From Your Dad’s Suit to Your Power Suit: A Coming-of-Age Journey of the Suit
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 fitted suits continue to be the never ending nightmare. From its unnecessarily wide pant legs to bunched-up cuffs; from its football pad shoulders to its box-like cut; the mysterious, draping phenomenon latches on to the psyche of the average man, heighten by the phobia of modern cuts and the illusion that “baggier clothes make you look bigger”. Oh please. You look like a fucking tool.
In the sea of ill fitted suits, the man who dresses in a well-cut, modern suit will always stand out.
So what is it that keeps the average guy from stepping beyond their comfort zone and upgrading their outdated suit fashions? There’s a suiting lifecycle most of us grew up on, and while this logic might not apply to everyone, I’m sure you can relate to it in some way. For now, lets call it the SUITCYCLE.
1. You wore your dad’s suit and you hated it
Generally speaking, and ignoring all suit-required instances in your pre-teen childhood, the first acceptable journey of the suit had started in middle school or high school. Your grad or prom, most likely. Today, while millennials have the luxury of Topshop, many of us in the Generation X category and prior started with our dad’s suit. Unless your father is a style-friendly rockstar, that suit had a less than 0.1% chance of fitting you. You didn’t really care though, because you’re only wearing 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
But uh-oh! Years later you realize you do actually need a suit. Friends started getting married, you needed to attend a funeral, and suddenly reality kicks in: you’re going to need your own suit. You might end up at Moores (or worse, International Clothiers), or one of those old-man suit stores, because either your parents paid for it, you got allured by the 2-for-1 deals, or there wasn’t really any other options available. So now you have a 65 year old man and your parents telling you you looked perfect in this box-shaped suit. Great! Your first suit looks like it could hold a 4-pack of Smirnoff Ice and a car stereo inside of it.
You might stick down this road your whole life. You mistake slim with skinny, and the thought of you wearing skin-tight clothes induces hilarity and a slight bit of homophobia. Barring the destruction of your one and only suit, that boxy suit might even be the one you get married in, go to funerals in, and eventually get buried in (which is very weird, by the way). Chances are, you’ve reached a point of laziness and have accepted being average. 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 or something. While the fit is a little better and not as embarrassing, you’re still chained to the facts: you’re being given suit advice by someone who makes minimum wage, outfitted in clothing that’s been mass produced with the cheapest possible material money can buy. But hey, at least it looks good, right?
There’s nothing wrong with spending amongst your means, and those big mall brands can provide you that luxury of feeling modern. That’s 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 Zara or RW & Co. suits (or they’re just straight up falling apart), and while they help you stand out amongst the boxy guys, you’re ready to really pamper yourself with something better than a mall brand. You start to venture into the Harry Rosens and the Nordstroms or the boutique brands like Gotstyle and Suitsupply.
I admit, I have a wardrobe full of Zara blazers and suits, but 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 you wear to an insanely important client meeting. The suit that you purposefully wear to stand out because you’re sick of going unnoticed. The suit that feels like your 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 tailor work done), or straight to a made to measure or bespoke suit. Either way, you’re finally reaching that place that separates the average and the unique. At a glance, your suit says that you take what you do very seriously. It empowers you to be that man you are aiming to be. Don’t get caught with your suit unfitted is the new Don’t get caught with your pants down.
You know that scene from the Matrix where Neo is in the woman in the red dress simulation? There’s guys in black suits everywhere. Faceless, nameless, and average. While some of the guys are actually wearing decently fit suits (like those pesky Agents), a fitted suit is just the start. It begins the necessary framework for all the other fun men’s style things, like patterned suits, bright contrasting shirts, tie-and-shirt combinations and epic accessories. But a fancy, slim tie and matching pocket square doesn’t mean shit if your suit doesn’t fit right.
As such, everything begins with fit. Acknowledge where you sit in the cycle of suiting and get out of those oddly shaped suits as fast as you can.
Where do you sit in the Suitcycle?