Female fashion is always center stage when it comes to slim fitting garments with size “0” models taking the runway at all major fashion shows for decades. And men do understand why that is so upsetting, because not everyone is built the same way, and anyone who is built like a model naturally, we too are a little suspicious of. Fashion is exceedingly friendly to thin body types.
But when it comes to men’s fashion, few people have commented on the proliferation of the “skinny suit” which has provided an equal amount of angst for men. That is right ladies, men worry about their waistlines too, particularly if we have a career that requires us to wear a suit on a daily basis. And men do judge other men based on their clothing (just as women do) so fashion matters to us too.
We will share how the ‘skinny suit’ became a trend, and why other types of suits are starting to emerge for casual and business attire. It is really good news if you have always found the ‘skinny suit’ to be a tight fit. But when it comes to dressing well for business, there is a code that also applies to relaxed fitting attire. We break down the trend and how (and when) to wear a relaxed fit suit.
Waiting to Exhale: The History of the ‘Skinny Suit’
In 2007, The New York Time’s published an article called “Slim Suits: The Attraction is Physical” which announced officially that men’s suits were getting smaller. Not only was the average pant leg getting tighter, it was shorter (no longer to the back of the dress shoe heel) and cuff sizes were shrinking too. For the first time in decades, men were showing a little sock.
The original skinny suit features a two-button jacket closure, and thin lapels that accentuated the tapered overall design. Thin padding on shoulders furthered the silhouette of the cut, which was popularized first by European design houses and then followed by designers in North America.
The pressure was on for men to adopt the new tapered look, regardless of body type. And while we admit that there is at times much more pressure on women in terms of fashion sizing, the trend of the skinny suit dramatically impacted male culture. The power suit transformed into a transparent expression of the time you spent in the gym. Or not eating, because let’s be clear, the skinny suit is an unforgiving tailored fit.
Hollywood and popular culture quickly adopted the ‘skinny suit’ style on the red carpet too, with celebrities like Chris Hemsworth at the world premiere of the Avengers in a very slim cut suit. And while Wall Street, Lawyers and other business professionals may still prefer a slim-cut suit, fashion houses and labels are starting to design a more relaxed alternative look.
Getting the Right Relaxed Look
There is a difference between a relaxed fit and one that is loose and baggy, or otherwise inappropriate for formal or business attire. The rise of the dress pant should move freely, but it should not gather in the front (or the back). The jacket should still provide a tapered profile at the waist with a structured shape, and can have two, three or more jacket buttons for optional looks.
Shoulders should be fitted but not tight; avoid loosely hung or shoulder padding that is too large which can ruin the look of a relaxed fit sports or suit jacket. Unlike the sliding shoulders of 1980’s men’s fashion, it is not the right way to wear a relaxed jacket. It should be comfortable but still fitted enough to appear neat, and moderately tailored.
One of the other advantages of the relaxed fit is that it provides additional options for men who wish purchase more “ready to wear” suits. Without the need for an overly precise custom fit, men can feel more confident about having custom suits that have a little more leeway and a lot more comfort.
The ‘skinny suit’ with the sharp, tailored look and the classic cut formal suit are still popularized around the world, taking gentlemen from business to social events daily. The two individual cuts will likely never go out of style. But for men who need a little extra room in the shoulders, through the calves, hips or legs or torso, more selection in a more relaxed fit is incoming, appearing more frequently on international men’s fashion runways.
For men updating their wardrobe, add a couple relaxed fitting suits to your collection. They are flexible in that they can be used for casual and also business attire, and comfortable for individuals who travel frequently. While a relaxed suit will never be a replacement for a tailored ‘power suit’ it is an important part of a professional wardrobe, now that it is trending once more.
Nicola Reynor is a passionate blogger who loves to blog about fashion, beauty, travel, health, fitness, wedding and lifestyle trends. When in leisure time, she prefers to spend time in traveling with friends and family. Connect with her on Google+ and Twitter.