Suits are making quite a come-back right now since the direction of mens fashion is heading away from casual and into a more dapper, polished look. That doesn't mean your suit can't look casual, but I'll focus more on that in a bit. For starters, you need to make sure that the suits in your closet fit well. Flat-front, narrow fitting trousers are still popular. Hopefully you've picked up a few of those over the last few seasons. Jackets are also still a slim fit, which is nice, but the trend has moved on to incorporate broader shoulders. If your suits are newer, they are probably slim throughout, and that is still perfectly fine. If your suits are older, they are likely a bit more boxy through the chest and waist. If that is the case, I recommend you take them to a tailor and have them altered to fit a little closer to your body. If you've owned suits long enough to have participated in the double-breasted trend, break those out, too. But please have them altered as well. When double breasted jackets were popular previously, they looked like this:
I'm sure you can see the difference, but you might have trouble pin-pointing exactly what has changed. For starters (and the most obvious), the cut is much slimmer. From under the arm all the way to the hem, the jacket hugs the body closely. To be sure a jacket fits you properly, check first that the shoulder seams rest right above the edge of your actual shoulder. Next, button the jacket. If the fabric pulls when it is buttoned, the jacket is too small. Look for jackets with vertical seaming in the front and the back because this allows a tailor plenty of options for where a jacket can be taken in. The other difference you may have noticed is that the lapels are more narrow which makes for a more streamlined look. Finally, the last difference is the length of the jacket- shorter is better right now, but not super short. You'd be amazed at the difference an inc or so can make- especially if you are not quite 6-feet tall. Generally speaking, double breasted jackets are harder to pull off if you aren't very tall. They can actually make you look even shorter. But with a slightly shorter jacket, even someone barely over 5-feet tall can still look good. In the older version of the double-breasted suit, the hem of the jacket is 3-4 inches longer than the hem of the sleeve. In the modern version, they fall at almost the same place. Here's another great modern version of the double breasted suit:
If you aren't interested in purchasing a new, double-breasted suit, but you have an older one in your closet, the alterations will definitely be worthwhile. For around $100 (or sometimes even less), you can have a jacket completely tailored- taken in from the chest down to the waist, length shortened, even higher button placement. Get an estimate from a reputable tailor. A few alterations can extend the life of an otherwise dated and un-usable suit.
The other popular suit trend for men this fall is the 3-piece suit. This goes along quite well with the elevation of menswear to more polished looks. I admit, I die for a man in a well-tailored 3-piece suit. It's so charming:
The guidelines for the jacket and pants remain the same as with any other suit- look for a slim, tailored fit. If the pants are pleated, they should be narrow pleats and the cut of the leg should still be narrow with slightly more room through the thighs. If you are a larger man, a small pleat will actually help the drape of the pants. If you are slender, flat-front is best. As for the vest, look for one that has a deep "V" when closed. The point of the "V" should be somewhere around the center of your sternum. Just like with women's clothing, a deep "V" neck helps create a long, slender line that is nearly always flattering.
Ok, now that you've gone through your closet and determined that yes, you do own a couple of great suits, the question becomes, "How do I wear them without looking like I'm in the same outfit all the time?" The answer is simple: break them up. This works especially well if you are trying to create a more casual appearance. The character of Will Shuester on "Glee" is always wearing great partial suit outfits:
Need ideas for breaking up your suit? How about you pair your suit jacket with jeans or corduroy pants? Same goes for your suit vest- wear it with jeans, cords, khakis, even a pair of dress pants from another (different color) suit. Put your vest over a button-front shirt with a tie OR without one. Roll the sleeves of the shirt. How about a t-shirt under an open button-front shirt and topped off with an open vest? That would be a super hot look. Layer your vest over a graphic tee shirt- the vest can be buttoned or not, depending on the vibe you're going for. Is your vest pin-striped? Pair it with a checkered shirt for a modern look of mixed prints. Pair your suit jacket with a graphic tee and dark wash jeans. Add a cool "man necklace" or a grommeted belt for a bit of edge. Wear your suit pants with a pair of Converse, and a leather jacket. The bottom line is this: get creative with it. Without purchasing a single new item, your entire look can get a complete update just by mixing and matching pieces in unexpected ways. Here is some more inspiration for you:
Finally, if you are interested in being REALLY trendy this fall, you'll sport a velvet suit coat. Follow all the same rules for fit as you would any other jacket and you'll look great. Before investing in an expensive, new coat, try to find a vintage one. You never know what kind of treasure you'll come across at your local Goodwill or Salvation Army, but also check out vintage and consignment shops. I'm personally a fan of rich jewel-tone velvet jackets, but if you aren't quite ready for such a bold statement, try a basic black, grey or chocolate brown:
Guys, feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions about how to look completely dashing this fall. And remember, the key to all menswear is the details. Pay attention to the small things and the overall picture will be perfect.