Dressing Down the Suit

Dressing Down the Suit

 

 

As dress codes shift and evolve, the tailored two-piece continues to shake off its fusty connotation, becoming a powerful tool for personal expression.

 

Forgive me for name dropping, but Nick Sullivan once said to me, “one of the great misapprehensions of classic men’s clothes is that they don’t change”. It’s a pearl of wisdom that rings true – in my mind, at least. Men’s style has always shaped itself through a gentle evolution, albeit often at a more languid pace than women’s fashion.

From white tie and tails to the dinner jacket, flannel slacks to 501s, or from three-piece suits to chore coats and chinos, we often ignore the reality that style never stands still. This year, more than most, has reinforced this lesson. For much of the summer, most of us were forced to hang up our linen suits and pleated trousers, and resort instead to ‘couch potato’ t-shirts, pyjamas and sweatpants.

Now, with the world tentatively starting to reopen but reasons to dress up still few and far between, any guy with an interest in tailored clothing has had to find new, informal ways to wear old favourites in an increasingly casual world; particularly if – like me – you love nothing better than to put on a sharp suit. Thankfully, this has been easier to do than you might think, because the suit’s identity is changing to keep pace with today’s new dressed-down norms.

For close to 200 years, the suit has primarily been a corporate uniform, synonymous with business dress and pinstriped financiers. This is finally starting to change, and the strange events of 2020 have accelerated this culture shift. I see this as an opportunity for men who are into their clothes to reinvent the suit, so to speak. If tailored jackets and matching trousers are no longer associated with the doldrums of office life, this creates a huge realm of possibilities to style your suit in fresh, informal ways – and to wear tailoring for pleasure, rather than through necessity.

Seen through this lens, the future for men’s tailoring looks genuinely exciting. Open collar shirts, neckerchiefs, crewneck t-shirts and sweaters, roll necks and mock necks (my personal favourites), polos and denim shirts all have a place under suits and separates today. In this brave new uniform-free world, anything that helps to ‘deformalise’ the tailored pieces in your wardrobe can only be a good thing.

Drake’s have been clued up on this way of thinking for years, and whether deconstructed Neapolitan jackets or tailoring-cum-workwear Games Suits, the house’s suits are anything but formal. They lend themselves to this new, expressive interpretation of the suit as something that you’ll want to wear in your own time, rather than on the clock. To be able to walk into a bar of an evening with a jersey t-shirt layered beneath a corduroy Games Suit, and feel sharp rather than stuffy, is a truly satisfying experience.

At last, the tailored two-piece is shaking off its fusty connotations to become a tool for personal expression – and that’s a change I’ve been hoping to see for years.

 

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