Man’s ‘armor’ can be stylish and comfy

Tips for dressing your best from our fashion guru Dan Stroupe and local designer David Watkins

by Daniel Stroupe  Contributing Writer  
Published: September 15, 2012 in Cover Stories, Fashion, Featured Stories

Custom ABBEYDALE suit; Kenneth Cole shirt: Vintage tie, pocket square, and and watch; Shoes by Calvin Klein.

Suits are a man’s uniform and armor, a grand opportunity of expression, or a torture device killing you softly with every wear. Let’s be honest, the general majority of men hate wearing suits. I’ll chalk it up to the casualization of dress in America and the insane notion that shirts with more than three buttons and pants made of anything but denim are a burden that need to be despised. But, a suit is the easiest way for a man to look good. David Watkins, founder of ABBEYDALE, a local men’s clothing label, agrees that you need to make a good first impression in business and for your personal ventures. David was kind enough to give me a free personal consultation and to go through the ins and outs of this sartorial skirmish for guys. Guys like David want men to look good, everywhere and at all times.

Some basics about the kinds of suits that are out there:

Ready to wear — Meaning you buy it at the store today with little-to-no adjustments made (generally the pants hemmed). These suits retail from $99 at places like Target to $1,000 in department stores and designer boutiques. They are factory made, constructed by machine featuring cheaper fabrics from China, India, Pacific and Middle-Eastern countries and made in those same countries. They are made from general patterns in three lengths: short, regular and tall with standard widths.

Made to measure — This suit was custom made for you using your personal measurements and pattern, made by hand and machine. A tailor takes your measurements and makes a pattern specific to your body. Suits of this caliber range in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. They are generally constructed in New York or London in tailor shops with craftsmen with years of experience. Fabrics are sourced from the finest mills.

Bespoke — A complete suiting experience with only the finest fabrics, technique and personal customization. This type of suit has multiple fittings, takes on average 75-80 hours of construction time and is only made by a master tailor. Fine fabrics are searched the world over and only from the finest mills and materials in England, Italy and the United States. All work is completely hand sewn and features silk threaded buttonholes, custom embroidery, surgeon’s cuffs, horsehair canvas throughout the body of the jacket lapels and a whole array of customization from specified lapel width to contrasting fabrics, stitching and cut varieties. These suits cost up from $5,000 and will last you a lifetime.

Longevity is a primary reason for paying that extra cost for a well-made suit. David agrees, noting that a well-made suit could last 20 years when properly taken care of. “The more you invest,” and it is an investment, “the longer it will last” he asserts. Even if that investment is an altered off-the-rack suit it is still a better look and fit than a suit just out the door.

Grey Kenneth Cole suit; Shirt by Banana Republic, Shoes by Saks Fifth Avenue, Vest by Express Men; Vintage bowtie and watch.

Today, I have two suits. The first is an off-the-rack suit from Kenneth Cole. I had to buy a size up and take the midsection in to find sleeves that were long enough. For tall guys like myself, this is the hardest problem. In this, be mindful of the shoulders and make sure they follow the natural line of your body. This suit is a great basic in a dark grey, perfect for all times of year.

The second suit is a made-to-measure suit courtesy ABBEYDALE. This suit was completely custom-made with a private consultation, fitting, fabric choices and buttons. My particular suit features peak lapels, surgeon’s cuffs (meaning they can be unbuttoned) and personalized embroidery. The impeccable tailoring and craftsmanship is evident in comparison. I decided to go with a blue as my first custom suit. Timeless style and complete versatility is the name of the game here.

Suits are the staple in a man’s wardrobe. They are able to make you look your best for any occasion. Like anything, a little extra time, effort and money can go a long way in a sartorial investment. : :

Fall Trends

Leathers:

Calling all leather daddies, you’re on trend! A leather detail, tie, fantastic bag or boot brings a great contrast and depth to an outfit or article of clothing. Example: Gucci, featuring a fabulous pebbled leather jacket.

Midnight Blue is the New Black:

This dark (read slimming, queens!) blue was all over the runway from light silk shirts to heavy overcoats. A very versatile color, this color could become a great asset to your wardrobe. Example: Yves Saint Laurent in a fantastic inky-blue, perfectly tailored suit with black leather trim.

Camel:

Seen in many trousers and sweaters, camel is more of a color than a material in this instance. Though that camel hair sport coat will be a smash this fall, trust me. Example: John Varvatos layered sportswear ensemble.

Bold Color:

Color is still going strong as it has for a while now. Pantone analyzed that Rhubarb is definitely the color of the season. I think this can par well with your midnight suit and camel coat nicely, no? Example: Viktor and Rolf rhubarb suit with leather tie, burgundy leather gloves and boots.

Classic Suiting:

I hope you payed attention to the adjacent article because the classic, well-fitted suit is and always will be, in. Example: Burberry grey suit with polka dot shirt and tie and a coat to die for.

Photographer: Brandon Shauf • Stylist and Model: Dan Stroupe

Special Thanks to Brad Ward, Jonathan Studioso and their dog Baxter for the use of their beautiful home.