The last time I posted a men’s outfit on Fashion Friday I got a lot of comments from people asking for more men’s fashion advice. Serendipitously enough, I ran into Jeff Lahens, designer and owner of ECC Genuine Bespoke Menswear the other night at a Neiman Marcus fashion show. He and his business partner have been making quite a name for themselves in Boston as the place to go for custom made suits, shirts and accessories with high style but without the attitude. They use the same process as London’s Saville Row and have 2,000 fabrics to choose from- but the best part, in my humble opinion- the ability to line the jackets with something really unexpected, like a “this isn’t your father’s suit” French silk print! Now wouldn’t that make you smile during an otherwise boring workday? Gotta get Andrew into one of these…
I asked if he’d do a little Q&A with me about getting your guy into a perfectly fitting suit and he kindly obliged. Just tell your man this advice comes from the guy who makes Doc Rivers’ suits (the coach of the world champion Celtics) and he’ll perk up…
I think every man should have one perfect suit that can take them anywhere. Let’s break down what components make up a “perfect suit”? What’s the difference between a bespoke suit and buying one and taking I to the tailor (is that a stupid question?)
• First off, every MAN over the age of 25 should have at least ONE suit in his closet. If he only has ONE, let the color be Solid Navy Blue. That’s the most versatile color for a man’s suit. It can be worn year-round, for business, for semi-casual occasion, for a wedding, etc. Ladies have their “little black dress.” Well, men have the Navy suit. A gray suit can play the same function…darker than a light-gray summer suit, but lighter than a charcoal gray fall suit.
• “The Perfect suit” should obviously fit, but it should also perform well for the man. It’s the suit that gets him sincere compliments every time he wears it.
• No, that’s not a stupid question. I think it is important people know the difference as the words bespoke and custom are often incorrectly used. The bespoke construction of a man’s garment is a process that exists mostly in Europe, where the garment is constructed from scratch, for lack of better term. It requires a fitting of the baste of the suit, which is a partially finished suit. Style options and fabric selections are limitless. Whereas a custom suit is a close-to-finished or a finished suit that will be altered to the man’s body by a tailor.
How should a man’s suit fit? Particularly in the shoulder as my husband and I disagree on this topic! I prefer a lean, closer fit, he seems to own all looser fitting suits….help!
• I prefer a comfortable fit. Baggy fit has no place in suiting. Some men like a more snug fit. However, the comfortable fit is tapered to the body, but it doesn’t feel snug. The man can wear the comfortable fit for 8 hours straight without feeling as if he is wearing a restraining jacket.
• The jacket shoulder should line perfectly with the gentleman’s shoulder. It should never look as if he is wearing his big brother’s jacket.
• I know AG (my hubby). He’ll do what’s right. He will take those jackets to a Master Tailor. Notice the word “Master” precedes “Tailor.” A Master Tailor should know how to reconstruct the shoulder of a jacket.
Another big argument in our house: pleats vs. no pleats in suit pants. What’s your take?
• Ok, I charge extra for couple’s therapy. :)
• The Pleats vs. No Pleats issue is very common. Some men have no business wearing flat front pants. Now, AG has a fairly slim body. And here’s my Obama answer: he can wear both!
• Men with large seats and big thighs typically need pleated pants for comfort. The pant should taper each leg and the pleats will loosen with the body movement.
How about the details? Number of buttons? Cuff or no cuffs? Where should the sleeve hit?
• One detail people should certainly look for is the matching of patterns on the garment. If the pinstripe on the jacket lapel is not carefully lined with the stripes on the jacket collar, you paid too much.
• Classically, if the pants have pleats, then cuffs are required. However casual pants, for example khakis, I would say no cuffs please.
• Typically, the jacket sleeve should hit right at the wrist joint. However, some men like to show a little of the shirt cuff to expose their ostentatious cuff links, which requires shorter sleeves on the jacket. Not too short guys. It shouldn’t look like you’re wearing your little brother’s jacket either.
What are your favorite materials to work with currently?
• Ah, I’ve been experimenting with leather. This particular jacket is a shooting jacket. The base is a fine cotton material, but the accents are made out of genuine leather. The details are as follows: leather patch on the shoulder, leather trim on the jacket edges, and leather elbow patch.
What are the big trends for accessories for men this spring? Color pairings? Prints? Etc?
• Classic rain coats
• Classic plaids with a splash of colors
• Hound’s-tooth pattern
• Impressive traveler’s bags
Any tips for how women can get their guys to dress more fashion forward?
• I have the ladies say to me all the time the following words – “I can’t get my husband to wear pink shirts. I love him in pink shirts!”
Answer– Do not call the shirt color pink! Say “Honey, I got you a salmon-colored shirt.” Wait for it, wait for it. Big smile. He loves it. You know the color is pink, he believes it is salmon, everyone is happy.
• Honestly, this is a tough question. There is not short answer and it is not a short process. You will win some battles, but you will never win this war. For now, get him some brown fashionable sneakers!
Thanks Jeff! Check out Jeff’s Boldfacers profile and website for more information- getting your guy a custom made suit would be one HELL of a gift, and one that would last forever!