Thursday, September 2, 2010
Suit Yourself - Metro Him Magazine
Whenever I design my men's collection I consider my heritage, memories of my father in beautiful Irish linen suits in the summer and beautiful flannel numbers in the winter and the crispy white and soft-blue shirts and the rich silk ties.
Each day of my adult life starts by choosing a suit, my outfit for that particular day according to my mood, schedule and the weather. No doubt it's the best moment -- when my disposition and my plans combine to create the perfect wardrobe for that day.
I have been studying suits since I was eighteen -- the different schools of tailoring, the different fabrics, the different fits. Until I embraced Neapolitan tailoring, the best in the world. I started my own fashion house following in the steps of my grandmother, a fashion pioneer in southern Italy in the '40s who once owned a fifty-tailor atelier.
It has been my goal to bring back the finest tailoring in the world to a selective group of sophisticated men, educating them about the pleasures of a well-made wardrobe that always starts from a well-made suit that must have all the following features:
• Fabric should be resilient and drape well. It should feel good, not stiff or scratchy. A fine wool can be crumpled in your hand -- or worn for hours in a meeting and resist wrinkles.
• The linings, interfacing and padding should be hand-stitched into the garment to perform their job invisibly. Quality garments have graduated layers of a lightweight canvas stitched to the interior, not glued in with fusible materials. A canvas lining allows a jacket to breathe and flex with the wearer and also stabilize the fabric in varying climates. Lining should not pucker or shift after dry-cleaning or wearing.
• Stress points, such as the edges of pockets, should be reinforced with hand-stitched tacking or, for less expensive suits, by machine.
• The upper portion of the lapels should lie flat against the chest, but as they descend toward the buttonholes, they should bend ever so slightly to roll and stand away from the body. The lapels should be so effectively stitched and cut that they stay in place without being pressed flat.
• The interior construction of pockets, seams and linings should float invisibly beneath the jacket's shell. Pockets should never gap and rarely reveal their contents.
• The shoulder padding should not be bulky and stiff.
• The trouser waistband should be constructed in pieces and with ample seam allowance to aid future alterations. It should have interior buttons to attach suspenders.
• On handmade suits you should expect to see tiny, hand-stitches employed to stabilize and beautify construction. Look for it along the edges of lapels, on top of waistband darts, along the fly and on top of belt loops.
• Small extravagances should be incorporated for your pleasure and comfort, including perhaps a thread loop behind the left lapel to anchor the stem of your boutonnière, and a loop above the fly to anchor your belt buckle to your waistband; pleats built into lining to add ease of movement; a lot of extra buttons and thread.
• A staff of well-trained tailors can rebuild a suit to fit your body, not merely nip a cuff here or there. Do not be afraid of alterations.
• Consider custom-made suit only from top sartorial shops if you have problems with ready-to-wear sizes or if you're one of those who insist in choosing your own fabrics
But let's not forget that sometimes the suit does not make the man. Style makes the man. Here are some tips:
• Build a wardrobe. It does not matter how long it takes. The most important thing is that you think in terms of a whole. Think of it as an investment.
• Try not to look sloppy. People think the more casual they are, the cooler they look. I believe we owe it to ourselves to look perfect. And it does not take a lot of money.
• Have fun dressing. Men have so much anxiety when it comes to clothes. I cannot tell you how many men come into my stores and say that they are colorblind -- after the 75th person we realized it was fear. Do not be afraid to ask: "What works with what?"
• Whatever you put on, make sure the first thing you see is yourself. Everyone says Italians are so expressive. We dress so we can gesture and speak with our bodies. Do not buy your suits too loose; you don't really need the extra fabric for comfort. The perfect fit gives you comfort.
• Buy fewer and better. Consider buying something hand made rather than machine-made. Hand made is like owning a piece of history, a piece of tradition and definitely fits better and lasts longer.
Your quest for the perfect suit starts here. Have fun.MS
exclusive for Metro Society by Domenico Vacca and arranged by Bea Madrigal Vazquez-Fox
photos by Sara Black