In a world where casual wear is the preferred choice of clothing, does the suit still have a role to play?
“Absolutely!” says Dean Handspiker, VP Design at INDOCHINO. ”Whilst dress codes are relaxing, the suit remains a staple in many offices. The saying goes ‘dress for the job you want’ and wearing a well-made suit that looks and fits great not only demonstrates to others that you mean business, it gives you added confidence in the boardroom.”
INDOCHINO has more than 40 retail locations in North America, including one in West Edmonton Mall.
“We’ve taken tailored clothing, a world that has changed little in decades, and reimagined it for today’s generation,” informs Handspiker. “Our clients choose from hundreds of fabrics and take on the role of designer, picking out all sorts of details of their suits, blazers, shirts and chinos to make them truly one-of-a-kind. Anyone can get great fitting, personalized clothing delivered in just two weeks for a price comparable to the ready-to-wear alternative.”
He explains the options when it comes to men’s suits. “Off-the-rack suits are mass produced in a limited range of sizes. Unless you happen to fit the size, you will need alterations, often at extra cost, and more importantly, you don’t get to personalise the style. At the other end of the spectrum, a bespoke suit uses a pattern created from scratch with multiple fittings for the perfect fit. This kind of tailoring is labour intensive and comes with a high price tag.
“A made-to-measure suit is cut from a base pattern that has been adjusted to the client’s measurements. At INDOCHINO, we choose from three silhouettes that best matches a client’s body type before making adjustments. We then work with the client to select from an extensive range of customizations such as lapels, linings, buttons, and monograms and so on. The order is then produced and delivered in two weeks.”
Handspiker has advice on how to pick a made-to-measure suit.
“It’s important that you match your suit to your body type. Tall lean guys look best in a double-breasted suit with peak lapels, shorter stockier guys will benefit from a two-button silhouette and notch lapels that lengthens. Muscular guys should opt for unstructured suits with less shoulder padding.
“There are lots of ways to wear your suit beyond the classic shirt and tie combo. Wear your suit jackets with a t-shirt and a crisp pair of chinos. Consider adding the vest to wear with your suit, a contrasting suit or casually wearing the jacket with jeans. Mix and match separates, and you can create many looks out of a reasonable investment.”
Made-to-measure suits are a great option for the young professional starting his career, but for those looking for the bespoke experience, the place to be is Sam Abouhassan Custom Clothiers. From his shop in downtown Edmonton, Sam Abouhassan has been hand-tailoring suits from the finest quality fabric imported from the best mills in Europe for 41 years.
“Some of our client have introduced their sons to my store and now we are making suits for their grandsons!” he confers. “We went from the 1980’s boxy look to today’s slim fitting look; fashion will constantly change and we always adapt to it. The only thing that does not change is the quality of the garments we make.”
Abouhassan has advice for men seeking a bespoke suit.
“When I am asked by my clients about the trends and if they should be wearing them, I say to dress for your size and shape. A good quality suit will last a lot longer than any trend, but if they want the latest in fashion, we will certainly make it.”
He’s seen many trends come and go but knows the classics will always have a place.
“For the next season, in my window display I have a black pinstripe three-piece suit. I always recommend a classic suit for special occasions. Classics will always be in style, especially for men that do not need to wear suits for work every day.
“When looking for a new suit, jacket and pant, ask yourself: what do you need the garment for; what price you are willing to spend; and your desired colour, fabric, and style. The most important part is the fit. If the suit does not fit properly, you will not look forward to wearing it. The most expensive suit in your closet is the one you do not wear!”
Suits are not just for men. Women have been suiting up for decades, too.
Tracey Bartholomew, owner/operator of Village Fashions in Stony Plain, has made it her mission to help women feel good about themselves.
“There are not many women who are perfectly comfortable with their bodies. We feel it’s important for women to make the most of what they have,” she says of her and her team’s philosophy.
Women come from far and wide to shop at Village Fashions, often making the trek from Edmonton and beyond to shop the mix of high quality casual and formal wear from noted Canadian brands like Sympli, Joseph Ribkoff, Tribal, FDJ and Frank Lynman.
“Today’s suit is fresh and modern,” Bartholomew counsels about suits for women. “It’s no longer a matching pant/skirt/jacket, but coordinating pieces that are much more versatile for everyday living. Unless you are working in a corporate environment, a cardigan or vest can take the place of a jacket.”
She continues, “When you buy multiple pieces that work together, not only does this give you many options, it also allows you to dress up or down. The same colour jacket and skirt will always be dressier, which works well for a wedding or formal event. Mix a solid with a print for something a bit more casual. Remember that accessories, like a scarf or jewellery, can also change a look.”
Bartholomew describes how women can get the most out of their corporate wardrobe. “Always buy the best quality you can afford and spend the money on basic pieces you’ll wear for years. Add the pop of colour or trendy print in the accessories or less expensive items that may change from season to season. Often shortening the length of a dress or picking up a top at the shoulder creates a better silhouette without costing a lot – small adjustments can make a big impact. Remember, it doesn’t matter how much the salesperson or friend likes your outfit – you need to feel great in it.”
Feeling great in a suit can have a lifelong impact on one’s confidence and even employability. This is something Jason Gregor helps many young men in our city experience firsthand.
Gregor is known for his company Just A Game Productions and as the host of The Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260. He’s also the founder of Gregor’s Grads which, through The Gregor Foundation, provides suits for graduates who cannot afford a suit. Thanks to generous donations from his listeners and partnerships with Mr. Derk and Oilersnation.com, hundreds of young grads are able to attend the ceremony in new suit with a new shirt, tie and shoes.
“The suit is really about confidence,” says Gregor. “Grad is a big deal. It’s a 12-year commitment. Someone should not have to miss grad because they can’t afford a suit. I got an email from a boy last month who had received a suit from us a few years ago. He wore the suit to a recent interview and got the job. He said the suit got him the job. The suit didn’t get him the job; a suit can’t make you smarter, but it helped give him the confidence he needed to land that job.”
The confidence is apparent the moment they see themselves in a suit for the first time.
“When you see those boys come out of the fitting room and look in the mirror, you see their pride and they stand taller. That confidence gives them the ability to do anything,” smiles Gregor. “The suit also teaches them that people care about people. The recipients see a community caring for people they don’t personally know. They learn that someone they have never met is willing to help them.”
The Gregor Foundation does not have administration fees. All the money raised goes directly to the purchase of suits. Gregor’s Grads numbered 36 when he launched the program in 2013. This year he suited up 109 young grads. To learn more or to support a grad with a suit, visit jasongregor.com/the-gregor-foundation.
So, does the suit still have a place in our increasingly causal world? It sure does. From made-to-measure to bespoke, from co-ordinated to donated, when you put on a suit you are not just getting dressed – you are showing your best self to the world, and to the person in the mirror. A suit is confidence personified. Wear it with pride.