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Be Well Dressed: Are Slim Suits for You?

It seems that the revised versions of the skinny suits made popular in the 60’s are all around us these days. Narrow lapels, close cut silhouettes, and ultra slim ties characterize this look.

But is it for you?

As I observed in my Skyfall post, it’s a great choice if you have the physique to pull it off. If you’re a thin guy, obviously you’d be very well dressed in a skinny suit. On the other hand, if you’re “husky” a skinny suit would look odd or even comical–not classic style at all.  Compare and contrast the two images below.

Which one looks better?

Tailored and Styed Blog 16 Feb 13--Skinny Tie Husky ManTailored and Styed Blog 16 Feb 13--Wider Tie Husky Man

A more timeless choice is to use the rock-solid principle of proportion to guide your fit so that you look the best you possibly can no matter the fashion of the moment.  If you do this, you will be both well dressed and classically styled.

For example, it’s essential to ensure that width of your lapels are in good proportion to the width of your shoulders.  To achieve the most balanced proportion for your jacket, use this guide:  if the outer edge of your lapel were to extend to your shoulder it would meet about 2/3 of the distance from inner edge of the jacket or 1/3 the distance from the point where the sleeve attaches to the body of the jacket.  The below photo has it about right:

Tailored and Styled Blog 16 Feb 12--Balanced Lapels

Note also the snappy peaked lapels and the excellent harmony generated by the dotted mocha tie and the pinstripe-matching light grey pocket square.

Now, with regard to your pants, it’s all about fit around the thigh and the taper from the knee down.  Obviously, slim pants will be much narrower around your leg and will give less shoe coverage than a “standard” taper.  The picture below illustrate this well:

Tailored and Styed Blog 16 Feb 13--Leg Opening

(photo from Todd Shelton’s blog)

The best route for pants is to use the eyes and ability of your tailor to get the right taper for your particular leg measurements.  You want to make sure that your pants are similar in cut and proportion to your jacket.

And as we’ve said before, the whole idea is to achieve harmony and balance in order to present the best portrait of your face and natural frame in the most flattering way.

A good tailor like Neil can guide you through this process. Once you have the lapel proportions set, you’ll never have to worry about being “in” or “out” of style because your suits are matched to your particular set of measurements.

By Joe Scherrer | Tailored and Styled writer

Article publié pour la première fois le 16/02/2013


  1. The “slim” suits people wear now are nothing like what people wore in the 1960s. The current “slim” look never achieves harmony and balance; the off-balance look seems to be the whole point of the “slim” trend.

    • Appreciate where you’re coming from Matt. “Balance”, “proportion”, “harmony” are timeless principles for dressing well.

      Off-balance style can be deliberate and studied as with the Italian notion of sprezzatura or it can be taken to the extent of “ideological rebellion” against classical notions of style such as balance.

      But my take on what you’re saying is that the slim trend of today is neither, that it’s just bad fashion.

      Did I get that right?

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