Hello friends. As many of you will know from experience, here at Kevin Seah Bespoke, we favour a slightly wider lapel, like the four-inch example in the image below. However it’s really down to proportions — a four-inch lapel will look skinny on a man of Schwarzenegger’s size, while on a slight guy, it might seem positively disco.
The trick to buying a suit that will never fall out of fashion is ensuring the proportions are not only in key with your body size, but immune to trend. One of the most classically stylish men ever, Cary Grant put it well when he suggested that a gentleman should buy clothing “in the middle of fashion.”
He explained, “By that I mean they’re not self-consciously fashionable or far out, nor are they overly conservative or dated. In other words, the lapels are neither too wide nor too narrow, the trousers neither too tight nor too loose, the coats neither too short nor too long… simplicity, to me, has always been the essence of good taste.”
Writing for American magazine The Week in the early 1960s, Grant advised, “men’s clothes — like women’s — should attract attention to the best lines of a man’s figure and distract from the worst. In all cases, the most reliable style is in the middle of the road — a thoughtful sensible position in any human behavior. Except perhaps on the freeway — but, even then, the middle lane, providing of course, it’s on your side of the road, usually gets you where you’re going more easily, comfortably, and less disturbingly. And so it should be with clothes. They should be undisturbing, easy and comfortable.”
That’s one of the reasons why, at Kevin Seah Bespoke, we don’t have a strict ‘house style’ — instead, we cut suits to compliment and flatter the individual client’s form. The athletic, broad-shouldered, wide-chested man will look better in an unstructured jacket with no roping at the shoulder, while the skinnier man will benefit from a bit of built-up shoulder padding. We’re happy to make either style, or something in between, with the lapel shape and width that suits you best.
Get the proportions perfect for you, right down the middle of the road (as Mr Grant did with his famous grey suit from 1959’s North by Northwest, above, a timeless sartorial classic that could easily be worn today), and you’ll have a suit that looks as sharp in 2018 as it will decades from now.
Unless you’re an ideal 5’11” size 38 Regular, that might be difficult to purchase off the rack, so we suggest making an appointment with a good bespoke tailor. You won’t often find fashion-proof tailored perfection sold cash’n’Cary!
Until next week,
PS: Did you know that Cary Grant used to have his jacket shoulders cut broader than usual to make his abnormally large head look smaller? Next week we’ll provide advice on how the height-challenged man can appear taller through the magic of tailoring. Let us know what else you’d like to see covered in future — email me.