The Silhouette For Suits, Sports Jackets And Topcoats

August 20th, 2010


SUITS, SPORTS JACKETS, ODD TROUSERS, SHIRTS AND TOPCOATS

“The silhouette” is the term used by the clothing industry to describe the cut or shape of a suit. Women have long realized that the shape of a garment sets the tone of their appearance, but only recently have men realized that they too have a choice of styles that accomplish the same important task for them.

For this reason, the silhouette should be the primary consideration in the purchase of any TAILORED SUITS, SPORTS JACKETS, ODD TROUSERS, SHIRTS AND TOPCOATS. The fabric and details, which may add to a suit’s attractiveness, and even the fit should be of secondary concern, since it is the silhouette that actually determines the longevity of the garment. If this statement sounds the least bit dubious, think of the tight- fitting rope-shouldered, wide-lapeled, flared-bottom suits of fifteen years ago. Where are they now? In all likelihood, if one still owns these garments, it’s been some time since they’ve seen the light of day.

Today, there are three distinct silhouettes that have demonstrated their longevity: the sack suit, the European-cut suit, and the updated American-style suit. The first two choices offer distinctly different approaches to dressing: the sack disguises the figure of a man, while the European model leaves little to the imagination. The third style, the updated American-style suit, is almost an amalgam of the other two, hiding the body as well as flattering it. To my mind, it is the one silhouette that looks most comfortable on the American physique: casual, but eminently proper, stylish but without the studied elegance of the European model.


The Sack, or Brooks Brothers Natural-Shoulder, Suit

The sack, or the Brooks Brothers natural-shoulder, suit has been, for almost a century now, the backbone of American clothing. First popularized near the turn of the century, it was a silhouette characterized by a shapeless, nondarted jacket with narrow shoulders (which were soft and unpadded) as well as by flap pockets, a single rear vent, and a three- or four-button front. Designed large in order to fit many sizes, it was the first mass-produced suit and it looks it. After all, it was not called the sack suit for nothing.

Perhaps the biggest strength of the sack silhouette is also its basic weakness: it hides the shape of its wearer and takes away any sense of individuality. The reason it has managed to exist successfully for such a long period of time is simply that it appeals to the common denominator. Since it is so anonymous, it offends no one, enabling the wearer to walk into any environment and be acceptably attired.

For those seeking anonymity in their clothing, or wishing to hide an ungainly figure, this may be an acceptable style. But for anyone else, the sack-style suit is woefully inappropriate.

To be continued...

Clothes and the Man - By Alan Flusser  

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