There's nothing more visually mortifying than observing a man in an oversized suit.
In most careers where formal business attire is the requirement, ill-fitting suits continue to be a never-ending nightmare. From unnecessarily wide pant legs, bunched-up cuffs, football-pad shoulders and box-like cuts, this visual plague latches onto the psyche of the average man. Its bond is heightened by the phobia of modern cuts, and the false illusion that baggier clothes make you look bigger.
Oh please. You look like a tool.
In the sea of ill-fitting suits, the man who dresses in a well-cut modern suit will always stand out.
So, what keeps the average guy from stepping outside their comfort zone and upgrading their outdated suit style? There's a suiting life cycle most men are raised within, and while today's topic may not apply to everyone's experience, I'm sure many of you will relate to it in some way.
1. You first wore your dad's suit and you hated it.
Generally speaking, your first real step into suit-hood began in middle school or in high school -- your grad or prom, most likely. Today, millennials have the luxury of Topshop, but for many of us born in the Generation X category or earlier, we started off with our dad's suit.
Unless your father happened to be a style-friendly rockstar, that suit had a less than a one per cent chance of fitting you properly. You didn't really care, though, because you were only going to wear it once, and unless it was part of your high school look you probably despised wearing a suit in the first place.
2. You were never proud of your first suit.
Years later you had an "Uh-oh!" moment when you realized that grown men really do need a suit. Your friends started getting married or an unfortunate turn of events lead you to someone's funeral, and suddenly reality kicks in: you need your own suit.
You might end up at Moores, International Clothiers, or one of those other old-man suit shops. Either you were lured by the two-for-one deals, your parents paid for the damn thing, or you didn't have enough options to choose from in due time. So now you have a pushy old suit salesman in a frumpy suit and your parents up your ass telling you that you look perfect in this classic box of a suit. Great! Your first suit looks like it should have a "wide load" stamped in the back of it. You may or may not have continued stumbling down this linear path.
Those who stay in this rut routinely mistake slim for skinny, and to them, the thought of wearing skin-tight clothes can bring on fits of hysterics -- maybe even a hint of homophobia. For some, why get rid of the box suit? Besides, it held you through your first couple interviews, you probably will get married in it and possibly even buried in it (which is very weird, by the way). If this sounds a lot like you, chances are you've reached a point of laziness and have accepted mediocrity. If it ain't broke don't fix it, right?
3. You start to shun those weird, boxy suits.
The next natural and optional step involves buying your next suit at the mall from a reputable mall brand, like Banana Republic or H&M. While the fit looks better and not as face-palming, there are still hard pills to swallow -- you're being given suit advice by a part-timer selling suits that are mass produced with the cheapest possible material money can buy. But hey, at least it looks presentable.
Before the pitch forks start coming out, let me reiterate that I've got nothing against the mall brands. My closet includes numerous well-made blazers and shirts from Zara and so forth. Spend within your means. Those big mall brands can provide modernity at an amicable price, which is totally fine, but the next step is usually the part where you start taking yourself seriously.
4. It's time for a power suit.
At some point in your career, you'll feel the need to upgrade. You're past the intern phase, and you're ready to run with the big boys now. You're starting to feel uninspired by your Club Monaco and RW & Co. suits, or they're just straight up falling apart. While it helps set you apart from the boxy-suited interns, you're ready to pamper yourself with something better than fast fashion. With this, you begin your research into the Harry Rosens, the Nordstroms and independent boutique brands such as Gotstyle and Suitsupply.
Remember, we're talking about your power suit here. The suit that you put on to impress the woman/man you care most about. The suit that you wear to an insanely important client meeting. The suit that you wear to stand out, because you're sick of going unnoticed. The suit that feels like a second skin when you put it on. This is the suit of a superhero, damn it!
Depending on where you sit in the tax bracket, you'll either go for an off-the-rack suit (with some minor tailoring), or straight to a made-to-measure or bespoke suit. Either way, you're finally reaching that fork in the road that separates the average from the unique.
At a glance, your suit confirms your gentleman status, while at the same time it empowers you to be the man who you aspire to be. "Don't get caught wearing an ill-fitting suit" is the new "Don't get caught with your pants down."
A fitted suit is just the start -- it is a stepping stone to building the necessary framework of and opening new doors to your own personal style. Patterned suits; bright, contrasting shirts; tie-and-shirt combinations; and epic accessories are just the tip of the iceberg. However, a fancy slim tie and its matching pocket square don't mean jack if your suit doesn't fit right.
Some hit the fast track straight to their power suit, while others never feel the need to wear a suit (and are willing to break the rules to not do so) -- every man's mileage can vary. Regardless of your experience with suits, or lack thereof, you deserve the respect of a modern day gentleman. Not just from others, but also for yourself.
How far along are you within the journey to your power suit?
This post originally appeared on RAMONE.ca.
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