The Silhouettes of Jackets
I’ve paid less and less attention to Pitti Uomo photos over the years, largely because so much of it gets monotonous. This past tradeshow, however, I caught these three photos from Tommy Ton over at GQ and thought they’re worth highlighting, if only to underscore the importance of how a suit is styled and shaped — two aspects which are just as important as how a suit fits.
How a suit fits and how it’s styled are two different things. Fit can be basic and not so basic, and we’ve written a ton about the subject. For a suit jacket or sport coat, having a good fit means making sure the collar stays on your neck (even as you move your arms), the chest doesn’t buckle away from your body, the shoulders end near your natural shoulder joints, and that there aren’t any ripples or pulls anywhere. Somewhat straightforward.
Style is different. Style is not just about the fabric chosen and pocket details, but also about how the jacket is shaped and cut.
Take the first photo, for example, of the three young guys in blue suits. All three wearing slim, columnar silhouettes, with low rise trousers and narrow shoulders. The lapels are a bit wider than what’s normal for such looks, but it’s a style that was made popular by Hedi Slimane when he designed for Dior Homme. These kinds of suits have been tremendously popular for over a decade now, but they only really look good on very skinny guys, such as these three.
In the next photo, we have Mark and Jake from The Armoury, who are wearing something a bit more comfortable and relaxed looking. On Jake (the dude in the darker grey suit and pink shirt), the shoulders are a bit extended, the trousers come up higher, and the notches on the lapel are a bit lower than what’s popular nowadays. Still soft shouldered like everyone else’s jackets at the tradeshow, but the overall effect is different. Perhaps more Armani than Slimane.
Lastly, Antonio from Eidos Napoli in the third photo is wearing a dark brown suit that he designed himself. Slim fitting, like the first photo we saw, but less columnar, as the chest looks slightly more relaxed (giving the illusion of a more nipped waist), and the quarters (which is that part of the jacket just below the middle button) sweep away as it falls towards the hips. The overall line, going from the top of the lapel down to the hem, is a lot more curved.
A suit should always fit well, but how it’s styled is a totally open question. Pay attention to the different shapes that a tailored jacket can take, and you’ll notice that they can be framed like As, Vs, Xs, or columnar Is. Some shapes will look good on you, some will not, but that’s where the fun really begins — finding the style that’s right for you.
To learn more about silhouettes, you can read our old post here.
(Photos via Tommy Ton)