar principle as the denim jacket example, but swap the trousers for a pair of jeans. The key here is to make sure that the fit of your denim is similar to your suit and waistcoat, because if you have a relaxed or even straight fit cut next to a well tailored top half, it will throw the whole look off. Trust me on that one.
With the introduction of the jeans you really are hitting the mark between smart and casual, so your other pieces should reflect this. Keep it simple with an oxford cloth shirt in either white or blue and skip the tie this time around. Then all you need is a pair of brown desert boots or leather driving shoes and you’ve got the perfect look for wandering around London hunting for other tailoring bargains.
Obviously, there are many more ways to break down a three piece but I like to think that you guys already know what to wear with the trousers, jacket and waistcoat as separates. If not, then go back and read my fashion basics series from start to finish and consider yourself well and truly on the naughty step, son!
Hopefully I’ve shown you enough reasons and ways to wear a three piece suit that not only do you see how versatile it can be, but also just how essential it is going to be in the seasons to come.
As always, I love a good comment, me. So why not tell me what your thoughts are on the three piece suit and the Savile Row renaissance?