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Suiting Up

What’s inside is just as important as what’s outside your Sunday best.

Ralph Lauren wows with its glamorous window display


If you’ve lost a substantial amount of weight, realize that all suits are not created equal. No matter your body size it is important to treat yourself to superb suits that fit you to a T, or at least, the “V”-torso/“inverted triangle” men’s mags describe. Before deciding which brand or style you must achieve your “suit weight.” This is the (sustainable) number you see on the scale after you’ve maintained significant loss of pounds for six months or more. And, as you’ll be heaviest in winter, and you’ll be wearing wool, don’t shop in July (you’re thinnest in the heat).

Patience is key. Guess what, though? This is the PERFECT time of year to shop if that meets your criteria…

But—wait, again. Don’t. Skimp. You’ve worked hard; you DESERVE to highlight all that work. That said, unless you buy bespoke, you need retail help.

Why? Because experts exist for this very purpose—and I’ll let one explain.“There is a price-value relationship of buying better quality,” Dan Farrington, head of men’s buying at Greenwich’s Richards, says. “A full-canvas garment is a better investment over time than spending less on something that may look okay when you first get it, but a season or two down the road, just isn’t going to perform and last.”

“Full canvas” refers to a suit jacket’s interior. The best men’s suit jackets are made with a layer of fabric (originally, horsehair) stitched to the jacket shell/exterior to secure it. This way, the more you wear the jacket, the better it fits.

The cloth canvas becomes a “second skin,” molding to your (newly fit) body, which makes it more comfortably stylish without degeneration, even when worn and cleaned often.

Most jackets are money-saving fused garments, with a lining glued to the suit’s wool shell. This keeps the jacket together, but it can create stiffness, boxiness and a “bubble” effect where the suit detaches from the fusing through wear-and-tear. Fused garments cost less, and are of good quality, but even high-end designers craft them because they’re essentially cheaper to make. In the end, they won’t fit you or last the way full canvas will.

And there are ways to tell when buying (the pinch or lapel tests, say)—ask Dan for a true education. (Note: alterations at Richards, by Tullio Giannitti, an Italian master with four-plus decades of experience, are free!) There are a few other “suitables” Dan can explain: drop, break, center- vs. side-vent, and to cuff or not to cuff. Just ask.

According to Dan, the best suits he sells are by Kiton and Brioni; then, Isaia, Zegna and Canali. Dan notes, though, that the best thing about emporia such as Richards, and the Mitchells family of stores, is that they offer great value, from $1,000 up to $10,000.

“The best brands depend a little bit on your budget, too. If you can buy brand-new Kiton it’s wonderful, but a close second is by Samuelson at $995. …I think we have great value at all price points.”

And in my own opinion, the best long-term weight-loss encouragement will be provided by an experienced tailor after you’ve spent money on quality menswear. Joseph Puglia, owner of Greenwich’s Ted the Tailor, has kept gents in fine fettle for 46 years.

Mr. Puglia also says that the best suits he tailors are by Kiton and Brioni, but he’s quick to point out: “We work all the brands, and we restructure where it’s necessary. The goal is to make suits look custom-made. We can perform miracles.”

In terms of making a suit “work” for you over the long haul, however, Mr. Puglia says that “depends on how much a customer wants to spend.” Usually, people want “something basic,” he notes. “But, with others,” as regards fit, “it depends on how ‘picky’ they want to be—whether, say, they want to shorten collars or adjust lapels.”

And, personally, if you’ve logged the miles on a treadmill to get fit, you MUST be picky, I think. With a tailored garment, the best outcome should reflect “a combination of comfort and tailoring—you can’t have too much tailoring, then people will be uncomfortable,” Mr. Puglia continues. Keep in mind, too, that the crucial elements will ALWAYS remain fit, look and comfort.

For these, Mr. Puglia offers, “You have to have the eye, and project when you pin it (the garment), to know what it will look like when it is finished—you need to be inventive.”

So, not only do you need to get a decent suit, but you need a tailor who’ll be “picky” when it comes to quality…as do you.

And there you have it: a short introduction to suits, for the newly svelte. If you’ve dropped serious weight, tell yourself: if it pays to hit the gym in the looks department, it’ll pay off when you’re in the men’s department, too. You will have spent your money wisely.

That way, once that Kiton is fitted to your new contours, THERE’S your motivation to get up everyday for those tough morning miles—to be able to fit into custom threads years from now because that beautifully cut suit will last years…tailored just for you.

Richards, 359 Greenwich Avenue, Greenwich, CT; (203) 622-0551

Ted The Tailor, 2 Church Street, Greenwich, CT; (203) 869-5699

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